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Kernville Rock (a.k.a. Kern Slabs)
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Chouinard Special T,S 
Claustrophobia Crack T 
Cornflakes T,TR 
Dirty Dishes S 
Friction Slab T 
Initiation Crack T 
Just for Kicks S 
Lieback, The T 
Top Out T 

The Lieback 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
Season: Spring, Summer, Winter
Page Views: 5,980
Submitted By: Katy H on Oct 15, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
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Corey on the first pitch of 'The Lieback.' Great l...


Follow the left-facing dihedral

P1-Finger sized crack up past small bush/tree
Belay at the notch with the perpendicular crack (there is a lot of debris from old gear and such)

P2-Continue up dihedral to ledge
Climb straight up past a single bolt (5.8 PG) to a bolted belay or go left past an undercling (protectable, but its hard to see the gear). At the end of the undercling, head up through an intermittent crack in a groove. There is a bolted belay above on the left.


Obvious left-facing dihedral that splits the rock up the middle.

To walk off, get to the top of the ridge and walk off South side to base (rappel is recommended)


Small to mid-sized cams and nuts

Photos of The Lieback Slideshow Add Photo
At this point choose the left undercling traverse ...
BETA PHOTO: At this point choose the left undercling traverse ...
Rob Beno encounters the crux crimp transition on T...
Rob Beno encounters the crux crimp transition on T...
The Lieback
BETA PHOTO: The Lieback
Looking down P1 of The Lieback.
Looking down P1 of The Lieback.
kern slabs
kern slabs
Tyson Dimmitt nears the top of the first pitch of ...
Tyson Dimmitt nears the top of the first pitch of ...
Romain Wacziarg leads the "Undercling Variati...
Romain Wacziarg leads the "Undercling Variati...

Comments on The Lieback Add Comment
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By Matthew Fienup
From: Ventura, CA
Oct 13, 2009
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I climbed this route with very limited beta--just what is available in the Needles Guidebook. I am RELIEVED to see that other folks have graded this route 5.8. This was a sustained and challenging lead--at least as hard as the classic lieback on White Punks.

I expected a walk in the park...
Instead, I got absolutely awesome 5.8 endurance liebacking. This route is like a Tobin's Dihedral for mortals.
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Sep 4, 2010

Did Katy sandbag this route?

I have never climbed this but she always told me it was a 5.5. Probably just to sangbag me as well haha. Next time I am out there I will see how it is for myself.
By Adam S.
From: Kernville, CA
Sep 12, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

The old Needles Guide Book rates this as a 5.5.
I think someone expecting an easy 5.5 may get more than they expected.
It is an excellent route though that will take as much gear as you can carry!
By Tom Fralich
From: Fort Collins, CO
Nov 9, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Agree with the 5.8 rating on this one. Or the biggest sandbag 5.5 in the country. Great route regardless.
By Chad Namolik
From: Chattanooga, TN
Feb 14, 2012

Great movement on this route. Felt like 5.6 to me.
By Brian Prince
From: morro bay, ca
Apr 30, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Very sweet. I think the hard part was more comparable to anti jello crack's crux (and not all that much easier). The crack in the corner really pinched down in spots. And, if you do the "undercling" variation, you can just barely rap with a 70m (I definitely don't think you could from the straight up var. rap anchor). It is pretty sketchy. Best just bring two ropes.
By Richard Shore
Jul 16, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

The best "5.5" pitch on the planet! Neat little crux where you transition from liebacking the crack to liebacking some small crimps on the right wall. The "Enduro Corner" of Kernville..
By Justin Tomlinson
From: Monrovia, CA
Mar 18, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

If you are jacked up strong and climbing ALL the time... probably in the Needles..., this might feel like 5.5 to you.

For most mortals, this is 5.8 cruxes with sustained, dare I say, 5.7 climbing. I would tilt an ear to those who say the sustained climbing is 5.6

5.5 is a sandbag.

This is a wonderfully beautiful climb in a beautiful area. You are likely to have it all to yourself, if you get the season right. (not summer!) Combine it with a weekend trip to the brewery and you've got a perfect coupling.
By Jeffrey Addison
From: Anaheim, CA
Apr 3, 2013

My first lead climb, second pitch. The traverse was a little scary for me but I had a blast. I'm glad other people rate it higher than 5.5. I don't really know what I consider it but it was definitely harder than The Swift on Lost Horse Wall in Josh (5.7).
By Allison Boyle
Feb 9, 2015

Leading the lieback crack
Leading the lieback crack

We went to run laps on the lieback crack this weekend for some trad and multipitch practice, and I got to lead this thing for the first time.

Definitely feels harder than a 5.5, but then again, I'm just getting into trad and crack climbing. Toproping this thing I felt 100% fine, but when I lead it, I got real tense in some of the areas where the crack thins out... but in the end, I'm really glad I did it. It's a challenging and fun little crack climb. There are a couple nice rests along the climb, so be sure to take advantage of them because once you get to the crack its pretty sustained finger crack with mostly slab feet.

Maybe don't pick this as your first trad lead, but then again, the pieces are pretty bomber. We had 2 regular racks and were fine leading the climb with what we had, but I wish I had more of the black diamond purples (.5) and silvers (.4). For the anchor we used a BD Blue (3), BD red (1) and BD yellow (2).
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