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North America, United States, California—Sierra Nevada, Voodoo Dome, South Face

Voodoo Dome, South Face. This is the largest rock formation in the Needles and its broad monolithic 900-foot face is the highest in the area. Its most noticeable feature is a gigantic arch above a cave-like hollow low on the left center of the face. The classic route line ascends the bald protrusion just right of the arch, and because its initial dihedral is stained green, the name “Pea Soup Route” evolved. Marvelous unglaciated granite contains many minute but solid knobs and hollows for face climbing. There are generally excellent cracks for aid when needed. The route was begun by Dan McHale and Joe Brown in the spring of 1970. After four difficult pitches they called off the venture. Dan and I made the entire climb on October 27 and 28, 1970, with a comfortable “sandy ledge” bivouac above the principal difficulties. The first pitch is a spectacular piton lead (A1) to a hanging belay. An aid lead ascends the left-leaning dihedral; this long pitch nails over a small ceiling into a chimney (knifeblades and rurps). The third pitch ascends the chimney to a tree (dangling belay). Unprotected face climbing leads left up to a bolt. Here hard moves (F8) up chicken-heads are followed by working right to a flake. Here one can climb directly up (F9) or right and down, and then up again (F5). This hard pitch ends on the prominent slanting ledge with a big rectangular block. The route now nails beneath a flake and works right to an open-book. Difficult nailing leads to where one can free climb to a large platform. Now one wanders left into a groove above the giant arch, which is climbed to the sandy bivouac ledge. Now one free climbs right and up on exposed but satisfactory slabs. The route is deceptive here, but one must have faith, aiming at the right-hand of two parallel cracks amid the blankness. The crack (F6) ascends to a little rib on the left. A relatively easy but wholly unprotected pitch on small solution holds follows. Then come slabs and soon one frictions onto the dome’s sloping crown. NCCS IV or V, F9, A3.

FRED BECKEY