The Fortress, 5.10a-5.12a

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 34.06369°N / 116.14854°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
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Dow leading Sublimination (sic), 5.10a*
Dow leading Sublimination (sic), 5.10a*

I have climbed my way through the park from top to bottom, Boy Scout trailhead down through Rattlesnake Canyon and out through Indian Cove.  I have climbed Big Horn Dihedral on Suicide Horn Rock as well as some remote objectives located in the far northern quadrant of the park out of Pinto Wye.  Perhaps none were as challenging to locate on my first visit as the Flying Fortress and the Fortress (opposing walls) in North Wonderland.  This corridor (north/south facing walls) is not easy to reach.  The formations are well hidden in the jumbled landscape of formations around Willow Hole.  It is well guarded by the Grey Giant to the west, Willow Hole to the north and Tombstone to the south.  The less difficult access to this corridor is actually from the base of Suicide Horn Rock which requires the longest hike of all formations listed in Miramontes extensive guide.

If you are a 5.10-11 trad climber, the list of starred (recommended) routes at the grade, on these two formations, is tantalizing.  However, the rock quality leaves something to be desired.   Like many Jtree routes that see little traffic, these routes offer plenty of sandy granite and loose blocks.  Many of the routes on these opposing formations are also sandbagged, by Jtree standards.  But the private location, length of routes and aesthetic nature of some of the corner/crack systems you are climbing, more than makes up for any negative distractions.  Sublimination (sic), 5.10a*, is my favorite 5.10 lead on the wall.  It is full 70m rope lead utilizing several crack systems through several small roofs.  The Fortress, located directly across from the Flying Fortress, is true north facing and offers 100% shade.   There are half a dozen fixed raps down the east half of the wall.  You can scramble down the west end.   

Start at Boy Scout trailhead.  The local guide has the hike clocked at 3.6 miles.  Make for the Willow Hole right-turn-off from Boy Scout trail.  As you would for Willow Hole, exit right onto a wash before reaching Timbuktu Towers which is easy to spot up ahead.  Head east in the wash for Willow Hole and take the second sub-wash on the right heading for the Grey Giant in the distance.  In 2018, there were two plastic directional posts with arrows to help folks follow the wash out of Willow Hole (coming up from Indian Cove) to the trail that leads to Boy Scout.  The second wash where you need to turn right is marked by the second marker you come to.  Follow this wash as it heads for the Grey Giant.  If you go all the way to the Grey Giant, you can summit a col at its east end which separates it from the Fortress.  However, that involves a lot of boulder hoping and wayfinding.  Rather, stay in the wash as it takes a sharp turn left.  Continue northeast.  You come to a boulder/vegetated choked wash ahead.  Attemp to locate cairns (2018) that lead up and right to scramble along the walls on your right so you can circumvent the choked up wash below.  Eventually the cairns lead you back down into the wash at about the point where you need to scramble up large boulders forming a gully on your right.  You have little vision at this point to make out any formations around you.  But this way was cairned (2018) and once we found it and used it the next day without packs, it only took us 1:15 to cover the 3.6 miles from the parking lot, but we are relatively fast.  Atop this boulder gully you will be rewarded with the beautiful valley formed by the Flying Fortress on the left (south facing) and the Fortress on the right (north facing).  There are two corridors to the north, between Willow Hole and the Flying Fortress, that provide the same parallel wall formations that could fool you into thinking you were in the right place.  If you found yourself too far north, just hike east almost to Suicide Horn Rock before cutting back west into the proper corridor.   After leading approximatly 1000 routes in Jtree, I will admit this was probably the most challenging area to locate directly on my first go.

Routes Listed Right to Left, West to East, as you Approach Them

Ganado- 150'-5.10b/

Julius Seizure- 160'-5.10a*/

The Old Man Down the Road- 125-5.10a*/ Shared start with New Hampshire, then remain right in the hand crack up to a fixed station. A true 70m can just make it down to a block on the left.  The crux is the first few meters off the deck, but well protected.  Single to #3.  Dow

New Hampshire Naturally- 125’-5.10b*/ Shared start and fixed rap anchor with the Old Man.  After several meters and before the roof, traverse left into a finger crack and then up the wider section.   Easier climbing above. Single to #4.  Dow

Roark- 150'-5.10c/

Tower of Cleanliness- 40'-5.10b**/

Arms Control- 100'-5.11d***/

Tower of Godliness- 80'-5.10a*/

Catapult- 100'-5.11b***/

Pear-Grape Route- 160'-5.10a/

Natural Selection- 160'-5.10d**/

Sublimation- 230’-5.10a*/ My favorite 5.10 on this wall.  Much longer than the guide suggests unless you want to rap off a slung (2018) tree to the left and miss some of the good climbing higher up.  Take the left of the twin cracks up to below the obvious roof and traverse right and pull the roof into a wide crack.  Follow the wide on up to a ledge with a huge block making a cave like setting on the left.  Stem up between the block and the steep corner to a narrow ramp finger corner.  Follow it to a large ledge on your right.  Medium gear belay to the right.  Make a double rope rap (160') off of the fixed station on the massive block about 30’ further climbers right (Natural Selection).  The start of this route climbs up several fragile blocks. Use care to climb around them.  The higher you go, the more the rock improves.  The right side crack/corner offers a stouter variation vs the splitter out left, but was filled with dirt and grass in 2018.  Single to #4.  Double to #1.  Dow

Weekend Warrior- 170'-5.11a*/

Toad Warrior- 160'-5.10c*/

It's Easy to be Distant When You're Brave- 60'-5.11c**/

It's Easy to be Brave from a Safe Distance- 60'-5.12a**/



Related objects are relevant to each other in some way, but they don't form a parent/child relationship. Also, they don't necessarily share the same parent.