My favorite large pieces of stone by Lynn Hill
Rather than spend a whole day working the beta on a single-pitch route, I feel more adventurous when I cast off on a large piece of stone with a simple objective--climb all the way to the top. I enjoy doing multi-pitch routes because they are usually naturally aesthetic, provide a more fluid style of movement, and are rich in history. Here are a few of my favorite multi-pitch routes:
June 20 2018
Astroman on Washington Column, 5.11c
Yosemite Valley, California
This 1,000-foot route was first climbed in 1959 by Warren Harding, Chuck Pratt, and Glenn Deny. The first free ascent was done in 1975 by John Bachar, Ron Kauk, and John Long. This is a physically demanding route that requires crack climbing skills, as well as some unusual techniques not commonly found on any other route. The most notorious and awkward section of the route is known as the Harding Slot where you have to squeeze through a tight chimney-like crack that was so small that I couldn’t even turn my head around inside. I didn’t need to worry about placing protection in the section because my body would get lodged in the slot whenever I breathed in a lot of air. The difficulty had to do with moving upward using my best groveling and wiggling skills. The next pitch, called the Changing Corners, involves changing from one side of a corner/arete to another while following a thin crack with small protection. The first time I climbed Astroman, I had to climb the last pitch in the dark with no headlamp. Even in broad daylight, the line is not obvious and the protection is not easy to find if you don’t choose the right line. Overall, this route is a full day of sustained climbing on a beautiful rock formation.
Northeast Face of Pingora, 5.8+
Wind River Range, Wyoming
The Northeast Face of Pingora is probably one of the most sought-after climbs in the Cirque of the Towers. This is probably due to its listing in the 50 Classic Climbs book. I enjoyed hiking several miles into such a remote and pristine wilderness full of streams, lush pine tree forests, wild animals, and amazing granite faces all around. The Northeast Face of Pingora is a great entry level multi-pitch trad climb since the wall is not super steep and the climbing is not very demanding. This 9-pitch trad route has excellent quality rock, the protection is safe and easy to place, and the climbing is super fun.
High Exposure, 5.6
The Gunks, New York
Only 250 feet high, this is a relatively short multi-pitch route but is a must-do classic at the Gunks. Though the climb is only rated 5.6, there is one move on the second pitch that feels more like 5.8. This move involves stepping around the arete and past a small roof to reach some nice horizontal holds that lead to the top of the cliff. The rock is super solid quartzite. The protection is safe and it’s one of the most spectacular climbs for the grade.
D7 on the Diamond, 5.11c/d
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Next to the Casual route, D7 is one of the most popular climbs on the Diamond. The rock quality is solid, apart from at least one loose block on the lower section. The protection is reasonably good except for the first easy section of climbing up to Broadway ledge, where the technical climbing starts. Though the route is only 6 pitches, the 3.5 hour hike makes this route a long day (Grade IV). Many people chose to hike in the night before and sleep either at Chasm View Lake or on Broadway Ledge. At an altitude of 11,540 feet, the Diamond towers 2,400 feet above the lake.
Levitation 29, 5.11c/d
Red Rocks National Park, Nevada
This route was my favorite route to recommend in a book called, Fifty Favorite Climbs in North America. Back when this route was first done, in the late 70’s, there weren’t many multi-pitch routes that were mostly bolt protected, requiring only a few pieces of natural gear. John Long and I were invited to make the first free ascent of this route, along with the couple that put up the first ascent. Jorge Urioste lead and bolted this entire route from the ground up with his wife Joanne. On Joanne’s 29th birthday, the three of us made the first free ascent, hence the name Levitation 29. The dark veneer on this sandstone rock makes for some fun climbing.