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Although this route has a 5.11a crux, the climbing is mainly runout face climbing on patina edges that sometimes crumble under bodyweight or less. Given this, the route will probably get harder over time as more of the holds disappear. You'll need a good intuition for route finding as well. This is a high quality climb with exciting moments that will definitely help you forget about the couple of less desirable pitches in the middle of the route.
This climb is far more committing than the trade routes in Zion; if you've only brought one rope, retreating after the first pitch will be difficult and costly. There are only 2 fixed anchors on this climb. Getting caught in the rain on this climb would be bad.
P1 (5.10, 100') Follow obvious flake crack (starting wide then gets smaller) to a set of anchors. The crux of this pitch is turning the corner/roof of the flake.
P2 (5.9 R) Head right over loose blocks to a wide crack (you can see through it). A #4.5 Camalot is useful here. Layback with kneebars or offwidth up the wide crack (harder). The crack gets smaller and eventually peters out. Head slightly left once the crack disappears, on runout 5.9 face climbing (good rock) and past a bolt. Then head back right to a ledge and belay.
P3 (5.9 R) Head up and left on face holds and moss past a bolt to a sandy finger crack. Watch out, some of the face holds crumble, and the moss does not hold bodyweight. The crux comes at the top of the crack. Then continue up mantling small bushes and such until you reach a sandy ledge.
P4 (5.8/5.9) Climb up a loose groove filled with sandy, loose blocks while mantling bushes and the like. A flared, wide crack takes you up to a ledge and bolted anchor. This pitch sucks, unless of course you like sandy, vertical bushwhacking.
P5 (5.11a/5.9 R) There is a crack to your right (shallow left facing dihedral) with a bolt up high. Guidebook says this is 5.10. We'll call this a crux variation and we'll save the description for someone who's done it. Climb straight up above the belay through a small roof into a right facing corner. The rock is great here and there are some great face holds. Medium size stoppers and stemming get you through the 5.11a crux which is not too hard. Once the gear and holds disappear, cut left around the arÍte on a sloping horizontal break.
Continue heading up and left on face holds around several arÍtes (5.9 R) until you reach a big ledge. Look left and there should be 5 bolts next to each other just above the ledge (perhaps a bivy ledge?). The guidebook gives the impression that you should follow the corner to the top and traverse left on a ledge to the belay. The corner, however , turns blank and there is no longer any gear. Go this way if you dare.
P6 (5.8 R) Follow the crack in a right-facing dihedral for about 20 ft. where it is possible to cut left on jugs to another right-facing dihedral (which does not reach the bivy ledge) with a bush. Climb over the bush and continue up this crack/dihedral to a ledge.
P7 (5.8 initially, then easier) Continue up this same dihedral/crack system to a big, broad, sandy ledge and belay.
P8 (5.6) Head up crack in the buttress (left of a big groove) above and into sandy, bush-filled groove (4th class). Scramble to summit.
IMPORTANT: Zion National Park rangers advise to take this climb very seriously. It is atypical of the area and contains longer runouts, more challenging route finding, and more questionable rock than you will find elsewhere in Zion. It is home to every recent big wall rescue and the only actual climbing fatality in memory. Don't be the next.
Medium and large stoppers, double set of cams to #3 Camalot, one each #3.5, #4, and #4.5 Camalots, Lowe Tri-cams were also very useful, 12-14 runners, and 1 rope.
Approach from the south side of Angel's Landing. Cross the river and aim for the highest portion of land that rises up to the ridge between Angel's Landing and The Organ. Gain a high ledge that runs to your right (away from Angel's Landing. Follow this to just before a steep groove where the ledge tops out.
Start climbing here. A couple moves of maybe 5.7 lead to easier climbing to gain the ridge. Cross the ridge to Angel's Landing. A couple 4th class moves lead up the arÍte of a leaning pillar to the start of the climb.
Walk down the Angel's Landing trail and answer questions the whole way down like, "Did you climb up here?" If you've climbed in a National Park, you know the routine.
A fine way to wake up and get the blood flowing.
About to enter the wide crack on pitch 2.
BETA PHOTO: one of my fav routes
|Comments on Northeast Buttress
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 25, 2003
No need to wade the river if you don't mind a slightly longer approach. This is the farthest left route on Angels Landing, so is closest to the Angels Landing trail. Follow the trail up Angel's Landing until it starts going up steeply, then drop down bushwhack along the river.
|By Michael Schneiter|
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 2, 2003
A friend and I did this route recently and I thought I'd provide some additional beta. I think Jason's descriptions were good overall and I wish we would have had his information because it would have cleared up some of the confusion on pitch 5. On pitch 5, we climbed the crack to your right in the left facing dihedral. When we reached pitch 5 I started to lead up the right facing corner (directly above the bolted belay) because that's what our guide said to do, but it also mentioned a bolt. After climbing part way up I saw the bolt next to the crack on our right and traversed to that crack, thinking that was the way to go. The right facing corner looked harder and the bolt led us to believe that that was the way. The crack to your right is not very hard at all. There is one hard move right above a somewhat iffy fixed pin. Then you clip that stonker bolt and go up an ever-widening crack. A #4 Camalot is helpful here. Then you make a long traverse around a corner to the large ledge. We didn't think this pitch was that hard, but we also went into it thinking it was 5.11 due to our guide. There's just that one hard move by the pin, it's reachy but it's all there. Afterwards, we saw the original topo for the route and on pitch 5 the first ascentionists took the crack on your left, then stepped left at the horizontal break to a ledge called Lunchbox Ledge. Then, they climbed a short pitch to the large ledge that currently has five bolts. We talked to a guy at the local climbing shop about those five bolts. They are leftover from a rescue that happened last year and he said that he's been meaning to go up there and take some of them out. So, you may get up there and only see two or three bolts left. Hopefully this will help. We thought it was a fun route and easy to do in a day.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Oct 23, 2005
I was wondering how hard the .11a pitch is and how runout the R pitches are. Is the crux pitch similiar in difficulty to ancient art? That seemed like a pretty soft 11, but the bolts were right there so my wussy-ass felt better. How about the R pitches?
|By Mike Anderson|
From: Dayton, OH
Oct 28, 2005
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c
The 5.9 R pitches could easily be called "X". I have little doubt that a fall on one of those pitches, in certain places would put you in a hospital, at a MINIMUM. I think death is not out of the question. If you get on that route, you better not fall on those pitches...so you better have your stuff together.
The 11a isn't bad and it's easy to A0 through.
|By Steve McCorkel|
Oct 24, 2006
Anyone else have info/opinions on the runouts? Much appreciated.
|By Michael Schneiter|
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Oct 30, 2006
As Mike said earlier, you wouldn't want to fall on those pitches, you could get screwed up. I would consider them to be "engaging." Nothing too hard, but you're very aware of the consequences of a fall. The first "R" pitch (pitch 2?) didn't seem quite as bad. My partner placed some small gear but I question whether it would have held much of a fall, especially considering the soft sandstone. At the beginning of that pitch there's a set of awkward wide moves protected by a bolt. If you blow it you're going to hit a ledge, not a long fall but it would still hurt. You can, as my partner did, clip a sling on the bolt for aid and reduce the seriousness of that part. The second "R" pitch (pitch 3?) seemed to be considerably more runout and it had less obvious route finding. It seemed like you could get really screwed by going off route. It's basically a slab with nasty moss on it. I remember the moss being an interesting part of the seriousness of that pitch. I climbed up, down, and side-to-side a bit to find the correct line (or what I thought was the correct line). There are a couple fixed pieces but I think they were old star drives, so they're probably questionable. Other than that, I don't remember much of anything for gear on that pitch. Up high there are some fairly serious pitches as well, so it's not over when you climb the crux pitch. Hope that helps.
|By Joe Stern|
Apr 29, 2009
Can't say we did much of the actual route, but we climbed the NE Buttress feature yesterday. Here's our route, in hopes that no one ever climbs it again (well, mostly).
P1: didn't see any obvious 5.9 OW, so we took a short face pitch close to directly under the main part of the route. one bolt about 20' up to tree belay, 5.9.
P2: standard flake pitch, fun 5.10 to 2 old bolts with american death triangle.
P3: also fun. loose traverse right to old bolt to big flake, then runout face (past one bolt at the 130' stance). belayed at a short vertical handcrack above a ledge.
P4: where it got interesting. went up and left through mossy runout slabs, past a good ledge with wide crack to small ledge with a tiny tree to sling.
P5: up right through flaring groove layback to slab to the white/dark rock contact. climbed a dark, right facing corner with small bulge at the bottom. mostly sandy handcrack, small roof at top to belay ledge a little over 100'. 5.10ish.
P6: scary one. up left on breakable, sandy, mossy jugs/face with intermittent bad gear placements. if the earlier on route pitches were 5.9 R, this pitch was 5.9 X. went to 5 bolt belay ledge mentioned above (all 5 still there).
P7: right from ledge to beautiful orange right facing corner. tips to OW to hands. easier than it looked. at top, traverse left to ledge. 10+/11- range. quality.
P8: easy long pitch up obvious crack/face to big ledge at the base of the gully that the normal route finishes on.
at the top of the gully, just when you think you're done, there's a short (30' or so) slab on the right that takes you to the trail. probably not third class, but there was a black static rope piece fixed to a pin and running around a tree that made this part mindless, thankfully.
my advice --- do something else! or at least find the right route.
|By Nate Brown|
From: Wilson, Wy
Jul 9, 2009
This route is top 5 in Zion for me. I've been up it about 6+ times. It always scares me a little. The runouts are real, the choss is there, and you get some vertical bushwhacking to boot! Go get some.
|By Brian in SLC|
Jul 10, 2009
I have the FA as Randy Aton, Mark Austin and Phil Haney in 1981.
Seems like I recall Conrad did a TR FFA of sorts. Dunno.
From: Springdale, UT
May 12, 2010
Conrad put in the crux pitch variation.
|By Mark Engibous|
From: Santa Clara, UT
Nov 13, 2012
Lyle was my best friend and climbing partner... I was on the other end of the rope with him that day. Words cant express how awful it was and the void in the lives of his family and friends that now remains. This is an amazing route and it now bears the memory of an amazing person...at least to me. The rock quality deteriorates toward the top...dont pass up pro no matter how secure u feel or how strong or experienced you may be...shit can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Thats my advice. Think of Lyle Hurd III when u top out...
From: Oakridge, OR
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c
This is a great route. I led the original right-facing dihedral. I consider the crux to be protected well, but you shouldn't climb this unless you can handle run out 10- arÍte moves.
The left-facing dihedral is likely a lot easier.
We got a late start and probably didn't get on P1 until noon. Had to walk the whole way out.
I found a skull fragment and I'm really hoping, in retrospect, that it's from a bighorn sheep.