Final Exam: Mescalito


The route is not particularly thin, it is much more about tricky camming in flared scars. There is lots of hooking, but none of it is particularly difficult or sustained. Very possible to do it clean if enough fixed heads are present. Retreat from above the Seagull would be non-trivial. There are many traverses and rapping from several of the belays would leave you dangling in space without down aiding. Better to be prepared for the full ride. Almost all the pitches have at least one challenging section, but there are no particular cruxes. Nearly all the belays have at least one good bolt.

  1. Reachy hooks and bolts. A 16D nail down low, but then most of the bolts are 3/8", aka: sport hooking. #2 Camalot needed just before belay.
  2. Many fixed heads.
  3. Fixed heads and hooking. Some long reaches to enhanced hook placements on a traverse. The 3/8" bolt at the belay is the first I ever placed, caveat emptor.
  4. Mark replaced a missing head here. The A3 is on some lower-quality rock. Watch rope drag.
    The standard plan is to fix to the ground with three ropes from here.
  5. Long pitch. Nice belay ledge, but sucky bivy.
  6. The Seagull. Not Expando. Make sure to pendo from as high as possible. Watch haul line on bolts.
  7. A3 is on fractured rock. Top step off a bat hook followed by a dirt hummock mantle. I cheat sticked heavily in the bolt ladder.
  8. Technical flared placements.
  9. A1, way easy.
  10. Mark placed two sketchy sawed off angles (1"ish) on his way to epicing this pitch. RPs and Aliens in ugly flared scars.
  11. A3 hooks are casual. Save a big cam for the start of the traverse. Belay is half way out the traverse, watch rope drag. Traverse is difficult clean, but would defang with a Lost Arrow.
  12. More bad scars to the Molar. There are bolts for aid out of sight down and left of the Molar. Pendo is big and wild. *No* big hook needed (unless you want to puncture your spleen), green/yellow Aliens for after the Pendo.
  13. Awkward, then free. The 5.5 really is 5.5. Decent stance.
  14. Deep ugly flare, then straightforward on small Aliens.
  15. Rivet ladder from hell (reachy with many bat hooks). I cheat sticked extensively. Non-obvious route finding. Big Hooks. Watch rope drag.
  16. Mark placed a big sawed off near the start of this pitch. Hooking is casual, then steep rivets.
  17. Long rivet ladder than a traverse. Traverse is *not* expando and the entire thing can be back cleaned by walking green/yellow Aliens. Nice stance.
  18. Ramp is 4th class with a few isolated 5.8 moves. Great bivy.
  19. A1 then wide. #5 Camalot and #3 Big Bro for aid. Would be stiff to free. Top can be lassoed, but its not as bomber as you might like.
  20. Hooking on sketchy fixed RURPs, then flared scars. Watch rope drag.
  21. Small nuts and hooks on a thin flake. Flake shows signs of recent breakage. Scary. Would be way expando to nail.
  22. Rotten rock then an awkward flare.
  23. Another flare, then pendo onto the nice sloping bivy. Belay here, the bolts marked on the topo above the bivy are gone.
  24. Deep awkward flare. There is a potential belay after the mini roof. This is the only belay on the route that I considered unsafe (3 1/4" spinners and a circle head). Do the world a favor and place a real bolt here. I was lame and just kept going.
    The 5.5 did not seem very 5.5 to me, I hooked. If you place gear you may need to send hooks down the haul line for the clean. There is a loose block 3/4 of the way through. Not a gimme.
  25. Wasn't fixed for us. Mark placed three tricky heads. A chisel would be nice here for cleaning old head remnants. Bolts are old and steep. Be careful of running the rope over edges. Sucky haul from a small tree.
  26. We stayed roped for the traverse to the big tree and flat ground.

Gear list:

The voice of experience. This is what I would take if doing it again, not what we actually had. The gear list is so large not because of difficulty, but because almost all the pitches traverse. If you back clean you'll make the follower miserable.

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