The Great Escape, Chapel Wall 5.11c
Avg time to climb route: 3 hours
Approach time: 20 minutes
Descent time: 30 minutes
Number of pitches: 5
Height of route: 300'
OverviewRack: 12 QD’s Pro: one each 2”-3”, one large stopper (rack is for first pitch only).
The Great Escape is a five-pitch sport climb at the Chapel Wall Center with generally spacious belays offering excellent views of Yosemite Falls. All but the 40-foot first pitch is bolted. The seven-minute approach makes this a lightweight, convenient outing for those who climb 5.11 sport. This fun line balances an iron cross with long pulls, steep sequences, a bit of jamming, and micro edging played out over 300 feet of bolted climbing. It remains in the shade until 3 p.m. This is a great line to do from May through October, and stays relatively
cool in summer. Also, the spring mosquito infestation is a moot point when at the top of P1 (mosquitoes don’t follow you up.) This is a great route to do to build power, endurance, and cunning technique for lines like the Rostrum. The Escape is safely bolted, but still has a mild pucker factor – you’ll sometimes find yourself a body length or more above a bolt doing 5.11 face moves, but it is very well bolted by Valley standards.
As the Great Escape is positioned next to a variety of stellar harder sport climbs, it can act as a warm-up or warm-down when cragging locally. Many parties do The Escape and Drive By Shooting (12a, 65 feet) in the same day, located 150 feet to your west and blocked by talus. It’s advised to skirt around this talus rather than climbing through it. Simply walk out to the Bridle Creek Trail and walk back in via the next trail east. A single 50m rope (or longer) is all you need to safely rap the route. You can also barely go to every other anchor with a 70m rope but this is not your safest option. Also, if you want to achieve maximum burl, link pitches 1-2, 3-4 or 4-5 on the lead (it’s much harder). Honestly, though, I think it’s more fun not linking the pitches.
Combine your rope with 12 QD’s, a few pieces, a few slings, some water, and snacks and you’re set. Two or three pieces are useful for the first pitch only and can be left at the second anchor. The closest water is at Yosemite Village and packs are commonly left in a tree at the base. (In a tree, of course, to keep out the wildlife.)
Pitch by Pitch Beta
P1: 5.8, 40’, 0 protection bolts, two-bolt anchor. Pro 2-3”; one large stopper useful near finish. Layback right-facing corner for 40 feet until you surmount your second ledge. Belay can be hard to reach as it’s off to the right of the belay ledge and positioned on a blank face.
P2: 5.11a, 85’, 9 bolts. Crux comes right via big iron cross entry moves with sparse feet. Incut and slopey rails transition into a vertical seam bulge. Finally, take a slight left and go up via a wild catacomb finish. Two- bolt chain anchor. It is possible to rap to the deck from here. P1-P2 can be combined, though not recommended. Hanging anchor. P3: 5.11c, 85’, 7 bolts. Techy, vertical face crux is found from bolts 3-5 and consists of tiny edges, long pulls and biting crimps. Next is stemming, a vertical/layback crack into a slabby (cruxy) finish out right to a two-bolt anchor stance. If climbing in a team of three or more, members can spread out at various levels of the anchor ledge. P4: 5.11a, 85’, 7 bolts. Traverse left over a left-leaning flake, passing a few bushes. Next, ascend wide arête with a short thin crack. Traverse right over bulge, followed by a flared seam/finger crack to two-bolt belay. P5: 5.11c, 85’, 9 bolts. Ascend on the left side of the flared crack – care to be taken not to fall on the belayer during opening, 5.10 moves. The wall steepens and the holds spread out. Now, follow left the leaning crack – crux from bolts 4-7 – via a cryptic and pumpy sustained boulder problem that will spread you out like Gumby. The 5.11c rating is every bit if not more.
Climber Beta on The Great Escape
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