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Igor Unchained

By: Michael Lerjen, Mountain Guide
Area: U.S.A., Group: The Needles, Peak: The Witch, Country: USA, Region: California

Igor Unchained follows a straight line up perfect cracks with hand jams and finger-locks. The protection is tricky for the first 10 meters, then bomber until the top! A hard but amazing route for the grade, up the steep golden granite on the West Face of the Witch! An amazing line to begin with and to get used to the rock! Beware though, this is not Europe, the cracks are steep and need refined crack climbing techniques.


From the campsite, follow the dirt road to its end, after 45 minutes the Magician springs into view from the lookout. Walk to the start of the iron steps and a post; head left down III class terrain following cairn markers to reach the base of The Witch. Leave everything you don't need for the climb here, then scramble down the obvious steep gully between Charlatan and Sorcerer for 200m, then start at the obvious crack on the left.


P1: 5.9+ 40m: Perfect handjam for 35 meters, belay on a in-situ piton; the belay takes gear so save some 2-3" friends
P2: 5.9+ 40m: Continue up the great crack to a ledge system, keep right until you reach an alcove under a steep crack, belay on gear
P3:5.9+ 50m: Climb the steep crack in the corner past some holds on the face to reach a series of finger cracks and follow these to reach the bolt belay
P4: Grade IV 20m: climb straight up to the top


From the top climb back to the bolted belay. From here make a 35 meter rappel and climb back up a bit, to the next belay with slings located beneath a boulder. Make a 35m rappel and then walk back to the notch and your gear.


Double rack to 3" (maybe some extra 1-3" if you are not used to run-outs). 70m rope


The route receives the sun at around 12.00. On cool days climb in the afternoon, or on warm days in the morning

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