Surrealistic Pillar Direct

Surrealistic Pillar Direct

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.79940°N / 120.135°W
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10b (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Sign the Climber's Log


There's often a line to climb Surrrealistic Pillar (5.7) but if you can lead 5.10 the direct variation for the first pitch is an awesome climb--one of my favorites at the Leap. It joins up with the second pitch of SP to reach the Main Ledge or you can rap off. If you see this route you'll want to climb it.

Getting There

Take the Pony Express Trail from the campground and watch for the climber's trail to the right, about five minutes from the parking lot. The Lower Buttress should be visible above the trees. Follow the climber's trail to the buttress and you'll practically walk into the direct start: A dramatic corner with a great wide crack running up the left side. You can't miss it--especially since there's probably people queued up to the right at the standard SP start.

Route Description

The pitch is about 70 feet long to a bolted belay. From the ground, locate the bolts and make sure no one is belaying the standard start from there (some do; others go higher to a bigger ledge and build a gear anchor).

1. Climb the corner. Vigorous 5.9 jamming and stemming takes you about 2/3rds of the way up. The crack takes medium to big cams with good stances. About 50 feet up you hit some 5.10 moves, above which you pull out onto a decent ledge where you can shake out and decide which 10b way to finish.

2. Either, continue straight up the narrowing crack, which requires a 10a/b lieback that starts out rather sketchy but gets better, then traverse right on a dike to a fist crack; throw in a fist and then a 3-inch cam because if you pump out here you'll pendulum back into the corner; then climb the short crack to the bolts.

Or, traverse low on dikes to reach the crack (being sure to get some gear in) and go up.

3. From the belay, you can either join up with the rest of the SP route or rap off.

If the standard start isn't busy, you could also climb that to the bolts and set up a top rope to work on wide crack skills.

Essential Gear

Medium and bigger cams, doubles to 3 inches, lots of slings.

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