The S-Wall formation at Quartz Mountain is clearly visible from the parking lot and is distinguished by a large, light colored "S" in the middle of a darker granite wall. Rising approximately 300ft above the parking lot, the S-Wall area is formed by the large Snake's Head Dihedral (5.8+) on the left, and Headwall formation on the right. Several routes ascend this wall including Big Bite (5.10X) and Baptism (5.10RX). This page will describe the route that shares the name of the formation, S-Wall (5.9RX).
Follow the directions to Baldy Point (Quartz Mountain) as described on the main page. Take the middle branch of the trail leaving the parking lot and take a left immediately after a large, 10-15ft tall boulder down a trace path leading to a small boulder field. Ascend this into a corner where the boulders join the main wall. Make your way up to a large, grassy ledge directly above this point. The S-Wall takes the line right up the middle of the face.
The route covers 220ft of excellent granite slab climbing, distinguished by small edges on 70-80 degree rock. The classic Oklahoma foot "smedge" (smear and an edge) is very useful, as is the hand-foot match.
Climb roughly 65ft of unprotected blocky 5.6 climbing to the first bolt. Continue past for another 20-25ft over increasingly difficult terrain (up to 5.8) to a pair of bolt anchors. Two bolts are now above you, one to the right, one to the left. The left bolt leads you up Big Bite, the right takes you up S-wall.
Belay at the anchors (or continue climbing from ground) up through the S feature. After about 20ft of 5.9 climbing you will be standing on top of the S and face to face with a third bolt. The technical difficulties are over.
Take a deep breath. You now have about 80ft on unprotected 5.8 and easier slab climbing till you can build an anchor.
Approximately 40ft after the last bolt there is a small bulge that must be negotiated. Step over the bulge on small, delicate moves and continue up a low angle, but blank, slab for 10 feet to a glory ledge. 15ft of easy 5th class scrambling brings you to a crack system where you can make the belay and bring up your second.
Scramble over boulders to the right for the headwall anchors. Two ropes are required to reach the ground.
Like you need it.
For two pitches:
Cordelette for building 2 anchors
Lockers for your anchor at the top and for the 2 bolt anchor.
2 #1 Camalots for the crack system anchor at the top.
1 #1 Metolius TCU (the blue one)*
A 50m rope will suffice for the pitch lengths, bring two for the rappel.
For one pitch (*recommended*)
Cordelette and Lockers for the anchor at the top.
2 #1 Camalots
1 #1 Metolius TCU (the blue one)*
A 60m rope will get you to the top in one pitch if you simulclimb the last 15-20 feet. A 70m will get you there with your belayer firmly on the ground.
Either way, I would also recommend bringing along a very large set of cajones.
As stated, I would recommend leading this in one pitch. It keeps the continuity of the climb and it adds some level of safety. If you belay at the anchors and you fall before you get to the bolt after the S (the most technically difficult part) you risk anything between a 20-35 foot factor 2 fall! If you fall at the higher (mental) crux of the bulge, you risk sliding about 50-60ft into your belay, who cannot move out of the way since it is a hanging belay. Keep the belayer on the ground where he is safe, plus he can run away from the wall should you take the big slide to eat up some slack.
*The small blue TCU can be placed right before stepping over the bulge. I have not done this myself, but I have seen others place this piece.