Triple Overhangs 5.10a & Vertical Smile 5.10a
Summit Wall, Lone Peak Cirque
About the Climb
These routes are found on the intimidating Summit Wall, in the Lone Peak Cirque area, and are some of the best in the Wasatch. These steep lines ascend mostly clean cracks and corners, offering long pitches and exposed position.
Triple Overhangs is an extremely good route that follows cracks and corners directly to the top of the Summit Wall. The highlight of the route, as the name suggests, is a series of three roofs on pitch 4, providing amazing exposure and position on perfect granite. This might be one of the best pitches in the Wasatch, and is highly recommended to anyone visiting the area.
Surprinsingly, Triple Overhangs is not too sustained at the grade, and feels more like a 5.8 with only a short section of 5.10a that protects really well. The route has lots of great hand jamming, especially the exquisite 5.8 corner following the roofs on pitch 4. The rock is mostly solid, but the 3rd pitch has a fair amount of loose flakes and gritty rock.
Vertical Smile is another wild route that links remarkably well. It connects cracks and face sections on the right side of the Triple Overhangs. Although rated 5.10a like Triple Overhangs, it is more committing, with technical climbing, sometimes small protection, and slightly runout face sections. This route has an “old school” feel to it and is fairly sustained at the grade.
Vertical Smile shares the first pitch and a half with Triple Overhangs before branching out right into a perfect hand crack. The third pitch is the crux, and is pretty sustained. Expect a technical and wildly exposed thin stemming dihedral. Then, pulling onto the face above will keep things interesting as you search for the next bolts. Some exposed climbing on a beautiful varnished face finally takes you over a wild roof with perfect hand jams.
Lone Peak Cirque sits high above a pristine alpine meadow, where melting snowfields provide the only source of fresh water, so plan accordingly. The approach is fairly long and strenuous, and most parties will want to spend at least one night to camp once up there. Beware of fast moving thunderstorms.
Both routes are full value, and feature high quality climbing, but if you don't have the time to climb both routes, here is a great combination: start with the first 3 pitches of Vertical Smile, and finish with the last 2 of Triple Overhangs. This makes for a more sustained and very high quality outing, and it won't disapoint. This combination is called Vertical Overhangs.
If the route is busy, your best bet is to climb Center Thumb (5.9), which is an easier alternative. Another good option at a similar grade is to climb the Undone Book (5.9+ R), which takes the next big corner on the right.
Once you reach the top of the Summit Wall, you will follow the descent trail back to the base of the Question Mark Wall. From here, it is also easy to climb another route to fill your day, and take advantage of the wonderful afternoon light that this wall receives. If you have not climbed the Lowe Route (5.8) yet, don't waste your time and get on it. The Answer (5.8) is also a nice variation. If you're looking for something a little more sustained, don't miss the chance to climb Out of the Question (5.10b), which is simply amazing, or the Doomsday Book (5.10b). If you don't feel like getting on another multi-pitch route, check-out the quality Pika Paradise (5.8), a wonderful dihedral.
For other Wasatch multi-pitch climbs at a similar grade, but without the long hike to the Cirque, get on Arm and Hammer (5.11c or 5.10a A0), Black Streak (5.10b), Horns of Satan (5.10b), Precious Lost (5.10a), or Stiffler's Mom (5.11a).