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Route-finding is vague, protection dicey in places (in fact nearly everywhere) but this is a great line up a proud buttress; actually one of the tallest and best-looking buttresses in the whole RMNP. In addition, this route has a fairly short approach, (you can watch all the bumblies heading up for the Petit Grepon) and best of all a solid southern exposure; you may end up lost and frightened and unable to retreat, but at least you'll be nice and warm.
P1. First pitch is obvious and easy, up a chimney/crack/slab to a large ledge.
P2-3. The next two pitches are pretty indeterminate, but basically take you into the obvious, huge, shallow dihedral/groove way up and right. Check out Rossiter's High Peaks book for more details. The climbing on pitch two, as I recall is pretty runout vertical 5.8, mostly on great jugs (but worryingly above the large belay ledge), requiring some care with navigation (lest you end up on much harder ground). This is like the best of the Petit Grepon climbing, but steeper (and definitely no crowds). Once in the long dihedral, you may expect that there'd be lots of yummy gear in the crack in the back, but alas this is not the case. . . . Luckily the stone is immmaculate. Anyway, follow the dihedral to the top of the huge pillar. Even here the gear is not so easy to find.
P4. From here, various ways tackle the imposing headwall. Apparently one can go straight up. Good luck. I led out to the right, until I gained a ledge about thirty feet away. Very exposed here! A coffin-sized/shaped block sits on this small ledge.
P5. From here, a nice but short crack leads to some loose-looking blocks. Angle rightwards to avoid the blocks (I recall a very welcome #1.5 Friend somewhere here in a slot) and wander upwards (butt-clenching exposure!) upwards to finally pull onto the shoulder.
P6. One more pitch, easy, from here to the real summit.
Six looooong pitches, continuously absorbing, with a serious feel; one of the coolest routes I've done in the Park.
Bring Aliens (or similar), lots of wires including RPs, one or two sets of cams up to 3". Many runners for extending pieces to avoid rope drag, double ropes.
Bert leading the highly featured but runout P2....
|By Anonymous Coward|
Feb 5, 2002
Thanks for the excellent writeup, Crusher. I've admired this route since doing the Kor route eons ago but never got on it. Absolutely classic line in your description:
"you may end up lost and frightened and unable to retreat, but at least you'll be nice and warm."
|By Frank Stock|
Feb 20, 2002
Great rock, minimal gear, and pretty easy to get to when the rest of the park has snow in early season is the good news. The bad news is we could figure out where the heck we were supposed to be as we got up near the top, and judging from the tat collection we weren't the first to experience that problem.
I believe Rossitor calls the cruxy stuff "5.9 or harder" and it sure is. After climbing this you will appreciate and take notice some of the routes put up by Dalke in the Boulder area.
I too remember the 2nd pitch being a 5.8 edge fest with little pro. You probably should be comfortable being 30 feet above a big ledge with no gear to climb this pitch. You get a good larger (#1?) camalot right as the angle eases off and you don't need it anymore.
The rock is quality on the first four pitches was really good, but we got lost somewhere up top and ended up going to the left. Somewhere above pitch 4 the dihedral faded away out and then the gear ran out. We traversed to the right first, and after some hard runout climbing we ended up bailing back to the top of pitch 4 (or maybe 5?). From that point we were able escaping to the left, which left some steep, loose and interesting 5.9 simulclimbing to beat the sunset.
The decent off the back involved picking through wet, loose cliff bands to a snowfield (probably late season talus). It was pretty trivial in the daylight, but I wouldn't want to do this in the dark.
The rock and climbing were good enough that I plan to take a crack at it again though.
|By Randy Slavin|
Oct 10, 2005
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a
Did this in August, and the temps were absolutely balmy. This route is now my favorite 5.9 in RMNP. Better than the Kor route on the Saber. Big Air and very thoughtful climbing. Kinda runout in places.
Should be more popular than it is, as it is bigger, steeper and more spectacular IMHO, than the Petit. The last steep pitch that traverses up and right from the huge ledge is outrageous. We descended a ramp that led to near the base of the Saber, hoping to link em, but got denied by rain.
Another plus of this route: the base is reached after a very short hike, compared to most other things.It's like a steeper version of Hallett's.
Go get some!
|By doug haller|
Nov 8, 2007
This was an excellent and engaging route. After the first pitch, every other pitch requires thoughtful attention at some point. Watch the rope drag when climbing up and right from the top of P3 and onto P4. In fact, due to rope drag we set up a belay in the middle of P4 before the traverse. On the long traverse, P4-5, move straight right along horizontals with reasonable pro. After about 25-30 feet, pass a right-facing, curving corner, climb another 5-7 feet right. Look for a place to climb straight up to easier ground. (Difficult route finding because there appears to be several options.) Another long pitch and a half should get you through block, easy climbing to a large ledge system with a tree to the north. Getting off is tricky. Walk along the ledge and look for a descent gully on the right. The gully we selected worked well but was hard to find, I think it was the "most right" of three obvious gullies. It is recognizable by having a very tight, saddle literally like a riding saddle, separating the North face from the SE face. Rack: full rack of nuts and cams. Lots of horizontal cracks on P2 with no placements for nuts the way I climbed.
|By Jordon Griffler|
Jun 20, 2009
I highly don't recommend going straight up the headwall on the second to last pitch. (labeled 5.9r/x variation in the Gillett guide). It's composed of long runouts, weird route finding, and crumbling rock. One of the scarier pitches I've ever led.