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I really liked this route. It has a little lichen and loose rock but no more than most of the other alpine walls in the park. The long approach means that you have a good chance of being the only party on the mountain. (although if there is another climbing party, it will likely be on this route) The climbing is sustained in the 5.7 - 5.8 range and offers a little bit of everything... snow, stemming, laybacks, hand cracks, chimneys etc. You won't see the storms coming from the west but you'll get some terrific views of Wild Basin!
To reach the base of the route you have a few options. A) Climb the obvious snow tongue on the left. B) Climb a couple easy pitches starting just to the right of the snow. C) Climb the ramp, which approaches from the bottom right. (4th class and loose) I started down this ramp once and quickly decided that it was too nasty. It is probably better going up. My preference is the snow if it is soft enough to kick steps.
Once you're above the snow/easy pitches/ramp, an easy scramble up flower-covered grassy ledges and white rock leads to the base of the route proper. This description assumes you are using 60-meter ropes.
(1) The guidebook says to climb a 5.5 chimney on the right. I haven't climbed this pitch but it looks somewhat boring. A nice alternative is the beautiful 5.8 dihedral on the left. It has decent pro and offers some excellent stemming.
(2) From the top of the first pitch, you have a choice of following the huge right-facing dihedral up the left edge of the ramp or a left-facing dihedral/crack system that runs up the center/right side of the ramp. This is a description of the right option. Stretch the rope up to a small ledge below a 3-foot roof that runs diagonally up and to the right. 5.7
(3) Traverse up and right staying under the roof until you reach a large chimney with lots of features, including a couple choke stones. Continue up this chimney until it is possible to exit left onto a short ramp/ledge system. This is another long pitch. 5.7
(4) Climb up the left edge of the obvious cleft via laybacks, stems, and jams and continue past another choke stone to belay under a large roof. 5.8
(5) From under the roof, climb a short wall on the west side via a shallow right-facing dihedral. Then continue up another 30 feet to a nice hand crack in an open corner. From the top of the hand crack, a ramp leads up and right to the top of the route. 5.8
The descent also offers a few options. A) Descend to the south and then the southeast to gain the grassy southeast face of Alice and follow this back to east side of Alice. B) Descend to the south along the Continental Divide until you reach Boulder Grand Pass. Descend on the north side of the snow and take the pass back to the Thunder Lake trail. C) Descend to the north via Hourglass Ridge (class 3) until you reach the saddle between Alice and Chief's Head. Turn southeast and follow the obvious ridge back to the Lion Lake trail.
A typical alpine rack up to 2" will suffice. Bring more if you want to sew it up.
Lisa Foster on the 4th pitch with the Central Ramp...
Dougald finishing P3.
Guillaume Dargaud starting the last pitch of the r...
BETA PHOTO: "The Ramp" illuminated.
This is the same picture Justin submitted. (I hop...
The approach snowfield and 4th-Class start. 8-1-08...
|By justin dubois|
From: Estes Park
Jul 6, 2003
Go climb this route.If you climb the easy rock from the toe of the cliff, It's probobly the longest 5.8 in the Park. A really fun passage up a giant mountain face with a spectacular summit. Get there early though, crowded even on weekdays.
|By Henry Lester|
Jun 1, 2004
It has been some years since I have done this route, and the angle of the picture appears odd to me; however, I am pretty sure that the topo line on the picture is wrong. After going up a steep blocky face the route goes up the radiating cracks to the right of the red line, up to ledges that are then followed up to a left angling 5.8 exit crack. The exit crack is only about 30 feet long. The cracks going up the slab are maybe 200 feet...
|By Bosier Parsons|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 12, 2004
I agree with Henry, but it was also several years ago that I climbed this route. We approached via the ramp on the right, which accesses routes on the main East Face. There was one scary step-around move, but otherwise fine. This ramp led us directly below the huge Central Ramp with the several radiating cracks that Henry refers to. I remember one pitch to start, then several options of mostly wide easy cracks on the Central Ramp. I stayed way to the right, almost on the edge of the Ramp where it meets the steeper East face. It's pretty obvious where you head left and up into an easier section or gully or something like that, then the beautiful hand crack out left in a large left-facing corner. The picture may show the corner illuminated high on the face and to the right of the red line, as Henry indicates. (I copied Justin's photo and added it with a yellow line of where we climbed, more or less - hope it helps). A beautiful wilderness outing.
|By jason seaver|
From: Estes Park, CO
Jul 15, 2004
I guess I can't comment on what the original line of this route is, as the only guidebook descriptions and topos I've seen are vague at best. But the line that Justin and I took (the red one seen above) was quite good, linking clean cracks, corners and faces. Perhaps a bit harder than 5.8, but not by too much.So Henry, is there any truth to the rumor of a free route of yours on the Central Pillar?
|By Anonymous Coward|
Aug 18, 2004
This route is OK. Its most redeeming quality is that it is remote enough to keep the crowds away. The climbing is not so memorable, the 5.8 dihedral/handcrack thing is nice but brief. If you v'e already done the other classics at this grade then this routes for you.
|By Matt Seefeldt|
Jul 1, 2007
I just climbed this June 30th and have some tidbits to add:
1) The 5.8 handcrack start was completely snowed in, so we had to resort to the 5.5 chimney for the 1st pitch. Do not continue to follow this chimney up and to the right, since it will lead you off route with 5.9ish climbing with bad pro. At the 1st ledge after the starting chimney, keep heading up/leftish to gain the ledges at the start of the 2nd pitch.
2) After going through the 5.8 crack to the left of the roof on the 4th pitch, you are faced with some gully climbing with some steep breaks. We followed the gully for about sixty feet and then climbed a 10a left-facing dihedral to a decent ledge. From there, there was some fun 5.8 face climbing on a broken arete which linked to some easy climbing to the top-out to a slot on the right. It was a fun finish to the climb and seemed like a nice alternative to the gully climbing if one stayed left. It was my definition to the guidebooks "finish with easier climbing to the top".
|By Dougald MacDonald|
Aug 3, 2008
A good route in a great setting. The descriptions here are confusing because nearly everyone seems to have climbed a different line. The main entry above and some of the comments are describing a line much closer to the Central Crack route than Central Ramp. See the July 29, 2008, photo topo on this page.
If you approach via the snow gully or directly up the moderate rock below the route (as we did), the Central Ramp is farther to the right than you would think. The key to finding the route is staying out of the central gully (Central Crack) after the first technical pitch, the 5.5 chimney or 5.8 right-facing corner just to its left (this corner is recommended, by the way). The corner dumps you at the base of the central gully, and you have to move right a ways to start up the Central Ramp. We climbed a pitch up the dirty gully (left-facing corner) before realizing we were off-route, then did two diagonaling pitches on the ramp to get back in line. The ramp funnels you naturally into the correct finishes.
For the finish, the prominent, white 5.8 corner is excellent (variation 5a in Rossiter's book, variation 2 in Gillett). From the top of this corner, it's only about 100 feet to the talus on top.
|By John Korfmacher|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 26, 2009
The 5.8 corner finish is a great pitch. It's particularly spicy with a lightning-and-thunder accompaniment.
As described above, just about all the pitches on the ramp are rope-stretchers. The full climb is only 8 pitches, but be prepared for a long day.
Jul 24, 2013
I climbed this route yesterday and I have a few notes, additions to beta, and thoughts. First, I thought the climbing was pretty decent despite the super long approach but far from a 4 star classic. Plenty of sustained moderate climbing with the last 5.8 hand crack being really good. If only that hand crack was longer. Minus the approach, I thought it was a 3 star climb. It also looks like we're not the only one that had route finding problems.
We did it in 8 pitches, since we did the direct 5.5-4th class start to gain the base of the climb. Pitch 1, was easy to locate with a beautiful 5.8 dihedral (which we climbed) and the not-so-interesting 5.5 chimney to the right (based on the photos we might have taken a different dihedral?). The first pitch deposited us on the left side of the ramp, and after the first pitch, to stay on route, we should have traversed at least 200-300 feet to the right down an angling grassy ramp to the center of the ramp. We did not do this and got into some pretty interesting climbing.
Climbing up an angling right hand crack from the bottom left side of the ramp left us on some pretty scary 5.9 slab climbing. Luckily, we were able to bail to the bottom of the roof described at the top of pitch 2.
As pitch 3 is described here, it should be 2 pitches of mostly 5.7 climbing. I don't know how one could do this in a single rope stretcher with a 60m. We had a 70m and had two fairly long pitches. The Gillett book agrees.
At the top of the ramp, we angled right to the base of the large roof which isn't exactly the most straightforward route finding but wasn't too difficult. We were unsure at this point due to the beta. From the top of pitch 4, there are several dihedrals, so deciphering the correct dihedral could be tricky. The correct dihedral is about halfway between the left arete and the large roof.
As for the last pitch, it was 5.6-7 up broken ledges directly above the hand crack. I think the easy climbing the Gillett book describes is up a gully to the left after the hand crack.
Also, if I were to climb this again, I would bivy. A day trip makes for a long day. Sweet positioning in the Park.