Northwest Books 5.6
Includes Beginner's Route (5.4)
About the Climb
Northwest Books and Beginner's Route are two very nice routes for novice climbers. Both routes make for a great first multi-pitch climb, wether it is for the leader or the follower. It's also great practice for those who are new to trad climbing and leading on gear. All belays must be built with gear on these routes, and belay ledges are comfortable.
Northwest Books is not a very sustained route, but a few runout and polished sections will demand your attention on the first pitch. Route finding can also be an issue at a couple spots up higher. The route is pretty short with only 3 pitches and makes a good introduction to multi-pitch climbing. It demands a good variety of climbing techniques, the rock is solid and the views of the Meadows are great. It is also an extremely popular route, so get ready to possibly wait a little bit. The first pitch is the best, and it starts with a runout slab section protected by a bolt leading up to a huge roof. It then follows a tricky corner which involves laybacking with slippery feet. Many climbers get off route on the second pitch, where a traverse is needed to avoid a 5.9 crack (this 5.9 variation is actually very good if you want to push the grade up to that level). From there, the angle kicks-back and the climbing is enjoyable with great views of Tuolumne.
Beginner's Route starts from the same point as Northwest Books and is perhaps the easiest multi-pitch route in Tuolumne. Great practice for the novice trad climber who wants to practice placing gear and setting belays. It is also a popular free solo route. The route consists mostly of 3rd and 4th class scrambling with a few sections of 5.4. Two variations are possible: the original route goes up a wide chimney system, while a variation avoids this obstacle and traverses below and around it with better quality face climbing and a bolt protected crux. The ledges on Beginner's Route are super comfortable, many belay options exist, gear is excellent and the views are hard to beat. This is a great route to take someone on it’s first multi-pitch route. Keep cruising up to the true summit on the slabs after toping out over the ridge.
For a full day, the most logical combination at the grade is to climb both Northwest Books and Beginner's Route. Both routes share the same approach ramp.
However, because both routes are very short, you might still have time to drive to Stately Pleasure Dome and climb Hermaphrodite Flake (5.4), or Great White Book (5.6R), which would make a nice day of moderate climbing.