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Wonderwall 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a A3

   
Type:  Trad, Aid, 4 pitches, 500'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a A3 [details]
FA: Mark Ward & Randy Wright, 1978
Season: Summer
Page Views: 1,392
Submitted By: mountainsense on Aug 8, 2010

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BETA PHOTO: The Wonderwall follows--approximately--the red lin...

Description 

Established during the year of my birth, the Wonderwall is the strikingly obvious line that avoids the Summit Wall's lower-angle, patina faces and--instead--tackles the most prominent of the steeper, white faces characteristic of the formation's more southerly aspects. A tremendous and a visionary achievement, the Wonderwall combines quality stone and--perhaps--some of the most exposed positions in the cirque with, at times, "heads up" technical climbing, all in a remote setting. For those in search of summer alpine adventure in the Wasatch, check out this seldom-done classic. If--and when--this one goes free, it will surely rival the Question Mark Wall's Beckey Route (FFA: Merrill Bitter, Stuart Ruckman) as the modern Cirque testpiece.

Location 

Wonderwall shares much of its first pitch with the George Lowe classic, the Undone Book. Climb the initial corner past the right-trending undercling that leads into the Open Book, then into the bouldery, left-leaning lieback-undercling that marks the beginning of the Undone--this gains the prominent, right-facing corner system. Once established in the corner, patina jugs along the arete lead to a small, sloping stance--this is where, according to the Ruckmans' topo, the two lines diverge; the Undone Book continues straight up, and the Wonderwall trends rightwards*, toward the arete.

Protection 

In terms of iron, bring along several, shorter KBs, cam hooks and beaks--the new Moses RH Tomahawks worked particularly well here, due to the route's ever-present lean. Offset brass HBs and Peenuts proved extremely useful; in addition, we brought gear to 2.5" with doubles in #2-4 Metolius. All but the second, "killer" belay--atop the ledge--require gear for anchors.


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By mountainsense
Aug 8, 2010

The Ruckmans' description of the route's first pitch is a bit confusing; it does not seem to correspond with the topo provided in the guidebook. The most logical line leading to the first "alcove" belay is to free-climb the Undone Book's crux second pitch to a point past the bolt and above a fixed A5 beak, then traverse rightward on face holds toward the arete--which, for the record, is the line we climbed*. At several points along this pitch during our recent ascent, we tensioned right in search of the line shown in the topo. Just above and to the right of the afore-mentioned "sloping stance," we discovered a sizable, detached flake and--at the time--what appeared to be little evidence that this was, in fact, the correct line. Can anyone provide more information concerning this ambiguity? Mr. Garrett? Mr. Smoot?
By bsmoot
Aug 9, 2010

Haven't done this route but I did talk to Mark Ward about it when I was working on my old guide. Here's what it said about pitch 1:

"Follow Undone Book for about 30', then follow a flake that leads up & right towards the Open Book. Continue up a thin aid crack to a bolt. Belay on a stance at a nitch on the prow. (5.9 A2)"

I remember talking to Mark about the climb. He said that Randy took a big fall trying to connect the Undone Book with the start of Wonderwall. Big adventure for them.
By mountainsense
Aug 9, 2010

Thanks for the beta, Brian! The "nitch" on the prow turned out to be one of the most uncomfortable belay stances--sloping, with not much to stand on. An unbelievable line, though--perhaps the last great problem in the cirque? S
By bsmoot
Aug 9, 2010

But Shingo, didn't the next belay ledge make up for it? Great Job!
By Taylor Morgan
From: Draper, UT
Aug 12, 2010

Thanks for posting this route! It's nice to finally have some beta to supplement the Ruckmans' description.
By beerdrinker
From: Moab, Utah
Jul 2, 2012

it appears that nik berry freed this route at 5.13c R. source