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Flight of the Phoenix 

YDS: 5.14a/b French: 8c Ewbanks: 33 UIAA: X+ British: E9 7b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.14b French: 8c Ewbanks: 33 UIAA: X+ British: E9 7b [details]
FA: Prep: Ben Schmitt. FFA: Mark Anderson, 15 Feb 2013
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 1,565
Submitted By: Monomaniac on Feb 19, 2013
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Matching after the dyno.


Perhaps Shelf Road's hardest free route, Flight of the Phoenix climbs a beautiful white wall, split by a short but burly bulge. This climb is quite unique among Shelf's hard routes, climbing almost entirely on full-pad or larger holds. There are no tweaky pockets or razor crimps. The crux involves strenuous compression climbing on relatively big slopers, where strong biceps and core tension are more helpful than titanium fingers and impeccable footwork.

Teeter up a spooky, vibrating tower to an intimidating roof. Some fun, 5.11 finger-locking leads over this obstacle to a sit-down ledge below the crux. A handful of easy moves leads to the bulge, where three or four consecutive slaps, each one more difficult than the last, culminate in an all-out, soaring huck for a flat mini-ledge. After a decent shake on this ledge, one more balancey 5.12 move guards the relatively trivial headwall.

This route was conceived and equipped by Ben Schmitt in late 2009. This route, more than any other, inspired the surge in difficult route development that Shelf has experienced in the last few years, by demonstrating that quality hard plums were still waiting to be snatched, even at Shelf's most picked-over crags. Many thanks to Ben for his vision for Shelf and his effort in bolting this, and many other great routes, around Colorado.


It is between Cure for the Common Crimp and Carnage, beginning up an eerie, leaning, detached pillar leading to a groove that cuts through a 3-foot roof.


11 bolts to 2BA.

Photos of Flight of the Phoenix Slideshow Add Photo
Sticking the crux move.
Sticking the crux move.
Cruising up the easy finger crack at the start.
Cruising up the easy finger crack at the start.
Mid-flight on the crux move.
Mid-flight on the crux move.
Mid-slap, just before the crux throw.
Mid-slap, just before the crux throw.
The final tricky move above the crux.
The final tricky move above the crux.
Comments on Flight of the Phoenix Add Comment
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By Ben Schmitt
Feb 7, 2013
rating: 5.14b 8c 33 X+ E9 7b

Thanks for posting this, it is still a project as far as I know. I've one fallen on it probably 15 times over the years but never sent. So, jump on it! The crux clocks in around V11, which seems to be the consensus, and the top is about 12c to the anchors up and right, rather than the ones directly up in the middle of the wall. Maybe 14b? Who knows? I had originally dubbed this the "Indolentia" project, which in Latin means "freedom from pain", which is fitting, because the boulder problem is big moves between decent holds, rather than mono madness.

By Train4life
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 9, 2013

That sounds Amazing! I'd love to ask your beta sometime! I think it's great, and do you want me to change the name? I would be more than happy to!

By Ben Schmitt
Feb 10, 2013
rating: 5.14b 8c 33 X+ E9 7b

I'm always more than willing to give what beta I've found, I'll write something up here when I have a little more time. The name can be whatever the first ascentionist wants, it was just the one that stuck, so until it's sent, it's probably irrelevant. I'm glad you are excited about it!

By Train4life
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 13, 2013

Thanks! I will not be the 1st, but I feel the name Venom would be perfect, because it is right by Carnage and would complete the Spiderman enemy duo. But thanks for updating, Ben!

By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 19, 2013

For me, this is by far the hardest route at Shelf. This took me significantly longer to climb than any other Shelf route. That said, I'm not very good at this type of climbing. Shelf's other .14s suit me much better. I wouldn't be surprised if a strong boulderer found this to be easier than the relatively pumpy Apogee Pending or the highly technical 'Paradise'. I also wouldn't be surprised if future climbers decide this is sandbagged. This is one of those weird routes like Dumpster BBQ that seems to get harder the more you try it.

By Jerad Friedrichs
From: Colorado Springs
Feb 21, 2013

Nice work, Mark! I remember working that crux (a little above my ability) and thinking the same thing, that it was rather Rifle-esque.

By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 27, 2013

I put together a short video of the climb. Check it out here.

By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Mar 19, 2014

In the year or so since I did this, I've had the chance to travel around a bit and try some other routes of similar style and difficulty. Based on those routes, I'm beginning to think this is more like .14b. Time will tell, but for now I've changed the grade here to .14a/b.