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This route ascends the obvious sinuous crack near the center of the south side of Mosaic Rock. The crack starts out as sort of a deeply recessed off-width; as the crack narrows, climb it, as well as the platey face left of the crack, using the cleft for protection. At the top of the crack (ca. 105 feet up) is a nice ledge on the left (where, as Jackson notes, "a controversial set of shiny fixed anchors has recently appeared").
If you rap off from this point, a single 60m rope will take you down to just about 5 feet above the ground, where you land on the gently sloping rock apron, so watch the rope ends!
Above the ledge, you're out of the crack; a short face takes you to a horizontal seam; traverse right and then up onto easier ground -- some people have finished Chicken Heads this way also.
If you intend to climb the entire route (and not bail at the bolted anchor), it's not worth the time to split it into two pitches at that anchor. Better to do the whole thing as one pitch, but it will be a rope-stretcher with a 60m.
This route is described and illustrated by Foley (2005:78-79) and Jackson (2006:67-68). This is also probably the same as the two-pitch climb named "Thin at the Top" in the 1981 guide. In the 1984 "Tao's Rock II" guide, this crack is plotted on the overview map and is labeled with its current name, but no route description is provided. It is described in the 1991 "Taos Rock III" guide.
The usual approach from the parking lot to the south side of Mosaic Rock puts you in the vicinity of Chicken Heads; from there, walk right (east) for about 75 more feet to this climb; if you start climbing up the hill around the southeast side of the rock you're too far.
Single set of cams and nuts.
Build a gear anchor anywhere you like on or near the top of the formation (the prominent grassy ledge is good, or you might make it to the next good ledge past that). Walk off the top to the east.
Although you can rap off the fixed anchors at mid-route with a 60m rope, you probably can't easily toprope the crack off of those bolts, because the rope ends are just above the ground, and the base of the climb is a good ways off to the right of the anchors' plumb line (maybe you could TR with a 70m rope, though).
Josh with his shoe nuts.
BETA PHOTO: Serpentine Crack (5.8), Mosaic Rock, Tres Piedras,...
Jonathan Slator and Dennis Jackson on a splitter d...
Serpentine free solo with shoes.
Riding the snake of Serpentine Crack. June 2010.
Top out time with the setting sun in the west.
|By George Perkins|
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 25, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The crux is on the 2nd pitch, which is short. If you climb only to the anchor, and rap off, you miss the crux, but it is still a fun climb; and sets up one of the better beginner toprope climbs at TP. Watch the ends & extend the upper anchor with cordelette if toproping like this with a 60m rope. Better with a 70m, or belay from the anchor. Don't drop someone using a rope that's too short.