Better than Love
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Carol leading the 2nd pitch corner on Better than ...
This route was just recently published in Bernard Gillett's new guide to the High Peaks. This book and its companion volume to the Estes Park region are well worth getting. Both provide previously unpublished routes, up-to-date descent info, grade indexes, and nice presentations. They are very professional and polished books. I like carrying both Gillett and Rossiter route descriptions along, sometimes a 2nd opinion is welcome.
Gillett certainly talks this route up, so I felt I should go and check it out. While I didn't think that it was as great as Gillett obviously does, it would make a good alternative to the well traveled Culp-Bossier (which undoubtedly motivated Gillett's assessment at least partially.) I'm not sure if it's better than Love (haven't done that one), but it's about as good at Culp-Bossier.
From the start of Love Route and Culp-Bossier, step up left to a grassy ledge (left of the huge, right-facing corner). You will see a couple right-facing dihedrals above.
P1 Climb/wander to the bottom of the left right-facing dihedral. (5.6)
P2 Climb the dihedral above. Avoid the roof by climbing the thin face on the left. The upper half is nice stemming and a dirty crack. Great pitch. (5.8)
P3 I tried climbing the headwall directly, but after ripping off a pizza pan sized flake, I got a little freaked, backed off, and stepped left to bypass the steep stuff. I recommend the latter. (5.5)
P4 Climb a shorter easy pitch up to a ledgy area and set a belay at a comfortable spot. (5.4)
P5 Above you should see a large pillar (~100 foot high) on the face. Climb the left side of this to a small ledge at a right-facing and -leaning corner/flake. This is another fantastic pitch. (5.7)
P6 Things get a little confusing here. Climb the flake/corner above to where it bends back left. From here, break out right across the face and belay wherever you can get a good anchor. This is a shorter pitch.
P7 This is the mental crux of the route, and is something of a route-finding challenge. From my partner's A5 belay, I ran it out straight up mostly unprotected and steep 5.7+ ground towards an obvious roof/overlap. I didn't protect the step over the roof because I didn't trust the rock that much. Shortly past this, you will reach a small ledge. Follow a right leaning corner/ramp up to the bottom of an obvious, left-facing corner. (5.8ish, standard Hallett death pitch)
P8 Climb the corner, run it out across a nice 5.8- face, trend left, then hop up a steep left facing corner to the right. If rope drag hasn't stopped you yet, go to the summit. Otherwise, belay, and do one more brief scramble/pitch to the top.
You will cross over the Love Route on P6. The Gillett topo doesn't show the pillar on P5, but the belay point is accurately depicted. His written description of P6 didn't jive with our experience, but our climb pretty much matched the topo. Also, Gillett and Rossiter describe somewhat different lines for the Love Route.
Once on the summit, head east down the ridge for a couple hundred feet. Stay close to the crest, and near the east side of the First Buttress (the route is on the Second Buttress) you will come to a bolted rappel (could use a modern bolt). One rope will get you to a second short rappel, or a 60m rope will get you to easy scrambling terrain. Scramble down the gully for a few hundred feet. Then, head left over a rise, and aim for a scree gully. Follow this to the base of the Hallett Chimney (between 1st and 2nd Buttresses.) If you racked up here in the morning (near the mossy area) you won't need to walk the couple minutes back up to the base of the routes.
1 set RPs, 1 set nuts, 1 each TCUs and cams to #4 Friend.
Looking down pitch 1.
Pitch 2, the fun dihedral.
Looking down pitch 6 (in description). The grassy...
The traverse at the end of pitch 6. Lake Hiyahaha...
Looking up pitch 7. The black rock in the upper l...
Climbers, Craig Blankenship, Kevin Lorda.
Climber, Craig Blankenship.
Kevin Lorda on belay.
|Comments on Better than Love
|By Steve Levin|
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 1, 2001
Good alternative to the Culp-Bossier. We went directly up the "headwall" as described in Gillett, but found harder climbing than the "5.7 finger cracks" described, and the gear wasn't very good- maybe too direct. We joined the Love Route rather than trending right into the upper 5.8 pitch on Better Than Love and thus avoided any big routefinding problems. The crux "5.9" pitch on the Love Route, up the right side of the black overhang was bone dry (Aug 1) and felt like 5.7. It's good climbing though. I agree, 2-star route, and the direct start is far better than the regular Love start in the huge corner.
|By Leo Paik|
From: Westminster, Colorado
Feb 23, 2002
I agree it is better than Love, 5.9 s, and on equal par with Culp-Bossier. Our 5th pitch/your p6: pieced together face holds up a tough-to-decipher-from-below section with 3 pins. We traversed R and found a R angling ramp and an airy stance. Our last pitch: Up R to a corner, up to a slab, to a roof, traverse L, watch for rope sticking under a corner of the roof, and to the top.
|By Frank Stock|
Jul 25, 2002
We too linked up the bottom of BTL with the top half of the Love route and it was a good combo, on par with Culp. The line was pretty straight forward, although it probably helped having topo's from both guide books along.
The only runnout climbing was the 5.7 face climbing, trending left from the crack about 10 feet off the belay above the pillar pitch. Small RPs and Aliens made the runnout pretty mellow, although you are making the 5.7 moves above gear that isn't inspiring, but the climbing is only 5.7. The 5.9 finish was fun and worth while.
As for the A5 belay, I don't understand where (or why) an A5 belay exists. We had bomber belays the whole way up at pretty good stances. The worst was the stance above the pillar, but it wasn't to bad. Climbing much above the pillar would yield a poor belay, but there isn't a good reason to not have good gear if you are watching the rope length etc.
Overall, a pretty good route, with good position, nice climbing and mostly good rock. Not 5 star, but still really nice.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 14, 2003
Did this climb last weekend and found it very enjoyable. There are some really stellar pitches on this route. The way I did pitch 6 matched Gillett's description quite well - I diagonaled up and right to a piton, then went pretty much straight up for about 100' on fantastic face climbing with a stopper every 20' or so. Then I went straight right about 30' into a small left facing dihedral which has good pro for a belay. There is a great 1' wide ledge about 10' farther up the dihedral which makes for a spectacular stance (also a good anchor here). Watch out for the loose toaster-sized rock on this ledge. I would not call this a short pitch, it was probably 150'. From here we were able to get all the way to the top in one nearly 60m pitch.
The route was amazingly warm for a Nordwand and except for pitch 2 is in the sun until after noon. I recommend taking a lot of stoppers as that was all I placed on pitch 6. Pitch 2 is really fun too and probably the technical crux.
|By Craig Blankenship|
Aug 10, 2004
Last week we climbed the first few pitches of BTL and then switched over to the Love route at the top. Since the routes cross each other I was wondering just where the route is in proximity to the crux on Love we exited just right of the roof in a slot. Gillet's says BTL is about 30 feet left of that spot but at the Love crux all I could see to the right was a small arete or corner and everything was out of view after that. To get to the crux of Love you have to work your way up into a slot at the right edge of the big roof in the black water streaks. I am wondering just where the Love route is from there at that point. Great climb!
|By Shane Zentner|
Jul 2, 2006
Fun climbing with typical route finding, about the same as Culp/Bossier. Every belay is good as one can always find a small ledge. We didn't see the bolt and small ledge as described in the guide book near the pillar, no worries though, as I kept climbing and found a decent belay. A standard rack is sufficient. Climb the headwall on pitch three (the dihedral is bit spicey!).
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Jul 14, 2007
Gillett did not do the FA....there is speculation concerning who actually did it. But certainly in the running is Jeff Bevin who did it in 1970 or 71.
Jul 26, 2008
I have no insights; here is a quick TR to make planning easier for others.
7:00 am Friday 7/25/08 - Left Bear Lake Parking. The Shuttle starts running at 7:00 am, they never close the road to cars, but the lot fills on weekends by 9 am. Hike up trail, go around Emerald Lake on left onto pretty good climber path to base.
8:30 - Started up route. The start is to the left of Love and C-B (unlike route description above). P2 is excellent (all foot stems). Routefinding is easy to the top of the 2nd pillar, after that, still not sure what we did, but the Blankenship photos above appear to be on Love rather than BTL? I could have brought more stoppers and hex's (lighter than cams) as forgot how much gear anchors take when nothing is fixed. Seemed to be various P6-8 possibilities, all of which work. Rock is highly featured; holds are plentiful and good. We we warm in t-shirt and shorts.
12:50 - lunch on top. Took our time; highly enjoyable. The East Descent Rt is easy to follow (2 single rope raps, 2nd is optional).
2:50 - Car.
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 19, 2009
I found no A5 belay, though I didn't bring the copperheads and hooks along. I found ample placements for nuts, tricams, and cams though. Just search around and you can make a good belay.
|By Casey Flynn|
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 21, 2010
The potential first ascensionist, Jeff's last name is spelled Bevan, not Bevin, and he's the man.