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Bullet hard quartzite, airy position, and enjoyable climbing on a bolted arête characterize this climb, which is tucked far back in Dark Star Gully and consequently shaded until mid-day and after late afternoon. According to the Ruckmans’ guide, the route is named for an “apparition of a famous old climber” seen during the first ascent. It’s unlikely you’ll see the same apparition, but you may get spooked by the shape the bolts are in. The first two appear to be 3/8” Rawls, but they have SMC hangers cocked in weird directions. The rest of the bolts appear to 1/4” threaded split shafts, rusted to boot!
Nonetheless, The Wraith provides three star climbing for BCC (Ruckmans give it two out of three stars) and if you feel solid at 5.11a you’ll just chuckle, although maybe nervously, as you make your way past each bolt. You’ll likely want to place a cam (1 ½”) between the 4th and 5th bolts, although don’t look too hard or you’ll notice that the integrity of the placement is not entirely free from doubt. (If rebolting is under consideration, maybe contact Stu and get his consent to add a bolt in lieu of the cam placement and to move the last bolt to the right of the arête).
Two last notes: Consider bringing a stick-clip for the first bolt; the move to it is not easy and the landing is bad. Also, there are a few small scattered patches of poison oak that are out of the way, but you may want to locate them to be sure.
The Wraith (and its neighbors, Karmic Whiplash and the “Spring” routes) are near the top of Dark Star Gully, on its eastern wall (they face west). The direct approach to these routes from Big Cottonwood Creek is nasty because of a large patch of poison oak that needs to be negotiated to get up the gully, and if the water is high, it’s impossible anyway. The best approach, which avoids the poison oak completely, is to hike the well-beaten trail from the Storm Mountain Picnic Area (the same trail that accesses the Slips) until on the ridge then cut cross-country for several hundred feet and drop into Dark Star Gully from the top. You may want to scope the approach from the roadside below the gully your first time. From the pull-out across the BCC road from the entrance to the Storm Mountain Picnic Area, the hike is about 15 minutes to the top of Dark Star Gully. Once in the gully, the first bolted route is Karmic Whiplash and just to the right is The Wraith.
Six draws, a 1 ½” cam, and draws for the bolts on top. As of this writing, the anchors only have quick links that do not extend over the edge such that threading and lowering are feasible; it’s easy, though, to retrieve the top draws at the end of your visit as you leave, if you’ve come in from the Storm Mountain Picnic Area.
Aug 15, 2012
Very poor bolts!!! Gear is had after 4th bolt. Purple C3 to purple .5 Camalot backs last 2 bolts up nicely.
By Landon McBrayer
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 8, 2013
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Pretty good, juggy, and slightly pumpy. The bolts are terrifying. Like JBONE said, a few cams fingers to tight hands are useful in the middle section. Not really deserving an 11a rating in my view.
By Spencer Weiler
From: SLC, UT
Jun 11, 2014
Bolts are weird but I didn't really think they were bad. Maybe I'm used to clipping star drives in the desert. I found the crux to be the last bolt. Bad ledge fall potential if you blow it, and its not easy. I happily yarded here as my ankles are worth far more than a redpoint.
We found a nice trail that leads from the top of the ridge directly to the top of the gully without any cross country. Take a left at a big boulder on a faint path. The entrance to the gully is 1 min from there.