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Once In A Blue Moon combines the first three pitches of Hill's Route 6 with three pitches leading up a large southeast-facing dihedral just southeast of the large cave on the Shield's northwest face. All pitches have some good climbing on nice rock, but there are also sections of loose rock, dirt and a few bushes (August 2012). The crux is a pair of roofs on the penultimate pitch.
Bill Lawry was drawn to this line by a Photo photo he posted. We looked up the dihedral while climbing Route 6 and decided to return as soon as we could.
Pitches 1 -3: climb Hill's Route 6 to the cave, traverse climber's right from the cave and set up belay for pitch 4.
Pitch 4 (5.6, 120'): some loose rock. Climb up dihedral starting right and traversing to the left side avoiding an obvious detached block (diving board) about 30 feet up (we bounced on this and it did not budge, August 2012). Continue up on thin gear (0.3 - 0.5") just left of chimney. When below an arching left-facing dihedral with thin crack traverse right into main dihedral/chimney and then up to a belay in large crack to right (1 - 3" gear up high or 4 - 5" gear lower for anchor).
Pitch 5 (5.7+, 130'): continue up main dihedral passing two roofs. First roof protects with 3 - 4" gear, second with 1 - 2" gear. Second roof is the crux. Set up belay on right side at base of large off-width/chimney below large roof/blocks.
Pitch 6 (5.7, 160'): continue up off-width, pass large chockstone to left while avoiding disturbing detached boulders behind chockstone (August 2012). Above chockstone 3rd class across vegetated ledge to continuation of main dihedral. Climb over/through several bushes to top. Belay from tree on top. 4" cams and Big Bro #3 can help protect the off-width/chimney as will 3/4" and smaller gear in the crack on the left face.
Approach is the same as for the Standard S Route. Descend via any of the typical descents for the Shield.
Standard Sandia rack with some larger cams (4 or 5"). We used a #3 Big Bro as well.
No bolts, no fixed gear and no anchors on this route.
|By Bill Lawry|
From: New Mexico
Sep 15, 2012
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b
An alternative to leading up to the cave of Route 6 and then traversing right to the dihedral: On P3 of Route 6, after making the fun traverse rightward for about 30 feet and after climbing straight up over the slight bulge, veer right and up on 4th class terrain in a bit more direct line to the base of the dihedral.