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Ghost Dancer Arete 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Bob Robertson & Art Wiggins - late 1980s
Page Views: 2,313
Submitted By: jeff haskell on Sep 4, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (6)
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Erik Rieger on the 2nd pitch.

2014 Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


Some fantastic sections on this climb; many of the bolts have been replaced; route finding is not very difficult. The only drawback may be that the approach, lengthy upper section and return hike make for a much bigger day than five pitches would normally require.

P1. Climb unprotected 5.7 to gain a small, right-facing corner. Traverse left to second right-facing corner and belay at the top of this with a single, recently replaced bolt, 80 feet. (The Ripe Stuff heads out left from this belay.)

P2. Step right, then straight up towards the bolts crossing the peg band. The first two have been replaced and this is solid, fun face climbing. Continue up through beautiful rock to many options for a belay.

P3. Clip old bolt (you would be happier if they had replaced this one) and climb a ways to your next piece (mental crux). Continue up to a belay that is about 50 feet below a roof with a crack through it. (We combined P2 and P3 without much difficulty - approx. 180-190 feet combined.)

P4. More great rock leading up to the roof crack (a #4.5 cam was useful here). Above the roof, angle slightly right to a ledge at the base of another peg band, 180 feet.

P5. Cross peg band heading up and left with just a few options for gear (here, the guidebook says offwidth. The only offwidth is a long ways out left? We think that we should have traversed over to that feature.) We turned a small roof directly above the peg to gain a dirty slot. Another 50 feet above, the climbing eases and many ledge belay options exist, 150 feet.

The "pitches" are over but about 800 feet of stepped, bushy terrain remain to gain the rim. Simul-climbing or simul-soloing is recommended to prevent this from becoming an all-day (or all-night) affair. Note: all 5 pitches contain at least short sections of 5.10, but most of the climbing is in the 5.8-5.9 range.


Same approach as for the Russian Arete. Continue up the gully past that route for a couple hundred more feet. Just before a vertical step in the gully the route begins on clean, slabby rock on the left.


Double set of cams, set of nuts, and a few big pieces for pitch 5 offwidth. In addition to the 5 or so bolts on the climb, there are a few fixed pieces. No fixed belays with the exception of the bolt at the base of pitch two.

Photos of Ghost Dancer Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Erik Rieger on the 3rd pitch.
Erik Rieger on the 3rd pitch.
JNelson following pitch one- super-clean rock on t...
JNelson following pitch one- super-clean rock on t...
Spacing out up the canyon while belaying in the mo...
Spacing out up the canyon while belaying in the mo...
Wyatt with the 1st bolt clipped on pitch 2.
Wyatt with the 1st bolt clipped on pitch 2.
Erik Rieger through the crux pitches.  Only about ...
Erik Rieger through the crux pitches. Only about ...
Erik Rieger traversing on the 3rd pitch.
Erik Rieger traversing on the 3rd pitch.
Mary Harlan leading the OW/ roof- no big gear need...
Mary Harlan leading the OW/ roof- no big gear need...

Comments on Ghost Dancer Arete Add Comment
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By Randy Slavin
Sep 12, 2008

This climb is so good! Loved it. Beautiful rock, perfect white stone on the bolted face, gorgeous pewter-grey rock on the steep corner, and steep spicy face-climbing on the next pitch. Short and sweet. Still a lot more of a climbing day than its classic neighbor Russian Arete.
By Bob Robertson
Sep 20, 2008

The old bolt on the third pitch wasn’t replaced, because there is a good small cam placement just to the left of it. When Art and I did the route small cams didn’t exist.
By phil broscovak
Apr 30, 2009

When we did it small cams didn't exist for us either. I do remember some wickedly cool, "text book" tricams, but I don't recall if we even had any cams in those dirt bag days. A couple of decades ago that little bolt on the 3rd pitch actually inspired confidence. All in all a stellar Black Canyon route. It has it all. Great position, phun climbing, a little spice, and a Black Cayoneering style exit. What more could you ask for?
By MikeS
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 24, 2010

Heading to the Black this week, and this is on the list. Any idea as to which big cams are needed for the offwidth pitch? Thanks
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Oct 24, 2010

Yeah, Mike! Get some. Did Ghost Dancer a few years ago, and as far as I remember, we just brought a #4. Short term memory loss may or may not be affecting me though.... Have fun!
By MikeS
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 24, 2010

Thanks, Justin,
Sounds good to me. I'm just psyched that it has new bolts.
Hope you're well. Drop me a line and come down for some climbing in Boulder in Nov.
By MikeS
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 30, 2010

So, to answer my own question: no large gear at all is needed to protect this route. The offwidth is easily protected with two #0.3 cams inside the wide crack. The #4.5 for the roof crack described above was nice, but definitely not necessary. A #3 could be pushed back in there just fine.
It would be nice to replace the old bolt on P3 as the moves above it are a bit runout. I could not find a small cam placement next to it.
This is an excellent route.
By Taylor-B.
From: CO & AK
Nov 15, 2010

A blue/black Alien fits nice approx. 6ft to the left of the old bolt on P3. This is an excellent route.
By erik rieger
From: Nederland, CO
Nov 5, 2012

Spicy, fun, challenging climbing throughout. The OW protects with small gear. Great rock, but there are some large loose blocks and flakes that must be used—the normal Black Canyon spice. There's still 800-1,000' of climbing (up to 5.8, a lot of scrambling) after you finish the offwidth, so absolutely a Grade IV route to the rim.
By MaryH.
From: Carbondale, CO
Aug 30, 2014

This is an awesome, long route, well worth doing! The only addition is that there are 3 more pitches of "real" climbing beyond those described here or in the book. They are easy, but I don't think they are 3rd class- maybe 5.8 at most. Once you complete those, it is pretty quick & easy to simul climb the last 800 feet.
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