Seamingly Obvious

Route Name: Seamingly Obvious

Rock Formation: The Matron

Number of bolts to be placed:  10 lead bolts, 2 bolt anchor

Route Difficulty: 5.12



 Route Description:

The proposed climb, Seamingly Obvious, follows an obvious seam feature (hence the proposed name) up the steep north face of the Matron.  It starts in the same location as Norwand (5.7 A3), but quickly breaks left following a thin seam.  This section, about 40’ long, contains the 5.12 crux of the route.  It then follows a natural weakness through a roof system with a dihedral feature.  This section is easier (5.11), and offers fun and steep climbing. 

The proposed route is roughly 30 meters long, and can be descended with a single 70m rope (and possibly a 60m).  The route would end at a sloping ledge about 20’ below the true summit, past which the climbing deteriorates. The applicants propose to use 12 bolts total: 10 lead-protection bolts, as well as two additional bolts for the top anchor.  The seam feature itself is shallow and does not offer any reliable natural protection.


A description of existing routes on the same face of the rock formation, including the number of routes, route names, route grade, type, and approximate distance between routes (a photocopy or diagram of the existing route(s) is also required):

There are currently 11 established routes on the north face of the Matron.  Starting from the east (left) end of the north face moving uphill to the west end (right side) the routes are: No Stranger to Danger,trad, 5.9R; Quiche on a Leash5.10c trad; Real Men Eat Quiche, 5.11a trad; and Pasta Man5.9 trad. The classic moderate North Face (5.6 trad)starts about 60 feet left of the proposed climb,  North Face Right (5.5 trad) starts about 20 feet left and downhill of this proposed route. The proposed route (Seamingly Obvious) shares its start with Norwand(5.7 A3).  Only a few feet of climbing are actually shared with Norwand, as Seamingly Obviousquickly breaks left. Going further uphill, In Spite of Love(aid A2) also starts with Nordwand but trends right under a large roof feature; the Northwest Crack(5.10c trad) starts about 30 feet uphill; Serpentine Dreams(5.12b sport) is another 30 feet uphill; and Soul Survivor(5.11b sport) is the last route on the right side of the north face.


A description of the approach (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails leading to the climb and condition of the trail, and state whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  

The proposed climb would share the same approach as the existing climbs on the north face of The Matron.  The fastest and most sustainable approach is to take the Shadow Canyon trail west from the Mesa Trail until an obvious climbers trail departs from a prominent switchback in the Shadow Canyon Trail.  This leads to the east toe of the formation.  A trail then leads up and left beneath the north face to the base of the proposed climb. 


The spot where you leave the Shadow Canyon trail for the climber access trail:


If different from the approach, a description of the descent, (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails, a description of the trail condition and whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  Include photographs of the descent.):

The descent trail is the same as the approach trail. It’s roughly 200 or 300 yards of uphill hiking from the main Shadow connector trail to the base of the Matron. The trail is narrow, with a mix of dirt, rocks, and duff.  Although easily passable in winter, it tends to be somewhat brushy and overgrown in August when the 6-month raptor closure first opens.


A description of the area at the base of the climb (include existing levels of soil compaction, existence of a durable surface such as rock, and existing soil erosion.  Include photographs of the area at the base of the climb.):

The staging area is talus with some flat boulders at the base of the climb.  There is little or no vegetation in this area, and no soil. There is ample space for multiple parties to stage on both this route and any neighboring climbs.  Because the approach is shared with other popular routes, and the staging area is all rocks, little additional impact would be created by adding the proposed climb


Has all reconnaissance work that can be reasonably done, short of placing any hardware, been done?

Yes, the route has been well-scoped. Overall, the route is on very solid rock featuring a variety of holds and movement with only a few loose flakes that will require minor cleaning to make the route safe as a lead climb.


Has the route been top roped?  Is there loose rock?  Is it extremely overhanging?

The route has been top roped and all moves have been free climbed. There are only a few minor flakes requiring removal. It is mostly near vertical with little overhanging terrain, so it was straightforward to scope.

This route climbs really well, and it has lots of sustained 5.11 and 5.12 climbing. It would make a great addition to the area.


Any additional notes:


Note from the FHRC:  There are two applications for routes on the Matron, Only One can be approved.

5 replies
  1. Brian Stevens
    Brian Stevens says:

    Looks like a very nice line, I would vote yes. However, will it share any bolts or terrain with the other proposed line, Memento Mori? If so, will both lines be able to accommodate separate groups at the same time? If the answer is no, I’d recommend trying to figure out a way to make it that traffic jams are avoided if there are multiple parties.

  2. Beth Bennett
    Beth Bennett says:

    this looks good; if there can be only one route approved on the matron this cycle i would go for this one over the 5.13

  3. Chris Weidner
    Chris Weidner says:

    Looks great! However, if only one can be approved, I’d rather see Memento Mori bolted. Tough call though… they both look excellent.


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