In August, 2015, I traveled up to Lovers Leap for five days to avoid fires and smoke in the eastern Sierras. We climbed 10 multi-pitch routes in five days. Most included the lessor climbed, more adventurous routes in the 5.10 range. On our last day we concluded with two 5.9’s on the more popular east wall. Fantasia was my least favorite of the ten routes we climbed that week. That is not to say it is not worth climbing, we had just handpicked routes we knew we would like, off-widths, finger cracks, etc. Fantasia was the least crack oriented route we did. Not that there is any fixed protection on Fantasia (there is not minus a poorly placed aging piton!). But don't expect many cracks either, it is just run out climbing. I did enjoy the run out nature of the route for that grade but would probably prefer to solo it if I climbed it again. Ken Wilson (FAer) called it “more bold than hard” and I concur with that statement. He went on to state “If you lead 5.10 confidently and don’t mind 5.9 moves 30 feet above your gear, then you may be ok.” Again, I would say that was an accurate statement. Wilson established this route in '73 with Royal Robbins.
The first pitch was by far the most interesting, traversing below a roof, pulling it and traversing back to straighten the line. Like all the pitches, it consisted of run out steep terrain with fairly positive edges and good rock. The crux of the route is on this first pitch about 25’ below the fixed anchor. There is an obvious knob. Like all the knobs on this route, it does not sling well. The cool mantle of this knob along with a single feature out left with poor pro and run out below got my attention. It was an very unusual and fun move to say the least. The second pitch runs up easier ground than the topo indicates to a cruxy right slanting short corner that, again, does not protect that great as you do a short lie back move to surmount it. Another fixed belay is found shortly after. The third pitch is hard to find. There is a piton (the only fixed pro on the route) that leads up to the 5.10b variation which is spicy run out of course on grainy rock. Somewhere between this piton and the corner that makes up Scimitar to the right, you will find the last pitch as done by the FA.
Assuming you have an east wall topo with you, Fantasia is easy to find. Just run up to the Haystack corner and traverse right until under an obvious arching roof. Climb easy run out ground up to the center of it and traverse under it right to pull it and then traverse back left to be centered for the route.
Route Description1st Pitch- 150’- 5.9R/ Run up the relatively easy but run out face to below the roof. You can place gear in the roof, but anything you place below it needs to be overly extended to avoid rope drag. Traverse right to the obvious roof pull on jugs, traverse back left on jugs. Supertopo calls this a “steep hand traverse” at 5.9. It is steep, but I never felt the 5.9, more like 5.8 or 5.7. Very positive jugs for both hands and feet through most of this section although it is exposed. This whole route is extremely run out, but I found one micro placement above this section. Very few if any knobs on the entire route were worth slinging. Head straight up to an obvious knob below a roof. This is the crux move (5.9) of this pitch. There are two knobs. The right one can be slung but the sling would probably pop off if you fell. Mantel with your right hand on this knob and hike your left foot up to the only other feature at about the same level. This is an awkward and athletic move but works well. Use this horizontal motion to reach more jugs with your left hand. Continue the jug fest straight up. You can barely see the fixed anchor over a lip, but it is pretty much straight up above one more knob. One of the bolts at this first station needs to be replaced. The other one is average at best (2015).
2nd Pitch- 110’- 5.8R/ Again, Supertopo talks about slinging a knob, but I do not consider any knob I saw as reliable pro (and I have slung a lot of knobs that I have trusted). This pitch is very run out. Head up and left on easier than 5.8 ground even though labeled 5.8 on the topo. Eventually you come to an obvious bulge/small corner. I got some small gear in here, nothing to write home about. Pull the bulge (5.8) via an easy lay back. Continue up easier ground to a small ledge with a better fixed belay (2015) although these two bolts are showing signs of rust as well.
3rd Pitch- 160’- 5.9R/ This is an easy pitch to miss. The obvious line is the 5.10b variation, but all of this ground is run out on questionable pro. Head right and clip a questionable old piton (not positioned to a take a fall). Straight up on blank ground and pulling a closed crack roof is the 5.10 variation. Look to your right. The corner about 30' over is the finish for Scimitar which we did on the same day we did Fantasia. I must have missed the 5.8/5.9 middle line between the 5.10 variation and Scimitar. I started up the 5.10 variation, backed down and traversed right. By the time I realized I was on Scimitar again, it was too late to go back and find the FA finish to Fantasia. The last pitch of Scimitar is pretty damn good at the 5.9 grade anyway as it has the “wild” corner exit. I suffered plenty of rope drag doing it this way and extended the pitch to a full 70m rope lead.