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PATC Wall Area

The PATC Wall is about 300 yards northeast and down hill from the summit towards Nethers, where the trail crosses a large rocky area with excellent views north and west; entry points to the cliff just below are on either end, not obvious, but not difficult to scramble down, with no bushwhacking. There are about 20 climbs on this wall in the 5.5 to 5.12a range; this wall has the biggest concentration of climbs of any area on the mountain, and also has the easiest access. Previously there was a rappel entry at Moonshadow, however, the hangers have been stolen, and the remaining bolts are very rusty and should be removed; do not use them. It is a good summer area, getting sun only in the late afternoon, and the Dobie/Waste/Psycho trio stays dry in light rain, being under a massive headwall. Rust Bong should also be dry. The climbs are listed left to right, beginning just after walking through the keyhole.

27)*#10 Hex Off Width. 5.9R. Jamming to a nasty 6" off-width which might still have a large hex stuck down in its bowels. It is possible to detour around the off width section on the face to the left. Nice overhanging hand-jam finish. Tape highly recommended. Standard rack.

28)**Moon Shadow 5.12a. Thin face climbing with 6 bolts and shuts. Unfortunately, most of the bolts have been chopped or the hangers stolen, but it can still be readily top-roped. I don’t understand such behavior. Starts 15 left of Duck Walk.

29)****Duck Walk 5.10cR. A truly marvelous mixture of techniques; one bolt, large to medium gear and a few tiny wires. Tape absolutely necessary. Overhang move off the deck, short crack, traverse up and right to bolt, then back left. Dead-point to crack under final overhang, jam out and up right. Know how to lead or don't start at all. 85 tough feet.
OR 6, 3 - 30

30)***Dobie Gillis 5.8. Nice hand crack leading to a bolt and a rightward rising traverse and a good bolt anchor (The creepy old anchor that tightened everyone's scrotums for so long is now gone.). Tape, medium rack and one tied runner to back up the rappel anchor.

31)*Waste Age 5.12a. Alleged face climb straight up to the same  anchor.

32)****Psychobabble 5.10bPG. Nice face climbing on wonderfully solid crystals. Improbable crystal pinching crux right at the top. A couple of nuts low in the right hand crack, then a trio or so of bolts. Again, the same anchor as Dobie, now to your left. 65feet.

“After puzzling over possible names for a new climb we just did, I begin my lead of Psychobabble. The first 30 feet to the first bolt are trivial, hardly necessary to protect at all. Then traversing slightly left and up to the second bolt is not especially hard, but leaves me in a stance just thin enough to be gradually more and more uncomfortable. Then, lifting off from this stance is quite problematic; several slow attempts on horribly small holds were hastily reversed, to resume the dismal slow dance back and forth, trying to rest toes and heels and ankles, fruitlessly. Now the humidity and effort cause my fingers to start sliming very quickly, leaving only a short window of drought between chalk-up. Rather than traversing left to the rap pitons, and finally I begin the move, and in a terrible thin feeling get both feet on adequate holds; but the handholds, both at full extension, are both tiny and highly questionable; immediately I knew that I could not go back; my position was so tenuous I had no more options and very little time. But the left tweaker gave me just enough edge that I could raise my left foot to its maximum height, desperately aiming for a nasty, stinking little crystal surface, sloping, as big as a postage stamp, maybe; but my foot refused to land on it or go even a millimeter higher; it stuck helplessly like a blind moth just next to the hold, giving me neither aid nor comfort; putting my leg back down, as simple as that action is, would rip off one of my hands, and then the rest of me (I was only standing two feet above the bolt, so it wasn’t drama, really); all I could do was sort of grunt, goggle eyed, trying to vibrate or will the foot to slime two inches to the right, onto the alleged hold. It shifted, maybe a quarter of an inch; I tried again, and again, and several more times, as my right foot burned in place and my hands commenced to slime on the tiny, sharp, unbelievably inadequate holds; each time the left toes moved an infinitesimal crumb of distance onto the hold. The temptation grew to simply go, go, go, move, and get off this torture rack! I had to stop myself, knowing that the foothold would be barely adequate when I began the pull, and I needed all of it. Finally the hold was covered, and I immediately started the pull, like turning on an electric current, powerfully but slowly vibrating upward, telling myself that it would go and it must go and I could do it if I did it right now; and here in this agony was the genuine spark of completion: no longer the fear of falling, of the soloist failing, or the bolt pulling, or the anchor tree magically lifting upwards, or the rope inexplicably parting, or even the reasonable fear of bashing my kneecap on the rock, full as it is of half-melted silicon razors, the intractable malice of quartz, crystalline in the marvelous granite. All I felt, all that was left, was the fierce connection, the completion of some kind of meaningful thought as the foothold held my quivering mass and my right hand sank into the massive positive exit crack under the headwall.

The climb is beautifully named: as I stood, panting, cursing softly, barely able to turn my head downward to that tiny foothold at the crux, trying to bounce my foot onto it, I certainly felt driven to a spot far distant from a normal cast of mind, a sane and rational appraisal; such an appraisal would tell me to ease off, drop gracefully past the bolt and bounce to a stop just below it on the soft rope, and then depart in humility. But this possibility didn’t even exist in my mind, honestly: I had been sucked into the interior world of the Problem, and nothing remained but the striving to Solve the Problem; to fall would be to break the chain, to waken from a short but noble dream of utter triumph, back into a limited, ambiguous world.

So I bailed from the anchors (stiff, not very new nylon slings through three ancient but good pitons), ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and used the anchored rope to top-rope the Dobie Gillis route, just for fun; seemed easy.”

(The experiences of a solo climber some time ago, sorting his weaknesses. Your mileage may differ.)

33)*Unknown 5.7. Climb crack 15 feet to left of Rusty Bong. Same belay as Rusty Bong.

34) **Rusty Bong 5.8. A long layback/jam/stem corner with an old rusty bong stuck in it, start marked by a useless rotting ¼ spinner bolt, rewards good resting technique. Awkward escape move to the top. Good training lead for those in shape. Sew it up but keep moving. Tape is nice. All gear, 70 feet. See photo above right.

35)**Five O'clock Shadow 5.10a. Starts a few feet up an easy dihedral climb, then traverses right out to a major arĂȘte with a horn; mantle the horn and go up the outside face (thin crux) to a horizontal and a short jamming finish. As yet only a top rope, unless you like R/X climbing. See left photo above.

36)**Ragged Edge 5.10cR. Straight up a striking, sharp 60 foot arĂȘte, near the right end of the area; can be top-roped, very strenuous lead with a difficult finish.

37)***Pissant Overhang 5.11b. Obvious wide hand crack splitting body length overhang near the top of the south western end descent to the PATC Wall. Lots of tape, and sequence the jams well. The first part, just through the roof, is a good boulder problem if spotted. This is not a 20 foot roof problem, but John Long’s taped-up welders' gloves might come in handy. After turning the roof, the jamming is straight forward to the top. Top rope, as the crux is too close to the ground.


  1. Hello. It was really fun finding this blog. Brings back memories. I'm Leslie Newman (live in the Richmond Va area) and I did the first ascent of Duck Walk (and named it) back in the 80's. Ron Dawson was also part of the first ascent. I haven't been up the climb in years, but I vividly remember hand drilling that bolt with hammer and star drill while smearing on some small footing and partially hanging from a nut wedged in a small crack. It was a tough first ascent and for a time we didn't think it was going to go. I had to leave a large hex about halfway up the climb so I could rap off and come back for another go the following weekend. The moves to the left from the bolt were the hardest and took several falls before I could do it clean. Probably at my limits doing that climb back then, but it was a blast. I'm 55 now and haven't climbed hardly any since 2001. But some fantastic memories and good times. Thinking about getting back into climbing and was looking around the web at stuff and stumbled onto this blog. I've probably done most of these old climbs. Bushwhack crack, Strawberry fields. Some great routes.

  2. The original bolt on Duck Walk was in terrible condition and may have warranted a PG-13 rating but other than that, it protects well with a standard rack. The bolt has been replaced, so this is now a very high quality and sadly overlooked PG route.

  3. Duck Walk is a masterpiece. I didn't fall on it, but I took a very long time to lead it, thinking carefully about each of the several subtle cruxes. Topping out took absolutely everything I had. Thanks, Leslie and Ron. More than 25 years later, I still remember many of the moves.