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Northeast Face West 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 600'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Chuck and Ellen Wilts, 1953
Page Views: 5,391
Submitted By: Roger Linfield on Feb 24, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
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BETA PHOTO: Ice climbing NE Face W, Tahquitz, February 2010


This route is easy to find a huge right-facing corner just to the left of the Larks. There are multiple overhangs on the route, and you need to move out away from the main crack in one or two places. It is a sustained, quality route. The belay ledges are quite small, making this a poor choice for a party of more than two people.


standard rack

Photos of Northeast Face West Slideshow Add Photo
A view from the top of the first belay ledge (appr...
BETA PHOTO: A view from the top of the first belay ledge (appr...
Looking down NE Face W, Tahquitz, in ice condition...
Looking down NE Face W, Tahquitz, in ice condition...
Following the proper route 1 pitch from the top.
Following the proper route 1 pitch from the top.
A quick self snap while leading the 2nd pitch.
A quick self snap while leading the 2nd pitch.
Chad Parker at the second belay of Northeast Face ...
Chad Parker at the second belay of Northeast Face ...
A view looking down from the top of the 3rd pitch.
A view looking down from the top of the 3rd pitch.
Joe starts up the stellar third pitch.
Joe starts up the stellar third pitch.
If I recall Vogel's book describes finding it as &...
BETA PHOTO: If I recall Vogel's book describes finding it as &...
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
normal conditions... sort of...
normal conditions... sort of...
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
Agina Sedler on the first pitch. 9-17-11
really fun climbing.
really fun climbing.
Nathan Fitzhugh on pitch 2. 9-17-11
Nathan Fitzhugh on pitch 2. 9-17-11
Looking up at the first pitch. Chad Parker and Nic...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the first pitch. Chad Parker and Nic...
Nathan Fitzhugh on pitch 2. 9-17-11 Good pro which...
Nathan Fitzhugh on pitch 2. 9-17-11 Good pro which...
Nick Krawiek summitting Northeast Face West. Five ...
Nick Krawiek summitting Northeast Face West. Five ...

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 4, 2015
By The Gray Tradster
Feb 25, 2006

If you have a 60M rope and do a short, (about 60 Ft) first pitch, you end up with comfortable belays with good anchors at the end of each pitch. Go up and a little left after the summit overhang (where El Wampo, etc. join) for a better finish.
By shad O'Neel
Aug 17, 2007

This route was excellent. Very sustained climbing, i would not hesitate to say its sandbagged at 5.6. The topo has a 5.7 section drawn on it in the latest book, which i guess you can skirt to the left. Not sure what you are supposed to do near the top, we followed the corner straight up, which was good, but didnt seem very traveled. We tried this idea of a 60' P1, belayed atop the dihedral wall just before the climbing gets really interesting. THis allowed tree belays for the rest of the route, although they were still not spacious. I was so surprised by wht this route offered, probably the best 5.6 Ive done at Tahquitz (i am pretty new here, so maybe there are better ones) - and while not as stunning as El Whampo, I found it better and more challenging overall due to the sustained quality moves. I thought a #3 camalot was nice to have along. My experience may have been heightened due to the dense blanket of pine needles that cover the crack in many places!! Exciting!
By Dan Costello
Jul 24, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I enjoyed this quite a bit, more than el Whampo in fact, and was surprised by the variety and challenge present on this 5.6. I will second the Gray Tradster's recco for a very short 1st pitch -- I had pretty comfortable belays on pitches 2, 4, and 6 using a 60m rope.
By Hamik Mukelyan
From: Pasadena, CA
Oct 25, 2011

In a high snow year, NE Face W is a 5 pitch ice climb! The first three 60m pitches are AI3-, the fourth is WI3, and the fifth is AI3-. See pictures above.
By x15x15
Oct 28, 2011

if you dont mind thin conditions, and more rock than ice, this climb is fun most winters.
By The Ruin-er
From: CA
May 24, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

first 4 pitches are so fun!!!
By Dave Kos
Jul 21, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Quality route, sustained, and sandbagged at 5.6. I'm surprised this route doesn't get more stars in the guidebook, as I think it is as good as any 5.7 at Tahquitz.

There really aren't any belay ledges big enough to stand on comfortably, so be prepared to hang in your harness a bit. We had trouble route-finding after the 4th pitch or so, at the headwall, and had a bit of an adventure figuring the way up. The Vogel/Gaines book isn't really clear which way to go and we found ourselves on some loose/dirty stuff that was certainly off route (we also found more than one piece of "bail" gear, so we weren't the first to go this way.) Eventually we managed to get to the easier terrain near the end of Northeast Farce, but never did figure out where the route actually went.
By Michael Bartosek
From: Los Angeles
Apr 23, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I've done this route a couple of times, once with a two man team and once with three people. We found all the belay spots to be quite spacious, enough for three people to hangout comfortably. We typically ventured 15-20 to the right of the diehedral to set-up belays but they were always great. I think 3 of them were near/under trees using the crack system.
By Tradoholic
May 20, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Straight forward and worth doing. Finishes the same as NW Farce in a notch with a small overhang.
By Gearoholic
From: Portland, OR
Sep 16, 2013

Really enjoyed this climb - worth doing, but know it's not a 5.6. Definitely sandbagged. The quality of the route though is great - pitch 3 was my favorite. I agree that there are good tree belays if you keep the first pitch short. Small gear (sometimes not very well protected), but I could have used a 3 up there. Finished in 6 pitches. The 5th pitch was interesting and we realized at that point that the route had become harder than 5.6. We had climbed Sahara Terror the day before and this was the harder climb for sure. Sustained but fun if you know what you're getting yourself into.
By Climb To Safety
From: california
Oct 4, 2013

We were supposed to go to Joshua tree yesterday but due to the govt shutdown, we headed to tahquitz instead. I'd like to be the first one to thank the govt because if they had been working, we never would have gotten on this route. Great route, very underrated, not sure why this doesn't get any stars in the guidebook. As a complete cIimb I enjoyed it more than the west lark and el whampo. We got a bit off route beginning on pitch 5, but it only made things more interesting and fun. Climbed in the shade all day, didn't see one person on the rock, fantastic day.
By Chris D
From: the couch
May 18, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

If you're asking yourself, "should we climb this route?" here's a few things to consider.

You should not.

Vogel's ratings are gospel, and he doesn't give it any stars because it's just not very good. Also, it's a total sandbag. The second pitch alone is 200 feet of sustained 5.7 climbing with infrequent rests. If this was FA'd today, it'd be an .8. There. I said it. I'm not proud. Chuck and Ellen Wilts put this up in like, 1950, wearing galoshes and lederhosen. It was 5.6 back then, when men were men and the women were badasses. That was then. You are neither a man, nor a badass, so expect 5.8.

So you've read the comments above, and you're thinking you might want to climb this route. Here's the real lowdown:

P1: As suggested, climb about 60 feet up to a spot where you get a nice belay seat on top of the beginning of the big corner. You'll know where to stop because the right face of the corner steepens and becomes pretty much blank, and you'll see that there's nowhere to belay above that spot. Now, maybe you placed some gear on this pitch "just in case," but if you actually felt you needed it, just rap down from here, cause you're gonna be petrified on the rest of the route. This pitch is short, boring, and tedious.

P2: Climb the corner for a full 60m, following a fixed pin on the face out to the right near the top of the pitch that will lead you along some face climbing to a big belay ledge at a large mossy tree. Now, some people will tell you that this is stellar climbing on fantastic rock. Sustained 5.7 liebacking with copious small cam placements, infrequent rests, and "just enough holds" right when you need them to keep it spicy at the grade. They may tell you that the exposure is exhilarating, and that aside from the last ten feet below the ledge, the climbing is awesome from the first move to the last. All lies. If they tell you that the rock is that nice clean Tahquitz granite that's grippy without being grainy and that the cracks flare except where you really need them to be parallel, call bullshit. It's not true. Bring you liebacking A-game if you're foolish enough to find yourself leading this lackluster pitch.

P3: Looking up from the belay, all you can really see is that you either need to climb through a bunch of bushes into a chossy-looking roof, or cut out left under a teetering death-flake. Pick your poison. If someone tells you that as soon as you get above the roof, you enter a spectacular, sustained 5.6/.7 corner on an expanse of that glassy-smooth whitish granite that's just so nice, and that you'll jam, stem, and smear this corner, using a beautiful splitter crack in it's base that eats gear from fingers to wide hands, all the way up to a little shrubby belay, don't believe it. Expect to find bail gear at the shrub, as we did, from parties who were either petrified at the steepening vision of doom above, or had just tired of plodding their way up this mediocre route.

P4: Head to the obvious gully up and right. Climb an awkward short steep section to increasingly poor climbing above. If you heard that this pitch was yet another pitch of quality, sustained 5.7 climbing with lots of variety, crack and face, that the routefinding is straightforward and the moves thoughtful, delightful, and well-protected, tell them for me that they're a liar. Near the end of this pitch, you'll find yourself at the base of an improbably steep, nay, overhanging wall of broken rock. Belay here.

P5: If you've been unfortunate enough to get this far up without finding some way to get onto a neighboring route, well, you have my sympathy. I heard that this pitch is challenging and fun, climbing steep broken rock pretty much straight up and then a little right into a gully that becomes a third-class scramble up and left to the descent gully. Turns out the third class part was true, but that part is littered with loose rocks and gravel that you'll inevitably rain down on your belayer, or that parties above will trundle down on you while you climb below. Yet ANOTHER reason to leave this route to the chumps.

Lastly, if people tell you that this route is overall uncharacteristically clean, steep, sustained, varied, and fun for this face, with solid well-protected 5.7 climbing, they are only trying to sucker you into climbing this route, so you won't be ahead of them on the nearby Larks, which are much better climbs.

There's only one reason I can think of to climb this route; the profusion of old, rusty, beat-up fixed pins sprouting from it. They're everywhere. If you love to clip 'em, this one's a must.

That is all.
By Chad Parker
From: Ventura, California
May 1, 2015
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13

After the fourth belay at the mossy tree go left to meet up with Northeast Face East route. An easy traverse across fourth class slab. Then go over a small ceiling then up and right. It's in the guide book everyone the two routes meet up. Don't go right. Easy climbing on the fifth pitch I only used 2 peices of gear.

It sounds like Chris D. Got off route and had a bad day. This was a fun route and yes it's a 5.7 back in the 50's and sixties the ratings were different.
By Chris D
From: the couch
May 5, 2015
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Regarding this ^^^

Read it again. Think tongue-in-cheek. Just having a little fun.

There really are no bad days on the rock, are there?
By FrankPS
From: Atascadero, CA
Jul 4, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Good route. I liked Chris D's writeup and that helped convince me to do this route, as well as seeing that beautiful corner on the first pitch. Most of the belay stances were decent. A couple of semi-hanging belays, but that was about it.
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