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[TR] The Sentinel- Steck-Salathe V 5.10b 10/19/2006

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Climb: The Sentinel-Steck-Salathe V 5.10b


Date of Climb: 10/19/2006


Trip Report:

ahhh yes the steck-salathe, classic right of passage for those who feel drawn to that menacing shadow looming over camp 4. You see it every morning, at coffee, hear it when it sheds it's filthy loose bits (of which there are plenty)and feel it when it blocks out the sun again on those cold ass mornings.

soooooo.....onward with the description seeing as how the only photos of the route were forgotten whilst shivering away duruing the day, they woulda been lame accept for the one shot of the sphincter that is the narrows swallowing a human, that woulda been good but i was lame and chose to belay.

The approach really is no big deal. You gain about 1500 feet from the valley in about a mile+, through some exposed fourth class slabs and a climbers trail that deposits you at the base of the a corner with a wide crack in the back. This first pitch is great and really o barometer for the rest of the climb, being that you actually have to use to some offwidth technique surmount the crux. Not so bad, a little breathing is good in the morning anyway. A little 5.8 laybackin' victory lap ensures that this really is 5.9 and not a horrendus sandbag.

Pitch 2- some steep 5.8 thin hand jams leads to a roof that is passed by face climbing on the left really enjoyable nice exposure gear etc.

pitch3-4 link, The first of the buisiness sections is reached and takes the form of a polished flair similar to the doctor sniff and the tunaboaters flair, save that you can't just lay it back, insecure moves in some pinscars let your right side in and wonderful back and foot stemming, with some more breathing get you to the base of another flair in this long 70m pitch.

pitch 5- avoid the offwitdth via an off balance face move out right of the big ugly gash, and continue right for 25m with a tied off knob as your third piece of protection in 35m and a belay is reached at the plateau at the bottom of the huge chimny/corner.

pitch 6- Climb increasingly loose flakes and some cracks on the right side with minimal gear, But the exposure id kept tame at 5.7 or 5.8. I think marc place 7 pieces in about 55m.

pitch7. A full ropelength of loose block navigation and rope drag avoidance reaches the top of the flying buttress maybe 5.8 or 9 and dangerously loose over there on the right side, which i am now positive was the wrong way.

a belay is reach and you walk through the flying buttress.

rap down the left side of the buttress 50 feet or so till bolts are reached and now the buisiness starts for real.

As an aside it should be noted that the north facing walls in the vally are FUCKING cold in the fall so the wideness really is a kind of welcome sight after shivering intensely.

Pitch8, flakes and some great exposed laybacking reach a steep fist crack with good stems on either side that provide nice stances.5.9 starting to feel a little less like a maddog at this point but hey it's only 5.9 right.?

Pitch9- 50 meters two good bolts, a blue green hybrid alien and some two nuts are all you need for this spicy little "5.8" pitch. classic slab stylie, downpalming and a mantel move uncomfortably far about a bunk nut give you the inspiration to wander further onto the slab .

pitch10-11 "The Narrows Connecto" pitch.

Strenuos and runout in its entirety. The first crux is encountered via and ultra polished slightly overhanging flair much heavy breathing and good mind control are necessary, use a nut to sling an old bent rivet after the crux and the worst is over, well not quite. Protecionless 5.8 chimneying reaches the narrows and you clip the chains of that anchor, place a numbe 4 camalot to protect the writhing and grunting entrance to the narrows.

Enter the sphincter of the mountain and navigate the bowels until the light is reached, wich is about 45 feet afetr that bomber number four and move out toward the exposed edge of the the narrows crack.

during this little vertical caving adventure i couldn help but think of derek hersey. a solo of this route truly defies imagination.

chmney some more moving further and further above that inspiring rusted 1/4 rivet and find the nice new bolt for your belay. Then vomit. at thus point in our trip it was starting to become apparent that we would be climbing some of this thing in the dark. We were psyched we brought headlamps.

pitch11- tackles more of the same but only 5.7 and horrendusly runout. chimney up through chokestones and loose flakes and enjoy the new thrutching skills learned in the narrows which actually make this kind of pleasant.

it was dark when we were at the top of this pitch getting ready to head out. headlamps on at 7:10

pitch12- tackles one more steep, loose section of 5.9.

A couple of grunty moves made more interesting by headlamp, gain the tree that youve been looking at about half of the route, and a euphoric daze caused by exertion and lack of fuel intake take hold as i belayed marc up.

pitch13- 5.6 to the top. perfect wandering around the top of this bitch by headlamp.

now the decent.

Either amke a fire and shiver the night away or make your way meticulously through several sections of what i think were pretty exposed fourth and low fith class down climbing.

I couldn't really tell as it was dark and i was really fucked up on endorphines.

thye creek though gets louder and louder, and sporadic cairn placement make it easier not to become paranoid about walking off a cliffband.

one rappel from a block and more tedious downclimbing reach slabs, followed by more meticulous downclimbing.

and then the stream is reached. Sweet baby jesus ididn't really give a shit about ghiardia, my water was gone on pitch 12, like three or four hours earlier.

it's basically over after that.

Next time i'm gonna take pics. The view from the stance at the top of the narrows is amazing, not really because it's beautiful, but because it seems like to see camp4 again after that exertion was positively joyous.

kinda like you know the worst is definately done now, you just gotta get down.


Gear Notes:

full set of RPs and nuts

Doubles from .4 to #2 camalot with a #3 and a #4

with hybrid aliens to yellow red


Approach Notes:

pimp approach, the slabs are like the granite escalator in darrington

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Nice job guys ,sounds like you bypassed what I thought was the crux that 5.9 squeeze above the wilson overhang. Awesome climb.


The view from the stance below the narrows

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yeah, we got some beta from this guy from colorado.

"take the 5.8R to the right of the squeeze". It worked out nicely but it was definately a little airy.

Nice shot from below the narrows, it's really a telling photo. bigdrink.gif

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so what did you do on those last pitches to the top of the buttress, stay left or right, cause right definatly seemed little travled and quite loose.

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If I remember correctly I went right from the top of the squeeze. I don't remember much about loose rock in that area, but compared to where I come from all of Yosemite seems incredibly bomber. Seems that we made the top of the flying buttress in 5 pitches.

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Excellent work! My buddy and I were just down there in September and had that on the list but never made it on the route. We got a couple other good ones in though.


I love this trip report on the route: http://www.terragalleria.com/mountain/info/yosemite/sentinel2.html


68yrs old at the time and still climbing! I especially love his comments at the end about whomever chopped HIS bolts!

Allen Steck said "Pitch 11. First pitch in the great chimney ending at Narrows. Bolt hangers have been chopped (who on earth would do this and why?) so the pitch is quite run-out with poor pro. Almost seems 5.9 to me, but I've always been rather poor in chimneys. These bolts should be replaced for sure." smile.gif

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i'd heard about steck climbing the route at 68 years of age but dismissed it as just another testament to the old hardmen of the 60's. Truly badass! One could only hope to still be able to climb like that near 70. yoda.gif

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Way to go!!!!!


Great TR. The Steak-Salad on Sentinel isn't for the faint-of-heart. I F@#KING CAN'T IMAGINE DESCENDING SENTINEL GULLEY IN THE DARK! That's almost more impressive then doing the climb.


I don't think Derek Hersey made it to the Narrows on his ill fated solo. I suspect he pitched on the nasty slab move above the Flying Buttress as it was springtime and probably wet.


Try (if you haven't already done so) the NE Buttress of Higher. It's very much like the Steck/Salathe-maybe a little easier. Burly with lots of cracks and chimneys.

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Another route to do if ya don't mind 5.8 to 10- chimney and offwidth climbing is Geek Tower center route. Very obscure, do it when the falls are running strong for a perspective on the falls that all the tourists on the trail can only dream about.


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