On The Road & Traitor Horn, Tahquitz Rock, CA

May 31, 2008 / 10c, 3p, trad.

Today is Saturday and we want to get on Fingertrip, a classic 5.7. We arrive at the base around noon hoping that by then, the crowds would have dissipated. Not so. There is still a line at the base of the route. We need another plan. A striking shallow corner with a thin crack further right, called "On The Road", had caught our attention while climbing El Camino Real a few days ago. We decide to give it a shot, and link it with Traitor Horn, a very exposed route up wild overhangs at the right edge of the west face.

The first pitch is nothing special (5.6 or so, up discontinuous cracks and flakes) but deposits you at the base of the spectacular corner.

The striking corner of On the Road was really fun. The crack gets too small for fingertips in many places, but the arete to the right provides additional holds. Progress requires a strange and really enjoyable combination of corner, slab, and face climbing. Contrary to reports found on mountainproject, that warned of runouts (and almost discouraged us from trying the route) the pitch is well protected with small but very solid nut placements. The moves out of the corner and onto the face at right are made much less intimidating than expected by the presence of conveniently located small edges for the feet near the arete. A couple of tricky (5.9ish) moves up the face lead to a tiny nut placement in a seam (I used the smallest BD Stopper, which, though a little wide for the shallow placement, felt pretty decent; an RP would work best here). A few more feet and the crack opens up to finger size with great pro. A phenomenal pitch.

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The first pitch (~5.6) follows cracks to the base of the striking corner.
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Lucie following the first pitch.
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Starting up the striking corner (pitch 2, 5.10c).
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Higher on pitch 2.
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Looking back at Lucie on p2.

From the belay atop pitch 2, you can either finish with the offwidth corner of Jensen's Jaunt (5.6) or traverse right to the spectacular Traitor Horn finish. We decide on the latter. I make a short pitch, traversing horizontally rightward underneath the "traitor horn" to a stance below the roofs and set up a belay.

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Almost at the belay.
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Flawless white granite above the second belay anchor. Jensen's Jaunt follows this corner.
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Starting p3.
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Traversing under the traitor horn (the real horn is further up and right).
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Lucie starting p3.

There are several ways to climb the last pitch. You can either climb the right hand crack (next to the horn) straight up (about 5.9+) or hand traverse right onto the horn (wild 5.8 but not much pro). I settle for the later, while lucie chooses to follow directly up the crack. A third option is to climb the left hand crack instead, which - according to the guidebook - goes at 5.10a.

From the belay below the roofs, I'm able to go all the way to the top in one shot (60m ropes). The steep section gives way to a low angle slab (low 5th class).

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The view from the third belay: 10a crack on left, and 9+ crack and 5.8 horn at right. The classic route climbs the horn.
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Starting p4 .
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On the horn, at the end of a wild hand traverse (positive but no pro).
   

We come down quickly, and hike to the base of Fingertrip, hoping to have time for another route.