West Face Variation

Page Type
Oregon, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
Half a day

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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West Face Variation
Created On: Feb 16, 2004
Last Edited On: Mar 7, 2005


Follow the direction on the main page to reach the western base (that's the riverside base) of Monkey Face. The route starts approximately 30 feet to the right of the base of the pillar proper. Look for a 30 foot "flake" with multiple hand cracks leaning against the main wall. The standard West Face Variation route starts on the left side of the "flake" (see photos).

Route Description

There are multiple variations to the West Face Variation route that change the route rating from 5.8 (unsustained) to 5.9. The description given here is for the "standard" route as described in Watts' guidebook (Monkey Face chapter, route 13). The route reaches Bohn Street (the start of the bolt ladder pitch of the Pioneer Route) in three (or two if you take one of the variations) great pitches. If combined with the upper pitches of Pioneer Route it makes for a wonderful day-long climb. Do not confuse the nomenclature of this route with the West Face Route. This latter route is a 5.12a A1 direct shot line up the overhanging west face of the pillar (can be aided all the way).

Pitch 1: 5.7, c. 120 feet. Start by stemming up 5 feet on the left side of the "detached flake" (see photo). Using the hand crack on the face of the flake, swing onto its (blank) face . Once you get your feet into the horizontal handcrack, you're past the crux of the pitch (this is 15-20 feet off the deck). Top out on the flake (excellent pro in the 2-4 inch range), clip a very manky bolt and move up a short dihedral. Move right, up, and left to bypass a bulge above and follow the well featured route straight up. After passing another bulge above, you'll reach the double bolts on a nice ledge at the beginning of a low angle "groove". Belay here.
A harder start can be had by starting pitch one on the right side of the huge detached flake. This is rated 5.8 but feels quite awkward for the grade - you're not sure what's more secure: hands or feet in the crack. The crux comes just above and left of a wide pod ~20 feet above the ground and is over in about three moves (you rejoin the standard route). Photo of this variation start here.

Pitch 2: 5.5, c. 80 feet. For the standard pitch two, hike straight up the low angle groove which quickly turns into a low angle stemming problem. Make your way to the slab directly below a roof. From here, follow the slab right (cracks available for pro) and up. A mantle move (crux of the pitch, 5.5) pulls onto the slab that forms the roof (on the right side). Walk the low angle slab 20 feet to the double bolt anchor on a short vertical wall. Make sure that you use double or preferably triple length slings on all of the pro below the roof. Even with that precaution, the rope drag will be horrendous!
First variation to this pitch moves left across a slab from the bealy atop pitch one and enters a dihedral. This will take you directly to the notch where you'll join the Pioneer Route just below Bohn Street. This allows you to reach Bohn Street in two instead of three pitches (5.8). Second variation goes up the low angle groove to the base of the roof (as described above) but then moves directly up and slightly left before pulling over the roof. The variation pitch terminates at same belay station as the standard route's pitch 2 (5.9). Note that this latter variation (5.9) description comes from the book and not first hand experience.

Pitch 3: 5.8, c. 80 feet. From the double bolt belay, mantle onto the low angle slab located on top of the short wall housing the belay bolts. This is the crux of the route (5.8) and is quite exposed. The book topo shows a bolt on the slab but we could not find it (nor any evidence that it's ever been there?). Once on the low angle slab (this is called "The Airy Traverse" by Watts), traverse left. Multiple vertical cracks (spaced at nice intervals) exist in the vertical wall you're facing (pro from 0.5 to 4 inches). The slab feels much easier than 5.8 (5.6-5.7 is probably fair). The traverse portion of the pitch is about 30 feet long. Once on the other side, make your way up easy terrain (5.5) to the notch. Here you rejoin the Pioneer Route (pitch two as described here on SP). Keep moving up the face and wide groove (one piton, one bolt, and good amount of natural pro opportunity) till you reach Bohn Street - a wide ledge where the bolt ladder of Pioneer Route begins.
A variation of this pitch can take you to the Spring Board (a rock formation on the main wall opposite the Monkey's mouth cave). From the belay atop pitch two, move directly up the low angle slab to its end (20 feet) and then follow a crack in the dihedral on the left side of the slab. The book calls this pitch a 5.6 but it feels much harder. Pull through a strenuous bulge in the dihedral and reach easy ground above. Top out on the Spring Board and belay off of huge anchors (these are used for setting up Tyrollean traverses out of Monkey's mouth cave).

Descent: If you're not planning on continuing up Pioneer Route to the top of the pillar, rappel from double bolts (located on the east end of Bohn Street) to the fourth class terrain of the Pioneer Route (north east side of Monkey). If you do a single rope rap, you'll need to downclimb a bit of 4th class (exposed) stuff before reaching the trail. Double rope rap brings you directly to the trail. Follow the climbers' trail to reach the main Misery Ridge trail.

Essential Gear

A nice selection of cams ideally in the 0.5 to 4+ inch range though 0.5 to 3 inch will probably suffice. Some double and even triple length slings (for pitch two). Double ropes if you're thinking of bailing from top of pitches one or two (rap straight down) or if you're heading for the top of Monkey. Helmets (always a good idea but esp. here as there are tourists above you on the Misery Ridge). Aid gear (bolt ladder) if you're thinking of continuing up the bolt ladder of the Pioneer Route.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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rl23455 - Jun 1, 2008 4:53 pm - Hasn't voted

Pitch 3 Variation 2

When you get on top of the roof, instead of walking 20 feet to the left to the bolted anchor, we stayed straight, and followed the crack to the base. There is a two bolt anchor on the right of the crack, but I did not see it as it was covered with lichen(My second saw it, who knows how old it is, not shown in Watts' book). The crack is offwidth but a 5.5 with ledges. Takes big 5 in gear or 20 ft runouts to smaller gear placement. 15 ft up from start is one 2 ft diameter boulder teetering on a small ledge, climb past it without touching it.


rpc - Jun 2, 2008 4:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Pitch 3 Variation 2

Thanks - I'll add your info. in as soon as I get around to cleaning up & modernizing the route page.

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