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Skull Queen V 5.8 C2

By Adrian Hill

Here is a description of Skull Queen as we found it this month. We had no trouble doing it clean, so probably it has been done clean before. Here is the description:

Skull Queen starts up the first four pitches of the regular South Face route on Washington Column, then takes a line to the right of the South Face route to the top. After the Dinner Ledge (top of pitch 3) there are no bivvy ledges, and several hanging belays. The route can easily be climbed clean (with good set of Aliens), and is only a little harder than the Prow. It is easier than the A3 grade given in the Yosemite Big Walls guide, and deserves to be a popular alternative to the long lines on the Prow. Grades and fixed gear information was accurate as of March 1998. Expanding and loose flakes mentioned in earlier trip reports appear to have gone - we found no poor rock anywhere.

  1. 130 feet, 5.8. Climb the obvious corner (5.8) for 40 feet, then diagonal up left to the arete, and up (5.6) to the belay at the right end of a broad, sloping ledge. Lousy hauling. Drag the bag left and down past a tree (careful with loose blocks on the ledge) to the start of an obvious clean corner (fixed pin).
  2. 80 feet, C1. Easy aid (or 5.10+ free) up the corner to a 3-bolt belay. Reasonable hauling.
  3. 130 feet, 5.8. Follow the corner to a fixed thread. Traverse right (5.8, then easy) about 30 feet, and up to the tree (stay left of tree). Head up and then left to a bolt belay at the right end of the Dinner Ledge. Strenuous hauling. Drag the haulbag left to the middle of the ledge, below a thin crack.
  4. 175 feet, C1. From the center of the Dinner Ledge, follow a low-angle crack in the slab (5.6) to a long reach (cheater stick helpful) to reach the first bolt under the roof. Follow four bolts around the roof (hard to get lost) to the obvious crack. Follow the crack (many large wires, and cams up to Camalot #2) past a two-bolt anchor, left around a short roof and up to a sloping ledge (bolt belay) under an arch, in a corner. A 160-foot haul line just reaches back to the Dinner Ledge. Longest pitch on the route.
  5. 110 feet, C1. Step right from the belay and follow a short crack (small cam and three wires) to a bolt. Follow the rivet ladder (many rivets, occasional bolts) to a 4-bolt hanging belay.
  6. 110 feet, C2. Follow six more rivets until you can step right to a shallow crack (fixed head). Follow the shallow, flared crack (seasonally wet) on small cams and wires. Stick clip an old bolt, which protects a 5.8 mantel. Stuff a #1 Camalot behind a block and traverse right about 10 feet. Free climb up to three more rivets and wires, then free up to the tree. Belay on four bolts above the tree (convenient place to hang portaledge).
  7. 80 feet, C1. Follow the crack (5.10, or C1 on large cams, up to #4 Camalot) up the obvious right-facing corner crack. Continue free (5.8) up the ramp to the the top of a pinnacle. Fix a large sling over the top, and descend the far side for 5 feet to the semi-hanging belay. Strenuous hauling around the corner.
  8. 80 feet, C2. Small cams and wires lead up a short corner, then right over an overlap to a rivet. Follow the thin crack (small wires and RPs) to more rivets and bolts, leading right to a four bolt hanging belay.
  9. 80 feet, C2. Climb the arching crack on wires and small cams up and left. Two rivets lead left to a short corner, followed by more rivets directly up to the 4-bolt belay.
  10. 100 feet, C2. A short crack (small cams, wires, and two fixed heads) leads to a tension traverse right on three rivets to a second crack. Follow the crack to a belay on a small ledge at the base of a left-facing corner (take care with loose block on the ledge). Convenient place to hang portaledge.
  11. 100 feet, C2. Step left (5.8) and follow a short crack on wires up and back into the corner. Follow the corner until you can reach left to a thin crack on the face. Follow the thin crack (four heads, RPs, excellent gear in the right corner) to a fixed pin. Step left and mantel (5.7) onto a small ledge. Two rivets lead left into a corner with mid-size cams. A hook move (BD Grappling hook) on a good edge leads to the belay on a sloping ledge.
  12. 100 feet, C1. Step left and stem between the flake and thin crack (Camalot #3 and #4) until forced to step into the left crack. Follow the crack (many wires and blue Aliens) to a tree belay on a slab.
  13. 80 feet, 5.0. Climb up and slightly left over poor rock and occasional manzanita to a tree and the unroping point. The usual miserable low-angle haul.


2 sets RPs.
2 sets wires (we took BD stoppers and Wild Country Rocks).
3 sets Aliens (blue, green and yellow). Didn't use black alien.
1 each of hybrid Aliens (blue/green and black/blue).
2 red Aliens.
1 orange Alien.
2 sets cams to #3 Camalot.
1 #4 Camalot. (no need for #5)
1 #2 Friend.
2 #1.5 Friend.
10 rivet hangers (some back-cleaning).
1 Doubloon
1 BD grappling hook.
Cheater stick.
80 carabiners.
Adrian Hill and Kevin Curtis, March 1998.

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