Seneca's South Peak West Face has a great number of the crag's classic climbs, among them is Green Wall. Some will tell you that, as Seneca ratings go, Green Wall might be a 'soft' 5.7, but in the scheme of things beyond Seneca, the route is still probably sandbagged. The route itself is still quite sustained for its grade, especially the second pitch. It is steep, wonderfully exposed, and has a finish that dumps you virtually right on the summit of the South Peak. It is certainly a classic line: challenging, sustained, aesthetic, and super fun!
From the parking lot, cross the low bridge across the creek and take Roy Gap Road for about .25-.5 miles to the point at which the creek is directly on your left. There should be blue trail blazes at a crossing in the river along with some strategically placed stones to help you across. If you look up at that point, you should be able to spot the lovingly named "Stairmaster." This series of artfully arranged low walls and stone steps rightfully earns its name from the fact that you gain 600+ vertical feet very fast! Important note: DO NOT cut across the switchbacks to get through the Stairmaster! The whole area, is also a 'dropzone,' as it is filled with loose rocks everywhere you look, especially if you stray off the Stairmaster proper. Many people through on their helmets before they cross the creek or immediately after they cross, but always before they get into the area. Just follow the basic adage: don't let loose a missile upon your fellow climbers below. This area is also the site of a few climbs that ascend the walls on either side of the Stairmaster.
After completing the Stairmaster, you will end up in a flat area below more broken ground. Follow the boulder pile upwards towards the West Face itself. Following the blazes should put you at the junction of the trail that goes right to the Face of a Thousand Pitons and left to the main West Face. Go left. Keep on the trail and pass the access point to oft-crowded Seneca routes Old Man's, Conn's West, and Westpole. You are aiming for the smooth wall that is covered in bright green lichen at the northern end of the South Peak.
At this point you have two options: you can continue north on the trail towards the North Peak and double back a little bit towards the start of Green Wall or you can scramble up the slabs (class 3; feels a little harder if your scrambling around with ropes and gear stuffed in your pack) to the left of Westpole towards Thais face and the big overhanging bulge of Pleasant Overhangs. If you choose the former: continue past Thais Face and Pleasant Overhangs northward until you are at the northern edge of the South Peak. At this point, there should be a point at which a 'trail' goes up through some low bushes and passes a ledge guarded by a large, dead pine tree trunk. Swing around the trunk and the base of Green Wall should be at the other end. If the latter choice: continue up the trail until the blazes turn you towards a slab system (smaller and less steep than the one over by Thais), follow that up and it should dump you below the same pine tree just mentioned. To avoid a small, annoying rock step after the slabs, head right (south) about 10 ft. where you can walk up towards the big pine tree. Swing around it and head towards the dihedral straight ahead.
Anchor the first pitch on the biggest tree on the ledge closest to the start of Green Wall.
The route ascends the dihedral to the right of Tomato and to the left of Pleasant Overhangs.
Shares the same start as Tomato. The first pitch of Tomato is the large, fairly thin flake closest to the main face itself. Aim to the right towards a short, dihedral with a hand/finger crack. This is the first pitch of Green Wall. If you are looking directly at the main wall of the West Face, the dihedral is left-facing. It is sustained from the ground on up. Protect smart and don't run out too far to avoid ledging-out on the starting ledge (We climbed following a snowstorm, so the feeling in hands was an issue!). Pro in the crack is great, though. Finish on the next broad ledge. Walk to the opposite end and anchor into the tree at the base of the steep dihedral. The lichen-y face should be directly above you at this point. (~40 ft.)
This is the bread and butter of Green Wall, as the fun gets started right from the ledge. There are essentially 3 bulges that define the route. Climb up the steep, left-facing dihedral. The crack on your left is pretty gaping and won't accept much pro early on (we saved our #4 for the anchor). However, there are narrower, wandering vertical cracks to the right that will take C3s and some nuts.
Do not wander too far right; stay directly in the dihedral. Pass the first bulge until you are underneath the second one, the most intimidating of the three. This is the official crux of the route. Protect beneath the bulge and stem/lieback through the bulge. In the middle of the crux there is a nice set of holds on your left where you will find an old piton (makes you feel a lot better about the crux!). The third 'bulge' is much like the first. It is important to note that the second and third bulge's dihedral crack is more receptive to pro than the first's.
After pulling the third bulge you will find yourself on a ledge full of shattered rock. You can anchor here though a lot of the rock is crap. We continued through the obvious breach on the right side of the ledge (just above a skinny tree) up to a second ledge. this area still has considerable loose rock, but it is slightly more stable, in my opinion. I chose to put up a gear anchor on the face. (~110 ft.)
A short scramble up some slabs onto the South Peak. Some folk do this unroped, while others will rope up for some psychological comfort given the exposure of the entire West Face below them. Soak up the view and sign the summit register. (~35 ft.)
From the South Summit, scramble down to the flat area to the South of the summit. There should be a breach in the rock on the west side that will allow you to downclimb (5.0-5.1) to the big rappel tree overlooking Old Man's, Conn's West, and Westpole. Rap off the tree (has some fat static line and rappel rings). Directly above Westpole there are also some bolts, but they are only big enough to fit the rope and not much else, so you will need to anchor into the rock around the bolts. If you have on 60m rope, prepare for 3 rappels or 2 rappels plus downclimbing. 2 60m ropes will get you all the way down to the ledges at the start of Old Man's and involves 20-30 ft. of fairly easy downclimbing. Be careful when pulling your ropes for (1.) This area gets really crowded on weekends; (2.) the ledgy nature of the bottom of the wall can get ropes stuck after being pulled!
- Helmet! (During one of our trips to Seneca, we watched a microwave sized rock crash down the face of the North Peak; we were nearly hit by a golf ball-sized rock loosed by another party; a water bottle went tumbling down the face; and we and some other climbers were nearly hit by an ATC and 2 Hexes!)
- 60 m rope; doubles if you have them for the rappel.
- 1-2 Sets of BD nuts
- C4 Cams to 4"
- C3s and/or TCUs
- 10 runners (6-8 shoulder-length, 2 double-length, 0-2 dogbones)
- 2 Cordelettes, some prussiks, slings, etc.
- Your normal alpine climbing gear, clothing, etc.
The Seneca Rocks Climbing School has some info on how to get there and the local weather at the crag: http://www.climbseneca.com/srcs_site/aboutthearea/localmap.html