ApproachPage rework in progress. 3/11/2009
Follow the directions on the main page under Getting There to access the base of the east face of the formation (atop the “pedestal”). Also see Routes Overview section on the main page for technical approach routes to reach the base of this route.
Route DescriptionThe route climbs to the top of the middle Penguin (or the north Penguin – traverse between the two is about a 5.8-5.9 boulder problem) in two pitches and despite its name has no chimney moves on it (unlike the other two published routes which are true chimneys). The rock on the entire route is perfect. Protection is “C1” through all the difficulties. The climbing goes from thin hands/fingers through perfect hands, then fists, and finally ends with about 15 feet of hard off-widthing (there’s also a short face/mantle move to top out on the center Penguin).
Pitch one of the route follows the obvious right-facing dihedral on the right side of the east face of The Three Penguins. Pitch lengths below taken from Supertopo’s guidebook; pitch ratings are uniform in all published literature.
Pitch 1: 5.10c, 90 feet. Start by mantling (easy) onto a low angle face just right of the huge dihedral. Traverse up and left toward the dihedral. Move up the immediately steep dihedral. Starts off with fingers and quickly changes to thin hands. Few moves higher, you’re in a great hand crack (#2 Camalot) territory just as the terrain goes steeper (becomes slightly overhanging). One or two decent stem options allow for some rests. The crux of the pitch comes about 60 feet up the pitch as you pass through a bulge in the dihedral. You have a great hand jam below the crux and another great hand jam couple of feet above the crux. In between you have a wider fist crack. All the while protection possibilities are endless (cams, cams, cams!). A good stance on a narrow ledge awaits you just above the crux bulge. The pitch ends with a 15-foot vertical fist crack rated 5.9. Belay on a small ledge off of good-looking fixed anchors (3 or 4 drilled pitons and chains).
Pitch 2: 5.10a, 50 feet. Traverse 5 feet right from belay and move up a great hand crack. The crack is slightly overhanging but short (soon enough you’ll be wishing it were longer). Good feet available near top of this 15 foot hand crack (sloper on the left side). Immediately above, the angle kicks back (from slightly overhanging to just less than vertical) and the off-width crack begins (those with big hands will get a fist jam at the bottom of the OW). The OW edges are nicely rounded which basically eliminates the possibility of cheating your way through by liebacking. The OW takes cams from about a #3.5 Camalot to a #4 or even #4.5 (near top); #5 Friend worked well also. The crux of the pitch comes at the top of this 15 or 20-foot off-width as the crack ends and you need to pull yourself into the wider opening between the center and north Penguin summits. From here (after taking a sight-seeing detour to the top of the north Penguin on the right – if you so desire – low 5th class slab), one tricky mantle move puts you on the summit of the center Penguin. Two drilled pitons and an ancient thin bolt provide the anchor. Note that we thought the real crux of this route was the OW section on P2 (by far!) and NOT the more stiffly rated pitch 1.
Descent: Rappel with two ropes off of the fixed anchor atop the center Penguin directly to the base of the route. Two single 60 meter rope rappels can also be done using the route belays. A single 50 meter rope might NOT suffice – not sure?