Bird on a Wire, 5.10a, 3 Pitches

Bird on a Wire, 5.10a, 3 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.02147°N / 116.17803°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10a (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
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Bird on a Wire, 5.10a
 2nd Pitch- 150’- 510a

Bird on a Wire is listed in Miramontes’ relatively new (2011) guide book (Wolverine) as a “must-do 5.10 crack” climb. Powell and Ahlborn established Bird on a Wire in 1977. It parallels and eventually intersects an even better known moderate classic named Dappled Mare (5.8) (1973). Both routes run up the same wall for approximately three pitches and are worth doing back to back during a short winter day as Lost Horse Wall is mostly south facing.
Bird on a Wire, 5.10a
Bird on a Wire, 5.10a
The approach pitch for either of these routes is really just a quick 5th class solo jaunt up to a long sloping ledge below the right side of Lost Horse Wall. Bird on a Wire starts left of Dappled Mare and is easy to identify as it climbs directly through a distinct round patch of varnish on the lower wall. The first pitch follows twin finger cracks that merge into one at a fixed rappel in approximately 80’. I continued the first pitch up to where Bird on a Wire intersects Dappled Mare (at the top of the left facing angled dihedral) and built a gear station there. The last pitch goes straight up from there on much easier ground until you come to a left and right crack for the finish. I have climbed both and prefer the steeper right hand crack option which is more in line for the grade of the climb. There is a decent feature at the top of the right crack to sling. If you chose the left, there is a medium crack to build a station in.

Lost Horse road is northwest of the Hidden Valley campground. Drive due south on Lost Horse road (dirt). Pull out left at the #5 turnout (about ½ mile). Follow the trail east in the wash for a short distance before you are below the main Lost Horse wall. Scramble up and left out of the wash to the east end. A round patch of varnish easily identifies the start of the second pitch for Bird on a Wire.

Route Description

330’+, 3 Pitches, 5.10a

1st Pitch- 40’- 5th/ Quickly pitch out or solo up easy 5th class to the sloping ledge/ramp.

2nd Pitch- 150’- 510a/ This is the crux pitch of the route and what makes Bird on a Wire a “must-do 5.10 crack” selection in Miramontes guide. Follow up the steep and thin twin finger cracks through the round patch of varnish (I started on the right option). There is a move or two at the grade. Pass a fixed rap station (I can only assume what the guide book references as a “bolt” on pitch one) and continue up a thin blank corner section (crux) for a few meters and into an arching right hand crack above. Build a gear station at the top of Dapple Mare’s dihedral if no one is on that pitch or alternatively, lower in that arching hand crack before it meets up with the dihedral.

3rd Pitch-140’- 5.9/ Climb straight up from the top of the dihedral following a crack through several scoops. Angle right to the base of two short crack options above. The right option is a bit more vertical and challenging and my choice of the two. It offers a short steep hand crack to the top. There is a huge horned feature on a large block above in which to sling the rope.

Climbing Sequence


Scramble down the east gully and cut back across west to the base of the wall.

Essential Gear

A single rack from a few C3’s to 3”. The second pitch is a good spot to place a few wires, including where I built a belay. Most would be comfortable with a few extra small to medium pieces as the second pitch is long and sustained. Lost Horse Wall is sunny, but tilts just a bit to the west, so AM sun during a cold winter day does not arrive first thing. I prefer binering my approach shoes for the short walk off.

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