Locating 'Serpentine'As mentioned on Deb's Suicide Rock page, take the climbers trail from the designated parking area (1/4 mile below Humber Park, next to a green domestic watershed tank, on Fern Valley Rd). Cross the creek and take the asphalt drive up to a dirt road. When the dirt road ends, follow a trail that leads up to the left and traverses the hillside. Only a short section of the trail is maintained. However, the trail is "readable". Simply head uphill, maintaining a constant elevation gain without deviating out too much to the south or north. The trail eventually ends at the base of the rock (with a cache litter attached to a tree nearby). This is the base of The Weeping Wall. Scramble up a few ledges to the open slab. The start of 'Serpentine' begins at a large oak tree on the right side, with a small flake system on the face.
Serpentine: 'A Suicide Classic!'First put up by Pat Callis and Lee Harrell in 1967. This was and still is the sought after area classic. As the route name implies, you'll find yourself "slithering" back and forth, revealing the lines weaknesses. A solid head and a slab climbing mentality will lead to a successful ascent!
Where To "Slither"
Again, start at the large oak tree. Head up the short flake system on the slab (medium nuts; #6 and #7, or better yet, both yellow and green Aliens work very well) and head straight up to the first bolt. After the first bolt, head up and left to the next two bolts. Once at the third bolt (shared with the route called 'Revelation', .10a), head up and right to the fourth and final bolt. A three bolt anchor, with rap rings, is at the top of this 30 meter pitch.
Pitch #2 (5.9):
Head straight up above the anchors to the first bolt. Then trend left to the second bolt. Once clipped to the second bolt, this is where the fun begins (the crux). Move up and slightly left on sloping holds, with occasional good edges (5.9), then head back slightly right to get to the third bolt. A fun little traverse out right starts just above the third bolt. Continue to trend up and right, clipping the next three bolts before encountering a three bolt anchor. Total pitch length: 50 meters.
Pitch #3 (5.7):
Honestly, this page author believes that the first 10 feet above the anchors feels more like 5.8 before clipping the first bolt and then eases off to 5.7. Compared to the topo of 'Serpentine', printed in Falcon Guide put out by Randy Vogel and Bob Gaines, the third pitch has TWO bolts, not one. The 5.7 section above the second bolt is a little runout but the terrain is fairly straight forward. Continue above and slightly left until a large overlap is encountered. Either anchor to the crack under the overlap or head left to a medium sized pine tree and use it as an anchor (slings needed).
The page author gives this one a four star "must-do" rating.
The "Slither" Back DownFrom the pine tree at the top of pitch #3, scramble up above 20 feet and then walk to the left to an open slab. Once to the slab, head down and left to a three bolt rap anchor. Be careful here....it is a bit slick. This is the 'Bye Gully' descent route. Rap 80' to wide chimney area and then scramble a short distance (some loose rock in the gully) to the next set of rap anchors in the gully, located on the left side. Rap another 80' then downclimb/scramble the remaining distance to the base.
Essential Gear- 60 meter rope
- 7 quickdraws
- Nuts #6 and #7, or both yellow and green Aliens (use for both the flake on pitch #1 and the end of pitch #3)
- Slings and locking carabiners for anchors