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Thin Air Face
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Standard Route 

YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 350'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: 1931 leland pollock, Payson Newton, Robert Underhill
Page Views: 2,298
Submitted By: lee hansche on Apr 20, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (22)
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A bold route for the times... Very typical of the climbs that were popular around this time, following a line with trees and other natural options for protection such as boulders and threads... The crux however is still not well protected even now with our modern gear...
Since it was done in the early 30's you might say it could be a good beginner trad route but it doesn't lend itself to safety for the less experienced climber... Loose rock, run outs, and awkward moves are all things that might make for an epic if you are not well practiced... That being said i would recommend doing Thin Air, Fun House to Upper Refuse, and a few slab routes before this one... But thats just me...

Pitch 1:(5.5) Start up the right leaning ramp as for Turners Flake (5.8) and continue right to the to the base of Toe Crack, the moves stepping right are tricky but not hard once you get it... Belay from Here...

Pitch2: Head right and in to the chimney... Follow the chimney up past a chockstone to a fixed belay in the cave... Fun chimney climbing...

Pitch 3: (5.7+ R) This is the R crux section, take a deep breath and be cool... climb up the right hand wall (5.6 R) making some hard for the grade moves to clip a fixed sling, what a relief, you are safe... After this you continue up the chimney on easier climbing to a tree belay (watch out for loose rocks)...

Pitch 4: (5.5) Follow the gully to the top (this part is a little less classic and dirty from what i remember but its been a few years).. From the top walk to the right or hitch hike down...

A great climb of this type but bring your spirit of adventure... have fun...


The obvious chimney that marks the right side of the Thin Air face...


Standard rack will do...

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By Romain Wacziarg
Jul 17, 2008

With all due respect, rating P3 5.6 is a clear sandbag. Even the guidebook calls it 5.7+, and that is about fair. The crux is steep, slippery, and most definitely not 5.6.
By lee hansche
From: goffstown, nh
Jul 18, 2008

Sorry i was going by Ed Websters book which had it listed at a nice old school 5.6 R... i personally agree with you and Jerry Handrens book so i will change the description and leave this comment as a historical reminder of how things were... though im always torn about things like this cause i do respect those who came before me and the bold way they graded there climbs...
By Romain Wacziarg
Jul 29, 2008

True - these old timers were bold, and their ratings reflect that. There's been a lot of grade inflation in climbing as well as in schools!
By Zigs
Dec 1, 2008

I could be wrong, but I thought that the true pitch one started in the dike almost directly below (and slightly right of) toe crack. Whether it's pitch one or not I found this variation way scary since tight chimneys with old pitons for pro tend to raise my blood pressure anyway. Using the Turner's flake ramp is way better climbing not to mention a lot less stressful (for me at least).
By Jonathan Steitzer
From: midcoast, maine
Apr 15, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

hey Zigs,

That's a direct variation, and a 5.7+
By Don MacKenzie
From: Seattle, WA
Jul 20, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R

I climbed this today (well, pitches 3 and 4 after starting on Toe Crack) and I am going to dissent and say that I think that 5.6R is about right for the third pitch. The moves were maybe on the stiff side for 5.6 but certainly not 5.7+.

I was able to get a medium cam maybe 7 or 8 feet off the ledge. It doesn't protect for long, but it let me go up, clean off some holds, and work out the moves, downclimbing in between. The hardest moves were above this gear, probably looking at a fall back to the ledge (so the R rating is justified), but it's a short crux and the climbing eases up before you are looking at a really nasty fall. Just watch your step and don't overgrip.

That said, I'd stay well away if it were wet.

All in all I thought the climbing on pitch 3 was fun and worthwhile. The second chimney sequence and the roof above it were good fun. With a little more traffic it would be a lot cleaner too. But as it was, it was clean enough to climb with no drama.
By kevin neville
From: Somerville, MA
Oct 27, 2013

The Direct Start is downhill to the right, a stair-step dike up to an offwidth. If your technique is better than mine, maybe it's not so bad. But I found it brutally physical and a little scary as I left the second bolt behind. 5.8. Glad I did it, feel no urge to do it again. You can also do the first pitch of Repulsion at 5.8, up the dike then break left and follow the crack system to the base of Toe Crack.
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