Monday, October 18, 2010

Gunks Routes: Sleepwalk (5.7)

Looking for a warm-up route near Bonnie's Roof and Ants' Line?  Look no further, Sleepwalk's got you covered.

Williams rates Sleepwalk a 5.7 in his latest guidebook.  Swain calls it a 5.7 minus, and I think I'm with Swain on this one.  In my opinion it is a great introductory 5.7 route, with easy routefinding, solid protection, and a convenient no-worries finish at a bolted anchor.  It's a fun little climb. 

The route starts near the obvious Ants' Line dihedral, just to the left of the tree that emerges from the base of the cliff.  Little right-facing flakes provide the holds with which to move upward for just a few moves.  Then the route traverses left about 10 feet off the ground to the outside corner and around onto the main face.  This early climbing is on a dead vertical wall, and to my mind it is the crux of the route.  The holds are quite positive, though, and there's good gear to be had.  I think I placed three pieces before I turned the corner when I led the route last week.

Once you turn the corner, the angle lessens and it's a straight line upward to the bolts.  Head up the face, keeping within a few feet of the arete.  Every now and again you may be tempted to use the arete for a hold, and I encourage you to go ahead, there's no rule against it.  A good horizontal for pro appears every time you'll want one.  Along the way there are a couple interesting moves; you may find yourself smearing or high-stepping just a bit, but no big deal.  Before you know it, you'll be at the bolts. 

Once you've finished the pitch, you have several options. 

You can use the bolted anchor to toprope Ants' Line (stellar 5.9) or Ent Line (5.10d), provided no one is leading either one.

Or you can head up for a second pitch.  Williams recommends continuing up Lichen 40 Winks, a 5.7- pitch to the left, if you want to keep the grade at 5.7.  I haven't tried that pitch so I can't recommend it.  Another alternative is a pitch called Cool Hand Dukes (5.8).  This pitch ascends the vertical crack that runs straight up the overhanging, white, 10 foot wide buttress just to the right of the bolts.  The pitch begins with lower-angled easier climbing, and then it's a pumpy jug haul up the white buttress.  When I led it last year, I remember a good placement at the bottom of the steep bit, followed by good, juggy climbing.  I felt the holds were secure but I recall not finding another pro placement until I was almost to the top, whereupon I got a great #2 Camalot and sailed to the finish.  It's helpful to have doubles if you are considering this pitch because it finishes at the rappel tree for Bonnie's Roof, and this rappel is through the air all the way down, well beyond 100 feet.  If you only have a single rope, you can scramble up and to the right to the rappel tree for Ursula, from which two single-rope raps will get you down.

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