American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Mexico, Baja California, Sierra Juarez, Cañón del Tajo, El Gran Trono Blanco, The Millennium

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

El Gran Trono Blanco, The Millennium. May brought the completion of the first new major route on El Gran Trono Blanco in a decade (see AAJ 1991, pp. 189-190). Several years in the planning and “construction,” The Millennium (El Milenio, IV 5.11b or 5.10c Al) was conceived as a long free route linking the Happy Hooker to the Southeast Buttress route with several new pitches. The result is an enjoyable and securely protected route with a 50/50 mix of crack and friction climbing.

Gary Anderson and John Smallwood made the first continuous ascent on May 22. The approach down the canyon along the base of the south face was a one-hour boulder scramble. From the extreme right (east) end of the third-class bench underlying the south face, begin in a left-facing dihedral. Follow 5.8 cracks for two pitches. Pitch 3 leaves the Happy Hooker route by frictioning right (5.10b). A good ledge is reached by continuing up and right on 5.8 friction to a short crack. Traverse right to a large flat ledge. Friction up to and then over a small overhang. Friction traverse left (5.11b), then up to a good stance. Eleven bolts protect this crux pitch and an extra 3/8" hole was drilled for those needing to aid and tension traverse. Pitch 7 (5.10c friction) also has 11 bolts and leads to a crack and sheltered flat ledges. Traverse right 60 feet, then up (5.6) to a tunnel on the left. Here the route meets up with the original Southeast Buttress route for the next three pitches. Pitch 9 enters the tunnel and exits onto a steep face (5.10b) to a semi-hanging belay below a 5.11 (or Al) roof. Ascend the roof to a strenuous 5.10 squeeze chimney where tying off natural chockstones provides additional protection. After traversing left to a large right-facing dihedral, continue up (5.9) to brushy ledges. Third-class 200 feet to a gully on the Happy Hooker route. Traverse left across the gully on a fourth-class ledge to its end at a 5.5 crack, staying left of the gully weakness. From the small ledge atop the crack, the new exit pitches (13 and 14) follow bolts up 5.8 friction to lower-angle friction above. The May 22 ascent took nine hours. The third-class descent and return to the vehicle required another hour. Belay anchors have a minimum of two 3/8" x 4" stainless steel bolts with rappel rings, and most belays have good ledges. The tops of pitches 5, 7 and 11 have flat bivouac sites for parties choosing to overnight. For leaders who opt out of the 5.11 crux, adding a 3/8" removable bolt and a cheater stick to the gear rack provides the option to lead at 5.10c Al. Bring nuts and cams from small wires to four inches, one tube chock (Big Bro) and 11 quickdraws. Climbers who assisted with developing The Millennium were Andreas Met, Shaun Standley and Monte Swann.

John Smallwood, unaffiliated

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