Tomato is another one of the many West Face must-climb routes. Though I think it does not get as much traffic as, say, Green Wall or Pleasant Overhangs, it is certainly one that if you are just starting into the realm of harder trad climbs, the route is most definitely one you should have on your Seneca tick list. Routefinding is not much of an issue, but the climb will have a surprise or two (in a challenging and fun way). Tomato is a fun route, for sure.
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 a 'dropzone,' as it is filled with loose rocks everywhere you look, especially if you stray off 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. Keep on the trail and pass the access point to oft-crowded Seneca routes Old Man's, Conn's West, and Westpole. You are aiming for the smooth wall that is covered in bright green lichen at the northern end of the South Peak.
At this point you have two options: you can continue north on the trail towards the North Peak and double back a little bit towards the start of Tomato and Green Wall or you can scramble up the slabs (class 3; feels a little harder if your scrambling around with ropes and gear stuffed in your pack) to the left of Westpole towards Thais face and the big overhanging bulge of Pleasant Overhangs. If you choose the former: continue past Thais face and Pleasant Overhangs northward until you are at the northern edge of the South Peak. At this point, there should be a point at which a 'trail' goes up past a ledge guarded by a large trunk of a dead pine tree. Swing around the trunk and the base of Green Wall and Tomato should be at the other end. If the latter choice: continue up the trail until the blazes turn you towards a slab system (smaller and less steep than the one over by Thais), follow that up and it should dump you below and far right of the dead pine just mentioned. To avoid a small, annoying rock step after the slabs, head right (south) about 10 ft. where you can walk up towards the big pine tree. Swing around it and head towards the dihedral straight ahead.
Anchor the first pitch on the biggest tree on the ledge closest to the start of Tomato.
Route DescriptionPitch 1
: Ascend the thin flake to the left of the start of Green Wall. The flake will bulge out significantly towards the top, but there is solid protection between layers of the flake. Stem and lie-back through the flake until you can step across to a big belay ledge.
The top of the flake can be 5.awkward if you try to stuff yourself in it towards the top. Alternatively, you can swing out onto the flake’s face and continue the lie-back. Anchor on tree with rap rings and webbing or the tree closer to the dihedral of the second pitch (the rap tree will be closer to the route line up the flake but farther from the P2 start). (~40 ft.)
: The crux pitch. The pitch gets harder and steepens the higher you go. Head up the steep dihedral at the right of the ledge. Climb the dihedral and thin cracks on the right side of the dihedral. The good holds will thin out up high. You will hit a point where you will want to hang on a good hold before pushing through the final crux. Protect from an exposed stance and keep climbing. Link up with Gunsight to South Peak before you get too pumped. Some people will stop just after the crux below the Gryphon’s Beak and belay their second, but you can continue and finish most of the Gunsight link up by heading up the ledgey climb ahead of you. Belay on gear from the alcove just below the South Peak summit fin.
There are a few pieces of loose rock seated in the wall near the belay station, so do not let them loose down the face. (~80 ft.)
Pitch 3 (Link Up on Gunsight to South Peak, 5.4)
: Climb the final step above the belay alcove and scramble across the knife-edge of the South Peak. Belay before or at the summit register; any farther and you will not be able to hear your second. (~60 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 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!
- Cams to 4"
- C3s and/or TCUs
- 1 set of BD nuts
- 10 runners (8 shoulder-length, 2 double-length)
- 2 cordelettes, prussiks, and any other slings/ropes/kit that you bring up normally.
- Your normal alpine climbing supplies.