Prospectors Mountain, Northeast Face Direct, Previously Underreported. The Northeast Face Direct route (IV 5.11a Al) went up in ground-up traditional style over two days in September, 1999, with only two bolts placed (on lead). The climbing is varied and largely follows the path of least resistance up the right side of Prospectors Mountain’s major feature, the big orange face. Our route ascends the northeast face on a wall to the right of the Lynn Hill and Yvon Chouinard route. Climbing this route was challenging and extremely fun, with a wide variety of climbing on very high-quality rock.
Once at the base, Brendon Danon and I simply set our objective as the steep orange face high above and began climbing the path of least resistance up to a big ledge. There are several distinct features that define the lower half of the route, and we chose to begin climbing just to the right of a mossy and steep drainage. Six pitches gained us the ledge, from which we headed up and right to the most obvious weakness that leads to the right side of Prospectors’ face. A roof system and some cracks are visible above. Pitch nine is one of the best and climbs out right through hand and fist jams, then pulls over a small roof and continues to a hanging belay below a huge roof. From this stance, the route changes character to steep face climbing, including the crux, which was done largely on aid (I placed two bolts on lead; it will probably go free at between 5.1 1d and 5.12b). More quality climbing gains the right skyline, which presents a four-inch crack, boulders, and small towers and finishes with a perfect 5.10a finger crack up a sheer wall. One more short pitch leads to the summit.
The descent from the summit follows the gully to the left for a long way. We were in the dark without headlamps, and the descent, complete with multiple dark rappels and stuck ropes, was treacherous. This route is outstanding and apart from the two bolts on the crux pitch goes completely clean with great anchors for belays. For teams planning to attempt this route, start early and move fast, as there are a number of challenging elements to finding the start, reaching the top, and, most importantly, negotiating the gully if you are short on daylight.
Zack Martin, unaffilicited