2014 Update: Blob Rock, Bitty Buttress, and all seasonal raptor closure areas on U.S. Forest Service land will be re-opened August 1, 2014 for climbing.
Each year, Boulder Canyon raptor nesting area closures are in effect starting February 1st through July 31st at Eagle Rock, Security Risk, Blob Rock, and Bitty Buttress. However, the area is monitored and closures are periodically lifted early (due to no active nest, nest site failure, or early fledging). This monitoring program is a partnership with the Forest Service Boulder Ranger District, Boulder Climbing Community, and Audubon Society. Check back periodically during times of closure for updates. More info at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/arp/recreation.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.
A classic sport climb on the Lower Animal World crag, the route lies on the wall on the far right face of the lower Animal World rock. Well-protected moves on jugs lead up an ever-steeper wall to a fun mantle move just below the anchors.
An excellent route for those of us 5'8" and taller. The reach past the 4th clip may almost be a dyno for some, but once past here the last moves will flow together. You can cut right at the matle or reach high for the chalked hold straight above to the left, have fun. I give this route 3 stars.
As of Saturday (7.20.02) someone chalked two "X" marks on the blocky hold that facilitates the mantle to the left (see previous comment). Although I couldn't make the block move, you may want to be sure to pull or push down on the block and not pull outward. Either that or work the mantle up and right to the anchors avoiding the block entirely.
The rock below the first bolt is crumbly and breaks unexpectedly. I know because I broke off a substantial foothold and fell ten feet to the ground and then another fifteen feet into the talus. So, be careful out there! And, I would recommend always wearing a helmet, as they are rather stylish when tumbling through talus.
By Tony B From: Around Boulder, CO Jun 27, 2003 rating: 5.11a6c22VII+22E3 5c
The mantle up top is easy to the right. I did this yesterday & saw the Xs on the block, so I skipped it and went further right, to the edge of the upper face, just below and to the right of the final anchors. To my surprise, and I mantled up there was a huge, brown, UNCHALKED jug to the right, which made the move somewhat trival if you have the armspan to reach it. I suspect this route derives its name from the "beached whale" move that people do rather than mantle. It's pretty funny to watch, and bound to happen to shorter climbers more often. As for the height-dependency, my 5'4" partner did it, but had to use funkier footwork at the reach to get it, but not dyno at all- look at the slopes be the cracs (sic) to the left and for a good black "eyebrow" sized positive edge just below. This adds a crux to the route, I am sure.
I do the same thing, Tony. Further to the right, there is a better right foot; making the high step/heel hook with the left foot easier, and keeps you from stepping over the rope. The jug you speak of is good, and makes the move more elegant than the 'knee step-whale mantle'.
I'm a short guy, and had no trouble with any of the clips. I couldn't reach that nice jug up top as soon as I would have like though, leaving me to do a 'not quite beached whale' move in order to reach it.
The anchor shuts on Free Willie are beginning to show signs of serious wear. I didn't have any quicklinks with me today -- but two are definitely needed before summer.
PS. There's a new bolted route around the arete about 30' left of Free Willie and 20' right of Jaycene's Dance. It starts up the slightly overhanging left wall of a block-capped, left-facing corner. .9+ (?) past the first two bolts, .9- to the fourth bolt, .7 or so up the slab above (with a 25'-30' runout between the eighth and ninth bolts; small to mid-sized gear optional). 9 bolts total; 80'-90'. Judging by Rolofson's guidebook, the route is a few feet to the right of Familiar Strangers (unless Familiar Strangers has been retrobolted with a new start). [Eds. This is Unfamiliar Strangers.]
Last time I did this route the block with the X held my 200 lbs. Going from the block then up right to the jug Tony mentions above, you do not have to mantle or belly flop (both of which I tried on my non-onsight). Pretty easy if you trust the block (or the bolts). You can rest in the mungy stuff off left before the crux ending, or stay to the right and make it more direct. Pretty cool way to air out yer ass for sure.
As of May 15, 2005, the hanger at the crux traverse, just under the platform before the anchor, is spinning on the bolt. The bolt looks as if it has wiggled out of the rock a bit. There's a narrow quicklink there now where it looks like somebody bailed out before the anchor.
I fell off the platform moves and the hanger held, but this bolt/hangar should [probably] be replaced.
Also: the infamous flake at this crux has been reinforced with epoxy (had time to look while gritting my teeth avoiding it). After the fall I gave the thing a test pull or two and it seems to be pretty solid. Still, better safe than sorry and there's a couple different ways to get up the thing, so might as well avoid it. Just my two cents.
By SirVato From: Boulder May 15, 2006 rating: 5.11a6c22VII+22E3 5c
Awesome route!! The traverse to the anchors was sweet!!! I went to the right and still had to belly flop a bit but, saved the onsight!!
A 4 stars and very fun route with an exquisite mantle just before the top anchors. Awesome! It's a little discrimatory for those that are less than 5'8", at the 4th bolt half way up the climb before the corner break, the move is reachy in nature.
Other than that, it's a must do at Animal World. Pure fun, I had a blast! Will do it again, that's for sure! :)
By Charlie Fried From: New York, NY Jun 19, 2006 rating: 5.11a/b6c23VIII-23E3 5c
This route rocks, I'm 5'4" and had to dyno for the hold above the fourth clip, but I made it. It's a hell of a jump! I couldn't reach the chalked mark up left so I had to do a little crawling myself. The anchors left bolt is kinda weak (I wouldn't TR it from the anchors).
I have climbed this route many times doing the beached whale mantle. Today I was short on gas so instead of the mantle I continued the hand traverse to the right where I was able to stand up casually at the right end of the ledge. Highly recommended.
By Kat A From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO Oct 20, 2007
Thanks to Greg and the "Civil Service Retirement System" for the new bolt anchors.
Short person beta for the getting the hold above the 4th bolt... left heel hook in the rectangular incut; right foot not far from that; left hand on good hold. Then stretch for the jug with right hand. Unless you're brave enough to just dyno for it (I'm not).
I've always been confused as to why this is called "Free Willie". The movie to which the name refers was called "Free Willy", so am I missing some pun or euphemism besides the "beached whale" allusion? A minor quibble, I know. I've never used the block marked 'X'; is the route easier that way? Avoiding it and using the traverse isn't that hard but seems harder than 10. The difficult part about the traverse is that the feet are fairly nonexistent and you have to commit to the ledge and cut your feet loose. This is the best part of the route and this is the point during which the famed ECB--Euro Chalk Blow--should be executed. For those not familiar with the maneuver: after cutting the feet loose, hang casually with one arm, radiating insousiance, reach back and chalk up, grabbing a fistful of chalk, then blow through your fist to create a chalk cloud. At this point, for best effect, a photographer, preferably situated at the anchors of an adjacent climb, should snap a shot in pure 80's style. Wearing spandex improves the effect.
This climb is super pumpy on lead. I have never done the mantel, I just put a heel up then THROW to a left hand jug, or if I can't make it, there is a good sloper there that I work with then pump. Stand up, and you're done. There is a cool little dyno in it as well, which totally makes the climb. I'm 5'6".
Bolt 5 right below the traverse right is looking pretty beat up.
By goingUp Jun 26, 2013 rating: 5.11a6c22VII+22E3 5c
Great route and incredibly sustained. The big flake marked with an x seems fairly stable (epoxy?); however, making those traverse moves without the use of it seems to make the finishing moves substantially more difficult (still very doable). Either way, a must do!
I am 6' tall and had no issue with the first reach, but it felt a little like cheating. I was able to move around the "X" block with no problem. On a less cool note, I did the "beached whale" style finish and then pulled on the anchor. Not my best moment, but I was pumped. Great climb!
By Kevin Gillest From: Arvada, CO 2 days ago rating: 5.11a6c22VII+22E3 5c
Garrett Gillest on "Free Willie" age 8, not quite to the crux