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The Whale's Tail
Routes Sorted
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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 

Free Speech 

YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 40'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Mike Brooks (All your routes rock!!!!)
Fixed Hardware: 2 Lead Bolts, 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 1,144
Submitted By: Ken Trout on Dec 28, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (8)
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Matching the left hand next to the right on the ho...

Climbing reopened after flood MORE INFO >>>


Climbers on Free Speech, 5.12a.
Climbers on Free Speech, 5.12a.

There is a bolting ban on this aspect of The Whale's Tail. Luckily for us sport climbers, Mike Brooks got this one done before the ban. It is everyone's right to whine about slippery river polish. Ha! But really, the quality of the rock is excellent, the holds are comfy-smooth, and the approach is world class easy.

A huge stick-clip can be employed to reach the first piece of protection; an ancient ring-angle under the roof. Alternatively, a crash pad makes the start a lot safer too.

The ring-angle piton is the second fixed pin on Spoof and hard to see in the shadows under the roof. Blow off the first pin on Spoof. That way leads to Crazy Town just before you're able to clip the second pin. I prefer my cruxes lower, so instead climb straight up to a slippery, unprotected, 5.9+ undercling up onto a smeary left foot.


Slightly easier high ball bouldering gains the ring-angle piton under the roof. Clip the rope in from the nice hold an inch left of the ring angle (finally!). Back up the old pin by stuffing a purple/0.5 Camalot next to your fingers and the pin.

Begin the sport climbing by leaning out right to clip the first bolt. The crux is basically top-roped. Begin with a tricky toe-hook under the roof, find the left hand undercling, and then get both hands firmly established on river polished slopers.


Launch rightward to a pistol grip that is both comfortable and secure for the next clip. My feet always cut loose after grabbing the pistol grip. The resetting of the right foot is a bit high impact, and it feels awesome as control is regained for the second bolt-clip.

Pistol grip.
Pistol grip.

After clipping the second bolt, your left hand goes into a deeply incut finger-bucket. Get the feet up as high as possible. Paw at the lip with the right hand, then dyno (about 15 degree right of vertical) to a totally hidden mini-pothole that ends the business.

Hard to on-sight!
Hard to on-sight!


#0.5 Camalot, 2 bolts, and a two bolt anchor.

Comments on Free Speech Add Comment
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By Chris O'Connor
From: bouldertown, co
Mar 15, 2007
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

There are currently two pins on before the roof, protecting the slab adequately. I got it on my second try, but pulling onto the slab on top stumped me for a while. This route would be very difficult to onsight, without the beta.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Mar 22, 2007
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

5.11d sounds about right, maybe 5.12a to onsight.
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Oct 28, 2007
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

This route is 12a to onsight, IMO. I can see how someone getting it wired, and then redpointing it, might think it were easier, but is that really how to rate a route with such short business?

If you go up there, onsight, expect it to feel like easy 5.12.
By Dave Cummings
From: Grand Junction, CO
Oct 30, 2007
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

I love this climb. It is so close to the road that it can be a quick outing and as long as you back up the pins it is really safe. If you haven't done this route yet, go do it!
By Dane Casterson
From: Boulder
Feb 24, 2008

How far are the anchors above the second bolt? Are they just above on the slab?
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Jun 19, 2008
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a


The anchors are only a few feet above the second bolt.
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