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The Rostrum
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The North Face 

YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, 8 pitches, 700'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Denny & Harding - 1962
FFA: Kauk & Yablonski - 1977
Carrigan got the final pitch Yaniro did the Alien finish
Page Views: 28,193
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 23, 2006

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TRing the Alian Finish

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  • Description 

    The Rostrum is a truly rad climb. Every pitch is high quality and would be sought after individual classics were they at any crag, but stacked on top of each other they create a superb and memorable challenge. The climbing is secure, well protected, and physical.

    Park at the pullout along the stone wall, or just past it at a dirt pullout. Follow the trail(which begins just west of the stone wall) down past some slabs and on to an obvious rappel point on a tree. Two more raps (all with a single 60m) take you to within 25 feet of the base.

    P1: Ascend a large left-facing crack/flake system to a final 5.8 squeeze chimney with a wild exit move. Belay above the maw at bolts. It helps to step left at a tree halfway up this pitch. 5.9.

    P2: Three options.

    1): Downclimb ten feet and traverse left to a thin crack system. This traverse is balancey with minimal hands and sloping feet. Climb back up until level with the belay, place gear (black Alien helpful) and punch it up the thin layback/fingerlock crack until it is possible to stem right to a flake at which point the climbing eases. Continue to a belay stance on blocks with a good pin. 5.11a.

    2): Ascend the aforementioned left-facing flake straight up from the belay. This goes at 5.10- and is R without large gear. It appears extremely secure, however.

    3): Ascend a 5.10d flare to the right of the belay. This looks less appealing than the previous options.

    P3: A long pitch. Perform a difficult layback move off the belay up into the hand crack system. Climb amazing steep hands to a roof, lieback and jam up through the roof, and up yet another awesome handcrack to a final stretch of jugs that lead to the halfway ledge. Belay at a pin on the ledge. 5.10.

    P4: The crux. Climb an easy ramp to a stance immediately below the pumpy but locker splitter finger crack. Up this for 25 feet to a thank-god hand jam and rest stance. It's hard to fully recover here unless you can get your knee in, but I suggest getting as much back as you can. Launch into an extremely pumpy layback flake, past a pin, for another 20 feet. The pump is cumulative but complete recovery is possible if you can pull over the top. Clip the optional anchor and traverse straight left to a right-facing wall with a steep 5.9 hand crack. Follow this up to a bolted belay. 5.11c.

    P5: Two options.

    1): Continue up the steep, slick right-facing corner with good jams separated by long reaches. Pull around a small roof at the top. Belay at bolts. 5.10d.

    2): "The Uprising". Step right and climb the sick, overhanging hands & fists crack up the face right of the traditional line. If you climb the Uprising, it makes a lot of sense to link it into the next pitch. 5.11.

    P6: Take the big cam out of the pack. Tricky face climbing right leads to a steep crack on the arete. At the top perform a difficult crack switch move to gain the 5.10 offwidth. Solid knee locks, hand stacks, and pushing of a 4.5 Camalot (#5 C4) over your head will get you to the top. I found it quite enjoyable, but others have called it the crux. There is a bolt and other small pro available on this pitch, and strong OW climbers could do without the large cam -- but since you need it for the standard final pitch (and can place it on many other pitches), you may as well bring it. Also, it makes for a truly stupendous pitch to link this OW into the next pitch -- just save your hand-size cams. Otherwise, belay at bolts. 5.10.

    P7: Three options.

    1) The traditional (and apparently best) line is to mantle through a bit of bird shit and then climb up to a large, fin-shaped feature that sticks straight out of the wall. Ascend the left side of this with wild jams to some great stem rests. Belay at a bolt in the alcove under the final headwall. Soft for 5.11b.

    2) Supposedly it is also possible to ascend the right side of this fin at 5.10d but it doesn't seem as good.

    3) There's also the "Excellent Adventure" variation but I didn't even look at it. I think that, as you climb up next to the fin, there's a finger crack out left that can be followed diagonally up to under the final headwall. 5.13?

    P8: Three options.

    1) The most common finish is to traverse straight right on easy ground, then up into a final 5.9 offwidth. There is a difficult (5.10+) move to gain the OW, but once you're in it it is rather easy (especially compared to the offwidth below). Your big cam will protect the first half of the crack, but be warned that if you leave it behind the rope frequently will drag the cam irretrievably into the crack. It's better to use it as long as possible, then pull it out, and gun for the top -- do not fall. Belay at a fixed anchor on a tree.

    2) The Alien Finish heads straight out the roof at 5.12b. From under the roof it is possible to place a 0.75 Camalot to protect the initial moves. These involve powerful moves from a great jam to a good undercling to either a thin finger jam over the lip or a flake. The difficulties continue beyond this as you ascend twin finger cracks up the steep headwall. Eventually you must switch cracks (by some bolts) to the original finish -- it is possible to switch cracks lower down at an obvious chalked up flake. The upper part of the pitch is sustained rattley fingers -- save gear for this!

    3) The original finish is just left of the Alien and is also 5.12b. I haven't climbed it and don't know too much about it, other then that you hand traverse left under the roof to access it (or do the "Excellent Adventure").

    From the summit block, rap down into the notch, then do 35 feet of 5.4-5.5 up the other side to get back on the trail up to the road. It's also worth noting that if you want to only do the top half of the climb, or need to bail after the first half, passage to and from the trail and halfway ledge is possible via a short 5.6 traverse.


    Double set of cams from fingers to wide hands. Include one tiny (black Alien) piece, and one large (#4.5 Camalot/#5 C4) piece. Single set of wires. Half a dozen draws & a couple slings.

    Photos of The North Face Slideshow Add Photo
    Jack climbs the second to last pitch
    Jack climbs the second to last pitch
    Skip Guerin barefoot on the Alien Roof (5.12b), Yo...
    Skip Guerin barefoot on the Alien Roof (5.12b), Yo...
    Pitch seven
    Pitch seven
    Every pitch on this climb is outstanding.  This is...
    Every pitch on this climb is outstanding. This is...
    The notorious pitch 6 5.10 offwidth of the Rostrum...
    The notorious pitch 6 5.10 offwidth of the Rostrum...
    Climber coming up pitch 5 (10+) of the Rostrum Nor...
    Climber coming up pitch 5 (10+) of the Rostrum Nor...
    The best pitch of the climb
    The best pitch of the climb
    Josh F. firing the 11c fourth pitch of the Rostrum...
    Josh F. firing the 11c fourth pitch of the Rostrum...
    at the end of the "crux" section.
    at the end of the "crux" section.
    The view of the The Rostrum from the bottom.
    The view of the The Rostrum from the bottom.
    At a nice rest partway through the crux section.  ...
    At a nice rest partway through the crux section. ...
    Tring the alien finish
    Tring the alien finish
    Mike heading into the OW section on P6
    Mike heading into the OW section on P6
    Josh F. on the 11a second pitch of the Rostrum.
    Josh F. on the 11a second pitch of the Rostrum.
    After the crux on pitch 4.
    After the crux on pitch 4.
    Eric Coleman in the perfect hands on pitch 3.
    Eric Coleman in the perfect hands on pitch 3.

    Comments on The North Face Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 10, 2012
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 23, 2006

    Back in the days before this became a popular free climb, it was a fun route to learn aid climbing on. I remember starting from above, rapping (or downclimbing?) to the middle ledge, where we left our haul bag. Then you'd rap to the bottom and begin the route. By evening you'd be right at the ledge, and bivy on the great half-way ledge. The second day you'd top out, hauling the bag. Topping out over the big roof was a blast.
    By Zach Allen
    Jan 26, 2007

    What is the gear for the 10- wide variation of the second pitch, if you don't want to run it out?
    By Paul Hunnicutt
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 22, 2007

    If you aren't strong on offwidths, but want to do this amazing climb, bring two #5 camalots and leap frog them.
    By stevecurtis
    From: Petaluma California
    Mar 30, 2008

    This one is my favorite climb. Pure enjoyment. Last summer a friend and I started at 0900, and he was married in the valley chapel at 1600. Dedication.
    It is possible to go straight up the crack on the first pitch rather than traversing left.

    I've seen some accidents on the third pitch. That lay back is slippery, and the landing an ankle breaker.
    The first pitch of blind faith is superb, but the OW above will tear you up.
    The uprising is secure for someone with moderate size hands. Go high and place gear before the traverse. Then back clean the first hand sized piece or two in the crack. #3 camalots are all you need above the initial #2 section.
    The last overhanging hands pitch is my favorite 11A anyplace.

    A knee may fit really well before the last few tough OW moves.
    By Rob Kepley
    From: Westminster,CO
    Oct 15, 2008
    rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

    One of the best routes I have ever done, period! What a great way to end a trip!
    By Brad G
    From: Yosemite and else where
    Mar 3, 2009

    Can you link Blind Faith with the Uprising?
    By Christian "crisco" Burrell
    From: PG, Utah
    Aug 15, 2009

    I understand that this is a classic free route, but I wonder if anyone ever aids this for fun/practice (all clean of course). Has anyone done it recently?
    By Alexey
    From: San Jose
    Aug 31, 2009

    excellent description of the route Josh Janes, nothing to add, thanks
    By J. Albers
    From: Colorado
    Dec 13, 2009

    Excellent description Josh, thanks. However, I do have one question for those of you who have done this route. I almost always carry a four foot draw with me when I trad climb for many reasons, one of which is, so that I can put it on a piece of gear (say an RP before a runout) that I want to be sure won't move. Thus, it is hard for me to understand why putting a four foot draw on a big cam wouldn't stop the rope from pushing the big cam far back into the offwidth and thus losing it. Is there something special about the orientation of this pitch that having a long draw on the big cam would not solve this problem?
    Thanks Dean. What you are saying makes sense, i.e. the rope drags over the cam and literally pushes it in. Cheers.
    By Dean Hoffman
    Jan 5, 2010

    In regards to the # 4 placement on the last pitch its not a matter of the cam walking in as much as it is the rope will push the cam deep, deep, deep into the crack. The long sling won't help because of where your last piece is. The beta we got from Ted Roberts was "It don't matter whose lead it is, whoever is the least worked takes the sharp end... Get into the OW and walk that #4 as far as you can, when it doesn't fit anymore take it out. I never heard of anyone falling and you probably wouldn't die... but don't blow it you might die." I was skeptical until all of a sudden the #4 didn't fit anymore and I thought good god Ted was right and clipped the 4 to my harness.! Awesome route a must do.
    By Evan Stevens
    Oct 9, 2010

    Excellent adventure clocks in at 13-, and there is no crux that hard. First half which is left of the 7th pitch of the Rostrum 11b is 12- until you get a squatting rest under the main roof. From there you continue up the Rostrum Roof which is rated 12d, big pulls on big finger locks. All in all a 45m pitch, which is mind blowing. A #4 camalot is useful under the roof.
    By snowhazed
    From: Oakland, Ca
    Oct 28, 2010

    You can leave the big cam in the final ow- just extend your anchor from the summit tree back to the top of the crack. Voila- the rope wont even touch the cam. Sick route- so hard!
    By kovarpa
    Jan 6, 2011

    the best route I have done so far. clean and varied.
    good route beta above. I would say the P4 is soft at 11.c. On the other hand, I found P5 with the 10.d roof quite hard and exhausting.
    The P6 OW is a lot of work but actually quite secure when pushing a #5 Camalot in front of you.
    By David Aguasca!
    From: New York
    Aug 6, 2011

    Such a rad climb. It's a bummer that someone felt it was necessary to put a bolt on the P6 offwidth. Does anyone know what the deal with it is? Was it a historical bolt that was replaced or someone just too lazy to bring a 5" piece?
    By Scotty Nelson
    From: Boulder
    Jul 12, 2012

    Is the Rostrum still closed?
    By Max Tepfer
    From: Bend, OR
    Oct 23, 2012

    Definitely recommend taking the left option on P2. Not too hard and very good climbing. (especially compared to your alternatives...)

    My experience was that extending the anchor atop the final pitch wasn't enough to keep the rope from pushing my #5 irretrievably into the crack. Doing it again, I'd pull the thing out.
    By Rob Dillon
    Oct 30, 2012

    So about 3/4 of the way up the last [wide var.] pitch there's a horizontal crack out to the right. Plug a 1.5"-2.5" piece in here and clip it a bit short and it should keep the rope from shoving your big cam back in there.

    That's my good deed for the day. Off to help old ladies across the street.
    By Greg Barnes
    Nov 30, 2012

    It's a bummer that someone felt it was necessary to put a bolt on the P6 offwidth. Does anyone know what the deal with it is? Was it a historical bolt that was replaced or someone just too lazy to bring a 5" piece?
    I replaced it - it was an old original 1/4" with Leeper. We (Jack Hoeflich and I) considered just chopping it, but not everyone had big cams at that point. We did debate about it. We decided the opposite on the single remaining 1/4" bolt along the final pitch of the Good Book. In that case the offwidth is the final pitch so if you don't bring big cams you can just rap.
    By Alexey
    From: San Jose
    Dec 10, 2012

    It is funny Greg, that you surprised about bolt on p6 , since Yosemite ST book showed this bolt since first addition 2002, and you are one of the authors of the book...
    Anyway what is done is done. This bolt is redundant if you take #5.
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