1st Pitch of Gwondonna
Gwondonna Land Boogie was one of the few remaining established routes for me to climb on Mount Wilson’s upper reaches. Even though its crux pitch (formally labeled a “5.10a/b X probable death lead” by one of the FAers)
was retro bolted sometime in 2003-2004, I was drawn to more interesting lines; i.e. Woman of Mountain Dreams (5.11a)
and Gift of the Wind Gods (5.10d)
despite their aging fixed pro.
I do not consider Gwondonna Land a classic by any stretch nor is it ever going to be, but it does make for a worthy long moderate line when combined with Pink Tornado Left (5.9) to the summit ridge of Mount Wilson.
If you are into the Inti Watana
to Resolution Arête
link up, then this link up to the top of Wilson is within your scope as well. Geoff Conley and Phil Broscovak established Gwondonna Land Boogie in 1981
. Supposedly they named the route regarding a play on words of some ancient continent combined with the need to “boogie” on down after reaching the large traverse ledge. Once you read my description (and Joanne Urioste’s description published in a local magazine-2015) of the final run out (remaining X) pitch, you might want to boogie down from the big ledge as well via Dogma’s raps.
8th Pitch of Gwondonna
3rd Pitch of Gwondonna
There are no bolts on the first two pitches. The first pitch is a decent lead for the grade (5.9). The start off the deck is the crux as you stem and mantel up a closed seam
. You continue up a varnished left slanting crack with positive features to just under a roof. It is mandatory to set up a gear belay here as the pro for the next 40’ or so is sub par to non-existent. The second pitch is a long 5.8 pitch. After traversing up and left over the roof continuing with the same crack, you cut back right and straight up a wide crack to a ledge with a fixed belay. The third pitch is the technical crux of the climb but was well bolted in 2015 and not near the difficult lead as the last pitch of the day.
That said, it involves some full on face climbing at the grade. Head up the chossy and thin corner (pro is better than it looks) and cut up and left at the top following bolts that meander left and then back right up to a ledge with a fixed belay. This bolted section involves sustained edge climbing on suspect rock. The fourth pitch is uneventful as it traverses left, then up right and then back left again to another fixed belay on a ledge. The fifth pitch reaches the ledge at the first tree on the right. We simul-climbed the fifth and sixth pitches to reach the base of the wide corner. The seventh pitch was a fun chimney/off-width corner with good gear but also a few bolts on the right wall. It can be quite wet at the top from melting snow during the winter months.
Tunnel through to the base of the last pitch which is a moss filled right facing corner. The eighth pitch climbs the fragile corner with loose blocks (2015) and poor pro using face features on the right wall.
Near the roof, you have the choice of traversing right to a gully or pulling the roof up and left and climbing another 100’ of unprotected mossy 5.7-5.8 ground to a tree on top of the ridge. I chose pulling the roof. Both choices would have serious consequences if you fell.
The approach beta is the same as I have written up for Pink Tornado Left which is the link up necessary to do Gwondonna Land Boogie. As far as finding the route once you get to Sherwood Forest, use the photo provided to identify the first pitch. Another landmark is an arch that forms the top of the first pitch.
A leftward crack leads to the roof in this arch. The start is also near the most right of the significant trees on Sherwood Forest.
Climb the 8 Pitches of Pink Tornado Left
Gwondonna Land Boogie, 1000’+, 5.10aR
1st Pitch- 115’- 5.9/
Gwondonna Land is stouter in terms of relative grade compared to Red Rock routes in general and the first pitch starts out a bit heady for the grade.
I placed an off-width cam in the bottom of the first opening so I could still jam the same slot to make it past the initial run out. The pitch continues from there on run out, but easier terrain. Eventually angle up and left, climbing more via the varnished face than the seam you are following, placing small gear when you find the seam open. Use medium sized gear (it is not a challenge to build as is mentioned in Handren's guide) to build a semi hanging belay in the bottom of the roof that forms the right side of an arch as this is your last opportunity for good gear before you would run out of rope on lead if you continued.
2nd Pitch- 200’- 5.8/
Pull the roof by climbing varnished plates up and right. Continue following the left trending closed seam. The first 40’ is a bit run out with a micro placement here or there. At about the same location you get a solid piece in, take the crack that angles back right. It turns into intermittent hands. Sometimes the rock is good, sometimes not so much, which is typical of this route. Continue up the wide crack. Use the fixed station on a nice ledge or go ahead and fix a medium gear belay at the base of the left facing corner and save time for the start of the next pitch. This pitch is reasonably sustained at the grade.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.10a/
Many of the pitches as wrote up by the FA are shorter than he calls them (120’ vs 160’ on this one). This is the crux pitch of the route technically, but not mentally (or emotionally for that matter). Head up the thin corner on average sandstone (yellow) at best. The small gear in the corner feels better once you place it then what it looks like from below. Stem up the corner to the top. Extend a C4#3 before you start the intricate traverse up and left following the bolt line via “fragile” terrain. This pitch is steep and sustained. The crux for me was reaching the 3rd or 4th bolt. I studied which sequence to employ for a bit. This section is much like a puzzle. The edges are decent size, but you have to make them connect to get where you want to go. The bolts were bomber as of 2015 but the pitch is not sewn up by any means.
4th Pitch- 120’- 5.8/
This is the easier of the two 5.8 pitches. Traverse left and go up the obvious break passing several bolts. Follow cracks up and right (vs the left option) and traverse back left past a bush at the top to a fixed station on a ledge.
5th-6th Pitches- 300’+- 5.7/
I kept going and we simul-climbed these two pitches to get to the base of the chimney. Again, the 5th pitch alone is more like 120’ vs 160’ as listed in local guides. This pitch is as challenging as the previous 5.8 pitch. Follow a seam out left and leave it to face climb directly up to the first tree on the broad ledge. Hike left across the ledge to the base of the chimney. There is one bolt mid-way even though you are mostly hiking the ledge. I placed a cam to keep the rope out of one patch of cactus but there is not much of it on this ledge to worry about. There was quite a bit of snow along the ledge in March, 2015. Toward the end you can sling a flake before doing a short amount of 5th class on the final traverse to reach a fixed station about 20’ off the deck in the chimney.
7th Pitch- 200’- 5.9/
If you pass the fixed station and go all the way to the base of the next pitch, this pitch is closer to 200’ vs 160’. This is one of the better pitches of the route. Stem and chimney up the chasm with decent pro and rock. At the first pinch in the chimney, take the right option. Continue chimney technique combined with a short amount of off-width. There are two pro bolts on the right wall. The crux of the pitch comes when it pinches down to a flare without jams.
Overcome this obstacle and enter a short tunnel-through section (filled with snow in March, 2015) and head for the base of the corner on the other side with a singular bolt belay on a significant ledge.
8th-9th Pitches- 230’- 5.9R/
The finish to the route is labeled as two pitches covering 300’ in the local guides. In reality it is best done as one pitch with a 70m rope which just reaches the summit ridge. I would not trust any pro on this pitch in which to build a belay. So bring a 70m rope and a cool head as this is by far the mental crux of Gwondonna Land Boogie. Head up the moss filled right facing corner via lichen covered edges on the right wall.
The corner is so bad, I ran most of it out as it was wet from melting snow and I can’t say I trusted the few pieces I took the time to put in. Perhaps in drier condition this pitch is not as bad, but it is still a heady lead under any conditions. Right below the roof you have two options. Either take a 40’ unprotected traverse on face features out right to gain a gully or pull the roof above the corner on suspect rock and continue up unprotected 5.8 face climbing on bad rock for another 100’+ to the summit. It started to rain on me during this lead, add the wind, bad rock and lack of pro, and this pitch can feel epic. There is a tree to belay from on top of the summit ridge at exactly 230’.
Oak Creek puts you way closer (vs First Creek) to where you probably parked your car and requires use of at least one fixed hand line and a few other quick raps. Head west to the limestone col. The correct drainage you go down is marked with several large Ponderosa pines and a balanced rock tower that marks the descent of this drainage. The most common mistake would be to head right too early. Circumvent the tower to its right and descend into the drainage proper. A relatively new hand line (2015) is on the right side at one steep impasse. We got the rope out two times after the established hand line. Follow this drainage into the main Oak Creek canyon and head back to your vehicle. If you parked out by the road, turn right shortly after the Oak Creek trail sign says one mile to go (to the loop road pullout) just to the north of the Wilson Pimple. Then turn fairly immediate left on a well-traveled trail and follow it all the way to the road. Turn right and walk back to which ever pull out you used.
Single 70m rope works good as it helps you finish the last pitch off as one and gets you down Dogma if you decided to rap at Sherwood Forest or even on top. The 5.10a pitch on Gwondonna is mostly bolted except for a thin corner. The main chimney pitch has a few bolts and takes a variety of gear, I would not take any large pieces for it. The "R" last pitch is run out because the rock is so bad in the corner and run out face above that. No extra gear short of a few bolts is really going to help you with that issue. Left Pink Tornado climbs easy through the wide stuff. So my rack if doing it again, would be a standard rack for me which is a single set of cams from micro to C4#3, double from C4#.3 through #1 or #2. A small selection of off-set cams and/or wires. This wall faces east and can be quite cold in the winter months. You almost always want to carry a light puffy on Wilson except for the summer. March was perfect temps for this route, but we still dealt with some melting snow making the last two corners wet. This route is best done via the Oak Creek Canyon descent, so a solid headlamp and lightweight approach shoes make a lot of sense.