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Chuck leading the crux 3rd pitch as we did it. The...
Dessert is a very wandering climb left of the Bulge. I'm giving it one start because of this and because of the crummy rock and death-like runout on the crux pitch as we did it. The real crux pitch may be better.
The rating for this climb has increased steadily over the years. High Over Boulder (1970) rates this 5.7 or 5.8. 5.10 (Ament and Erickson, 72) calls it 5.8, as does Erickson's 1980 Rocky Heights. Ament's Eldorado, A rock climber's guide calls it 5.8 or 5.9. Rossiter now calls it 5.9.
Pitch 1 and 2, 5.8s:Climb the first pitch of the Bulge at 5.6s. The guidebooks say to belay at the Bulge bolts, but the fall factor on the next section would be severe, so I recommend continuing. Put a triple sling (or longer) on the bolts, move down a bit and left, place a good green Alien, and move further left. You will be at the right end of a narrow ramp rising up to the left. You will see a bolt on Backstroke and the funky pin of Backtalk out left along this ramp. You can place a .75 Camalot in an undercling by your knees, but the rock might blow. If you place this piece, put at least a double length sling on it. Using a sidepull to start, climb straight up a steep wall (5.8s) on mostly positive holds. Clip a Leeper Z pin that is driven straight down (good), but sticks out a lot (bad), or better, loop a sling over it to reduce leverage. Back it up with a brass nut. Long sling. Move left on easier but slopey climbing and around a blunt arête to reach the Backtalk anchor. Belay here if you have rope drag and do a short second pitch, or continue left around the end of the ceiling, past two fixed pins, and up some 5.8 moves to the belay bolts of Blackwalk.
Pitch 3, 5.9s:DO THIS: This is a quote from High Over Boulder: From the belay bolts, "traverse 10 feet right, then climb undeviatingly up a difficult 12-foot wall. It is now possible to follow an underhand flake 15 feet right." Then angle left to a bolt/pin anchor. This is the same belay as for the 2nd pitch of Blackwalk.DON'T DO THIS: This is what we did: Move right about 6 feet through the ceiling then straight up on your choice of powdery sloping holds or thin peeling edges. Possible cam placement on the right. Over a difficult bulge to an undercling. Desperately place gear in the undercling and continue over the bulge or around it on the right, then up and left a bit to the bolt/pin belay.
Pitch 4 5.7(s?):Above the bolt/pin anchor is a short right facing downward hanging flake/overhang. Place a big cam behind that (I used a 3.5 offset Friend) and climb left through the overhang. Place one or two cams (#3 Friend) in a fair, slanting horizontal. Step left on the steep wall and place good green and yellow Aliens. Run it out up and left to easy ground then angle right to the top. There is a good cam anchor at a horizontal crack above.
Descend diagonally down and north to the big trough then back up and back down to the north to the ground.
Single or double set of cams from micro to 3.5 Friend (#3 Camalot). Single set of nuts from brass to big stoppers. You won't use all of this, but when you find that one placement 20 feet out, you better be sure to have the right piece. About 8 long runners; some double length runners would be useful. Bolt and bolt/pin belays except at the top.
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Oct 21, 2003
There is an alternative to the Bulge's 1st pitch described above. You start L of the Bulge by 15 ft or so, definitely s terrain, find a pin, angle up and L along a L facing dihedral and gain the ledgish-system of the Bulge's 1st belay. 7s or 8s.