This route is probably the simplest way to summit the Middle Rabbit Ear, and follows the descent route pretty closely. While the climbing isn't all that spectacular, the fact that it was originally done in 1946 gives you some respect for the route.
The first pitch goes up an easy corner for about 25 ft to an old 1/4" bolt. Step right on a few slab moves past the bolt (5.5) and continue up the easy corner to tree at the base of a 30ft high corner crack. The corner crack is roughly fist sized and there is a bolt anchor at the top which is a good spot to set up the belay.
The second pitch walks across the large ledge system to its end (~100 ft) and then down-climbs (exposed 4rth class) to a tree at the base of another fist-sized corner crack. The descent route drops down directly to the middle of this longe ledge and there are variations that go straight up from the large ledge on various small crack systems and slab climbing.
The last pitch climbs the fist-crack. A narrow seam adjacent to the fist crack provides some small gear protection including an old shaky knife-blade. Past the fist crack is a broad ledge with a rock in the shape of someone giving you a "number 1" sign. Continue to stay right in corner crack systems for another 40 ft. From here one can easily walk over to the rappel tree about 100 ft to the left, or scramble up to the summit which is about 400 ft higher.
There were lots of ants on this route (October) especially around the rappel tree and in the shallow cracks for the direct variation.
Start from the top of a large block at the apex of the Middle-South Rabbit Ears saddle. Descent can be made with a single 60 m rope in three rappels by utilizing a suspect two-bolt anchor about 25 meters below the rappel tree. Once you reach the long ledge, it makes sense to walk over to the top of the first pitch unroped, and the ledge is certainly large enough where this doesn't feel exposed or careless. For those inclined towards botany, note that the "large juniper" that is talked about in Ingraham's guide is actually a pinion pine.
Standard rack. Make sure you bring a couple larger cams, say Camelots up to #3 or #4. These will make the fist-cracks more comfortable. The bolt on the first pitch is an old 1/4" that is about 1/2" coming out of its hole, but thankfully can be backed up.
BETA PHOTO: The entire route can be seen pretty well from the ...
BETA PHOTO: A view of P1 from a short ways up the NW face of S...
By Aaron Hobson
From: Clinton, TN
May 22, 2011
The 3rd pitch off-width is much harder with a pack on. I watched a 5.12 sport climber get scared and pumped battling with this move while wearing a pack. Of course, this isn't anything like a sport climb, but if you find yourself at surprised at how hard this move feels don't feel bad. Maybe this route is sandbagged? I'll admit I rated it based upon the Ingraham guide, which can often feel sand-bagged compared to other areas. Anyone have any other suggested ratings?
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Oct 15, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
I found the route enjoyable. There is an interesting slab move in the middle of first pitch and a long off-width at the top of it. The crux fist crack in pitch 3 is definitely a challenge. (It becomes an off-width only at the very top, and yes, it is well above the 5.6 rating.) And the final layback is quality. (Don't miss it by going straight up from the top of the crux.) Long traversing on easy ground may take away from the appeal for some people, but after an Organ Mountain approach, what's a little walk? The only real drawback is the brush at the top, and that can be avoided by stretching the last pitch and staying to the left of it.