High on Black Arch Wall, Plate of Fate is a short route just to the left of There and Back Again. For us it was the perfect choice on a frigid December day when the somewhat lengthy approach kept us warm. The route is south facing, so perfect for cooler days.
Granted there are a few brief sections of loose rock, but the harder moves are solid and well protected with either bolts or gear. First ascent by prolific route pioneer, Jorge Urioste, and Bill Hotz.
1) FROM THE OAK CREEK CANYON PARKING AREA
Start at the Oak Creek Canyon parking area located at the end of a spur road leading off the scenic loop road (mile 12.1). From the parking lot head SW toward the canyon.
2) FROM 159
This is a good choice for those climbers who want to get an early start or avoid the hassle of the loop road. This approach is a little longer, but equally straightforward. Begin at Oak Creek Campground which is 1.4 miles south on Nevada 159 from the exit of the loop road. Hike on the old dirt road (no cars) around the S side of Wilson Pimple (the small hill the the NE of Mt Wilson) to the junction with the main trail near entrance of Oak Creek Canyon.
Alternatively, park in the pullout 0.5 miles S of the loop road exit. and take the trail that heads to the N of Wilson Pimple and straight toward the canyon entrance.
ONCE ON THE MAIN TRAIL
Follow the trail up the canyon. It will eventually head downhill as it parallels the Solar Slab area. Note that there are a number of alternate trails in this area, but the key is to eventually end up in the wash. Take in the views as you hike up the wash, scrambling over large boulders for ~55 minutes.
As you approach the far end of Black Arch wall you will see some cairns marking a boulder-filled gully seemingly choked with scrub oak. On our ascent this looked improbable and we ended up continuing to a another set of large boulders that led up the hill marked by an easy mantle problem at the start. This way also went, however, the gully had fewer brushy sections.
Work your way across the slabs up and right to a brushy ledge to the right of the prominent black arch. Note that the route starts much higher than There and Back Again. Look for a large white detached flake with a single bolt ~20 feet up.
Total approach time: ~1.5 hours
Unless you are feeling extra ambitious and want to do to the Painted Bowl walk-off you'll be rapping slightly up canyon from the start, so stash your shoes & packs at the base.
Pitch 1 (120', 5.8)
Clip the first bolt then move right into a narrow crack system. Take care as some of the rock is fractured. Continue up past a second bolt to a bolted anchor.
Pitch 2 (90', 5.8+)
From the belay go left and up. From the belay you see mostly loose plates but there is solid rock to be found once you commit. Traverse left on the varnish past one bolt then head up to a ledge with bushes. As of Dec 2009 the bush was slung with cords and a rap ring.
Pitch 3 (100', 5.9+)
Tiptoe up and left on thin, varnished holds past 2 bolts. Head up toward the brushy, bolted belay/rap station. Note the pile of loose rocks next to the anchor.
pitch 3 (5.9+ crux)
From the anchor do a single rope rap down and climber's right to the brushy ledge that marks the top of pitch 2. If you have a second rope rap to the base. If not, there is an alternate rap station part of the way straight down (not the top of pitch 1, which is off to the climber's right). We did not use this, but noted that the cordage was UV damaged as of Dec 2009.
There is a (lengthy) walk-off option. From the top of the route head up into Painted Bowl. From here go SW aiming the large boulder on the west shoulder of the ebowl. Note: you will have to contour before the (IBM) boulder comes into view. Continue west until the ramps become a vegetated terrace. Head down a steep gully and zig-zag down the ramp system. The final crux involves getting down 20' of extremely slick water-polished slab to reach the streambed. Head downstream to the trail system and return to your car.
- Small rack to 2"
- Backup webbing/rap rings
- Extra rope (optional)