McCarthy North Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.59060°N / 104.715°W
Additional Information Route Type: Rock-Classic Crack
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.11a
Sign the Climber's Log


Scramble up the NorthEast Buttress Approach. When you get to the big North Bench walk right ( west) until you are below the obvious roof that starts the 2nd pitch of this route. Fourth Class ( yeh, put a rope on! ) up slabby climbing to the highest tree, a 6" diameter one and belay from a small ledge there.

Route Description

In 1957 (Sputnick wasn't even in space yet) two fellows, way ahead of their time, Jim McCarthy and John Rupley put up this route. Although the vast majority of it was aided, it was the 1st route anywhere near the North end and only the 10th route on the Tower. 21 years later, (uh...1978) Dennis Horning and Frank Sanders free-climbed it, creating the Tower's 2nd , 5.11 route. It is a Class Act, requiring hard pulls ( over the roof ), solid finger and hand techniques and endurance ( only one true rest ). It is Truly a 5-Star Route on a 3-Star Scale.

Pitch 1. (165 ft., 5.8+) From the belay at the tree climb up and over right, until you are in the McCarthy crack. This is basically a hand crack with some finger sections. Looks are deceiving ! The bulges and roofs go quite readily and with good protection !! Face holds and stemming gives you help, just when you need it. This 1st pitch is a fine climb in its own right. Belay right under the roof from a 2 Big Bolt anchor.

Pitch 2. (125 ft., 5.11a) Slot secure, small stoppers over your head AND THEN pull the roof on its right side. As you climb up you will realize that this is basically a sustained finger crack with a short hands section. There is one rest about 1/3 of the way up. The crack will accept protection every 3 to 4 feet, so take enough to sew it up. Keep cranking to the 2 Big Bolt chained anchor and set a hanging belay there.

Pitch 3. (100ft., 5.9) If you are still pumped from the 2nd pitch, you will find the moves up, off of the hanging belay to be challenging !! Set pro and go !! This hand crack gets easier as you get higher. Your efforts should lead you to a large ledge, right where the cracks become off-width / chimney. Set your own anchor here, from Big Pieces. ( why....2 folks could sleep on that ledge...if the Park Service allowed it....!!! What a view ).

Pitch 4. ( end of your rope, 5.7) Take the big, left crack off of the ledge. There is a tricky spot just a few moves up. It is best to climb up and LEFT, when possible. The crack becomes quite wide and the rock somewhat loose, so DO NOT climb to the right, back over your belayer on the ledge, to knock rocks on him............Belay, at ropes' end or when convenient.

Finish. Scramble to the top.

Essential Gear

Standard Rack . Be sure to have several #3-#4 stopper size for overhead protection on The Roof. Bring many many finger size pieces for the 2nd pitch and just sew it up. A #4 Friend will make the 4th pitch more comfortable. Take the right stuff and have a blast !!!

Miscellaneous Info

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