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Thin Red Line (Free Version) 

YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1100', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Mikey Schaefer, 2008
Page Views: 2,614
Submitted By: Max Tepfer on Jul 25, 2013

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (6)
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Pitch 1.


For years this (still) under-appreciated route was one of the go-to routes for northwestern aid climbers looking to cut their teeth. Thankfully for those of us that like to try and climb things with our hands and feet, in 2008, local talent Mikey Schaefer had the vision and ability to unlock a free variation to the one blank pitch. His variation allows the whole line to go free at a relatively moderate grade. While this climb is more or less devoid of steep, clean splitters, it offers pitch after pitch of incredible climbing up intricate crack systems and faces on practically perfect rock.

-With fitness and careful rope management, many of these pitches could be combined.

-Very few people have approached this as a free route and it's seen a surprisingly small number of actual red-point ascents. As a result, the grades are still somewhat in a state of flux.

-If you're one of those people that's all about standing in slings, know that no hammers are necessary to climb this route. You can happily leave them at home.

-Also see: and

P1: This is actually the first pitch of another route, Freedom or Death. Mellow slabbing up discontinuous cracks and bolts. At the anchor step right to another anchor. (the left bolts are FoD) 5.10.

P2: Easy moves lead up to a small roof. The crux is turning the roof with insecure lie-backing. More easy ground leads to a gear belay below a clean dihedral capped by a large roof. 5.11.

P3: Stem and lie-back up the corner on beautiful rock. After this pull a sometimes wet and always wild crux move to establish yourself in the roof and move out left to a bolted anchor at a less-than-stellar stance. 5.11

P4: Continue moving up and left out to the lip of the roof. Step even further left and clip two bolts. (part of FoD) After that, move up and back right to flake that you follow via a hand traverse to a stance and bolts. 5.10.

P5: Crux time. Execute a beautiful, techy traverse right on perfect stone to access a shallow left facing corner. Climb up moderate terrain and ditch your rack (possibly excepting a green alien/red c3) just before the first bolt in the corner. Technical stemming up four bolts leads to stance and another slight crux move to a good hold out left to finish the pitch at anchor bolts. 5.12.

P6: More crux. Believe it or not, you're not supposed to follow the beautiful roof out left to the two bolt anchor. Instead climb straight up the corner on moderate terrain to a small roof. Step right and work up a hanging finger crack towards a large, intimidating roof split by two seams. Figure out the bouldery crux (gear-beta spoiler alert: red C3 w/single lobe facing left is a crucial and specific placement to get through here w/o whipping big on an old, but pretty solid fixed pecker) and finish the pitch up a mellow finger crack. Either belay at a hanging stance w/3 pins and a good tree or at a good stance on gear one or two meters lower. 5.12.

P7: More moderate cracks lead up and right to a two bolt anchor on a large ledge-system. 5.10

P8: The last crux. Thin, technical moves on more perfect rock are protected by small gear and fixed heads and pins. Immediately after the crux, step left to a ramp and belay off of gear at a stance at the top of it. 5.11

P9: Fun, engaging climbing up a final corner system leads to a brief thin move in the bitter end of the pitch. Pull the move and mantle onto M&M ledge. Gear belay on the right.

It's possible to rap (trending climber's left) with two ropes from this point. We rapped from a fixed pin and wire. Someone with some old rope and bike tire could rig a better station up and left of this on a large (and bomber) horn. From M&M, work left to good bolts and make four double rope raps to the ground.

Otherwise, climb a couple more moderate pitches of excellent quality to the top.


The start's a bit tricky to pick out as there are a lot of random exploratory anchors around the base of the east face. Look climber's right of Liberty Cracks and try to connect the line down from features above... Some mellow snow travel is usually necessary to reach the base.


Most of the pitches have a lot of fixed gear most of which is good. Rumor has it that Mikey, on the ffa, updated all the fixed pins and pulled the manky ones.
Single rack from purple tcu to #2 C4, doubles blue tcu to 0.75, small to medium stoppers, (no rps necessary) ~10 QDs.

Photos of Thin Red Line (Free Version) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron sending Pitch 3.
Aaron sending Pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: The pitch to M&M ledge.
The pitch to M&M ledge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the first crux.
Looking down the first crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron getting his slab on in the final hard pitch.
Aaron getting his slab on in the final hard pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The easy pitch before the last hard one.
The easy pitch before the last hard one.
Rock Climbing Photo: A topo for Thin Red Line.
BETA PHOTO: A topo for Thin Red Line.

Comments on Thin Red Line (Free Version) Add Comment
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By blakeherrington
Aug 2, 2013

I like a generic "5.12" grade - both of the 5.12 pitches are body size dependent, but in different ways, and both are going to feel much easier or harder depending on one's strengths so overall it makes for a good climb that requires some tech, some power, some crack skills, and some face climbing. I've climbed this route now with 5 other people and everyone has had their own personal crux somewhere different.
By Jon Rhoderick
Aug 16, 2013

thanks for posting Max!
By kerwinl
Jun 24, 2015
rating: 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b

If you climb with a 70M rope, the leader can untie and throw the end down once they are at the belay. This will allow hauling the pack on all the hard pitches.

There is a discrepancy between the topo posted here for the pitch 10 and what the supertopo guide shows. Take the variation shown here (the 5.7 Ramp), the rock quality and climbing is much better, the two variations converge in the blocky chimney above.

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