Absinthe Of Mallet

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 31.87090°N / 109.9936°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: III 5.9+
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 7
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Absinthe Of MalletPitch 7
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 2
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 3

This is the classic line on Sheepshead's tall west face. First ascent of the line was done in 1988 by the trio of Scott Ayers, Steve Grossman, and Brian Griffin. Though originally a more serious outing, the line has had some additional bolting done to it by (reportedly) one of the FA-ists, Scott Ayers. In its present form, the line is casual from the protection point of view. Additionally, Scott Ayers (again per same source) is responsible for the two finishing pitches described below. The original line followed an unappealing-looking low 5th class gully and a chimney near the top. The route features a great fun mix of climbing: from hand and finger cracks (admittedly only a touch of those) to faces (both of the nubbin-pinching and steep jug variety) to friction slabs (a good dose of those).

The most recent (only?) published reference for this route is the great Backcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona by Bob Kerry (ISBN: 0-9641137-1-6). Unfortunately it's currently out of print - but do look around.

The description of this route on mountainproject is excellent and can be found here. We used this exclusively. Not sure if I can add anything useful below other than more photos from the route.

Getting There

Absinthe Of MalletPitch 6
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 1

Follow the directions on the main Sheepshead page. The approach trail to the west face will put you right at the start of this route. See photo.

New Topo! (Link)

See this GREAT topo courtesy of Geir Hundal's website.

Route Description

Absinthe Of MalletPitch 4
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 6
Last Climb Of 2007Pitch 7

Pitch 1: 5.9, 80 feet. Climb a 12-foot left facing dihedral. Mantle up to the base of another, right-facing dihedral. Clip bolt and move up this dihedral (5.9). Mantle onto slab above (2 more bolts) and head up to the bulge/overhang (bolt). Pull it and easily move right about 30 feet to a bolted belay. This might be the most serious leads of the route (but still quite safe IMHO).

Pitch 2: 5.9+, 120 feet. This is likely the most sustained and the best pitch of the route! The initial 20 feet of it also likely favor taller people. Ignore the bolted slab on the right. Instead, move up the crack for 10 feet. Step left and catch another crack which quickly tapers down. Bolted face follows with one fun flake/mantle move. A well bolted slab (crux of pitch) finishes the pitch at a double bolt anchor.

Pitch 3: low 5th, 40 feet. Follow easy terrain past 3 or so bolts slightly up and mostly left to the base of the second right-facing dihedral. Bolt anchors. Pitches 2 & 3 can easily be combined.

Pitch 4: 5.9+, 160 feet. Move up the right facing dihedral clipping a bolt down low. Exit dihedral left about 20-25 feet above belay clipping a bolt out on the face. Short but steep (5.9+) slab is followed by low 5th class chickenhead climbing directly above. Belay from two bolt anchor. This pitch again likely favors taller climbers.

Pitch 5: 5.7, 120 feet. Climb straight up the low angle face passing a notch/gully with a useless bolt there. Pull onto low angle face just above/beyond. Follow it until able to move down into the gully on the right. Bolt anchor next to bush/tree.

The standard route takes off directly up the low 5th class gully aiming then climbing the chimney visible above. For more fun however, follow the well-bolted variation pitches described here.

Pitch 6: 5.9+, 120 feet. Follow a well-bolted slab just right and above the above-mentioned gully. Beautiful green colored granite. A steep nubbin pinching section midway up the pitch was the route's crux IMHO (but I'm not any good at this sort of thing). Belay from two bolt anchor.

Pitch 7: 5.9, 120 feet. This is a beautiful, well-bolted pure friction pitch. Follow bolts up till they run out and terrain eases up. Belay from gear on or just below the summit.

Descent: Scramble up 4th class terrain until you ARE on the summit. From here, follow descent directions given on Peacemaker page. Descent is class 2 and there should be no exposed moves and even a bunch of cairns.

Essential Gear

Absinthe Of MalletPitch 1-View South
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 1-View North

Stronger climbers will probably do fine with a single set of cams from blue Alien to #3 Camalot. Not-so-strong climbers (like me) will be happy to double up on cams in the yellow Alien to #2 Camalot sizes and possibly toss in one or two small stoppers. In addition of course, some QD's (15 or so).

External Links

SheepsheadHike Out
Absinthe Of MalletPitch 4

Mountainproject page for Absinthe is excellent and the link is provided above. In addition, main Sheepshead page lists some webpages with Absinthe photos/TR's.