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Grand Giraffe 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 5 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Layton Kor and George Hurley, 1960, FFA - John Thomas, ~1962-63
Fixed Hardware: 2 Lead Pins [details]
Page Views: 12,253
Submitted By: George Bell on Aug 7, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (117)
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Matt Robertson heads up the colorful first pitch o...

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  • Description 

    This is a famous route, not often done these days because of the dreaded word - "Offwidth". The name is a play on words of the even more famous Grand Jorasse in the Alps. It protects well with some big gear and is not at all runout like some of those Yosemite monster cracks.

    P1: This route starts from the top of the lower ramp, from the same place as Ruper. Head up the start of the Rover dihedral, until an obvious crack shoots off left before the Rover dihedral becomes hard. There are some pins in this awkward crack (as I recall), which is 5.9 for a short section.

    P2: This is an easy pitch (5.4) which follows a ramp and wide crack leftward to the base of the dreaded, right-facing corner of the Grand Giraffe (which breaches the roof left of Art's Spar).

    P3: This is the crux, and the difficulties start immediately. As I recall, there is a piton right away. At the start you can chimney the crack, with your back against the left wall, but soon the footholds on the right disappear. If you are a weenie like me, place a big Camalot above you at this point, which gives you a toprope for the crux. Struggle up through the crux and place your other big piece.

    Although the upper part of this crack looks intimidating, I found the crux to be the first 15'. Near the top you have to climb the main part of the overhang, but there is good pro and holds here. Belay at the Upper Ramp.

    From here the route continues above the Upper Ramp via two more fun pitches (5.7, but mildly runout). Cross the upper ramp to the upper end of a huge cave, 4th class (lower end is the start of upper Ruper and Alice in Bucketland).

    P4: Head straight up for 75', then traverse right and then up to a belay below a roof line.

    P5: The final pitch angles up and left, crossing the roofline at it's left edge, then continues up and right to the saddle between T1 and T2.

    Protection 

    Standard rack to 3", plus some big gear will make this route comfy, say a #4.5 and a #5 Camalot.


    Photos of Grand Giraffe Slideshow Add Photo
    Upper Grand Giraffe.
    Upper Grand Giraffe.
    Steep and juggy!
    Steep and juggy!
    Janet on the excellent 5.6 P5 of Grand Giraffe.
    Janet on the excellent 5.6 P5 of Grand Giraffe.
    Ooooooh!
    Ooooooh!
    In the offwidth. Photo: M Roth.
    In the offwidth. Photo: M Roth.
    Cindy leading the 2nd pitch.
    Cindy leading the 2nd pitch.
    Tony Bubb follows up the the base of the offwidth ...
    Tony Bubb follows up the the base of the offwidth ...
    P2.
    P2.
    On the upper Giraffe.
    On the upper Giraffe.
    Chicken wings are sounding good about now . . . .
    Chicken wings are sounding good about now . . . .
    Wade leading P1.
    Wade leading P1.
    Matt Robertson a little further up the colorful fi...
    Matt Robertson a little further up the colorful fi...
    Wade leading the P3 grovelfest.
    Wade leading the P3 grovelfest.

    Comments on Grand Giraffe Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 6, 2014
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 8, 2001

    I should point out that the first pitch as I describe it is often split into two pitches (this is the way Rossiter describes it).

    Eldo hard men will also lead this route with nothing bigger than a #3 Camalot. If you are solid at this grade and willing to run it out a bit you really don't have to bring any large gear.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Nov 19, 2001

    Starting with Slimy Spoon to the Lower Ramp and then the Grand Giraffe to the Upper then Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors makes for a great yet moderate link up with a huge variety of climbing from juggy face to fingers to offwidth.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jan 13, 2002

    I think a #3 Camalot is plenty for the crux of this route, the pin offers good pro and then there is a good spot for the #3 about six or seven feet above. If I had brought a #4, I don't think I would have even used it and I suck at offwidth...
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 22, 2002

    I think I'm comfortable doing this pitch without any offwidth gear because I place a #3 Ballnut where you exit the crack and move onto the face. I've fallen out of the crux a few times (onto the pin) and still don't ever take a #4 Camalot when I do this route knowing full well that I will probably fall off of it again. It is all a matter of person comfort level. A #4 or #4.5 would definitely make it feel safer, I wonder what Layton Kor used on the FA in 1960?????
    By Anonymous Coward
    Feb 1, 2003

    The smallest Alien (.33) will also fit perfectly in the crack at the roof in lieu of the #3 Ballnut listed in a previous comment. Otherwise, it is nice to have a #4 and #4.5 Camalot.
    By Rich Farnham
    Apr 21, 2003

    I would not head up to onsight this pitch without a #5 Camalot unless you are very comfortable in offwidths. It is conceivable that once you know the moves, rests, etc. you could do it comfortably without it, but (for me anyway) it is a daunting and awkward climb and having the #5 to essentially keep you on TR is reassuring. The pin comes just before the crux OW moves, and does seem solid. The #4 goes in a little below it, just in case. A few moves/grunts into the crux you can get the #5 in over your head and bump it along with you all the way to the bulge 20' above. If you are tall like me, you can also get a #4.5 deep in the crack a few feet above the pin, as you move into the crux. All told, singles of the #4, #4.5, and #5 make this pitch as comfortable as OW can be.

    This route is fantastic and should not be avoided because of the OW. The lower pitches are great, the exposure is thrilling, and the OW is not that bad (I actually really enjoyed it).
    By Cassidy Hill
    May 12, 2003

    I recommend placing some gear right away, then run it out of you like. Or, place a big cam, whatever. Just don't trust that pin, it is old and awkwardly driven. No telling how good it is. Beautiful route. Have Fun!
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 27, 2003

    Bring one #4.5 Camalot, or like size. You don't need anything else other than a #4.5 for the crux to back up the pin. Nothing bigger than a Tech Friend #3.5 or Camalot #3 is needed for the other pitches. Double TCUs and stoppers are ideal. Be wary of the expando flake below the first pins on pitch 2. This is a seriously huge chunk of rock fixing to go -- tread lightly through this section!
    By Scott Conner
    From: Lyons, CO
    Jul 16, 2003

    Great route. I thought the best pitch was actually the 5.9 left angling crack pitch (that breaks off from the Rover dihedral), though it's all excellent. The upper pitches are fun and also make a good alternative to upper-Ruper if crowded.

    The crux was desperate for me and I was glad to have a #4 and #4.5. No Grand Giraffe onsight for me... Dang-it!
    By David Conlin
    May 23, 2004
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    We did Grand Giraffe's first three pitches to Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors. This combo makes for a stellar day.

    P1. 5.9 - There is a parallel crack just to the left of the upper part of this crack. I stayed in the crack on the right, but using the other crack might make it a bit easier. I really enjoyed this pitch.

    P2. 5.6 (5.4 according to Rossiter) - this must've been the toughest 5.4 I've ever done. More like 5.6.

    P3. 5.10a - my partner, Mike Flanagan, led this with a #3 & #3.5 Camalot. He fit the #3.5 below the pin for a decent (although not ideal) placement. He used the #3 higher in the constriction. It did not walk (though could have). Look for high footholds out on the right face as you move through the crux. At the roof, a blue Alien fits decently.

    P4. 5.8s - Body Tremors.

    P5. 5.10a - Smoke & Mirrors.
    By David Conlin
    May 23, 2004
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    PS: This is a good choice in the morning in the summer. We were in the shade nearly the whole day.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 12, 2004

    Not bad, but not my favorite Eldo route. Even though I am a Vedauwoo offwidth fan I would recommend saving this one for later. If you want the beta on pro, the above comments are terrific!
    By L. Hamilton
    Nov 20, 2004
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    The 1970s gear beta for the crux pitch, back when this was a classic 5.8, was to trust the pin (and don't fall) for the first crux, then bring along one #10 hex for the upper part -- where it slotted in place "like a key in a lock." No worries about that walking out.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Apr 18, 2005

    Has anyone used BigBro's to protect the OW crack? If so, what size? I am guessing they may get in the way while climbing, or the crack might flare too much. They would be easier to carry than large cams.

    By Jim Logan
    Jul 20, 2005

    In 1968 the Grand Giraffe was rated 5.8 and I climbed it with Pat Ament and Royal Robbins. Royal announced that we were going to take no pitons and use only chockstones that he had brought back from England. This was to be the first time nuts were used in Colorado. After thinking over the fixed pins already in place, I thought it would be OK and joined them. We never protected the 5.8 offwidth at that time and it turned out to be Royal's lead. He stopped in the middle of the crux, turned around and looked down at us, and said " this is the hardest 5.8 I have ever done." He then turned back around and finished with no problem. I believe the gear we had were mostly Pecks and Moacs as stoppers and hexes were far in the future.
    By BWpete
    Aug 22, 2005
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    In reply to the coward. Yes you can use a bigbro, I think it was the blue, but it may have been green. I didn't lead it, or cleanly second it, (it is "harder than Pete") but in desperation and humiliation, I grabbed the big bro and used it like a big old ladder handle. It worked well for then, and now that I am a little better I will say that it is actually good to use a big bro if you are going to bring someone that isn't good with offwidth. What the leader of my party did was had a big bro, and then the old number 5 BD cam, and bumped them up so he didn't have to carry too many pieces. It worked well, and you can protect the whole OW with 2 pieces if you bump them.
    By Danny
    Sep 26, 2005
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Did this the other day and thought it was great. I approached this thinking that the OW was going to a desperate grunt, but found it to be quite good. One thing to keep in mind with the GG is that the crux is very short. Overall, a stellar climb and well worth doing. I would recommend a #4.5 Camalot instead of a #5 and a #3 works well five feet or so below the roof. As for it not being popular (as described in the intro), I started this at 11:30 am and was the third group on it.
    By Shane Zentner
    From: Colorado
    May 15, 2006

    I would bring more than a #3 Camalot for the crux pitch if you're a 5.10 leader such as myself. I backed up the piton with a #4 Camalot (old one) which was a hindrance because I had trouble squeezing into the 'crack'. I managed, though, probably because of my guttoral screams while getting through the crux.
    By Mike fenice
    From: Boulder, CO
    May 30, 2006

    Anyone that just brings a #3 Camalot is on the wrong route or crazy! After you clip the pin you can place a #5 Camalot that works well but a bit tipped-out. You can walk this up the entire route to the top. A big green Friend would also work well here.
    By XOG
    Sep 4, 2006

    Don't overlook upper Grand Giraffe above the Upper Ramp. The climbing is much easier but very fun, and the routefinding is complicated with funky gear. The rock is solid although covered with lichen. Also, on the last pitch it is really nice to climb up and right out of the belay in a dihedral that is much harder looking than it is, instead of up and left according to the route description. Above is one of the nicest easy pitches on hueco jugs imaginable.
    By Ian Wolfe
    From: Fayetteville, NC
    Oct 16, 2006
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I felt the 5.9 pitch was harder than the offwidth pitch. The offwidth looks intimidating from below, but it is really only hard for the first couple feet off the belay. I was expecting something longer and more sustained.
    By Dan Mottinger
    Mar 23, 2007

    Was able to link the first two pitches described here (First three guidebook pitches) into one, stopping just shy of the normal belay ledge. This was with a 70 m rope, which is long enough to make it to the regular belay (a 60 m might work?). Plenty of runners help, although I ended up with a fair amount of rope drag on easier climbing.
    By Dr. Evil
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 10, 2007
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Great route, and easier than I was expecting. I did much more chimneying than using pure offwidth technique.

    Gear beta: a green Big Bro fits well in the wide section.
    By Brian Weinstein
    Feb 25, 2008
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Jim,
    Thanks for sharing some important history about this route. That is part of what makes this site so unique. It's essential to know this kind of history to grasp the roots and spirit of climbing.
    By YDPL8S
    From: Santa Monica, Ca.
    Feb 28, 2008
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    This was one of my first 5.9s (in the 70s), boy did I feel like a hack, OW kicked my ass. At the time it felt like my first Eldo adventure.
    By Guy H.
    From: Fort Collins CO
    Mar 2, 2008

    A #3 Big Bro will protect the crux and a #2 Big Bro will protect the moves through the bulge. The best metal courage would be a #6 FR or C4.

    This is a spectacular wide line, which is really all you knee to know about the crux moves.
    By Eric Goltz
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 20, 2008

    I brought only a #4 for the OW, and I still had it on my harness when I finished the pitch! You're better off bringing a #6 cam and walking that up; since a #4 Camalot doesn't fit anywhere above the (good) pin. Great route!
    By Sergio P
    From: Idaho Springs, CO
    Apr 12, 2009
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    An old style #5 Camalot works great, and a C4 #5 works ok.
    By John Peterson
    Apr 12, 2009

    The absolute best pro is the old Chouinard 6" tube chock. The taper matches the crack exactly.
    By EMT
    May 1, 2009

    You can get good C3/Alien placements out left at the little roof at the end of the OW pitch.
    By Mike McKinnon
    From: Golden, CO
    Jul 6, 2009

    Went up to do this route on the 3rd. Anyone who says you don't need a 5 or 6 for that matter is basically free soloing the whole off-width. I went up with 2 4s and could not find spots for them and was looking at free soloing the whole off-width. I declined and went and cruised Art's Spar which in retrospect is a lot better climb anyways.

    I will go back up there but not without a #5.
    By Theo Colameco
    From: Boulder,Co.
    Sep 10, 2009

    Yeah, I am not a good climber but a happy and grateful climber! I was soo happy to be off to climb GG!! The offwidth section I followed!! [Like most pitches I climb!!] This was verry hard and I'm worse on sport 10s then classic 10s, I think!! The entire route was great!! The offwidth does demand respect!! Unless 5.12 face is a good redpoint for you!! Still a worthy and legendary route!! Thank you climbing Patriarch Jim Logan for your comments!!! They inspired me to say this precautionary tale! Aspiring Eldo 5.10 leaders this is 5.10!!
    By W. Spaller
    From: Boulder
    Nov 27, 2010

    One of the sweetest link-ups I've done to date: Grand Giraffe to Italian Arete to Smoke and Mirrors. Just plain AWESOME.
    By WadeM
    May 3, 2012

    Did the route a couple of days ago and here's what I think:

    Combine first two pitches, kinda awkward but not the crux of the route for me.

    I only ended using one #5 on the width pitch, you can just keep bumping it up and be fine. Walk far enough back and belay off the tree. So bring a #5 and a long sling and go!

    Nice to finish with Italian Arete.
    By Dan Hickstein
    Apr 7, 2013

    That offwidth pitch is tough! I brought a number 5 C4, and I wish that I had brought two. I placed one at the low crux, and then I had to climb back down and get it so that I could use it again to place it for the upper crux. The upper crux is definitely easier, but it's fairly run out above a good #3 Camalot that I placed way back in the crack. There is a fixed knifeblade to protect the lower crux and a yellow Alien in an expanding flake that kinda protects the upper crux, but I was happy to have the #5 C4 to back up these dubious pieces. I can see how people can do this pitch with only #3s, but I would recommend two large cams unless you're feeling especially lucky.
    By Rodger Raubach
    Apr 18, 2013
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

    The FFA was done by John Thomas (physics student at UW in Laramie.), sometime around 1962-63. I was still in the Army when it was done. When I climbed it ~ 1966, it still had an awesome reputation for being the ultimate "hard man" climb in Eldorado Canyon.
    By 419
    From: Denver
    Mar 14, 2014

    You may be able to booty a cam (clean up litter) if you drag a coat hanger up to the offwidth crux. There appears to be a hand-sized Friend laying uncammed in the back of the 5-6 inch crack. It's probably 4 feet beyond arm's reach.
    By Sagar Gondalia
    From: Golden
    Jun 9, 2014
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    The cam has been cleaned. It was an old, rigid stem #2.5 Friend.
    By Mark Oveson
    From: Louisville, Colorado
    Jul 24, 2014

    P1 is 5.9 for more than a short section. Felt pretty sustained to me, with at least two and maybe three distinct 5.9 cruxes.

    P3 is...hard.

    P4 and P5 can be run together in a very long pitch. If you are comfortable simulclimbing a bit, it works with a 60 meter rope. We stayed left and ascended a chimney-like feature with a few old funky pitons. This is a wonderful pitch! A bucket-fest dessert after eating your offwidth veggies.
    By pfwein
    Oct 6, 2014

    My gear/climbing beta for ow: #5 C4, pin (i.e, pin below crux, not lower pin right above or part of belay anchor), bump #5 above pin, do crux move and climb a ways, insert #6, bump #6 a time or two to final position at roof. Can supplement with blue and yellow Metolius Mastercam sizes in flake blow roof. Apparently there is red Alien size to L of roof, but I didn't see it.