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The Whale's Tail
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Amputee Love T 
C'est What? S 
Clementine T 
Dihedral One T 
Dihedral Two T 
East Slabs T 
Finger Crack T 
Free Speech S 
Gumbo T 
Gut Feeling T 
Horangutan T 
Jack The Ripper T 
Jim Crack T 
Kid's Climb T 
Left Arete T 
M T,S 
Martindale T 
Monument, The S 
NED (Nothing Except Dynamics) T 
New Cambria T,TR 
No Problem T 
Northeast Arete T 
Second Coming S,TR 
Spoof T 
Spoof Roof T 
West Crack T,TR 
West Dihedral T,TR 
West Face [Whale's Tail] T,TR 
Yorkshire Ripper, The T 

C'est What? 

YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c

   
Type:  Sport, 1 pitch
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Fred Knapp, Erik Fedor, 1989.
Fixed Hardware: 3 Lead Bolts, 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 1,952
Submitted By: Patrick Vernon on Jan 1, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (42)
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Climbing reopened after flood MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is a cool short route on the Whale's Tail directly east of C'est La Vie. The start is quite heady, a 5.8 slab where you wouldn't want to fall. Fortunately the holds are positive. A #1 Camalot protects the first clip, and can be backcleaned after clipping. The route goes up the gently overhanging wall on the west side of the Whale's Tail, around the corner from the 5.2 crack. It is short but pumpy and sustained. The moves are really cool. The pitch ends at a two bolt anchor and can easily be toproped from this anchor.

Protection 

The 5.11 climbing is well protected with three bolts, the 5.8 slab start has no pro and takes you 20 feet above some jagged boulders. (Ed. Note: Rossiter notes that some RPs may be used for the start.)


Photos of C'est What? Slideshow Add Photo
C'est What? climbs the runout slab and the steep h...
BETA PHOTO: C'est What? climbs the runout slab and the steep h...
Heading into the crux, C'est What at Eldo, GoPro S...
Heading into the crux, C'est What at Eldo, GoPro S...
trying to figure out whinning boulder.com
trying to figure out whinning boulder.com
A close-up of the headwall on C'est What?
BETA PHOTO: A close-up of the headwall on C'est What?
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh...........
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh...........
Arrow shows the first actual gear on the 5.8R sect...
Arrow shows the first actual gear on the 5.8R sect...

Comments on C'est What? Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 22, 2012
By Bill Wright
May 9, 2002

I just did this climb last night. What a fun route. This was my second time on it The first try had me hanging on the rope, so I can attest to the good protection.

Having done the approach three times now (once for Jack the Ripper), you can get in a fair RP pretty early and then, after fifteen more feet you can get in a "bomber" RP, if that isn't an oxymoron.

Protecting the first clip with a #1 Camalot is a great suggestion and one that I took. If you put two long slings on it, there is no need to climb back to pull this piece.

The crux is a hard move just past the second bolt.
By Joe Huggins
From: Grand Junction
May 23, 2002

I toprope soloed this last summer and couldn't help noticing that the good flake at the crux is gone. Seemed much harder than I remembered it.
By D. Rivers
Mar 21, 2004

I concur that this route is now harder than 11b/c. From the huge pocket there are now only scars and thin crimpers (with poor feet) until one can hit a marginal sidepull just before a deep sidepull/undercling. Probably in the 12/12- range now.
By D. Rivers
Mar 23, 2004

AC- Congratulations on the on-sight! And thanks for helping me to clarify that it is my big fat, out-of-shape ass that made this climb feel hard and not an allegedly missing crux hold.
By micah stocker
Aug 24, 2004

This is one of my all [time] favorite Eldo [routes]. I usually climb this as a warm up route first thing in the morning. The moves right off the ground are [awesome], somthing like 9+ or 10-. Then you get into the meat of the climb the moves don't get any better, for a first route of the day. I feel that for a short person it could hold a solid grade of 11c, but for a tall person like myself, [barely] 11b. That is [probably] why the grade stands [where] it is. Well good luck to all who try this route. If you are not comftorable with 5.10 I really don't [recommend] this route. I also don't [recommend] bringing anything but QD's. [That's] all that you need, and I don't think any gear that you place would keep you from hitting the ground anyways. Well Enjoy.
By Joseph Crotty
From: Broomfield, CO
Jun 6, 2005
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

Great route with stellar movement, compact stone, and good position. As sporty as it gets in Eldo. It only lacks in length. However, the 9-ish start is rather runout and can only be recommend for the seasoned leader - blow it and your headed for the hospital or maybe worse.

I think .11c is spot on. Some previous comments seem to suggest grade deflation with height increase. I disagree. Probably the optimum height/size ratio for this climb is in the 5'8"-6'-2" range. At 6'7" I found the crux to be very bouldery and thought provoking. My main problem is there is really only one key slashing feature to put your left foot on to initiate the crux toss to the left hand pinch. At my height the left foot position is rather high and my hips are thrown outwards. Also, for the extremely big guy the left handed pinch feels rather small. Contrary to popular Eldo mythology, height doesn't always win out and "it's a lot more complicated then you think".

Someday the key pinch/mini-flake at the crux on this route will break.
By Chris O'Connor
From: bouldertown, co
Mar 15, 2007
rating: 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a

The start definitely has death potential, but the mental aspect can be cut in half by placing a #5 or #4 (I used a #5) BD nut. The run-out is very moderate maybe 8 or 9 and the holds are very positive, so don't let it scare you away if you are a competent 11 leader. The headwall is fairly sustained, very thin at the start, and loads of fun on beautiful rock.
By Mike C. Robinson
From: Rumney, NH
Apr 22, 2007
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a X

I would definitely rate this X, though the climbing up to the start of this climb doesn't get above 8. If you are small like me (5'3"), it might be a good idea to bring up a #1 or 1.5 BD cam before clipping the first bolt, if you fall from there you will be dead or...dead. Great little route, but the grade is harder than 11b.
By Rob Kepley
From: Westminster,CO
Jun 22, 2007
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

Very cool route. It's probably a waste of time trying to protect the 5.8 section up to the first bolt. I thought the first bolt was a bit high. 11c feels about right even though it's only one move of it. The moves getting to the second bolt are probably about 11a/b.
By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Aug 27, 2007
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a R

This is important: This spring, while lowering off, I found a really good purple Alien to protect the 5.8x approach. First, I never do the Jack the Ripper way, it's harder and not as juggy as the steep line of holds just right. As the leader commits, with feet leaving the mini-ledge, a really nice leaning jug/pocket is reached. Out right, within reach but out of sight, is a crack just deep enough and long enough for a purple Alien. When I found it, I only had my nice new Alien, so I didn't bounce test because it is a sideways placement that will kink the cable. But it looked really good!!! I plan to go back soon and stuff in my old purple beater Alien and bounce test the hell out of it. It is really hard to find. Might just have to cut and run for the summit and suss this gear out for future ascents.

PS All the pictures of this route are awesome! Thankyou!

PPS For those new to Colorado here is one way to have a perfect 5.11 summer day in Eldo. First hike up to Evangeline, be done by 10:30am to beat the sun. Second, hike across to Sunset Boulevard on the Bastille, sunhit for the anchor move is about 11:30am, but you've got until 12:30 for shade on the belay and hard moves. Third book back across the bridge and get on C'est What?, shade until about 2:00pm. Your gonna need a little traditude to get you up parts of each route, but the cruxes are all sport pro'd. Once you have the routine wired, the combination of hiking and steep 5.11 climbing will get/keep you in shape for Rifle. And less of that pesky pigeon poo found on so many other routes in the bridge area!
By micah stocker
Sep 7, 2007

You're welcome for the photos. I have only climbed this route once this year, just moved home from Bama. Still a sick route. I love this one, so get on it, and the new gear beta should make this thing a bit safer. Hope the flake for the first bolt sticks around. Woo Wee....
By Dane Casterson
From: Boulder
Mar 4, 2008

Was on this a couple of days ago with Dave Holliday and the starting flake is getting a little scary. I would recommend either using another hold or placing some gear in the crack near the start of JtR. A .75 cam was perfect. As far as gear for the start i really didnt see anything. Stay right and the holds are all incut jugs. I am tall and can casually reach from jug to jug. May be a little more committing if you are on the shorter side.
By Brian Adzima
From: San Francisco
Mar 26, 2008

Went up on the right hand side. There was a descent placement for a green Alien way off to the right in a horizontal, somewhere in the 25-30 foot range. The starting hold below the bolt seemed pretty solid.
By Kevin Gillest
From: Arvada, CO
Jun 22, 2012
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c R

Found gear on the 5.8R section at 25-30ft, while in the initial corner placed #0 Metolius (purple). Gear again before the traverse to the bolts, #0.5 BD and, either #1 or 0.75 BD before clipping the first bolt. Sketchy climbing but not X, in my opinion.
Awesome, sketchy, and scary Eldo climbing!