Cool Limestone Hold
If the large collection of high-quality moderates were not already reason enough to want to climb here, Tolkien fans such as myself are going to love all the route names referencing their favorite stories.
Probably the most popular wall at North Shore, Middle Earth Wall has a fairly short approach and more than 20 bolted routes on what is still mostly sharp, sticky limestone (caveat-- air circulation and sun exposure are not as good here as they are at the main section of Reimers, so after a rain, seepage and generally wet rock can be an issue longer than one might expect).
Another attractive feature of Middle Earth Wall is the bolt spacing. "Old Reimers" has a reputation for high first bolts and runout, but at Middle Earth Wall, routes often have one or two more bolts than routes the same length at Old Reimers do. While that may make the purists and the old-timers cringe and rant, it makes things nicer for the vast majority that just want to come out and have fun while staying relatively safe. Still, some routes here are PG or R due to runout or bad falls.
By far, the best source for this wall and others here, whether online or in print, is John Hogge's Austin Climbing: Sport Routes and Deep Water Solos. Hogge, I should point out, put up and named several of the routes here.
The Mud Ledge
Trail Split-- go right for all but Matrix, Dude, and Unleashed
Reimers Ranch is located off Hamilton Pool Road about 6 miles west of its intersection with Ranch Road 12. It is about 45 minutes west from downtown Austin.
Once through the entrance station, drive to the end of the road (around 4 miles from the entrance station), following signs for "North Bank."
The main access trail starts by the trash bins. By the disabled spots there is a trail that provides access to locations from which to rappel to Unleashed Wall or The Dude Wall.
Take the main trail down and then bear right, crossing the stream, at the junction shown above. Middle Earth Wall is about a 10-minute walk from parking.
Look for the sign below; it "appeared" sometime during the fall of 2016. If it is not there, look for the big "cave" seen in this picture
. There will be a trail going to the cliffs.
Middle Earth Wall Sign
From left to right as you face the crag:
- Flight from Mordor, 5.10b
- Troll Teeth, 5.10b
- The Fellowship, 5.9+-- Sustained and challenging. After I led it and struggled, my partner that day, a solid 5.11 leader, led it and remarked that it was "interesting."
- Bilbo's Bag, 5.9-- Crux is pulling a bulge below the anchors.
- Elvin Beauty, 5.10c
- Tookish, 5.8-- A little awkward because it meanders right at one point and shares climbing space and fall zone with Blood of the Dwarves.
- Blood of the Dwarves, 5.9-- Crux is from B1 to B2.
- Hobbit Hole, 5.7
- Fallohide, 5.7 PG-- Run out to B2.
- One Ring to Rule Them All, 5.8 R-- The R is due to the bolt spacing. If you're solid at the grade, there won't be trouble, but a friend fairly new to leading took a fall below the anchors, went upside-down, and missed the deck by not a lot.
- Amazing Legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien, 5.10a-- Crux is the start.
- A Mortal Life, 5.10a-- Crux is the start, but the finish can be difficult for the grade unless you find the key holds.
- Hello World, 5.8-- Interesting and fun. Can be extended through the roof on another bolt and anchors for 10d.
- The Mines of Moria, 5.11a
- Ringbearer, 5.11a R
- Dwarves Rule, 5.10d
- Orcs Drool, 5.10a-- Do a stemming start from the huge boulder. Finishes right of the small roof. This grade might feel height-dependent. I am 6' and had no trouble making clips and reaching key holds, but my partner (5'2") found it scary even though I left the draws for her to clip (and she has led 5.10 sport plenty of times).
- Snagglefarkin, 5.10c
- My Precious, 5.9-- Just left of Middle Earth Cave. Tough move off the ledge earns the 5.9; the rest is 5.7 or 5.8.
- Middle Earth Cave, 5.6 (TR anchors only)-- Lead My Precious and then traverse to anchors to TR this fun, easy climb.
- Halfling's Leaf, 5.8-- I'm one of many who thinks this feels more like 5.9 and is harder than My Precious. Follows a cool finger crack most of the way.
- Smeagol, 5.9+R-- Runout after the second bolt, and a tricky sequence after the third.
- Worm Tongue, 5.9 PG
- Earth's End, 5.10a R
The daily entry fee is currently $10. Annual passes are $100 and well worth it if you climb here a lot. I bought an annual pass in August and by October had come out more than 10 times. Plus, the annual pass is good for all Travis County parks. Unfortunately, the pass is a windshield decal, not a card. If you want a duplicate pass for a second vehicle, you get to pay $50 for it. Nice racket they have going there.
Opening and closing times vary by the season. Check the park website
Climbers in Central Texas are well acquainted with the biting ants all over the place. Watch where you stand and where you step.
This part of Texas is also home to all four types of venomous North American snakes-- copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes. Again, watch out, especially for the coral snakes. They are shy and bites are very rare, but their venom is highly potent and can be fatal. Also, it is my understanding that antivenin for coral snakes is in very short supply and highly expensive due to the fact that bites are so rare.
When to Climb
All year. Most of the walls face northwest and get good shade for much or all of the day. Since it is usually 90-100+ F out here May through September, it obviously makes sense to climb in the morning during summer. It's rarely too cold to climb here, but in winter, waiting until afternoon is a good bet. This wall gets just about no sun in winter.
If you have the flexibility, climb on weekdays. This place, and even most of Reimers proper, is virtually deserted then except during spring and winter breaks.
None inside the park.
About 7 miles east on Hamilton Pool Road is Rock Dog
, owned and operated by local climbers. I've never been there but have heard the owners are awesome climbers and awesome people. I also hear that the rich neighbors hate the place, so if you don't live locally, stay there and do your part to give the middle finger to the snobs.