The Bowels of the Owls
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BETA PHOTO: The limited view down the Bowels from below the ra...
This is typically used as the descent route for routes to summit Twin Owls. It can also be used to ascend Twin Owls with reduced technical difficulty. Due to the above uses, traffic jams may be encountered. It is likely the technically-easiest way (vs Cheechako) to summit the formation. It can be wet and/or cool. In a wet winter, it can have snow or ice. Also, it may be ascended by small climbers as young as six years of age.
Approach via the Gem Lake Trail from the Twin Owls parking lot, pass the Lower Twin Owls climbers access trail, go uphill at the Upper Twin Owls climbers access trail (also approaching Gollum's Arch). Go past the trail that splits to the L (to the Roosting Ramp), pass Hen & Chickens, and pass the approach for the East Ridge. Find a deep cleft near a standing, broken off dead tree around on the NE side of Twin Owls ascending a weakness between the East & West Owls. High traffic down this cleft may also make it more obvious. In the near future, access may be out of a westerly trail out of the soon-to-be-built trail from the new (further E) trailhead. Pay some attention to the trail as you ascend, or you will wind up on the old (less preferred by the some) trail.
To approach from above, to use this as a descent, you go to the third class saddle area between the summits of Twin Owls (separated by about 100 ft). It can be less-than-obvious. From here you go down a wide, steepening gully 4th class to the NE (towards Gollum's Arch) about 100 ft to a even steeper section, traverse L around a small rib on a slab to a chockstone and what looks like a cave or big rabbit hole. Downclimb through this cave into a dark, narrow, L-angling chimney about 70 ft. If it's too wet or whatever, you can rappel slinging a chockstone above the chimney (better) or the block that you hop over to get into the chimney (worse). It's a funky, slithering rappel.
To ascend: P1. Go up the chimney with some loose gravel in spots. About 50 ft up, you reach the first technical challenge with a crack/flare on the R with slicker foot holds on the L. Chimneying can be a bit of a challenge if you are large. Reaching up can be challenging if you are tiny. This can be funky if wet. A hand sized cam works here. Then, just above, you find the 'crux' with smaller holds on a slick slab for a short stretch to a bucket. This, too, can be funky if wet. A yellow TCU/Alien or cam be helpful to protect your second, especially if tiny & inexperienced. Traverse L to the exit of the chimney & belay. 70 ft. P2. Traverse L about 15 ft on a slab around a small rib (exposed for the tiny or timid). Ascend the gully 3rd to 4th class to the saddle. About 120 ft. P3. From here you can make a 3rd class scramble to the E summit or a more exposed, and somewhat more difficult bit to the W summit block.
To descend, downclimb back to the notch. Downclimb the gully to the chimney. Downclimb or rappel P1. Be careful not to rap the outside of the chimney or your ropes may get stuck.
It has been rated 4th class in some guidebooks.
A light rack.
It has enough features and short-enough traverses to allow a shorter (6-8 year old) to ascend without excessive difficulty.
BETA PHOTO: The Bowels of the Owls. This is the standard desce...
BETA PHOTO: Jason Estes downclimbing through the Bowels.
BETA PHOTO: Jason Estes, free at last!!
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 14, 2004
You must have been really bored! Thanks for the addition tho, and definitely right about not rapping outside the chimney.
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Sep 16, 2004
AC, actually, this was the route recommended, even by a ranger, to get my older 2 girls, 6 & 8, to the summit of Twin Owls. It was my 6 year old's first multipitch climb. Beta for parents is not yet abundant here. Climbed just behind my girls on the same rope to allay some of their fears.
By sean krider
Jul 31, 2006
My wife and I just came off Bowels with four kids: 9, 7, 7, and 6. Technically, all the kids were all able to make it up unassisted. But we did rope everybody up for both 'pitches' to make everyone feel safe (esp. wife). Upper chockstones above chimney was belay station #1, with a few cams to hold me in and position rope over the meandering slant of the chimney. Kids were naturals in chimneying up this part - oldest tried to just climb it and had little trouble. From chockstones to top of saddle was also a piece of cake for kids, but major exposure (i.e., 60' - 70' fall) around the corner from chockstones made me very nervous, even as I rounded corner to set up belay. Belay #2 from saddle/base of W. Owl worked great, but very little in terms of anchor. Probably could have held kids without anchor, but wife would have been different story. The kids' raced up this part faster than my hands could work rope, but I felt assured that they could completely fall backwards and they'd be fine. Kids' reactions from top were priceless: "That's awesome!" and "Woah!" and "Oh my Goodness!" We took our time and kids were patient, but it was 6+ hours from parking lot to parking lot, and I ended up lowering 3 down chimneys in interest of getting down before dark. Chockstones were crowded with 6 of us at once, but it was a bonding experience. Our 6-yr. old daughter was MVP.
By Chris Zeller
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 2, 2009
The Bowels decent is straightforward but avoid the chimney cave. There is a great rap station (2 slings + 2 biners) hiding under a large block descender's right and just before the cave on the Bowels of the Owls decent. Basically instead of stepping left around a ledge to get to the cave, go straight to where it cliffs out and look under the large flat block.
This rap is clean and does not require going in the chimney as reported above. There is an anchent bolt stub on this block so apparently its not a new idea.
This is much easier than spelunking in the cave. 50 m rope is fine.