Knuckle Duster-- 5.9, 2 Pitches

Knuckle Duster-- 5.9, 2 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview

Often overlooked, Knuckle Duster is an excellent mixed climb near the center of Devil's Slide. If people are on Harder Than It Looks and Mark of the Beast, as is often the case on weekends, consider this one if the grade suits you; it is just as good as the other two if not better. But you will need trad gear unless you want to run it out on 5.5 slab anywhere from 85' to 115', depending on where you start the climb.

Although Knuckle Duster proper is one 130' pitch, it can be done in two to four depending on rope length and climber preferences. If carrying two ropes is not your thing or is not an option and you don't have an 80, then you will want to do it in two pitches, with the second pitch being an add-on that takes you to the top of the dome.

Getting There

Set out on the Summit Trail and then take the Echo Canyon Trail. When that trail reaches a board with lots of information posted, head right on a good trail that follows the Backside and has several spur trails to various walls. Look for the Yellow Trail and take it to the base of the dome. Devil's Slide is to the left. Easier Than It Looks starts up a slab next to a massive boulder leaning against the slab. With the picture below, you should have no trouble finding the routes.

Slab and Boulder at Start
Slab and Boulder at Start

Route Description

Officially, the route begins from the top of the boulder, so keep in mind and prepare for a 160' rap from the anchors back to the ground. A single 80 will just get you back to the top of the boulder.

Scramble up the boulder somewhere on its other side or lead a 30' mini-pitch up the slab to the top of the boulder. This is Class 4-5.2 with a couple protection opportunities. Good options for gear anchors do not exist up there, but there are ways the belayer can wedge himself or herself.
 
Now climb up unprotected 5.5 slab to a left-facing corner and rib where trad placements begin to appear. Those first placements are about 65' from the top of the boulder. Keep moving up the corner, placing pro as desired, and pull the overlap to reach the first of four bolts that protect the 5.9 section. Then it is easier but unprotected climbing to the anchors, two fat Metolius rap bolts.
 
The trad and sport sections can be done as separate pitches.
 
If you're adding the top-out pitch, continue from the anchors on 5.5 or so slab for a bit before the grade eases up to the point that you are just scrambling and eventually walking. Build an anchor using cracks and flakes. Expect this pitch to be at least 100'.
 
Knuckle Duster
Knuckle Duster
To the Anchors
To the Anchors
Top Anchor
Top Anchor

Essential Gear

For just the official route, medium and large cams, four draws, and a cord or sling for the anchors will do. If you are leading the mini-pitch at the start and/or topping out, you will need some smaller cams and some nuts. Tricams are great for the top-out anchor.