Chauvin Guides International

CGI LogoThin Air Cathedral Ledge

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Notice- A number of bolts were removed from this route in October 2003.

Suggested Rack- Selection of Wired Nuts, 1 through 3 friend or equivalent SLCD's, 6 Quickdraws, 5-6 shoulder runners

Thin Air is a classic climb whose first ascent was done mistakenly by John Turner who was looking for the now nearly forgotten D'Arcy Route. All the bolts on this route were placed long after the first ascent and a number have been removed. The pitons however have been in place for quite some time although probably not placed by the first ascent party and for the most part seem to be in good shape. Still, backing them up where possible is a good idea.

The First PitchTo find Thin Air, first locate the Standard Route and the Big Flush on Cathedral from in front of the bulletin board on the road along the base of the cliff. Standard is the large chimney crack 300 feet to the right of the tree filled gully that splits Cathedral known as the Big Flush. Standard also has a number of trees growing out of it. Thin Air starts midway between these two features.

To hike there from the bulletin board, walk north along the road for about 100' to a sandy pullout. There should be a sign "Trail to Thin Air". The trail leads you to the cliff then turns left to follow the base of the cliff. Soon after, it begins to climb steeply past Standard Route and 100' later you will reach an area that obviously is the start of a popular route due to its lack of vegetation.

The first two pitches are often combined but I will describe them separately here:

Pitch 1 60', 5.3 to 5.4 Ends at a 2 bong fixed anchor that often has rappel slings. The face this pitch climbs is wide with numerous holds and therefore many variations. The main crux of this pitch is in finding protection, although available it requires a sharp eye as the cracks are not very long. There is one fairly obvious horizontal crack mid way up the pitch left of the fall line below the bongs. The main feature of this pitch is a blocky pedestal starting 15' below the bongs. The top of this pedestal forms the belay ledge.

The "Thin Air" TraversePitch 2 70', 5.6 A mainly horizontal pitch ending at a two bolt anchor. The two protection bolts on the traverse of this pitch were removed in Oct. 2003. This pitch follows the horizontal crack system that the bongs are in. Climbers often will climb placing their feet into the crack which unfortunately puts the best protection crack out of reach. Given the traversing nature of this pitch, this not only puts the leader at risk but it also puts seconds in jeopardy as well. The best start to this pitch is to step down from the belay ledge traversing on good holds and ledges. This will allow you to place gear in the horizontal crack protecting you and your grateful second. With the two protection bolts now gone from this pitch you will want to consider taking a lower line across and up to the sideways piton halfway across the big traverse ledge in order to find gear and to protect the second. With a few pieces of gear a belay can be constructed at the sideways pin if the 2-bolt anchor at the end of the traverse is occupied. Continue further across the ledge with no other fixed protection to the 2 bolt anchor. A 100' rappel can be made from here with a pendulum uphlill towards the climb's start to reach the ground. An 80' rappel will require you to traverse unroped along a ledge. Be careful not to rappel off the end of your rope!

Ledge at End of Pitch 3Pitch 3 80', 5.5 Ends on a large ledge. Anchor bolts removed Oct. 2003. From the belay, climb up to the obvious fixed pin. Obvious because it sticks out so far! From there, traverse right across the water stain and climb up to another fixed pin. From here traverse back left to another fixed pin. Then climb straight up to the large flake and hand traverse it till you are forced up onto it directly below the tree. Climb past the tree and continue up the chimney/corner to the belay ledge. An 80' rappel will just make it to the previous anchor. Again, be careful not to rappel off the end of your rope!

Pitch 4 110' 5.6 Ends at a large tree. From the anchor climb to the right then back left to a ledge 20' above the belay ledge. From this ledge climb the crack/corner up past a pin to a good fixed thread at a horizontal break. Move up left of the thread then traverse left to a small right facing inside corner. Climb up this to easier ground up a final step to a large tree. From here it is easier to go up than to rappel.

Pitch 5 60' 5.2 Ends at a treed ledge that is walked off to the right (north) Climb up the roots on the right till you can traverse left to the dirty gully. At the top of the gully traverse right under the Airation buttress and belay at a tree. The walk off will continue right, there is one step you must surmount with the help of a tree. Some prefer to do this roped up. If that is the case, you can extend this pitch past this step before you belay.

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