Tree Route-- 5.5, 2 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 34.72160°N / 98.7238°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.5 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Sign the Climber's Log


Tree Route is probably the easiest of the three beginner-friendly trad routes at Elk Slabs, though the run-out start is a little harder than that for Great Expectations and The Dihedral. Also, the tree that gave the route its name and was the traditional belay anchor for the first pitch must have been struck by lightning, as it now is a stump.

Although the MP page for this route says it is 165', it really is about 215'. With a 70m rope, it is possible to link both pitches (what I did), but most people do the pitches separately, belaying from the aforementioned ledge and then from bolts at the top.

Climbing Nike Route (5.8) and the three routes mentioned here makes for a very enjoyable day, as all four begin from the same spot. Water Streak (5.7 X) also begins just a few yards away, but it takes some nerve since it is 200' and has no protection except belay/rap bolts halfway up and at the top.

Getting There

Written by Alan Ellis and copied from the parent page: "Hike to the north on a signed trail. Follow the creek NW for about 1/2 mile until reaching a waterfall. Cross the creek to the left just before the waterfall and scramble up a hill. Follow the trail (north), cross the creek to the right, and arrive at a house-size boulder on the right. Go right (east) from the boulder and follow the trail until reaching a cave-like formation under a large boulder. Crawl through cave exiting left and the trail will resume on the other side. A faint climbers trail will gradually turn into a scramble for the last 100 ft.. This approach takes 45 min - 1 hr and is about 1.5 miles."

When you reach the base of the climbs, you will see an obvious dihedral directly above you. That route is called The Dihedral. A run-out slab to your right takes you to another obvious dihedral that has a tree and a stump on a ledge about halfway up. That is Tree Route.

Route Description

P1-- Ascend the run-out slab to the corner, get some pro in, and go. The belay ledge comes quickly once you reach the corner. Traditionally, people belayed from a tree here, but as you can see in the photograph, that tree is now a stump. As you also can see, people are still using it to belay and rappel. (Yikes.) There are three better options: building a gear anchor (plenty of placements), using a small tree a little below the stump (seemed to me to be an awkward position), or continuing on to the P2 anchors if you have a 70 or longer.

P2-- Pro is not as good, but the climbing is easier. If it has rained recently, expect some wet spots. Belay and rappel from bolted anchors.

Descent-- Mine was a party of four with two ropes. We lowered one climber who preferred not to rappel, and the rest of us rappelled in a single go after tying two 70s together. If you try to do two rappels with a single 60, you will probably run into trouble on one or both pitches. With a single 70, you can rappel to the tree ledge and either trust the stump or rappel off the smaller tree below it. There was one 60cm nylon sling around that tree when we were there in October 2018, so be ready to leave something behind if you don't have two ropes.

I've read that a 3rd class scramble descent is possible but did not see anything that looked too appealing.

P2 and Belay Stump-- Build a Gear Anchor!
P2 and Belay Stump-- Build a Gear Anchor!
Looking Down P2
Looking Down P2
P2 Anchor
P2 Anchor


Essential Gear

Cams up to a #4, stoppers, hexes. Slings for anchors. Because of the rappel issues, having two 70s is ideal, but you can get by with one.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.