Tahquitz: White Maiden’s Walkway

IMG_8879.JPGLooking at the route from the parking lot

This past weekend I completed my first “long” trad climb. Six pitches and 800 feet of climbing is more lead time than I’ve ever completed in a single day, so let’s celebrate 🎉Rated as 5.4 overall with some brief 5.6 moves, White Maiden’s Walkway is one of the easier climbs in Tahquitz. Most of the challenge comes from route finding and dealing with a bit of exposure on the upper pitches.

IMG_8880.JPGSorting gear. Love peanut M&M’s.

Ilona and I drove up the night before and found all the campsites in Idyllwild booked out. Luckily, we managed to find a forest service road just outside of town that led to a great camping spot. I woke up at 5:30 am to cook breakfast and Ilona was up by 6. We packed up camp and arrived at the trailhead at 7:15. I’d done part of the approach with Rav a few weekends back and the buttress where the route starts was hard to miss.

IMG_8835.JPGLeading pitch 2

I used the amazing Ben Crowell Tahquitz topos which are available for free on github. The beta really made the climb easy. All the tricky spots had an easier variation that Ben described in detail 🙏🏻

IMG_8838.JPGIlona following on pitch 2

To start, we scrambled up some class 4 ledges and found a chalked X to mark the start of the route. The first move getting off the ground was tricky but easy to protect. Straightforward climbing to the first belay at a tree. The second pitch had a slab traverse that was rated 5.6 with exposure, but it was easy to protect and the drop was only about 60 feet. Not scary. The second belay was a spacious ledge (gear anchor) and we stopped for a pee break and M&Ms. We heard many other parties on routes to the left and right of us.

IMG_8837.JPGNice ledge at the start of pitch 3

Pitch 3 was fun slab climbing with some creative gear placements to protect small trees from rope drag. Once those things die the route will become much harder. I will admit that I used a few tree branches as holds along the way. Pitch 4 was the money pitch. You start up an arete and get your first view of the ground, a few hundred feet below you 😮. A few moves later you make an airy step around a corner and across to a tree with nothing but air below you. After that, it’s a steep but easy gully that uses up an entire rope length.

IMG_8843.JPGPitch 3. No pics of pitch 4 because it was spicy!

Pitch 5 is relatively short, traversing some ledges over to the final belay station where you need to build another gear anchor (only 2 are required on this entire route). The final pitch traverses under a roof and while it is easy it takes you right to the edge of the rock where you get a final glance down at the ground, far, far below. We topped out at 1:30pm.

IMG_8859.JPGSafely tucked behind a flake with the valley below, pitch 5

I was really proud of how well Ilona did. She started going climbing with me about six months ago and this was definitely the longest and most exposed climb we’ve done together. She didn’t seem to mind the heights, though she admitted she wasn’t looking down at all.

IMG_8862.JPGAt the summit, another climber waits for his party to top out

Finding the slab descent turned out to be tricky and we wandered around the summit for about an hour until we saw another party descending. We made it back to the car just past 4pm. We passed a few sunburned climbers on the way down and I was glad the route stayed in the shade the entire time. Definitely one I will do again with someone that is just getting into multi-pitch. Any takers?


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