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Paddle Flake Direct 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Chris Atkinson, Dan Redford, August 1989
Page Views: 4,131
Submitted By: Steven Lucarelli on Oct 5, 2006

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Crux 4th pitch.


This is a fun route on really good quality rock and all the pitches are rated 5.10 according to the book with the crux coming on the 4th pitch.

P1: Start about 10' to the left of a large left facing dihedral and follow finger cracks up the face. Two overhangs are encountered on this pitch which are bypassed by climbing left around the first one and right around the second. Belay just above the second overhang at a small stance.

P2: Follow cracks and face climbing to a steeper upper wall and belay.

P3: Continue climbing the face heading up and right to a chimney, struggle up the chimney and belay on top at a two bolt anchor. (It is also possible to avoid the chimney by traversing to the right and climbing a hand crack to the same stance).

P4: Step right and climb up a steep crack corner to perfect hands through a roof. Pull the roof and belay in a crack to the left.

P5: Climb straight up awkward finger to fist sized cracks to the top of the ridge.


To get to this route climb up about 40' from the Crescent Glacier to a large ledge. Follow the ledge left to get to the start of the first pitch which is about 40' to the left of McTech Arete, and 10' left of a large left facing dihedral (that's a lot of left's). To get down walk east up the ridge to the top of McTech Arete and look out on the south face for a chain anchor. The anchor is not visible from above. Only one 60m rope is needed for the rappels.


Small cams and extra nuts for the lower pitches and hand to fist size cams up high. There is one bolted belay about halfway up at the top of a chimney but the rest you have to set up yourself.

Photos of Paddle Flake Direct Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Last pitch of Paddle Flake from McTech Arete.  NW ...
Last pitch of Paddle Flake from McTech Arete. NW ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the 1st pitch of Paddle Flake Direct
BETA PHOTO: Looking down the 1st pitch of Paddle Flake Direct
Rock Climbing Photo: Guess where!
Guess where!
Rock Climbing Photo: Hans on first pitch of PF Direct
Hans on first pitch of PF Direct
Rock Climbing Photo: Party on Paddle Flake Direct
Party on Paddle Flake Direct
Rock Climbing Photo: Traversing in from the first pitch of Westside Sto...
Traversing in from the first pitch of Westside Sto...

Comments on Paddle Flake Direct Add Comment
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By Ted Baker
From: Fresno, CA
Aug 28, 2015

I would highly recommend going around the Paddle flake chimney. There is a Sword of Damocles death block inside it about as big as a climber which is really loose and could either just slip down in it further or fall right out onto the route. I was told perhaps the whole flake has spread.
The problem is that there is another death block as wide and deep as my shoulders over the right side that is balanced with just a few inches on top of the flake a VERY insecurely touching the opposite wall.
These REALLY need to be removed before the climb is safe.
By Devan Johnson
Aug 3, 2010

Much better overall than Mctech..
By Hans
From: Squamish, BC
Sep 5, 2012

We did the original indirect Paddle Flake, using the first pitch of Westside Story to start, and this was a fantastic route. Every pitch was amazing, and I highly recommend it. I agree that this is a much better route than McTech.

Having said that, I thought the route description in the guidebook was just a bit off. Hopefully the following description is a bit more accurate. Grades and pitch lengths are only estimates.

P1: 5.9, 50m. Start well right of the main corner, and follow broken cracks up through a tricky wide section. Keep following cracks until you can make an easy traverse left along a ledge system back to a belay in the main corner.

P2: 5.10a, 35m. Climb the main corner (easy fifth) for about 25-30m to a point where the corner gets steeper and the cracks get flaring. Plug in whatever gear you can find and traverse left and up to a short crack that leads to a belay at the base of the first smaller paddle flake. I thought this pitch was pretty spicy, as the crux was the rising traverse out of the corner and the fall would have been a bit ugly.

P3: 5.10b, 15m. Climb the finger and hand crack in the corner of the right side of the small paddle flake to a two bolt belay at its top. Alternatively, climb the squeeze chimney on the left side of the flake.

P4: 5.10b, 35m. Climb the hand crack on the left of the larger paddle flake past many good rests. A steep section at the top leads through a bulge to a stance and a gear belay. Awesome!

Note that there were two good belay stances here. The lower right hand one had two pitons, and led to a wide crack, but the upper left hand one was what we chose as this looked like the best way for the next pitch.

Many variations are possible for the last pitch. This is what we did.

P5: 5.10b, 55m. Climb up from the belay using parallel cracks (finger crack on the right) for 5m. Hand traverse right beneath a large boulder until you can pull up into a crack that widens into a chimney. Chimb the chimney to its top then up through a bulge. Broken rock leads to the ridge crest.

The rappel route is down McTech, and I don't recommend it. There was a lot of climber induced rockfall from people rappelling, and this was really dangerous for anyone below. As well, there seemed to be a lot of people getting their ropes stuck.

I would recommend carrying over approach shoes, and then down climbing the easy gully between Crescent Spire and Crescent Towers. There is an easy trail. If you do this, you can rack up on one of several boulders sticking out of the snow near the base of the gully, so you don't have to return to the base of the route.
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 16, 2015

Due to an impending storm we found it's possible to escape from the tat anchors near the base of the paddle flake by climbing up and right to the big corner and then making a non-hands, tricky foot traverse right across the clean face along the obvious crack leading up and right to the small, overhanging alcove where the bolted rap anchors of Westside Story are found. This was probably about 10b and bit scarier for the second but actually pretty fun, interesting climbing.

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