January 28, 2010

Arcturus Beta, Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

the top of arcturus
the bottom of arcturus

Arcturus Beta: gear (not sure exactly, triple set of cams to 4inches (this includes the thinner than finger sizes), up 8 finger size cams, 1 set nuts, slings and draws)

I will do my best to identify the pitches, lengths and gear for the route. It’s been a while and Mike Anderson probably has all the detailed beta written somewhere, so if mine isn’t good enough, he may be the person to ask. Since Mike and I are the only ones who have climbed the route, the ratings will be our best guess. Take them with a grain of salt.

Pitch 1 5.11+/12- (about 100 feet) start 100ft to the right of the Regular Route in a crack that is wider at the bottom and then turns into a chimney. At that point move to the right across the face (protection bolt) and into the thin left facing corner. The rock is slick, which makes the thin crux challenging. Belay at big ledge with bolts as the anchor. (I remember that this felt tough in the morning when there was moisture in the air at the base of the wall)

Pitch 2 5.9/10 (less than 100ft) From ledge head up thin crack on right, trend left into belay.

Pitch 3 5.11- (100ft) Continue up the crack right through the broken section into the wide overhanging flake and follow it up and left. When it ends, face climb up and left to a bolted anchor. There is a small stance at the belay. I really loved this pitch because of the wide stuff and the face traverse at the end. Committing climbing, but totally fun.

Pitch 4 5.11+/12- (at least 100ft) From the bolts move right up the thin crack (thin nut placement). Follow the crack up as it goes from tips to 4 inches to bolted anchor. Small stance at belay. Great fun, great gear, lots of hand jamming.

Pitch 5 5.12- (less than 100ft) From belay, head up and left through ledgey terrain past a bolt or two (I think) into thin cracks on the right. Challenging climbing and a semi-blind placement or two leads you to the huge chimney on the left. When you reach the chimney, climb in and belay at the base. (no bolt anchor) Pumpy climbing near the end of the pitch. (the crack that you were climbing on thins out and continues past the chimney. we headed into the base of the chimney at the earliest point)

Pitch 6 5.12- (less than 100ft) Head up chimney (easy) and out right through the roof at the top. Exposed and fun to a small stance in a dihedral about 20 ft above the roof. (natural anchor or one bolt)

Pitch 7 5.10+/11- (less than 100ft) Head straight up from belay in corner. Awkward at times but good gear. Small stance and a bolt or two at the belay. From the belay you’ll be looking at a bunch of junky ledges up and to your left. You will also be under the big chimney on the Regular Route.

Pitch 8 5.easy PG (200ft+) Traverse up and left on the broken ledges and be aware of loose blocks bad gear and easy climbing. You are heading to the bolts at the base of the blankest section of the wall. (there is a bolt ladder there which takes you to where you want to go) We climbed the 5.10 (4 pitch variation) to the left, which comes back to the top of the bolt ladder and a big long ledge where you could sleep. There is a 1 or 2 pitch free variation just to the left of the bolt ladder that was freed at about 5.12+ but it wasn’t that fun or easy either. If you are not going to free the route, then take the bolt ladder on the Regular Route to the big ledge. This is where Arcturus and the Regular Route cross paths. The bolt ladder should be short and sweet (maybe about 30 feet)

Pitch 9 5.13 (less than 100ft) This is where the climbing starts to really get good. Begin on the pins in the dihedral to the left of the big chimney. Climb the thin crack dihedral past the last pins and up the arĂȘte and corner to a thin belay stance. Cool, thin and balancy moves take you past some bolts to the bolted belay.

Pitch 10 5.12- (100ft) Continue up the long dihedral that is thin fingers the whole way to an anchor in the corner. Not the most comfortable belay anchor. (bolts I think)

Pitch 11 5.12- (100ft) Continue up dihedral past a pin and through the roof on the left side. Some cool stemming and exciting moves through the roof take you to a belay in a little cave off to the left. (bolts and cams I think)

Pitch 12 5.12 (100ft) From small alcove, head up through corner systems. This is thin and balancy, with a blind placement of a number one cam on the left side. There are some pins and bolts on this pitch and it feels pretty committing to lead. Once you reach the bolts, no worries, climb up the rail of granite and up past the Robbins Rod (a large finger of granite sticking out from the wall.) Stand on the rod and gain some more crack to the belay above.

Pitch 13 5.11 (less than 100ft) From anchor head left up left leaning overhanging hand crack. Really fun and pumpy. At top, move right into the corner and belay.

Pitch 14 5.8 (less than 100ft) Easy chimney to semi hanging belay. One bolt is on the face so you don’t have to carry the big gear with you. Belay at bolts.

Pitch 15 5.13+ (100ft) Head up the corner and out the roof to the left. Remove any gear in the roof (just above the anchor) because a fall(or hanging) on the pitch will push it into the crack to never be retrieved. Climb past an old pin (its good I fell on it a lot) to the bolts ahead. Challenging and thoughtful lie backing and smearing. This is the lead I broke my back on. Two bolt anchor. Could be a difficult one to lead without a stick clip if you plan on aiding. The bolts are far apart, since there are no holds to clip from.

Pitch 16 5.12- (less than 100ft) Climb up from the anchor past the bolts into the dihedral, mantle and head up the best lie back ever! It’s hero time and so fun! Stop at bolted anchor.

Pitch 17 5.12+ (100ft) Head out right from the anchor (yes where there is not a crack) onto the face and slab up until you find a jug and places to put cams. Continue up the face till you reach a bolted traverse and a bolted anchor. (slab crux)

Pitch 18 5.12+/13- (less than 100ft) Continue right on a sloping ramp and straight up on the bolts. A long move to a ledge will get you to the slab moves and the anchor above. (Another slabby crux)

Pitch 19/20 5.10max (less than 200ft) Heading up and left, follow the path of least resistance to the summit (combine with the last pitch or two of the Regular Route.

Congrads you made it. Feel free to let me know if the beta is good.

Best places to sleep (pitch 8 or 9)
Belays are generally thin on most upper pitches a belay seat could be really nice!

I am really glad that you have visited my blog.
Thanks and I hope to see and hear from you soon.
Rob Pizem

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  1. The second belay is not marked, its half way between pitch 1 and two on the photo.
    piz : )

  2. Thanks for puting the beta online.
    It looks realy amazing.

  3. i want to hear how things go after your trip!
    best wishes.
    piz : )

  4. Hi Rob
    Perhaps you remember me I asked for the Arcterus topo this spring. The description you gave is ok but often inappropriate concerning length or gear at the belays
    We tried it and as you wished here is my feedback of the route for you.

    After I freed Freerider and Golden Gate ground up, my partner Zac Vertrees and I decided to try the same on Arcturus. So we planed 4 days in the wall at the end of June. Freeing all pitches ground up with a haulbag was a bit of nasty work since most of the pitches has been very dirty or the crags were overgrown with plants. We freed everything up to the 13d pitch but there the footholds were crumbling so often that after over an hour of bouldering we gave up since whenever we choose a new foot sequence the foothold was crumbling. After that we didn't bother to try the last pitches free. And for the first pitches the rock is even worse.
    It was quite confusing during the last pitches that the belays on the plank face and layback cracks had only a single bolt. So we often didn't even know if this is a belay is or a normal bolt. Some of the old aid bolds should be replaced (e.g. the one at Robins Rod or the one at the begin of the 13d pitch)

    So amazing the line is so poor is the rock quality or cleanness of the route . Especially compared to El Cap Routes.
    Cheers says Tobias