Rainbow Wall, Sauron ’s Eye and Emerald City. Brian McCray and I had eyed the most obvious feature of the Rainbow Wall, a huge arch in the center of the wall that expands up half the wall, for some time. Mike Ward had started a route on the right side of this arch. In February, Brian added a new aid line, Sauron’s Eye (5.10R A4), up the left side of the arch. The fourth pitch, the crux (A4), climbs out the top of the arch on knifeblades and through a 25-foot roof. Warren Hollinger took an unfortunate 50-foot fall and broke his back while participating in the first ascent of this route.
Emerald City was an old aid line (5.10 A2) that had (probably) not been climbed in years; it looked like the next possible free line on the Rainbow Wall. On June 12,I climbed the first pitch, an easy but interesting 5.10, using everything from a #2 tcu to a #5 Camalot. The next pitch was a thin crack, coming in at 5.12a, which led to ten to 15 feet of completely blank corner. Brian and I aided it and then worked the moves on top rope. They were very difficult, and although we could do it on top-rope we were unsure about doing it on lead. We started trying, each vying for the first ascent of this pitch. We’d get our nerve up, grab the gear and then head out. With hands perspiring, toes aching and sores on our palms, we’d try one more time to get through this blank section of rock. We’d fall and then come down and let the other try. I was sure I had perfected the move and now only had my mind to blame for not completing it. This time I did it (5.12d) and we moved on. The next notable pitch was the fifth (5.12a). It climbed a thin, technical face and arête and required a smear move on mossy, smooth rock at the crux. Although pitch 6 was only 5.10, it would have been the most difficult pitch on the route for me. It climbs up an extremely loose pillar with little gear. It then traverses a ledge with much loose rock. Brian styled it and set up a solid belay on the huge bivy ledge. When I reached the anchor, we were struck by the sound of what had to have been a swarm of bee creatures and sat silent for a moment as they passed below us. The next several pitches were nice 5.11 and 5.10 cracks. These led to a classic dark offwidth. We finished the route on 200 feet of #4 and #5 sized crack. We completed the route in just under 24 hours. We added one bolt to the route on the .12d pitch and actually removed a bolt (not there on the first ascent) on the first pitch. Emerald City's 13 pitches were free at 5.10, 5.12+, 5.10-, 5.10, 5.12-, 5.10, 5.11, 5.10, 5.11, fourth class, 5.9 (OW), 5.6 (OW).