Thais is another Seneca classic climb. While it does not reach the summit as its own independent route (you will need to link up with either Thais Direct or Thais Escape after the second pitch), it is still an excellent climb, especially the second pitch. This climb includes a stout (for the grade) start, a fun chimney, and an airy arête below the second belay station. Good exposure at the second belay station, too!
From the parking lot, cross the low bridge across the creek and take Roy Gap Road for about .25-.5 miles to the point at which the creek is directly on your left. There should be blue trail blazes at a crossing in the river along with some strategically placed stones to help you across. If you look up at that point, you should be able to spot the lovingly named "Stairmaster." This series of artfully arranged low walls and stone steps rightfully earns its name from the fact that you gain 600+ vertical feet very fast! Important note: DO NOT cut across the switchbacks to get through the Stairmaster! The whole area, is also the 'dropzone,' as it is filled with loose rocks everywhere you look, especially if you stray of the Stairmaster proper. Many people through on their helmets before they cross the creek or immediately after they cross, but always before they get into the area. Just follow the basica adage: don't let loose a missile upon your fellow climbers below. This area is also the site of a few climbs that ascend the walls on either side of the Stairmaster.
After completing the Stairmaster, you will end up in a flat area below more broken ground. Follow the boulder pile upwards towards the West Face itself. Following the blazes should put you at the junction of the trail that goes right to the Face of a Thousand Pitons and left to the main West Face. Go left. Walk up towards the starting area for the starting area of Westpole, Old Man’s, and Conn’s West. Directly to the left of Westpole is a series of slabs towards the dihedral for the first pitch of Pleasant Overhangs. Leave your gear on the largest ledge atop the slabs (we anchored our packs to a small tree a little further down the path.
Alternatively, you can continue down the trail before turning right up to the start of the three Westpole, Old Man’s, and Conn’s West, essentially north in the direction of the Gunsight as if you were going to climb Tomato, Gunsight to South Peak, Green Wall, or Banana. The trail should double back when you are about in the Gunsight and head back towards Thais’ face along the same upper ledge mentioned above.
Set up below the blocky start towards the right side of Thais face, also to the 15-20 ft. right of the big crack that marks the start of Thais Direct.
Flake out your rope at the base of the blocky start to Thais. Look for the point at which the rocks stick out farthest from the face itself. Make sure to strategically place your rope and belayer considering your proximity to the slabs are directly beneath you.
: The crux is right off of the ground. Essentially, gaining the blocky section of the first pitch is the most difficult part. Pull through and head up the blocky section of the face to a large ledge marked by two medium sized trees. The trees are a bit awkward for a belay unless you would prefer a hanging belay (seems unnecessary with the ledge you’re on), or if you put a redirect in the face itself. (5.6 start, ~75 ft.)
From the ledge, climb up and into a large chimney directly above the ledge. You can protect in the back of the chimney. Though some of these rocks would qualify as chockstones, the chimney is so big that the many of the rocks inside do not seem to be moving anytime soon.
The chimney will eventually narrow with a smaller chockstone guarding your way from getting up further in the chimney (above that point, the chimney gets uncomfortably narrow anyways). From here, move out and left onto the arête.
It may be tempting to move out to a small ledge on the right side of the chimney, but the alcove is only about 20-25 ft. above you. Move up the arête to an excellent belay ledge, anchor in the back of the alcove, take a seat on the edge and enjoy the view while you bring up your second. (5.6, ~80 ft.)
Pitch 3, Variation 1 (Link to Thais Direct)
: Link up with Thais Direct to your left. Traverse left until you are in a big corner and follow that corner to the summit ridge. Avoid getting onto the narrow fin nearby, as that route is “Before the Fall” and checks in at 5.10a! (5.7, ~50 ft.)
Pitch 3, Variation 2 (Link to Thais Escape)
: Climb up from the belay station as if you were climbing Thais direct, but instead of moving out to the dihedral, climb straight up from the belay station until it is possible to step right out onto the West Face. Follow a ramp up onto the ledge. (5.5, ~ 45 ft.)
: From the South Summit, scramble down to the flat area to the South of the summit. There should be a breach in the rock on the west side that will allow you to downclimb (5.0-5.1) to the big rappel tree overlooking Old Man's, Conn's West, and Westpole. Rap off the tree (has some fat static line and rappel rings). Directly above Westpole there are also some bolts, but they are only big enough to fit the rope and not much else, so you will need to anchor into the rock around the bolts. If you have on 60m rope, prepare for 3 rappels or 2 rappels plus a little downclimbing. 2 60m ropes will get you all the way down to the ledges at the start of Old Man's and involves 20-30 ft. of fairly easy downclimbing. Be careful when pulling your ropes for (1.) This area gets really crowded on weekends; (2.) the ledgy nature of the bottom of the wall can get ropes stuck after being pulled!
- C4s to 3” (you can bring a 4 for the chimney on pitch 2 if you want, but the pitch is still well-protected otherwise)
- C3s and/or TCUs
- 1 set of BD nuts
… essentially any gear you would bring on a normal day of trad climbing. Thais is fairly standard/straightforward.
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