North Rabbit Ear - The Cave Route

North Rabbit Ear - The Cave Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.42780°N / 122.301°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical Rock Climb
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.10a
Sign the Climber's Log


Follow the approach directions on the main page for Rabbit Ears. Your goal is to reach the notch between the Ears from the west (right) side. The route starts at the notch directly opposite of the Standard Route (West Face) on the South Rabbit Ear.

Route Description

Leave most of the rack at the base - bring QD's and some slings. The first two pitches of the route are tightly bolted. The third pitch is runout but easy (5.0-5.4) and doesn't really offer any gear opportunities (bring a few slings for tying off horns on that pitch).

Pitch 1: 5.10a, c. 100 feet. Starting at the notch between the two Ears (just below where they are joined), step left and reach the first bolt. Note that from the base of the route, you cannot see the 2nd, 3rd etc... bolts and the route looks extremely runout. In fact it's NOT. It's beautifully bolted with mostly new bolts. Climb directly up following the obvious bolt line up the steep face. The line looks dirtier than it actually is - it must have seen much traffic since most holds are pretty solid. Finish pitch inside the huge cave from which the route derives its name. Three bolts available for belay.

Pitch 2: 5.10a, c. 80 feet. From the cave, step out the west side or climber's left side (or right side as you're looking OUT of the cave). Clip a bolt and gently move up progressively crumblier rock. The route goes up and slightly right above the cave. However, do NOT traverse all the way to the right side above the cave. Look up before traversing too far right to find the bolts/pitons in a shallow, right facing dihedral. Note that there's a very large dihedral on the right side of the cave (it's visible from base of climb) - that is NOT the dihedral you want!! Instead, follow good bolts and questionable pitons (all very closely spaced together...stress free) up the small dihedral. Near the top, move left out of the dihedral, clipping two pitons and following two more good bolts left and up. This traverse is somewhat thin (and much harder than anything on P1 IMHO). The crux comes right above the last bolt where you have to pull on jugs to enter a "groove". The doubly bolted belay is 20 feet of easier climbing above.

Pitch 3: 5.0-5.4, 90 feet. From the belay bolts, climb up the groove or the ridge on its left side. Easy but unprotected climbing (can tie off horns) on questionable rock leads to the dirty summit slabs. Belay from 4 or 5 summit bolts. Note that there's an intermediate belay station (two bolts) on the right side of the "groove" just below the summit slabs.

From summit, rappel (we used two ropes but a single might work - tie in backup knots) back down to top of P2. From here, rap straight down to the ground with TWO ropes. We used double 60's - two 50's MIGHT work but I'm not sure.

Essential Gear

Two ropes.
Quick draws. A few slings for tying off horns on P3. A cam in the 2.5-3 inch range might be useful on P2 above last bolt (we did not use it - going is pretty easy at that point).

Nick Dodge Topo

The topo from Nick Dodge's book (below) is a bit off in describing P2 of this route. The initial step out the left side of the cave is correct as is the rightward traverse just above the cave. However, above that, the route goes straight up a shallow dihedral (fixed pro) and then traverses left about 15 feet (~20 feet below the top of the pitch). Beyond the end of this leftward traverse (which is the crux of the route), there are no more fixed pieces as one moves up a crack/groove to a doubly bolted belay station just below the semi-dead tree.

More Route Photos



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