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Redgarden - Tower Two
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Serpent, The 
Sickness Unto Death 
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The Serpent 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- British: E2 5b R

Type:  Trad
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- British: E2 5b [details]
FA: C. Reveley & J Ruger, 1974
Fixed Hardware: 2 Lead Bolts, 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 1,375
Submitted By: Tony B on Oct 30, 2001
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  • Description 

    The route is quite good, with more protection on the lower pitches, it would be considered a 3-star classic. If climbed as an upper half finish to Art's Spar or Rosy Crucifixion, it is probably a 3-star classic anyway.

    To find the route, first climb one of the several routes that will take you to the upper ramp. Just down and Right or upper Ruper (down and right of the finish of Rosy) lies an impressive looking, continuous, overhanging and left-facing dihedral system; this is Le Void. The smaller dihedral 1/2 way between Upper Ruper and Le Void is the beginning of The Serpent.

    Start on the left side of the small, left-facing rounded dihedral and climb up some distance before crossing over the edge/bulge to the right hand side (5.9+, S) Climb interesting face moves (5.8, S/VS) to reach the bottom of a second overhanging dihedral. Although this is in the book as a "belay," the stance is small and uncomfortable and the gear is poor. I skipped the belay and ran 2 pitches together, which may require a 60m rope.

    Continue up and left through the overhang into the dihedral, a radically left-leaning open book. Clip a few bolts and supplement with gear before and after if necessary. The crux (10b) is a balance and stemming affair that is well protected by the second bolt. After the 3rd both, the dihedral becomes more vertical. Move up and right onto a ledge that caps the pitch.

    From the belay ledge, climb up just left of an obvious dihedral, using the dihedral as desired for some way, (50'?) prior to traversing right around the corner onto a ledge with a small tree. Keep an eye out for that tree as you climb and begin the traverse while it is just above you, but far right. With a 60m rope it is possible to again skip THIS belay and continue climbing up a crack/dihedral just right of the one you've just been in (5.9+) into what should be the 4th pitch, but another belay will then be necessary later.

    Belay at the aforementioned tree, or step back left and continue up a crack system that terminates to easy runout-face, tending left on a slope top finish on Ruper.

    There is a variation or two that I have found that involve some terra incognito to find yourself much further to climber's right on T2. This will involve non-descript climbing on low-traffic rock, with some effort expended fighting runouts and lichen. Be my guest. Perhaps a safe high-quality face route might go here someday if someone cleans the rock a little and then applies for and is granted a permit to put in a few bolts.


    The protection in many spots leaves something to be desired at 5.9+. In others (at 5.8) it is non-existent. THe crux, however, is well bolted and safe. Take a standard Eldo rack with a set of cams to 3.5" and small stoppers.

    Comments on The Serpent Add Comment
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    By steve dieckhoff
    Nov 1, 2001

    Large Tri-cams will fit in some of the pockets on the first pitch if you're so inclined.

    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 27, 2002

    I led all the pitches of this route yesterday and thought that they were spectacular although I must admit that the [first] pitch scared me silly. I usually enjoy routes at the 5.9s/5.8vs level and sometimes even solo at this grade but for some reason this route had me whimpering like a puppy who just got caught peeing on the floor. I was extremely relieved to reach the crux where I could clip a good bolt and it almost felt as if the hard part was over. I found it rather ironic that the crux is about the safest part of the entire route. I combined the 1st two pitches and would definitely [recommend] doing it this way because the gear at the optional belay looked poor at best. I did a variation on my second pitch where I stayed in the dihedral at the start (fun 5.9) because the rock to the left looked very friable then I continued in the dihedral/corner system past the normal blind traverse, moved a bit left then back right through a strenuous overhang and traversed straight right to the tree (5.10). From the tree it is just barely possible to reach the top with a 60m rope. This is a really good route that requires a bit of every technique including serious mind control.......

    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Apr 28, 2003

    Did this again on Saturday and have some notes. #1) a bolt has been added at the top of the first pitch. You can climb to this, but as the "backup" gear next to it is poor, I still wouldn't want to belay off of it. #2) One guy took a grounder off of this route at the 5.9+ crux when a piece or two popped. The initial gear is not that great, be advised to place much/often. He walked away & I ran into him climbing Sunday. #3) The first two pitches combined total 33 meters of climbing, and could be rapped off of after completion with a single 60m due to the angle of the climb moving left, where the ramp below is higher than the start of the climb by a considerable amount.
    #4) I completed what I am confident is a new 3rd pitch to this route- about 50m of mostly new climbing, although Shasta does mingle with the line for a short period. I referred to this line as Fresca (5.10, R) As I am more informed of the relationship between these two lines and also between Shasta and the 'terra incognita' I described in my write up of Serpent a few years ago, I'll try to post a clear description. I will add this to the site as Fresca, as it will be referred to from 3 different routes and I'd like to put the info in one place.

    By Steve Levin
    From: Boulder, CO
    Apr 29, 2003

    Tony- I agree there is a great deal of non-descript terrain in the upper reaches between Upper Ruper and T2. Having climbed several "exit" pitches for climbs in this vicinity, I consider most of the rock up there not really worth climbing, let alone demarcating into named "routes" or "variations". I'm sure people have wandered all over up there in past years.

    By Anonymous Coward
    Feb 8, 2004

    First pitch run-out only adds to the stoke!!!

    By Dougald MacDonald
    Apr 28, 2004

    Take care with the crucial blocky-tower section before turning the corner/roof 20 feet up the first pitch -- the blocks seem to have gotten looser over the three times I've done this section (during the past six years or so). In particular, the key right-hand undercling at the bottom of the tower seems solid until you pull up into it, at which point it definitely wiggles. Use this with care, and be sure to place as much and as good pro as you can before you start this whole sequence -- a small slot a foot or two below is the best bet. (We used a green Alien most recently.) Someday that whole pile is going to disappear.

    Still.... it's a great pitch!

    By tooTALLtim
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 12, 2009

    Make sure you bring extra underclings for the second pitch, it's fantastic!

    P1 and P2 are easily combined with a 60m.