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Head Cheese 

YDS: 5.12d French: 7c Ewbanks: 28 UIAA: IX British: E6 6b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 60'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12d French: 7c Ewbanks: 28 UIAA: IX British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Colin Lantz, 1991
Page Views: 3,768
Submitted By: Adam Holmes on Feb 25, 2002
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Head Cheese lies to the right of the Crack of Dawn (the 10b bolted crack). It's a steep route for Shelf Road on mostly good pockets and crimpers. Facing mostly north, it doesn't get much sun. Trundle up 20 feet to the first bolt. The rock seems solid here but it's a little spooky soloing this far on Shelf Road rock. Move through two steep roof systems with a fairly good rest in between. There are 2 very closely spaced bolts midway up the route. I heard that a clipping jug fell off so a new bolt was added (the bottom of the 2, I think, because it looked different from the other bolts). I only clipped the bottom of the two to avoid a major mid-crux pump. A cool, gymnastic route, this thing deserves more traffic (I've only seen one other party ever try this route).


7 or 8 bolts + anchors.

Photos of Head Cheese Slideshow Add Photo
Start of the steepness.
Start of the steepness.
Steepest route in Shelf!!!
Steepest route in Shelf!!!
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By Dan Durland
Mar 19, 2002

Colin Lantz got the FA on this route. There was a large clipping block that parted from the route and you are correct that the gold shut was added after this happend.

By Peter Beal
From: Boulder Colorado
Mar 19, 2002

I occasionally see a party on this route when I'm out at the Gym but I think the intimidatingly steep nature of the climb scares some away. Definitely a must-do route.

By Jesse Ryan
Nov 9, 2004
rating: 5.12d 7c 28 IX E6 6b

Super Fun Line. Worthwhile. Considered skipping both clips Adam refers to, but took fun falls every time I tried this strategy. Sent after I had the psychological comfort of clipping the goldshut.

From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Sep 8, 2007
rating: 5.12d 7c 28 IX E6 6b

This route looks more intimidating than it really is. The climbing is worth the effort.

By Stefan Griebel
Apr 20, 2008
rating: 5.12+ 7c 28 IX E6 6b

This is a terrific route! The clipping (and climbing!) is burly near the closely spaced bolts, but the fall is into clean air. Traversing above the lip of the roof on those 4 unlikely and amazingly huge pockets will make you smile! A very long draw on the lower of the 2 close bolts could make the redpoint feel less scary.

Also, Andy Wellman and I both felt the last bolt would be much better a few feet to the left. It would still be easy to clip, you have to move left anyway for the final moves, and in its current position, it's very easy to catch a leg behind the rope while dyno-thrutching at the end. No big deal if you stick it, but not so good for falling....

By Colin Lantz
From: Nederland, CO
Dec 12, 2009
rating: 5.12c/d 7c 28 IX E6 6b

Did the FA of this route in the late Spring of 1991. Someone else had bolted the route and it had been sitting undone for several seasons. It had a piece of red webbing on the first bolt which was the accepted signal that someone had bolted the route and was actively working on trying to redpoint it but that they had not yet finished the first ascent. I believe that Lynn Hill was famously quoted as saying that "men feel very territorial. It's like dogs peeing on trees.'' about this practice. I always thought that was the greatest quote. Lynn always said exactly what was on her mind even if it pissed people off, and that really pissed off a lot of people that where putting up new routes during that period. In any case, the route had been sitting for a few seasons and the red webbing was getting faded and old. I had been making inquiries but couldn't find anything out about it, so I took the webbing down and did the route.

I remember that some of the bolts where in the wrong place and that I added some bolts. This probably explains the two bolts close together midway up the route. I also purposely pried off a refrigerator-sized block under the second roof. This thing was hanging on by a thread and probably would have killed someone if it had not been cleaned up by the route equipper. The block landed on my new Feathered Friends down jacket and it exploded into a cloud of feathers that drifted around the base of the Gym all afternoon.

The route was named after my boss and the owner of of JRat, Kevin Furnary. The JRat logo had a rat in it and there was a lot of association of rats and cheese in the company's marketing imagery....hence the name the Head Cheese. Not a climber himself, Kevin was a great boss and an all-around good guy who got forced out of his business in the end by an aggressive East Coast, Mercedes driving, investor who was going to make JRat into the next big success story in the outdoor industry. JRat went out of business in 1992. During my employment at JRat, Kevin allowed me to combine my job as Product Manager with a travel schedule that allowed me to go to Europe and Asia and compete in the World Cup Climbing Competition circuit. Thank you Kevin for all the opportunity you provided me and for being a great friend and mentor.

Colin Lantz, FA Head Cheese, 1991.
Colin Lantz, FA Head Cheese, 1991.

Head Cheese, i.e. Head as in the President of JRat Kevin Furnary, and Cheese as in the rat's love of cheese.
Head Cheese, i.e. Head as in the President of JRat Kevin Furnary, and Cheese as in the rat's love of cheese.

By Robert Buswold
From: Longmont, CO
Aug 3, 2010

Wow, thanks for the history lesson Colin. It's always interesting when a route-name actually has a story behind it. Now I feel more compelled to head out and try this one some day!

By Curt MacNeill
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 26, 2011
rating: 5.12d 7c 28 IX E6 6b

This route at Shelf is your little slice of Rifle. With the exception of the first 20 feet which is a total choss pile, the rock is fairly good. Soloing on the loose rock in the bottom is a bit hollow feeling and spooky. I am guessing that one of these days a death block is going to come down, so be careful. After the first 2 bolts, the climbing gets steep to say the least with several moves where you're horizontal in a ceiling. The moves are big and burly and some of the clips are difficult to make, but the whole upper sector of the route is clean falls. All in all, a great route and a bit different and gymnastic like for Shelf Road. Super fun and should see alot more traffic in the years ahead....