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Moonlight Buttress
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The Moonlight Buttress (Clean Aid) 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c C1

   
Type:  Trad, Aid, 10 pitches, 1200', Grade V
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c C1 [details]
FA:  Jeff Lowe & Mike Weis - Oct. 1971
Page Views: 51,347
Submitted By: Casey Bernal on May 25, 2002

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Description 

This route is great. The line can be spotted from the road as a distinct dihedral with a roof/chimney at the top that runs up just past half way. The rock looks blank above that but a beautiful, direct, crack system runs almost the whole way up. This is a great easy aid route or a hardcore free climb on beautiful crack systems.

The belays are all bolted and the bolts are in great condition (thanks to the ASCA, I think). A hammer is nice for cleaning but do not nail anything on the route.

The start is a pain in the ass. On the far left side of the 3rd class ledges, locate a right angling ramp. It is somewhat obvious.

P1 (5.8+, ~200') Climb the ramp, step right, and follow short hand cracks to the bolt anchors. Pull up the haul line and throw it down to the pig. This is the worst hauling on the route (except the top).

There is a direct 5.10 variation that would make this much easier. This pitch is not so well protected but it is not too bad.

P2 (C1, ~100') Traverse far right and start aiding up the shallow right facing dihedral just after a small roof. Follow the crack system to a nice belay ledge in an acute dihedral with a bolt anchors.

This pitch could be free climbed at 5.10.

P3 (C1, ~100') The angling bolt ladder. Mostly QDs and a hook. Walk right on the ledge and stretch up to the first clip. Follow the line of bolts and drilled pins to where there are two pins next to each other.

From here we believe you do a free move then hook move to the next bolt. We decided it would be faster to do a long stick clip with the pole from the ledge's fly. We were told by a party later that the day before the pin had pulled or fell out so they hammered it back in. What ever you do here be careful as it is not a good pin at all. It is dead vertical so the fall is clean but it would be long and involve a swing.

This pitch ends on the rocker block with bolt anchors.

P4 (C1+, ~180') The Grand Dihedral. Clip two bolts and enjoy leap frogging cams up the steepening dihedral. This a beautiful pitch; long, so have plenty of carabiners and cams/nuts to take you the whole way (or back clean). Have the #2 and #3 cams for the couple of wider parts.

This is the first of the hanging belays from bolts.

P5 (C1+, ~150') Continue up the steep dihedral and decipher the step left on a hook. We used the big bros to aid the initial part of the chimney/v-slot and they worked great.

Follow the shallow dihedral system for another long pitch to an awesome ledge. There is a series of bolts along this ledge to accommodate bivies. A double portaledge is nice for comfort but one could sleep on the natural ledge. (Aahhhhh...sleep!)

P6 (C1, ~100') The beginning of the nice splitter crack system. OK stance, bolt anchors.

P7 (C1, ~100') Same stuff. Decent stance, bolt anchors.

P8 (C1+, ~100') The rock here turns into a rather broken crack system for a little ways. Watch where you place gear because some of the blocks seemed loose (although they didn't move).

Somewhat tricky; hanging belay, bolt anchors.

P9 (C1 5.7, ~130') Continue up the splitter clack system to a small roof with hand-sized pro. This can be free climbed at 5.10.

Arrive at a small ledge with the final 5.7 slabs. Belay here or run up the scary slabs. We belayed here and brought up the second to finish up the slabs.

The 5.7 slab is about thirty feet long and there are about two pro placements (red cam and red alien). Traverse right, up, back left, up to the top. It would be very scary without rock shoes. There are a couple of trees to belay off of on top.

When hauling at the top, it would be best to extend the tie-in to be over the lip. Otherwise you will only get it up with a Z-pulley and you will deepen the grooves in the lip. Be ready for the gawking tourists as the trail is only about 100 feet away.

For the meat of the route you don't need any hand-sized or larger gear (#1 cam and up) except for the 5.10 pitches and the chimney. Most of the pitches are TCUs and nuts and an occasional small hand-sized piece.

It would have been nice to leave the hand-sized pieces in the top of the pig and tag them up when needed. Be ready for the typical free move in the middle of an aid pitch.

If you know what you are doing it would be reasonable to do it in a day. You can fix lines down the rap route from the rocker block with 2 ropes. You can bivy on the rocker block but the best one is at the top of P5. There are no other good places to bivy as they are all hanging belays.

The route gets morning sun and is shaded after about 2pm or so.


Protection 

Lots of TCUs, especially red and yellow aliens. We had six of each and were pretty comfortable. You could do with less, but at least triples, and at least doubles in the other TCUs. Narrower brands are nicer because they are all pin-scarred placements.

Doubles in cams to a #3. Double set of stoppers with triples from #6 to #11. Offsets would be useful.

Big Bros 2 and 3; maybe 4 also. 2 Hooks.

Small tricams and a set of hexes to fill it up.

One portaledge. One pig. One gallon H2O/person/day. Stick clip. Belay seat.

Do not use camhooks.



Photos of The Moonlight Buttress (Clean Aid) Slideshow Add Photo
Just moments after the Hail Storm the canyon was filled with waterfalls like this one.  For reference, Desert Shield is just left of the main waterfall in the photo.
Just moments after the Hail Storm the canyon was f...
Diamond Dave enjoying a night atop pitch five.
Diamond Dave enjoying a night atop pitch five.
Stone heading up the beautiful pitch 4 corner with the pitch 5 roof looming up ahead.
Stone heading up the beautiful pitch 4 corner with...
grand dihedral!!!
grand dihedral!!!
Cleaning pitch 8.
Cleaning pitch 8.
BETA PHOTO
Amanda Pennington Jugging pitch seven of Moonlight Buttress.
Amanda Pennington Jugging pitch seven of Moonlight...
Looking twords the Great White Throne from the top of pitch 7 on Moonlight.
Looking twords the Great White Throne from the top...
BJ jugging up the beautiful corner pitch 4.
BJ jugging up the beautiful corner pitch 4.
Steve hanging at the top of pitch 7.
Steve hanging at the top of pitch 7.
Hey everyone! Please keep dropping all of your gear so we can keep booty hunting!
Hey everyone! Please keep dropping all of your gea...
Ken juggin'
Ken juggin'
Trey Lancaster leading P5
Trey Lancaster leading P5
My first aid lead in 20 years, pitch 6 off the bivy.  Photo by BJ Sbarra
My first aid lead in 20 years, pitch 6 off the biv...
Summit of Moonlight Buttress
Summit of Moonlight Buttress
This shot is taken looking across the valley from the top of pitch 2.  While the photo quality is bad, I think that the picture displays the force of this particular Hail Storm.  The scary part was, we didn't hear or see it coming until it was on us.
This shot is taken looking across the valley from ...
Chris and Kevin Gmitro on their 10 hour, single push, Full Moon ascent of Moonlight
Chris and Kevin Gmitro on their 10 hour, single pu...
Jugging p4 off the rocker block
Jugging p4 off the rocker block
Playing about on the upper pitches on Moonlight
Playing about on the upper pitches on Moonlight
Top of P4
Top of P4
Start of Pitch 3
Start of Pitch 3
Jason Dorais leading up pitch 7 splitter
Jason Dorais leading up pitch 7 splitter
Comments on The Moonlight Buttress (Clean Aid) Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 9, 2014
By Ben Mottinger
Founding Father
Jun 14, 2002

To make a plug for a friend, it sounds like some Splitter gear 2Cams or 4Cams would be nice for this route (and aid routes in general) for the shallow and/or flaring pin scars. Check em out: www.splittergear.com.

By Anonymous Coward
Sep 20, 2002

This is not the description for the Lowe route on Angel's Landing. This is a fairly decent description of Moonlight Buttress. Except for the Big Bros and some other confusion. The Rocker Block is on Moonlight, on the third pitch. This needs to be completely revised. Maybe I will do it, but I gotta go right now.

By Anonymous Coward
Sep 20, 2002

I see, the confusion is mine. I have never heard this route referred to as the Lowe route before. The Lowe route that I know is right in the middle of Angels landing and is an awesome line.

By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
Sep 23, 2002

Ok. I cannot see what the confusion is. I have commonly seen this route referred to as the "Lowe/Weiss route on Moonlight Buttress" - most people just call it Moonlight Buttress because it is the main route up the buttress. Jeff Lowe and Mark(?) Weiss were the FAs hence the official name. There is a route on Angle's Landing that is the Lowe Route. Revise away if you want but all is correct as far as I know.

By Dan Russell
Jan 2, 2003

We did this route a couple of weeks ago, and it was fabulous. We short-fixed, leading in two blocks of five pitches, and summitted in six and a half hours. It's a great route for speed. Since every piece is bomber, you can leapfrog and backlean to your heart's content. While leading pitch 6 I used nothing but orange tcu's, the same size for a whole freakin' pitch! Phenomenal! Anyway, I highly recommend this route, it was as good as I hoped it would be.

By Will Cobb
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 22, 2003

I would rank this route as the best I have ever climbed. The rock quality is excellent, the position is awesome, and the exposure on the final hanging belay still makes my stomach turn. :)

As far as I can remember the pitch by pitch description listed above is pretty much right on. I don't remember any hook moves, but I wasn't really looking for them either. The Big Bros that are on the gear list are not necessary, but would make aiding the chimney pitch far more enjoyable than my experience. The three pitches above the bivi ledge are stellar. The 5.12 trad climber shouldn't miss these. I can only imagine their quality and continue my jealousy. :) Every belay is equipped with at least two bomber bolts, which makes anchors and hauling easy.

For me, the rope drag on the last pitch was pretty bad. It made the 5.7 slab moves a little more exciting than they should have been. Definitely extend your hauling anchor over the lip at the top. This will make your life, and that of the rock at the lip of the cliff top, 1000% better.

Have a great time on this classic. :)

By Anonymous Coward
Feb 11, 2004

Excellent route...best I've ever done!

Couple things:

The bolts on the bolt ladder are all bomb now...no manky pins. You still have an interesting section of aid/free stuff halfway through the bolt ladder.

This route can be done in 7 pitches or 7 1/2 if you dont like the slabs at the top. Climb as described to the bivy ledge. From there, its two to the top. Both are full 200' lengths. Or, you can belay on a small ledge at the bottom of the slabs and have some moral support for the last 30'.

By Anonymous Coward
Jun 1, 2004

I climbed Moonlight in early May. Some of the webbing on the anchors is in fairly poor shape. A thoughtful individual might consider replacing some of it.

By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Nov 4, 2004

FA: Jeff Lowe & Mike Weis - Oct. 1971
FFA: Peter Croft & Johnny Woodward - Apr. 1992

By dain charette
From: South Lake
Apr 25, 2006

How big is the ledge at the top of pitch 5. Basically how comfortable would the ledge be to sleep on for 2 people without a portaledge?

Thanks

By Will Cobb
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 30, 2006

Dain,

Sleeping on the "bivi" ledge without a port-a-ledge will suck. At the bare minimum take a single ledge and whoever leads the pitch up to the bivi ledge (through the thrash chimney) gets to sleep in it. The best idea is to borrow, buy, or rent a double ledge or two singles. You will enjoy your night much more. However if that isn't possible, then fix to the rocker block on day one and descend to the ground. Come back the next day and blast the route in a day.

Have fun. It really is one of the best routes I have ever climbed.

WC

By Tea
Mar 13, 2007

Leave the stick clip at home...just stand up in those aiders like a man! (or woman!)

By SAL
From: broomdigiddy
Mar 23, 2007

anyone know if hauling from rocker blocker in two pitches is do-able?

By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Apr 3, 2007

Yes, you can haul to the rocker blocker in two pitches.

By John McNamee
Administrator
From: Littleton, CO
Sep 16, 2007

Supertopo Topo

By bsmoot
Dec 9, 2007

Please don't use Bigwall.com Topo as a source. They recommend cam hooks which are not necessary. They damage the rock.

By BJ Sbarra
From: Carbondale, CO
Nov 17, 2008

FYI, at the hanging belay on top of pitch 8, there is a bolt out right of the other three that wiggles quite a bit more than you'd want at a hanging stance.

By Lynn S
Nov 19, 2008

Thanks BJ and Steve for helping get me up the route, it was great fun! Amazing position, great rock and relatively easy approach(with low water) made this a great intro to climbing in Zion for me, will be back in the Spring for another route.

By John McNamee
Administrator
From: Littleton, CO
Apr 30, 2009

One of the bolts that link the rocker block to the wall has pulled out.

By k. riemondy
From: Boulder, Co
Nov 27, 2009

The route goes nicely in 7 pitches. Link p6 and p7, and p8 and p9 with a 60 meter rope. Bring extra yellow and orange tcus (or equivalent).

By Brian Vajda
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 28, 2009

Dropped a hat from high up on the route. If anyone is rapping the route, it should be on the ledge on the climbers right, 100' off the ground. The hat is black, red and white Swix hat. The hat has some sentimental value, otherwise I wouldn't care. So if someone is rapping and wants to see if they can grab it, I would be extremely appreciative. Thanks!

By Jay Brown
From: Aspen, Colorado
Jan 28, 2010

awsome free route! please dont use cam hooks!

By Greg Howland
Mar 24, 2011

Just got off Moonlight last week. On the route 3/17-18/2011. Gear list above seems a bit excessive. We used:

2x #1 Metolius
4x #2 Metolius
4x #3 Metolius
3x .5 Black Diamond
2x .75-2 Black Diamond
1 Set of BD Stoppers Doubled from 8-11
1 Set DMM Alloy Offsets
0/1-2/3 Offset Metolius (Wish we also had 3/4 though)
Used a Tricam and Red Ball Nut on P2 but could have easily gone without them
No need for a hook

Partner linked P8 and P9. He said rope drag was extremely bad because of it. 6 and 7 would be a breeze though (back clean your heart out up there). Gear exists on the "runout slab" up top. I think a #1 and #2 BD were placed and weren't even far apart. Really sandy up there though. Hauling was a breeze on pretty much every pitch first 3 and last one were worse than others but bag only got hung up maybe once. The Bivy ledge on top of P5 would be just fine for 1 but would be interesting with 2 people but not the worst thing ever. Everything was as described when we did it. All the bolts were there and the anchors all had at least 3 bolts with the exception of the first pitch which has a great place for pro right next to it. The bolt ladder on P3 did have a few pins on it as of 3/17/11.

Go get after it and enjoy the climb. Such a classic route!!!

Greg

By Tommey-James
From: Boulder,Colorado
Mar 30, 2011

How many of the C1 pitches can go free at 12a or lower?

By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 4, 2011

Moonlight Buttress Free beta

By Phill T
Sep 26, 2011

The supertopo topo linked above is spot on, but I'll add two things. First, there are two sets of anchors at the end of P1. The wrong set is high and left if you miss the step across, the correct set is by the tree on a nice comfy ledge just right of the crack. You cannot see the correct anchors until you are on top of them, but you can see the other anchors, so don't get suckered in and go too high like we did! On the supertopo this is the 'no!' on p1.

2nd bit, there are unmarked bolted anchors at the very top of the climb 2 feet before you pull the lip to the summit trees. I'd take a wager these were installed to facilitate hauling and not groove the lip any more than it is. Again, you cant see them when you start the 5.7 face moves, but they are up there.

Sun Exposure: 9/24/11, the sun started hitting the top of the climb around 9am, and went into the shade around 3:30-4 depending on your elevation.

Approach: apparently no one else had problems with this, but we sure did. Firstly, make sure you are looking at the correct buttress... we mistakenly went up to Megamahedral first (the prominent buttress closest to big bend, climbers left of Moonlight). The approach trail for moonlight starts across the river and is best marked by a big flipping rock in the river, about the size of a bus. Its the only one around. trail starts 10 feet downstream.

By Chris Francy
Sep 15, 2012

Few comments:

-P3 has a free move halfway through bolt ladder. Committing move onto a small ledge (approach shoes are fine for this pitch).
-P5 is the most difficult, one number 5 purple BD cam makes getting to the bolt in the chimney easy. otherwise it's either free climbing or stick clip, there is evidence of people desperately trying to hook blown out pods.
-You can't bring too many .5 purple Camalots. (we had six)
-Extra .3 and .4 camalots are handy
-No need for a number 4 camalot, and doubles yellow and blue (2 and 3) are sufficient.
-Offset cams not necessary (perhaps useful), we climbed with only C3 and C4 black diamonds and double offset alloys and had no trouble
-Approach shoes are fine for the 20 foot slab climbing to the summit. One red camalot for protection

By DrApnea
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 8, 2012
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a C1+

Comments:
-P1: Do the 5.10 pitch variation. I followed it in approach shoes without difficulty.
-P5: Chimney pitch is awkward if getting into it low. after flailing down low, I ended up getting back out of it and getting high up by the anchors before re-entering it. This sets you up to free climb to the bolt, or french free by pulling on a tipped out BD#4 or properly fit #5.
-Gear: If aggressively back cleaning cams triples would be enough, even for the #0.5 pitch. Just hand place offset nuts for pro. Offset cams were helpful higher up on the route, but not required as passive offsets worked well there too. No hook moves necessary on the route, (and I love hook moves so I was looking). We didn't bring tricams, bigbros, or ball nuts either.
-You can never have too much water. 1gal/person/day seemed about right, but don't urinate off the wall because climbers are directly below you. This seems obvious, but apparently some people need reminding :(

By Daniel S
From: Oklahoma City
Nov 26, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c C1

Bring two purple link cams and hook them to your aiders and this will get you up 90% of pitches 4-9 (don't set them as pro). Place other sized gear as you cross spots for them every 15 feet or so. Only bring one #3, and #4. Donít set them as pro; back clean them and use again as needed.

By Justin Lofthouse
From: Utah
Feb 4, 2014

There was a brief comment about bivying on the rocker-block, can two people bivy on it without a portaledge? Would both be able to lay down, or would one have to sleep sitting up? Does anybody a have a good picture of the top of the rocker-block?

By Greg G
From: SLC, UT
Feb 9, 2014
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c C1

I'm guessing those eluding to a bivy at the block slept in a portaledge as the rocker block is only 5 ft x 3 ft. The best natural bivy low on the route is the ledge before the bolt ladder.