A good route that got slightly misnamed. It's a little bit of everything, true, but not the Ultimate of anything. One of the great things about the route is that you do a little of everything, which is also one of its weaknesses. You do quite a bit of low angle scrambling, forest walking, dirt avoiding, moving of belays and low angle rock. If you don't let that bug you, it is a great amount of good climbing besides, about 1000 of the 1300 feet is worthy, incluing thin face, slabs, traverses, cracks, etc... and if you add on the 500' you climbed just to get to the area, it is a wonderful outing, though I can't compare it to the Grand Wall, or at least not favorably.
P1 (5.9, 50m, bolted + gear): From the belay bolt, step left then up onto the rock passing a few bolts on somewhat mellow moves before moving right to bear-hug a buttress from both sides. Climb right of the bolt line for a move or two, then back left and onto easier territory again, and up into a low angle crack and groove, now placing gear. (5.6?). After 50 meters or perhaps a little less, you will come to a ledge with a bolted belay.
P2 (5.7, 40m, gear): Continue up and left on less distinct but easy, low-angle rock. You will arrive on a ledge with a bolted belay in just under 40 meters. Belay here or move the belay left onto the next pitch (possible heavy drag).
If you belayed at the bolts atop P2, move the belay left 40 feet on the ledge, preferably up onto a pedestal at the first bolt on P3. The climbing is only 5.5 or so, and the stance is very good.
P3: (5.9++, 35M, bolts + gear) From the first bolt atop the pedestal, climb up and left past a second bolt on moderate moves (5.7) and to a slick and polished area with small edges for feet. This is the technical crux of the route in my opinion, though it is given only 5.9 in the books. Moving out left to reach a blunt arete is difficult, but reasonably well protected. From there, head up and right past a few more bolts and onto a good ledge with a tree belay.
P4 (5.6, 40m, gear + bolt): Leave the belay, heading for a single bolt up and right. Clip this and head up, then up and right into a large left-facing corner with a low angle slab on its left side. The climbing here is pretty easy and feels like low angle slab, but the crack in the corner offers some pretty frequent protection. use long slings to avoid drag. You will arrive an a heavily forested ledge from which to belay from trees.
Move the belay up perhaps 100 feet up and left through the woods on a clear trail to the base of the next cliff section. You will see a OW crack to the left and a 45' handcrack to the right. The handcrack is the next pitch, so belay there.
P5 (5.8, 20m, gear): This is the shortest pitch on the climb. Get up and into a very short section of right-facing crack for a few moves, then move right into a hand-sized offset that is left-facing for a few more meters. Set a good directional up top, and consider slinging an exposed root for a further directional, as you will top out on a ledge and move the belay far left, perhaps 30' or so past some sharp and catch flakes. Protect your partner from a stuck rope or swing! Move left to the first of 2 two-bolt belays. This one will have a Chain and ring anchor. Further left, perhaps 40' more there is a 2-bolt 2 ring fixe anchor that is NOT on route (??? what is it ???). Stop and belay.
P6 (5.9-, 45M, gear + bolts): looking up you will see a left-pointing thick flake that starts as a roof, goes to a lieback, and turns to a ledge all within a few meters. Head up under this, place a piece on a long sling, start turning its corner to the left and place more gear, make a single secure 5.9 move and step up onto the flake and place more gear on a long sling again. Head up and left onto very low angle rock past 2 more bolts on a very pleasant slab. The feet and palms are simply pasted down to walk up this to a slight "roof" of sorts. Clip a bolt over the small step of a roof and do the "5.9+" move (felt 5.8) to get onto the slightly more vertical section of wall, the up and right to a crack (gear with long slings) the back left on a ledge and up again to a good crack/flake leading up and right to the next ledge. Any gear placed after the last bolt will be best clipped with a sling to avoid drag. Arrive at a 2 bolt belay on a good ledge. I skipped this belay and continued without clipping it into the next pitch to combine pitches pitches 6-10 (5 pitches) into 3 pitches, 2 of which were 68 meters long.
P7 (5.7, 45M, sparse bolts) head up and right into an obvious dike of greyish white rock with good incuts and cobbles. Climb up this past 2 bolts (5.4?) and head left with it when it takes a 90 degree bend in that direction. Pass 2 more bolts and a 5.7 crux (balancy) between those bolts heading down and left towards a ledge with 2 small pines, each the size of your leg. If you skipped the last belay, you can belay here, using both trees slung as near to the bases as at the bases since the roots appear to be shallow. This does appear to be the original belay for the route, before some anchors were later installed, according to the McLane book, and you will be at 68 meters from the previous belay used. If however, you are pitching it out, head left on this ledge and up a second, thinner dike to a second ledge (40' 5.3) with a 2-bolt anchor and belay there.
P8 (5.9-, 25m, bolts + gear) Climb up the thin inclusions (easy climbing) to intercept a wider dike again, passing 4 bolts with a crux near one of them. This is probably 5.9- or easier then up and right past a short easy crack/flake move to a ledge. If you are combining pitches, you will continue on the next pitch to the next ledge to run a 68 meter pitch and stop at a mid-pitch ledge on that one too. Again, this combination of pitches as described will turn the top half into 3 pitches total, all on good ledges.
P9 (5.6, 40m, 1 gear (or not) + 1 bolt): Continue up and right on easy territory to a second ledge. If combing pitches and you cane from the 2 trees ledge, stop here for a final pitch after. If you are pitching this out into 10 as per the latest book, continue up, then up and right, heading for a shallow ledge with a 2-bolt belay that you can see far right under the roof above that contains the final pitches. If desired, head up and then up and right, passing a single bolt by a 5.6 move to reach the 2-bolt belay... Well, regardless, with a 60M rope, you can make the final bit from the trees on the ledge mid-pitch, and I think the belay is a bit out of the way regardless and would skip it.
P10 (5.10-, 40-60m, bolts + gear) From where ever you belayed, look up, then up and left. Start from the 2 bolt belay and head up and left on a ramp and crack (small narrow cams can be tricky) and head up into the crack below the huge roof above. If you belayed from eh large ledge with trees, clip the bolt on P9 with a long sling and never go right to the belay, head directly up and left into the roof, noting another bolt you are headed for. Place a .75 or 1" cam, then a 1.25 cam which may be a little less than perfect, but add up to good pro, then stand up tall on an insecure stance to clip the bolt. Pull a few reachy moves (hard if below 5'8" I suspect) and get into a horizontal under the roof. Head left out under this for perhaps a 40 foot span, placing some 1-2.5" cams into blocky slots and cracks on the way, This is a real calf-burner and needs to be dispensed with quickly to avoid pumping out on the hand on the clings, or the feet on the crystals you smear on. Turn out left beyond the roof and onto the summit none-too-soon. The huge rock up and slight left is loose and balanced in dirt. It moves if you step on it and I would not trust it for a sling-belay, so arrange an anchor on a nearby tree.
To descend, move up and right to join the summit trail downward, which will take ~ 1 hour.
Approach from the top of an Apron climb such as Rock On or any other, as if approaching for the Squamish Buttress, but take a left-hand branch in the trail, crossing down and over through the South Gully to a good ledge along fixed lines, when it gets sketchy. Pass under a series of progressively lower and larger roofs, keeping an eye on the wall on your right for a lone, shiny belay bolt at the start of the route.
A single set of nuts, a set of cams from .3 to 3" and extras in 1.5-2.5" if desired. This rack sufficed for us despite running pitches together. You will want a lot of 2' slings if you are used to just carrying draws. Bolts and gear are not necessarily closely placed, but are generally available at the harder moves, with the possible exception of on the final pitch (10b variation) if you are too short to get the clip from the good holds.
I should note that there is a PG13 section on that last pitch unless you have narrow cams that fit into the crack. I found BD cams too wide to be confidence inspiring (purple and grey) so take TCU's aliens or whatever else has a narrower profile for pieces below 1.5"
Paige about to tackle the 5.10 crack to the top at...
|By Peter Spindloe|
From: North Vancouver, BC
Jul 11, 2009
Tough to say whether it's a two-star or three-star. The climbing itself is fun but probably not three-star (except maybe the 10b last pitch). But for being a route that can take you to the top of the Chief at 5.9+ (if you aid the 11b last pitch variation) and combine with a lower Apron route to get a huge route at a very accessible grade, it's three star.
Although the topos show 45m pitches and rappels, the number of trees on the route means that escape with a single rope would likely be possible, especially with a 70m.
As Tony indicated, some of the belays appear to be located for rappel convenience, but the number of trees and ledges make it quite possible to combine pitches or turn three into two. We were able to cut several guidebook pitches out. The last three are very conveniently turned into two, and the ledge below final pitch is a very comfortable place to stop rather than going the extra 50 feet up the bolted belay.
|By John Wilder|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jul 15, 2010
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ E2 5b
Spectacular fun, adventure climbing at its best. One of my favorite moderates anywhere.
Couple of notes- IMHO, the first pitch is the crux and more like .10a/b, but well protected. I was caught off guard buy it, and was surprised when The other pithces of .9 turned out to be more like .8.
The only way to go on the final pitch is the left hand crack- it is spectacular and only .10b because its pumpy, in the valley it'd be 5.9 at most. Save a green camalot for just before the bolt, though.
Great fun, highly recommended!
|By Johnny Y|
Nov 15, 2012
There is a 5.11a variation if you exit right on the last pitch (actually I think that is the original finish). It is a 5.10a A0 in the guidebook. But the 10b exit left is way better, the crux IMHO is the slab moves before the horizontal crack (5.10-), but there is a bolt to protect the move. After that the crack has bomber jugs and jams and very easy to protect, feels like 5.9+ Squamish-grade.
Also we missed the first belay bolt and went farther left in the gully to find another belay bolt. It's for Upper Echelon and it is easy to get the two confused since they are rather close together. If the moves feel much easier than 5.9 (and the next pitch has a right facing corner with a bolt on the slab), then you are probably off-route. We traversed right toward the obvious gully and got back on track.
Jul 22, 2013
Really it's almost all bolted slab.