First pitch is interesting with a bit of stemming, laybacking, and wandering from crack to face and back again. This pitch seemed almost harder as a second than as a leader, suggesting to me that there are a few ways to skin this particular cat, each one with pros and cons. As a follower I stemmed up the final the corner towards the p.1 belay. Leading, I moved back and forth from the face to the crack/dihedral (which is not all solid), and made a big final move left on the chalked up-incut about 10 feet below the p.1 belay. This felt more solid and better protected to me, as you can get a few good aliens in under the final overlap before the belay.
The second pitch 40-foot no-pro runout beta is as follows: go where the lichen isn’t, and don’t get antsy. Stay a little lower than you think you need to – or can – and make sure you’re hand traversing, not foot traversing when you go up and right. Otherwise this is trivial, and the gear is good before you pull that first roof. A little hand jamming technique goes a long way on this route, and this is the first real example.
The second bulge/roof is made much easier with a really long reach (and I have extra long arms) and more hand jamming. You can also slot a foot jam here so good you don’t want to leave it.
The third pitch is the business, though, in my opinion . The first challenge is the roof, dispatched through some “lateral thinking” as a second, and some pretty irredeemable groveling on lead. Just ooze it up that weird, weird, nearly horizontal layback. The second roof really isn’t, though my partner reports that it goes direct at about 5.9 in any case. The middle 50 feet is the attention grabber, though. You can go left, up, and then… wow. You have to go back right and it is exposed. Period. Underline. Italics, maybe. I didn’t like the gear in this middle stretch, but others I’ve spoken to don’t even seem to notice. I’m sure it all has to do with what kind of stances you prefer.
In my newly formed opinion, this and Traveler’s Buttress are the 5.9’s at the Leap. While Scimitar isn’t continuous at the grade, it rarely gets truly moderate, and the cruxes are substantial but well defined with good stances and gear before and after. The line is much more continuous, though perhaps a bit softer, as long as your head is on straight after the first 20 feet.
Labor of Love: 5.10(something)
Seems that there’s quite a range on this climb’s grade, depending on height. The person who bolted it was either on rap or quite tall. The dikes are all there, and positive, though the crux did prove to be very different for me (about 6’0 with a positive ape index) and my partner (5’8).
Note: the SuperTopo calls for a full trad rack on this climb (double cams from .6-2 and a single set of nuts). Be assured that you need nothing more than the appropriate number of draws and double ropes to rap, provided you don’t want to leave a biner.