The Dihedral (5.6)
Location: Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, The Narrows, Zoo Wall
Spec: Classic 5.6 dihedral crack with bomber gear, chain anchor. 80 feet.
The one, the only, THE DIHEDRAL (5.6)
There are many climbs which are labeled a “dihedral” but ask anybody who has spent any time climbing in the Wichita’s if they have climbed “The Dihedral” and they won’t be confused about which climb you are talking about. It’s difficult to find a more classic, more climbed, and more appreciated climb than The Dihedral on Zoo Wall. Whether its your first time leading it or your one-hundred and first time, you’ll have fun on it.
The dihedral accepts almost any gear: cams, hexes, stoppers, or whatever else you can come up with. The first half of the route contains huge ledges that make it easy to stand and place gear. About midway up the route gets a little more technical (at least for 5.6 it does), and the crack in the dihedral will only accept big gear (size 4 Camalot or above). Most climbers place a piece just before the wide-crack section and climb to the next good rest: an awesome stem between the two walls. The crux of the route is heading right, away from the corner and onto the face. There’s an awesome vertical crack (I place a small cam here) and slick footholds to edge on. A couple of upward moves will get you to the bomber jug just below a roof. This is my favorite section because there’s that wonderful feeling of hanging high above the ground on a secure hold and looking around just enjoying your surroundings. From here the route heads up to a sinker side-pull and then traverses right to a chain anchor.
Many climbers have learned to climb (both lead and top-rope) on The Dihedral, and for good reason. There’s ample opportunity to use all the basic techniques of climbing as well as get that feeling of exposure. If you decide to top-rope, you’ll need to approach the anchors from the upper Narrows trail. Don’t forget to place some directional anchors on the way down or else you’ll take a major swinger if you fall. Also, it’s a good idea to wear a helmet while on Zoo Wall. A few climbers have been seriously injured from falling rock…be careful what you grab, and stay on route! The wall to the left of The Dihedral looks awesome but it is littered with death blocks.
Once you rappel down, don’t miss climbing Crazy Alice (5.8), probably the most popular route in the Wichita’s and another classic line.
To find The Dihedral, park in the Narrows parking lot and hike the main trail in. Zoo Wall is the smooth wall on the upper right side of the Narrows canyon. You can’t miss it, there will probably be climbers all over it!