North East middle face route
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The lower to pitches are 5.7. After that, it eases up to 5.5/6ish. Typified by exfoliating rock, this route is only recommended if you want to see more of the wasatch via some alpine rock climbing and hone some simul-climbing skills. This gets morning sun and stays sunny until the afternoon. An early start is recommended, especially if daylight is short.
This route is located by hiking up the Stair Gulch trail. If you are a Challenge Buttress and environs climber and only know about the Challenge Buttress Trail, hike from there up-canyon on the road. The trailhead will be obvious on the right hand side of the road, only about 100 yards up. If you've get to the obvious pull-out/parking lot, you've gone too far.
Looking from the Storm Mountain Picnic Area, you will see two fairly obvious and large Right facing dihedrals. The route that we took ascends the face to the right of the dihedral closest to the road (North).
As you hike the steep trail, you will notice the first obvious gully that opens up to the more northernly slabs and the northmost dihedral. Follow this up some loose class 4/easy 5 scrambling until the base of the slabs.
The line that we took splits the face, and looks as though it offers next to zero protection. Look for weaknesses with vegetation growing; these are signs that get you better cracks to protect with. Expect some 30+ foot runouts in some spots. Otherwise, the protection feels adequate (though I'm sure it wouldn't for someone climbing at a 5.7 level.
- warning* You need a helmet for this route. Tons of rock will exfoliate and pelt your partner, even if you build the belay off to the side. Some is small, some will be large. Test holds carefully especially if you are run out; this rock can break with no warning if you aren't paying attention.
Continue to the summit by class 4 unroped scrambling. The view is amazing. We descended Fergason Canyon to exit (7am to 4pm was our leisurely pace). There is a trail that mostly follows the watershed on the right hand side. Do not miss this trail if you intend to come out this way, it saves a ton of time.
1 set of cams to 3.5" (could get away without a cupped hands piece, though we used ours several times)
2 hexes (medium and large) worked great in some very irregular pods that would have been difficult otherwise.
1&1/2 set of nuts + micros
4 double length slings to reduce rope drag.
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