Question for people who know Symonds Yat well.
I have climbed (seconded) golden fleece previously and finished up the severe variation, escaping after the tree via muddy bank and tree roots.
Partner wanted to try the HS version today and guidebook describes quite clearly the part basically where you would escape on the severe finish to the tree, you do an obvious polished corner crack.
All good there, but above there, if you were to turn and face right, there is a headwall
We attempted to go up this, it's quite steep, pumpy, under long to pockets. But still pumpy so quite a tough exit and hard to place gear due to difficult moves.
Is this actually what was intended for the HS (felt harder) or is this what some refer to as the smiling cat finish?
Having lived close to Symonds Yat and done Golden Fleece a hundreds times, I never understood the appearance of the direct finish in guide books. You reach the yew tree and the crag top. Finish.
Sorry to be of so little help.
So to get to the yew tree you either go up the very obvious crack or avoid and go left on big holds.
But my question is about above that, as we finished on clean rock on right, and avoided muddy tree root run entirely
Thats smiling cat.
Also the polish on golden fleece is terrible now
I led the direct crack in the headwall by accident when I did it too. Felt about VS. My second went further right on the headwall (near the arete) and said it was amiable climbing (though it looked improbable at the grade).
Yeah I thought Vs most probably. I did the moves in the end, but pumpy as! Would have been hard to do and place gear.
Yeah central to the wall by the big block feet and massive under cling and big pockets. Sounds like it should be easy right!!! Hmmm
Ta for clarification.
So to do the HS finish, are you meant to wander up the mud, or just go more leftwards than I did?
I wish I could help! Just checked the guidebook and it's not conclusive. Maybe try going right of the direct crack towards the arete. I think that is more in keeping with the HS.
The direct finish is harder from memory, and I think a lead fall back to the ledge would be shite.
It was so unpleasantly polished the last time I did it that I probably wouldn't bother with either; it's an abseil now, not a climb!
Yeah, the polished corner crack is the HS finish; stepping left to the tree to avoid it finishes the climbing more easily. The headwall seems not to be part of the route.
My understanding on reflection after getting confused while doing it, then careful reading of the guide is that the headwall is not part of the (official) climb and I think it's easy to get confused as it does seem an obvious "direct finish". Both my climbing partner and another party assumed it was part of the direct finish while doing the climb. The guide should mention it to clarify things - logs on UKC suggest confusion over the finish is common.
The headwall seemed 5a to me. Think I dangled on the rope for a while and needed a few attempts to get it, which usually means 5a. Felt technical and strenuous at the same time. Not sure how easy it would be to arrange gear either, but I guess HVS might be reasonable. I think it's also possibly independent of Smiling Cat as it looked like that line finishes about a metre further right (but I may be wrong on that point).
Sounds like several people agree that the direct finish is a bit of a nonsense.
For HS you're better looking to Right Carry on, Albany, Sagitta or Joyce's Route.
I've always done it as when u get to the top of the corner there is a horrible polished wall (can't be missed) with a crack up the middle. Climb this direct there is a good hold on the right and a decent nut placement.
I done it not to long ago and felt pretty hard due to very dirty holds.
To get to smiling cat finish you would have to teaverse right a fair bit
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