Scimitar, 5.9, 3 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.80244°N / 120.1324°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
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3rd Pitch (crux of route)
3rd Pitch (crux of route)

In August, 2015, I traveled up to Lovers Leap for five days to avoid fires and smoke in the eastern Sierras. We climbed 10 multi-pitch routes in five days. Most included the lessor climbed, more adventurous routes in the 5.10 range. On our last day we concluded with two 5.9’s on the more popular east wall, Scimitar and Fantasia. Scimitar was a fast route as I combined the last two pitches with a bit of simul-climbing by my second. Mountain Project users give Scimitar a run-out grade but I can’t say I agree with that assessment. The short run out on the second pitch is 5th class at most. I ran it out for rope drag purposes, but always felt there was pro to be had if you needed or wanted it. Compared to Fantasia of course, you can sow this route up. Scimitar was established in ’72.
1st Pitch
1st Pitch

The first pitch consisted of uneventful mostly 5.7 climbing through a multi-faceted crack system. I really can’t remember much about it. The third pitch had one squirrely (if you choose to leave the corner as the topo suggests) move that will get most aspiring 5.9/10 trad leaders attention. The whole line follows pretty much straight up and down. So much so that I was asleep at the wheel when I came to a stacked roof section and even pulled the first one before realizing I had just missed the “wild” move left to an arête that was referenced on the topo. Didn’t want to miss that, so I down climbed and moved left under a slightly overhanging roof to the arête out left. By doing this, I did solve the problem others complain about in summit logs in regards to protecting this exposed move left. Simply climb high, place a .75” to 1” in the first roof in the main corner. Down climb a meter and then make the left exposed traverse via face features to the arête. By doing it this way, you further negate the potential slam back into the main corner if you fell at this juncture. Some more fun climbing on pitch three leads to the top.  It is by far the more interesting pitch of the three.  We had a 70m and my second simul climbed for about 20’ off the belay to combine these final two pitches. I obviously ran it out to avoid rope drag, but felt there was plenty of pro on the entire route.

Assuming you have an east wall topo with you, Fantasia is easy to find. Just run up to the Haystack corner and traverse right until under an obvious arching roof. Scimitar is the very next corner/crack system to the right. That’s what makes these two good to do together. Climb, descend, climb again, descend and retrieve your packs (maybe a 5 minute hike back up to the wall from the trail to get your packs).

Route Description

1st Pitch- 165’- 5.9/ It is unlike me to completely forget about a pitch, but there was nothing extraordinary about this first pitch and I led the entire route and remember the third pitch relatively well.  Supertopo shows a 5.9 lay back, but it does that a lot on leap topos.   I think the assumption is made that many bay area climbers can’t jam yet when they get on routes like this. I don’t remember a lay back. In any regard, it might have taken me 5 to 10 minutes to cover this 165' to a fixed anchor and decent belay ledge.

2nd/3rd Pitches- 250’- 5.9/ I easily linked these pitches by not placing much pro and having my partner simul- climb 20’ on a 70m rope. The section definitely has a memorable move. It is shown on the third pitch of the topo. You have two options, either take the wide crack roof in the corner or make a “wild” traverse left under a slightly overhanging roof to the arête out left. The word "wild" peaked my interest, so when I got to the stacked roof section, I placed a medium piece in the first roof, down climbed a meter and made the stem/swing left to the arête via features. This roof crack leading to the arete was mostly closed thus why I placed a piece in the roof directly back in the corner.  It definitely is a wide stem move with air underneath. The arête itself is easy peasy as it runs straight up into the same corner again. Some more fun 5.8 moves on juggy roofs straight up leads to the top where you can sling a boulder for the belay.

Climbing Sequence


Walk off the main trail to the east.

Essential Gear

A standard rack to 2”. I placed no wires. They talk of a loose block on this route, that is gone, I did not wear a helmet. Plenty of shoulder length slings particularly if you want to combine those last two pitches as I did. This wall gets first sun at the Leap, probably around 1pm in August.



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