Wednesday, August 4, 2010

High Anxiety 5.9, Black Buttress, Sawtooth Mountains

My good friend Toby is in town, and last week we squeezed in a climb of High Anxiety after a half day of guiding in the morning. This is the third time I've climbed this route and it was as good as I had remembered it. The first time was in 1993 when my friend Matt Leidecker and I paddled across Redfish in a canoe, climbed the route and returned home to Ketchum that day. We were 18 and going for it! This time, Toby and I got off the boat at 2pm and were able to return to the lake by 7:30. Not bad, but both of us were slowed by the fact that I had only brought a single set of cams and we kept running out of gear for anchors! Some creative anchor building on both our parts cost us some time...

High Anxiety climbs a left facing corner for 2-3 pitches before moving out onto the face and connecting cracks with fantastic exposure! We topped out with 3 rope stretching pitches plus 2 short 4th class pitches.

Toby cruising through the 5.9 crux of pitch 2.

Splitter Sawtooth granite.

Connecting the dots after the corner ends. This section of the climb has notorious route finding issues... which leads to routes like "Higher Anxiety" and "Highest Anxiety"... it's really not that big a deal with a little bit of beta.

Does 5.8 get any better???

Another Sawtooth obscure classic, the Black Buttress!
Thanks Toby for a great day in the mountains.


  1. Looks fun as hell! What about those boulders in the background?

  2. Boulders? What boulders? There aren't any boulders up there... Oh those, those are all choss!!! ;)

  3. As i recall the start of pitch 2 or 3 is harder than the 5.9 grade given by Reid in the '80's. What did you think? IMO, we should not be afraid to re-number things rather than keep them sandbagged.i.e- the first pitch of the Beckey/fine line is still rated .11a!

  4. Tara- There definitely is a thin move at the start of the second pitch, but I'm not sure it's 5.10. The Sawtooths have a history of stiff grades. I don't feel it's my place to start regrading routes. Some routes and areas are just known for being stout, and in my opinion that is more respectable then having a reputation for being soft! The first pitch of the Original Becky/Fine Line IS stiff, but so are some of your Dad's classics at the City like Scar Tissue and Terror of Tiny Town!!! I tend to take all ratings with a grain of salt... how can a route be exactly the same for everybody, when not two bodies are alike? I climb routes because they are good, not because of what they are rated. Thanks for your comment! It's a very controversial subject and there are not right or wrong answers , just opinions!
    Cheers, Marc