Page Type: Route
Route Type: Technical Rock Climb
Time Required: Half a day
Difficulty: 5.10a


Follow directions on the main page for Morning Glory Wall under Getting There section. Your goal is the base of the vertical wall with huge hueco pockets in it (just look for permanent top ropes and huge crowds).

Route Description

This is a funny (well – not that funny) link up of several routes which have been put up in some cases within days of each other. Hence there’s no clear hierarchy of what’s a linking pitch vs. what’s an original pitch. The best I can deduce from Watts guidebook is that the current Zebra-Zion route follows the original Zebra line for its first 2.5 pitches (probably taking the best sections of Zebra before it goes into 4-th class choss gully) before traversing over to the right (the somewhat runout “slab” section on pitch 3 of Zebra-Zion – see pitch description below) via the Zion “linking pitch” to catch the final (excellent 5.9) pitch of Lion’s Chair (a 5.11 R route that follows the shallow dihedral to the right of Zebra-Zion). However, Zion often gets “assigned” not only the traversing ½ pitch but also the final (excellent) pitch of Lion’s Chair. I will add a FA chronology and route topo of all this below – you might deduce differently. Additionally, there are now 4 ways to do pitch 1 of Zebra-Zion (5.6 to 5.11d, all bolted). Regardless of historical details, Zebra-Zion has become the classic line of its grade at Smith. If you’re only going to do 2 routes at the park, one of them should be Zebra-Zion (the other should be something on Monkey Face).

The original (5.6) start of Zebra-Zion begins below and about 60 feet left of the beautiful dihedral you see on pitch 2 above. Pitch 1 used to be runout but the explosion of bolted routes on this stretch of rock made it into a well protected traverse.

Pitch 1: 5.6, 80 feet. Climb up a few feet into a huge hueco directly below the first bolt of Five Gallon Buckets route (leftmost of the bolted lines on the pocketed face). Begin traversing diagonally right and up clipping bolts of the lines you cross (well – actually, most of the lines cross your path as this Zebra pitch was there before most bolted lines went up…this detail might be lost on some climbers however - be courteous). Eventually you will see a doubly-bolted hanging belay directly above. Clip the last bolt and climb 15 feet to this anchor.
(1) Gumby (5.10b) offers a more direct start via a bolted line. If you were to take a survey, I think you’d find that most climbers do Zebra-Zion via Gumby start. Have not done this. Martin Cash makes the following comment: Gumby - 5.10B - Ok climb at best, only one or two 5.10 moves, then low to mid fifth class huge huecos after that. Only 4 bolts in almost 100 feet. Not recommended.
(2) Zebra Direct (5.11a) is immediately (?) right of Gumby. Have not done this (come on, you see my climbing resume…).
(3) Zebra Seam (5.11d) climbs the shallow dihedral few feet right of the pitch one anchor bolts above. Originally a runout trad climb, this has been retrobolted acc. to Watts. Have not done this.
All these variations join each other at the anchor mentioned above (Gumby and Zebra Seam join below the anchor I think).
See here for these pitch 1 variations (lines in red have not been done by me at the time I put this photo together).

Pitch 2: 5.10a, 100+ feet. From the hanging belay, move up via a shallow dihedral (5.8-ish?). About 20 feet above is a tiny roof (protrudes about a foot). Getting around the right side of the roof is the crux of the route. Protection here is excellent (small sub-1 inch cams). Good rest stance just above is followed by a short but awkward “groove”. 10 feet higher is the start of the gorgeous dihedral. The dihedral starts out thin (5.9) – liebacking seemed like the way to go (finger crack with excellent pro) but eases about half way up as the crack widens to hands and more nubbins appear on side walls. Easy groove above dihedral puts you on a nice ledge with two bolts.

Pitch 3: 5.8, c. 120 feet. From belay ledge, move back right and climb the dihedral (somewhat wide crack inside) ~20 feet to a ledge. Continue up the dihedral above (5.8) until you see that the terrain on the right has eased a bit (before the crack in the dihedral becomes dirty). When we climbed it there were chalk mars all over the wall where people exit the dihedral. I would say you exit the dihedral about 50 feet above belay ledge (give or take). Place a good piece in the dihedral and make a few balancy face traverse moves (5.8, about 10 feet). Move up low 5-th class terrain. Follow this low angle featured slab along a diagonalling seam (~5.4) up and right. Pro is not that great but going is easy. There’s a final 5.6-ish move required to gain the anchors (2 bolts). Save a #1 or 2 Camalot as I think one of these would’ve protected the move perfectly (did not have it). Semi-hanging belay – more uncomfortable than you’d think.

Pitch 4: 5.9, 70 feet. From the anchors, move up a few feet and traverse left 8 feet. Thin fingers crack (small nuts for pro) with a nicely rounded (and chalked up) lip (5.9). At end of traverse mantle up. Follow steep flake edge (sort of a crack) up. Juggy but steep 5.8-ish terrain brings you to a nice flat ledge. Belay here on gear if you want to get pictures of your second doing pitch 4. Otherwise continue to top (see below).

Pitch 5: low 5th class, 30 feet. Traverse ledge left and pull one low 5th class move then follow 4th class terrain to top of wall. Belay on flat ground using bolts or your firmly-planted butt. There are some smallish loose rocks here – be very careful not to knock any of them down onto the climbing gym directly below (you might kill someone).

Descent: Hike back away from the edge you just came up. You’ll be hiking down the gully on the right (Cocaine Gully). Pick up a climbers’ trail at the top of the gully. At the bottom of the gully, look for a “cave” near the left side (that’s left as you’re looking down gully). The cave should only be about 10 feet of easy 3rd class down climb. If it looks like mid-5th class chimney, you’re too far left.

Essential Gear

Doubles in cams 1 inch and under (I had and used doubles in green, yellow, red Aliens); double 1.5 inch units (0.75 Camalot); triples in cams up to ~3 inches (#1, 2, 3 Camalots – probably did not use all here); single #3.5 Camalot. Good selection of nuts from very small (sizes just above the aid sizes) to medium. This is a very conservative rack. Yes, I know – you’re a bad ass climber and think the rack above is b.s. Maybe. Take it for what it’s worth (easy trad 10’s are still hard for me).

Route Overview Photos

Upper portions of Zebra-Zion...Top Half

Lower portion of Zebra-Zion ....Bottom Half

Web Links

(1) Zebra-Zion TR. Very well-written TR. No route photos.

(2) Zebra-Zion TR from cascadeclimbers.com. Includes discussion of alternative starts. No photos.

(3) Zebra-Zion TR from rec.climbing. No photos.

(4) Misc. route photos from cascadeclimbers.com. Two or three of those provide excellent long range pitch overviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

First Ascent Chronology

....coming soon.....

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More Route Photos

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