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Awful Buttress - 5.8

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Approach by the prominent gully in Rabbit Ear Canyon which leads SE to the base of the NW Face. Go to the far left corner of the NW Face, only 100 yards or so from the Cwm, and traverse right some 100' to the first belay spot. The first pitch goes up an easy slab. Then go right up over some bushy ledges and moss footholds to the base of a short wide crack provided with a loose chockstone about 15' up. Jam up this, which lands you on the spacious Bivouac Ledge (so named because Dick Ingraham spent a chilly and unexpected night there on an early unsuccessful first ascent try). The pitches described to this ledge serve many routes. At the back of the concave middle third of the NRE NW Face there are two great crack systems. The larger, right hand one serves the Pea Pod Route and, at its top, the Chimney Variation of the Awful Buttress Route. The left hand, smaller crack system is the way of this route. Bulging out between them is the Awful Buttress itself. Take to the left hand crack system getting onto a steep slab to its left just above a chockstone (the belay stance) and conquering a small awkward overhang. Then go up an easy pitch composed of vertical flakes. Above this is an excruciatingly narrow squeeze chimney which can be elegantly avoided by passing on the right, then crossing back left on the top of a large loose-looking flake to a tiny grassy foothold. Above this a little way is the Garden, a small plot of greenery scooped out of this airy wall. The next pitch is the crux. Chimney up the flaring crack at the rear of the Garden to a chockstone, then face out, take a wide chimney stance and vault onto the Buttress itself. Mount a few feet, which brings you to a slab split by a wide, bottomless, holdless jamcrack. "Jam" up this, using cross pressures as much as possible, with the right foot against a small crack up the middle of the slab. Exit oozing at the top (about 12'-15' up) to the right, using a minuscule flake for a right foothold, and some imaginary fingerholds, and remembering not to fall. This was the original route. A variation continues up the jamcrack several more feet to safety. Another variation goes up a shallow groove in the middle of the slab, possibly using a sling in the convenient bolt there for an aid step. (The bolt provides pretty good protection also for the jamcrack lead.) Continue up exposed nontrivial blocks to a good belay spot under a sort of roof. From here, swing out onto small holds and get into a steep narrow crack, which ends at a narrow platform. An awkward chimneying move for a few more feet (or a little friction slab around the corner to the right) lands you on a spacious level area marking the top of the difficult middle third of the face. All NW Face routes end up here. The last third of the NW Face lies back in a long series of third and fourth class slabs. Mount to the summit this way or use the fixed rappel point one pitch up which (double rope rappel) puts you at the bottom of the Chimney in Boyer's Chute.

Descent Options:

If you go to the top, drop down the S Face on an easy ramp to the rappel point (two fixed pins). A 120' rappel lands you in a spacious scooped out place on the S Face. Coil the ropes and free climb down to a good big rock bollard about 60' above the NRE-M

Submitted by: LongReach on 2008-04-21
Views: 429
Route ID: 93161