To climb with the Urioste family for ten days at the City of Rocks area was a treat in and of itself. For Joanne and I to finish the trip with a possible third ascent
(according to one local ranger) of a multi-pitch route completely free of bolts
was an appropriate way to finish. I would doubt this route has not actually been climbed more, but quite a bit of Castle Rocks has yet to be developed including its most interesting feature in the park, a full pitch stem box chimney between towers on the east end of Castle Rock that is reminiscent of Firewater Chimney at Jtree. This vast area of granite walls and spires (located just to the east of the City of Rocks) was not open for development until 2003.
Mr. Sneezy is located on the main Comp Wall
which offers by far the most aesthetic crack climbing in Castle Rocks State Park.
Mr. Sneezy is listed in Bingham’s local guidebook as the far right side of the main wall and again on the next page at the far left of the Comp Rock dihedrals.
The first pitch offers a short, but stout, off-width corner
that would bar entry for many moderate climbers. The second pitch offers only one cam/nut placement in 100’ of climbing (after the initial second corner). The rest of the pro relies on slung features
. Although Bingham has this run out section listed as 5.8 on his topo, by City of Rock standards it is closer to 5.7. Required route-finding skills offers up a thoughtful lead on this pitch. The final pitch is a fantastic 5.8 hand crack that leads to a bold (5.9) blind traverse around the arête to access cracks near the finish.
Park at the Ranch House parking area (just above the Ranch House). Hike the road until a well-marked trail on the left references Comp Wall. Pass up the Lower Comp Wall sign which you see first.
Pass the Three Spires (Wedding Bells, etc) on your right and take a left split to the base of the dihedrals on Comp Wall. Circumvent the dihedrals left and up the hill to an obvious huge cleft in Comp Wall (brown arête). The short off-width start for Mr. Sneezy is just to the right of this arête. 20-30 minutes to the base of the route.
Route DescriptionMr. Sneezy, 3 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 50’- 5.10/
I am an avid off-width
climber and thought this short problem was a bit stout for the grade
. There are approximately three moves midway up that are void of a chicken wing, heel to toe or knee jam, three of the more efficient off-width techniques. I faced in and made slow progress with an insecure arm bar
and one foot squirming around. The left face offered little in terms of traction, typical of the standard moss covered and less traveled granite for this area. I had two C4 #4’s with me and they were both tipped out a bit. Better pro would include a #5.
Once you can get a chicken wing at about 3/4's, it is much easier with a mantle to the top of this slightly detached formation forming the off-width. Comfortable gear or slung belay.
2nd Pitch- 130’- 5.8/
Bingham calls this pitch 5.8 on his topo, but the moves are never quite 5.8 as much as it is a heads up pitch in terms of route finding and pro. I placed one C4 #.4 mid-way.
Only other pro available involves features that can be slung, which were bomber when you found them. The top half of this pitch is much more mellow than the first half. Bingham’s topo shows going left of the roof above, whereas you will want to actually go right of the roof, up the arête at the end. There is a comfortable belay at the base of a chimney with medium cams.
3rd Pitch- 100’- 5.9/
The final pitch offers the best climbing on the route. Start up the chimney and move left into a hand crack which advances through several bulges. Towards the top, the crack ends at a roof. Traverse blindly to the right around the arête, protecting your second with a .5” piece
. Follow the horizontal crack right and up to easier ground and the far southern summit of Comp Wall.
Locate a single rope fixed rap down the north of the summit into a grassy grotto. Hike out of the grotto to the northeast to locate another fixed rap down the northeast face of Comp Wall. A 70m rope makes two raps down to the ground. The last one required a full 70m rope, but I imagine there were other options.
Haul your shoes for the walk around from the descent. A single rack to C4 #5 should be more than adequate for the competent leader. Take at least ten slings so you can clove hitch and extend natural features on that second pitch. A 70m rope seemed convenient for the last rap unless I missed a station on the northeast face. This route is mostly south facing, makes for a warm route on a cold day, dress appropriately.