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The Crestones
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Kit Carson / The Prow 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: ?Paul Spanjer & Jody Schoberlein, July, 1980? [Alan Haverfeld and Dave Mazel, early 1980s]
Page Views: 19,541
Submitted By: Todd Bauck on Jan 1, 2001

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BETA PHOTO: Near head on view of The Prow from the south.

Description 

The Prow is the prominent "Fin" that rises along the southwest ridge of Kit Carson Mountain. The rock is beautiful "Crestone conglomerate", basically smooth, consolidated lava and granite with big jugs all over the place. They look like they could just break off in your hand, but when you grab them they are very solid.

Ascend up to the base of The Prow on 3rd class terrain. The climb starts with a hard to protect, 5.8 move up a bulge with a few loose blocks. After that, the route finding and climbing is easy - just stay on the Prow. The remainder of the climbing never exceeds 5.6. However, you are climbing on the conglomerate knobs that sometimes break off. There are a few false summits along the way. Eventually, you will arrive at a large ledge that will allow you to ascend Challenger Point (to the west) or Kit Carson (to the east by 3rd class climbing). The best option is to continue straight up for another low 5th class pitch to the summit of Kit Carson.

Keep in mind that protection can be hard to find.

For the descent, head east for about a mile (climbing over another peak) to a broad valley (lowpoint between Kit Carson and Ellingwood) that will allow you to return back to your camp. Do not try to cut back too early or you will be descending some scary looking slabs.

Per lordokol:

Scramble 3rd class to the base of the fin. This route is very committing, and there are very little options for retreat. Once you're on, you're on.

P1 of the route is about a 60 foot, 5.6 ridge that can be simul-climbed. It ends at an obvious, overhanging headwall. This is where the second pitch, and the crux, starts.

P2 climbs up this head wall, one or two 5.8 moves. Some guidebooks say to go right once above this headwall to avoid a bulge. As long as you don't go too far right for too long, this might be OK. I think it would be best to just stick to the ridge. I went too far right and ended up on some of the scariest 5.11 unprotected face climbing I've ever seen. 60' run-out on sloping holds with 1000 feet of air below you = not too fun (unless you are sick in the head).

The rest of the pitches follow the ridge to the summit, mostly 5.6 to 5.7 moves all the way. The rock is solid and the exposure is real. Towards the top the climbing eases off to a 4th class, knife edge ridge and meets with the trail to Challenger Point. From here, belay from next to the trail and take the headwall directly in front of you to the summit (easy 5.6).

This is a GREAT, fun climb.

Getting There 

There are various approaches to this climb that have been used, including the Spanish Creek, Willow Lakes, and South Colony Lakes trailheads.

Spanish Creek Trailhead - recommended for The Prow and possibly South Couloir

Per Stich & lordokol :

Going south on US 285 in the San Luis Valley, turn left on CO 17 (near Mineral Hot Springs) and drive 11.8 miles to the entrance of Baca Grande Chalets Grants. This is Camino Baca Grande Road. Turn right and follow this paved road until it turns into a dirt road (3.6 miles to the trailhead). You will cross Crestone Creek at 0.8 miles and Willow Creek at 2.2 miles. The next creek you get to is Spanish Creek. Keep an eye out on the left for a sign for the Buddhist Monastery. The pink dome is clearly visible from the parking area. Stop just before going over Spanish Creek.

There is a pullout on the left and on the right several hundred feet after the road into the monastery (~8300'). A small sign reads "Hua Foot Path" going uphill at the left pullout. There is a Buddhist Monastery here, so please pass by quietly and respectfully.

The trail follows the creek, crossing back and forth six times. Your first crossing is a wooden plank. Cross then go back to the right and up the embankment. Pass a steel pipeline and a half-buried structure. Walk along the creek and keep an eye out for cairns and more foot bridges made from logs. BRING BUG SPRAY!

You will cross left and right over the creek five more times with the final crossing leaving you on the left side of the creek. At this last crossing, you will see a feeder creek coming down a slope and a path going back the way you came. Take this path, and it will turn back uphill in the right direction. If you miss it, climb uphill until you find the main trail again.

Anytime you find yourself bushwhacking, zig-zag back and forth uphill until you find the path. Cairns will occur frequently along the trail. It is best to hike it during the light, as the subtle trail is difficult to see in poor light.

You will start to leave the creek and be up high to the left of it. Eventually you will come to a brighter area and get your first glimpse of The Prow. This is the start of the blow down area where hundreds of trees were felled in a strong wind event years ago. Rocks sitting on the trees show where to cross the easiest.

When you get almost directly below The Prow's lower buttress, you will see cairns leading steeply uphill and also continuing to follow Spanish Creek. Camp in this area if you intend to bivy. There are many nice, grassy meadows within the pines here. From treeline, it's a simple line to the base of the Prow.

Willow Creek Trailhead - not recommended for The (South) Prow, only for The North Ridge or Outward Bound Couloir

Per Todd Bauck: The approach may be the crux. South of Salida and North of Monte Vista, along US 285, head south on CO 17. Go east on 1 Rd to the town of Crestone. From the town of Crestone, drive south for 3.5 miles on Camino Baca Granda. Park close to the ashram (solar powered, ~9100') which is just north of Willow Creek. The approach follows Willow Creek on a trail that is faint at times. Start on the south side of the creek for the first 1/4 mile. Plan on fording the creek a few times. It would be hard to do this climb in a day from the road due to the approach (5+ miles). Basically, the trail follows the creek for a few miles until the trail leaves the creek and follows an old road (North of the creek). Camp near treeline at approximately 11,000' directly below The Prow. Note: Some of the approach is on private property. Please be a courteous visitor.

Protection 

Single set of nuts and cams up to a #3 Friend. Narrow profile cams like Aliens work best.


Photos of Kit Carson / The Prow Slideshow Add Photo
Road to Crestone.
Road to Crestone.
Looking back at the large "Dr. Seuss" gendarme on our third pitch of the route. July, 2010.
Looking back at the large "Dr. Seuss" gendarme on ...
The Prow, February 3, 2013.
The Prow, February 3, 2013.
Heading up pitch one, above the crux. George is going right after the roof which is a bit steeper. I've always gone left at the huge, white cobble above the roof. July, 2010.
Heading up pitch one, above the crux. George is go...
Kit Carson, seen from Challenger Point, February 3, 2013.
Kit Carson, seen from Challenger Point, February 3...
The second pitch, which begins with a short boulder problem.  Warren only placed one RP between where he is now and the fixed piece, about 40' higher.
The second pitch, which begins with a short boulde...
We chose to rope up for this pitch before the crux pitch.
We chose to rope up for this pitch before the crux...
The first part of the crux pitch.  At this point or a little higher you want to traverse to the right.  This pitch is by far the steepest on the entire climb (probably 60-70 degrees overall).
The first part of the crux pitch. At this point o...
I believe this is the 'bulge' that is mentioned in several comments.  This belay was the end of our third pitch.
I believe this is the 'bulge' that is mentioned in...
The prow as viewed from near the end of the approach.  The red arrow points to a climber in the party ahead of us free soloing the pitch before the crux.
The prow as viewed from near the end of the approa...
The west side of The Prow from the approach.
BETA PHOTO: The west side of The Prow from the approach.
South Couloir, winter.
South Couloir, winter.
The top of our 3rd pitch, with the top of the first step visible below.
The top of our 3rd pitch, with the top of the firs...
Nearing Kit Carson Avenue, which is the ramp rising from the lower right corner of the photo.  The actual summit is on the right side of the photo.
Nearing Kit Carson Avenue, which is the ramp risin...
Tamara ready to tackle P3.
Tamara ready to tackle P3.
The final few feet of the climb, taken just 100' from the summit.  You can see the entire lower Prow in the sun on the left side of the photo.
The final few feet of the climb, taken just 100' f...
Listen to the warnings regarding bug-spray!!!
Listen to the warnings regarding bug-spray!!!
Profile of the route. The "notch" toward the bottom is the 5.8 crux.
BETA PHOTO: Profile of the route. The "notch" toward the botto...
The start of the Prow's technical climbing. The 5.8 roof start is in the dark, overhanging rock in the bottom of the photo (not completely visible). July, 2010.
The start of the Prow's technical climbing. The 5....
This is an example of the very green approach.  Beautiful to look at, but watch out for mosquitos during the hot Summer day!
BETA PHOTO: This is an example of the very green approach. Be...
Aaron Wait (and a nearly hidden Stephen Schmid).
Aaron Wait (and a nearly hidden Stephen Schmid).
Mark Sokol traversing on The Prow after the first gendarme.
Mark Sokol traversing on The Prow after the first ...
South Couloir, Kit Carson, winter 2013.
South Couloir, Kit Carson, winter 2013.
The crux of the approach, where you must step over several hundred downed trees in a burned area.  The Prow lurks in the background.
The crux of the approach, where you must step over...

Show All 26 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Kit Carson / The Prow Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 29, 2013
By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 29, 2001

The Prow on Kit Carson is one of the best alpine rock climbs in Colorado- I think it is much better than the more famous Ellinwood Ledges on nearby Crestone Needle. The approach is actually up Spanish Creek, not Willow as stated in the route description. Check out the 7.5 minute Crestone Peak quad and the Prow is quite obvious coming due south from the summit. The route is a striking, plumb-line arete which can be followed directly to the summit. An alternative descent from the summit is to scramble a very short ways E-NE and descend the gully east of the Prow- some moderate downclimbing is involved, but with good routefinding you should be able to avoid anything too hard or exposed (I've taken Outward Bound patrols down this with full packs). In September the raspberries in Spanish creek drainage are outrageous. Be aware that several people have lost their lives trying to descend the snowfield which leads north into Willow from the notch between Kit Carson and Challenger Point. It is somewhat inviting yet deceptive as it steepens considerably half-way down and is usually icy mid- to late-season...and terminates in a boulder field at the bottom. If you are inclined to descend into Willow, it is probably best to do this from closer to Challenger Point. The large wall left of the Prow has been climbed by numerous routes in the 5.6 to 5.8 range. Routefinding is vague (pick a line), the rock is mostly good, and as is typical of Sangres conglomerate, the protection is sparse. Also, there are several really large (40') conglomerate erratics just above tree line in Upper Spanish that provide excellent climbing opportunities. Finally, it is possible to descend from the top of Spanish (nicknamed "The Golfcourse" by Outward Bounders) into the South Colony Lakes area (below the Ellinwood Ledges, etc.) via a moderate snow couloir that is obvious on the 7.5 quad- but an ice axe is required.
By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 29, 2001

As if I haven't blabbed enough already...The Prow can be climbed car-to-car in a day without undue hardship; consider it about as much effort as your typical Spearhead day. It may be a bit of a bushwack, however, starting up Spanish in the dark if you are unfamiliar with the area. Also, the reference to "Ellingwood" in the descent description may be confusing: the "broad valley" mentioned is most likely what I referred to as the Golfcourse, and the peak you would climb up and over on the "one mile E from the summit" descent is not Ellingwood (Ellingwood Peak is actually far to the south in the Blanca Group) but rather a continuation of the ridge on Kit Carson. The descent which I described (immediately right or east of the Prow) is much shorter, however, and will take you back closer to near where you started the climb. Hardcore 14er-types have climbed the four 14ers in the Crestone Group (Kit Carson, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, and Humboldt) in-a-day.
By Todd Bauck
Jun 29, 2001

I made a mistake. I should have put in Spanish Creek, not Willow Creek (you drive over Willow creek about 2.5 miles from Crestone - it takes you up the other side of Kit Carson)
By Sean Murphy
Sep 4, 2001

OK you read through the route description and the comments below and you get some good but vague information, particularly on the approach and summit descent. Confusing the Willow Creek drainage with Spanish Creek drainage is a BIG mistake (not to mention the reference to Ellingwood) and should be corrected in the route description. The hike in is not that bad. A simple thing to remember is to find the old road and stay on it. It does cross the creek (4-5 times) but there is always a bridge to help you across. Remember, once you find this trail stay on the road. The road ends just below the burn area and the trail is good (lots of cairns) all the way to treeline. Steve is correct about the easy descent from Kit Carson down the South Couloir (also known as Cole's Couloir). You don't want to go into the gully itself but stay on the right hand side (also look for cairns and a faint trail) and it is a cruse (at a leisurely pace it took me a little over a hour to go from the summit to my camp). The "broad valley" that Steve calls "the golfcourse" is usually referred as the Bears Playground (called this because of the long linear "scratch marks" that run down it). I think we need to maintain as much as possible the common accepted names for areas, Bears Playground is a good example. You will find this area referred as this in numerous guide books. Calling it something else only confuses people (as I saw this past weekend with a couple using a copy of this web site as their guide).
By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 5, 2001

Sean, thanks for pointing out more details about this climb and area. I last climbed in the Crestones in the late 80s while a Course Director for Outward Bound, so my memory is a bit fuzzy for details (although I still recall vividly the many excellent unclimbed lines and virgin crags). Things have probably changed since then anyhow; I'm sure the trail up Spanish Creek has improved from the vague path I remember. The Golfcourse is an Outward Bound name, and thus its usefulness is limited. I agree that published (or popularized) names should be used on this site when possible. Regardless of nomenclature, the critical tool for exploring this area is the 7.5 minute USGS quad, which incidentally omits most climbing names altogether.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 14, 2002

Shouldn't we create a new area & rock for this route and others in its area? e.g. Sangre de Cristos, Spanish creek area?
By Anonymous Coward
May 28, 2002

Has anybody climbed the Ellingwood Arete yet this spring? If anybody has been there recently I would appreciate some info on how much, if any, snow is up there and if it would be doable this weekend.
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
May 28, 2002

What up ac? I just did the arete last weekend, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The road that leads to the trailhead is in good, Read: Dry condition, and I drove it all the way in my stock Toyota pickup. It was pretty exciting!!!! I encountered very little ice or snow on the route EXCEPT at the crux!!! Not to worry though, It didn't make it too much harder, and I bet by now it is all gone. Enjoyed the hell out of this route, it don't get much better.
By Warren Teissier
Sep 9, 2002

George Bell and I just got rained out from our attempt to climb the Prow yesterday. Some more beta on the approach:

Spanish Creek Trail is more like 3.5 miles rather than the 5 stated above. After reading all kinds of bad stuff about the approach we were bracing for the worst time of our lives. It is true that it is a rough hike from an aerobic standpoint gaining over 3,000 vert in about three miles (from 8.5 K to 11.5 K ft).

The trail however is not a bushwack at all. We started up the HUA temple footpath sign passing some shrines to our left and following this old road. After a while it narrows but it is cairned ALL the way to Kit Carson. The stream is crossed a few times as stated above and the trail does thin out a few time. Use this simle rule which worked for us: if you lose the trail or your are bushwhacking. STOP, Retrace and you will soon enough find cairns.

The single most excrutiating part besides the butt kicking elevation gain with full packs was the "Old Burn" area starting at 9,500FT and lasting till 10,500. This is an old forest fire section that left large dead trees scattered like match sticks. Here you will have to skip, strattle and go under 316 tree trunks. Yes I counted them on the way back. Obviously this makes for slow going but cairns sit atop tree trunks to guide you through the maze.

There are great camping spots just below tree line and North of the creek. Above tree line boulders abound and marmots await your pack and tent...
By Paul Ivaska
Jul 8, 2003

WE climbed this route on 4th of July weekend. We had the entire Spanish Creek Valley to ourselves and beutiful weather. I would highly recommend bringing mosquito repellent, long sleeves, and pants for the approach. The mosquitos were absolutely brutal for aprox. the first two miles of the approach. If you cache gear at the base of the climb, be sure to put your gear in stuff sacks (doubled). Marmots tore up our climbing shoes!!! Enjoy.
By Anonymous Coward
Jun 19, 2004

We climbed this route the weekend of 6/11/04. I agree with M.S. One of the very best routes I have ever done. Here is some more beta that may help.

Approach: Follow the Hua Footpath, past the Hua Temple onto a faint road heading up the drainage just on the N. side of Spanish Creek. The "road" peters out at a narrow footbridge. Cross the bridge, and follow the faint trail up and a bit left through the rose bushes to another "road". Exit onto the road and look left, you should see the creek. Cross the creek to its S. side and continue up the trail, crossing the creek several times. After 6 or so crossings (and when you are one the N. side of the creek), look for the trail to take a hard left away from the creek. After this the trail is easy to follow.. Do not bushwack. If you do, back up, and look to the left or right for the trail. I have done this 3 times and finally have it dialed, but it is a bit tricky. Crossing the old burn is not that bad, and judicious cairn-following from this point on will be to your advantage.

The Climb: We started at the point on the ridge (looking from the east) where the talus is interrupted by steeper, more solid rock right on the skyline. Two pitches of easy climbing will also bring you to the "official" 5.8 start.

We did the climb to Kit Carson Ave. in 9 pitches (200 m rope), with some simulclimbing on easier upper pitches. Lots of solid but spooky climbing on this route.

Finish: Guidebooks suggest a number of possible finishes, but I HIGHLY recommend just continuing straight up the distinct, S. facing buttress/fin that is right in your face as you exit the Prow on KCA. Do not miss this pitch! It provides 200 more feet of excellent climbing and offers more pro than the lower pitches...a welcomed change! After this pitch (5.5ish), 200 feet of 4th class brings you to a 20' knife edge traverse to the small, spectacular summit.

Descent: We downclimbed the E. gully and S. couloir (mid June). Very straightforward descent. This couloir never exceeds 30 degrees or so.

Random notes: Some of the published descriptions of this route may be misleading. For example, Roach describes a "bulge dodge" that one must avoid to the right. Careful, I never found this, and an attempt to move right down low may get you off route, or worse (see comments of M. S. above). The best advice I can give is to bust the 5.8 move, and follow your nose right up the face of the Prow to the top.
By Warren Teissier
Aug 9, 2004

We finally did this climb on Sunday 8/8/04.

Very cool route. The descriptions above were pretty much on target. A couple of comments:

- The 5.8 start is at 13,000 ft. For some reason even though I knew the Prow came close to the summit I never did the math to the start... So as you ponder your capabilities to do this route remember that the whole affair will take place between 13K-14K ft.

- It is mentioned in the above comments that the route is run out. Now, I am used to Flatiron run outs and I have to say that the Prow run outs, particularly the first two 60m pitches, make climbing in the Flatirons feel over protected. We experienced 40-50 foot run outs sometimes on questionable gear (#2 RP). After the crux of pitch two there is a fixed cam on the left side of the arete under a flake. I was very thankful for this. As mentioned, the rock is good and the climbing reasonable (5.6-5.7) but it also assumes that you find the correct line which is not obvious.

- This is one of those climbs where it is terrifying as you're in it and exhilirating when you are done. Great alpine adventure on an awesome looking remote rock.

WT
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 10, 2004

This route was a blast! More important than being able to lead 5.8+ on this route is being able to run it out on 5.6-5.7, and route finding ability. On the crux pitch, it is possible to take a nasty fall, over 50 feet I would estimate. If the rock were at all suspect, this pitch would be way scary. Fortunately the rock seemed excellent and it's just a matter of keeping your head together and not climbing into a holdless area. Still, these runouts were the hardest section of the climb for me. Beyond the second pitch, things get a lot easier. Long runouts but great holds all over the place.
By Legs Magillicutty
From: Littleton
Jan 13, 2006

Has this been climbed in the winter? The route is free and clear of snow and/or ice as of the 1st week of January.What direction does the Prow face? Might be nice to be able to climb it without the threat of the summer thunder storms.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 14, 2006

I don't know if the Prow has been climbed in winter. It faces south so on the right day might be almost bearable. The technical climbing is all above 13K however, so it is unlikely to be above freezing in the winter. If windy it could turn nasty real fast.

Normally there would be a lot of snow on the approach but I guess not this year so far. If you just want to avoid thunderstorms, I'd choose September or October, maybe even May after a dry winter.
By Ben Bruestle
From: Pueblo, CO
Apr 6, 2006

Alan Haverfeld and Dave Mazel, both of the SLV, had the FA on The Prow in the early 1980s.
By Kevin Craig
Mar 25, 2007

Don't know if it has been before, but The Prow was climbed this calendar winter (3/11/07) by guide Marc Beverly and Cynthia Adams from New Mexico.
By Paul Spanjer
Jun 12, 2008

FYI Jody Schoberlein (sp?) and I climbed this route in July 1980.
By hunter
Jul 10, 2008

Did this in early July and one key thing has changed since I was up there two years ago. There is now a Private Property "No Access", "No Camping" sign at the creek right after you hit the "Old Road" maybe 1/3 of a mile in.
Note that this is well past the temple foot path which is private but has never been posted as no access. The sign is large but kind of eco-colored so it is not totally obvious. The name of the owner (another temple) was on the sign but I can't remember it.

If this access stays closed my thought is that South Colony is probably the next best bet short of climbing in from Willow lake.

Hunter
By scotthsu
From: Los Alamos, NM
Oct 10, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

Trip report of our climb of the Prow on Aug. 18, 2007. We tagged Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak, Columbia Point, and Obstruction Peak while we were up there.
By J. Ivan Locke
From: Taos, NM
Oct 12, 2009

Anyone out there have any comments on the recent (or not so recent, it has been about two years now) developments with the private land issue in the mouth of Spanish Creek Canyon?
I am wondering if this is an issue the Access Fund is aware of, or if it is of little importance to most people who frequent this drainage, in other words, if it is just a question of being stealth and ignoring these obnoxious signs? I am putting this out there to maybe start a dialogue with like minded folks who have always gone in from the Crestone side. I find it insulting that someone could get away with blocking access to one of my favorite trails in Colorado.
Any responses would be appreciated.
vampyreworks@gmail.com
By slim
Administrator
Oct 12, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

A good friend of mine did The Prow about a month ago, and he didn't mention any problems, other than the tedious deadfall hurdling.
By Steve Bonowski
Aug 11, 2010

Both the Spanish Creek and Cottonwood Creek trails from the west side of the Crestones are closed to public access. Reason is that the trailhead areas for both trails are on private property; the Cottonwood Creek trailhead in fact has two different owners.

The CMC has engaged in discussions for the past couple years about access to Cottonwood. We hope to have another meeting this fall with the owners and with Saguache County government.

For the October 12 poster, it's not a matter of being "stealth" nor should it be considered an "insult" that some people are protecting their private property rights. It is a matter of respecting private property rights and engaging in courteous dialogue with the owners.

For Spanish Creek in particular, the trail is no longer signed by the road and there is no parking available along the road. My understanding is that the road itself is private and is not a county road.
By J C Wilks
From: Loveland, CO
Sep 12, 2010

We went in from the South Colony Lakes side a couple of weeks ago. We did not break any speed records. Camping at the obvious site on upper SCL, right off the trail next to a long slab I don't recommend. I've stayed there twice, and it must be the windiest spot in the whole cirque. It's probably better on the west side of the lake or down a little lower. The ridge from the Humboldt saddle to the Bear's Playground is easy, but it has a bit of route finding challenges. So if you have a bit of time, you might want to check it out before doing the South Prow.

On the first pitch, after the first pocket, the second pro placement slot went like a stack of coffee table sized books on ballbearings. It was so loose the rope drag pulled it off. So, now it's just a bit more spicy. They may have knocked off a loose hold on the last 4th class move at the end of the approach ramp (recommended) that comes in from the right. Later on I used a BD #3 micro stopper twice and was glad to have it in a couple of perfect slots above long runouts. The rock is composed of an incrediblely wide variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary cobblestones bound together by extemely solid sandstone. We descended the South (Cole's) Couloir with no snow, which is loose scree and talus with a handfull of steep drops which didn't require rappels. Did not see one mosquito.
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Sep 13, 2010

We went in from S. Colony; 13.5 hours camp-to-camp (including a jaunt to Challenger, and returning over Columbia). I had scoped out the approach 2 weeks earlier.

J C Wylks wrote: "On the first pitch, after the first pocket, the second pro placement slot went like a stack of coffee table sized books on ballbearings. It was so loose the rope drag pulled it off. So, now it's just a bit more spicy."

I thought the first moves off the deck were really tough for 5.8. I think I saw the pile of rock that fell off; I thought someone had built up a pile of cheater rocks at the base. Did those rocks come off the very start of the route, in the first moves right off the ground? If so, I'd be curious if someone who has previously climbed it thinks that the start has changed significantly now.
By J C Wilks
From: Loveland, CO
Oct 11, 2010

They were after the initial moves, where you are more on your feet. It shouldn't make the climb harder, just less pro and a bit harder in that spot. The crux is still the same.
By Don Morris
From: Denver, CO
Oct 13, 2010

Entered via Spanish Creek Trail. Locals in the area are friendly and request that you ask permission from the Zen Center to gain access to the National Forest. My understanding of Buddhism is that the physical world is not to be held too tightly, since existence is existential. I think it would be against Buddhist teaching to covet land or any physical space for oneself. For those who want to say it is closed, I will not tell you how beautiful the trail is.

My thought on CMC negotiating trail access is they were not much help with Culebra Peak, turning a mountain into an amusement park ride with a stiff entrance fee. If you think mountains should be like coastlines, with public access, then Google 'Culebra Peak Operation Dark Snake III' to regain a sense of freedom.

Back to The Prow - some ice on the lower buttress, dry on The Prow and snow filling in Kit Carson avenue. I found protection to be small cams and nuts, slings and up to #3.
By Nate Reynolds
Jul 4, 2011

A few clarifications to some of the prior posts:

The Spanish Creek access is through private land belonging to both the ashram and Crestone Mountain Zen Center, and the access situation is tenuous. Please be respectful and understand that this is their watershed and a kindness that they allow de-facto access through their land. Don't camp at least until you hit Forest Service land (marked) a fair distance up the canyon.

To say that this is a reasonable car-to-car climb is a stretch. The trail is horrific, and you should expect swarms of mosquitoes even in drought conditions. The approach is fairly easy to find and the climb generally easy for the grade though the R rating might also be a stretch. R/X would be more appropriate for the crux pitch. The largest piece I used was a #2 and the majority small to medium nuts and TCUs.
By Drew McLean
From: Colorado
Aug 1, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

We climbed this today after hiking in last night. This is a classic Colorado alpine route. Loved the entire thing. I think that a car to car in a day would take more out of you than Spearhead in a day as the approach has its share of obstacles. I would only consider this after having done the hike a few times.

The first pitch "5.8R" seemed to consist of pulling on jugs through an overhang with not much feet and then making a rather awkward mantle. It felt a bit stiff for 5.8. Definitely old school. As everyone else said, the rest of the climb is easy but not well protected. I definitely encountered 40 run outs on 5.6 terrain where you are well out of the "R" rating into "R/X".

These are all reasons why you should get off your ass and go climb it.
By Roger from Ouray
Aug 20, 2011

We climbed the Prow as two ropes of two on Aug. 18th. If you're deterred by tales of mosquitos, then this is your year; there are NONE! We did the Hua path approach and had no issues. The trail is easy to follow, and if you lose it, look around, it's easy to find again. The deadfall/blowdown is impressive and a pain in the ass. Good camping to be found beyond this section. There is a big pullout just on the north side of Spanish Creek. We had two trucks there for two days. When we returned and sat by the vehicles for a beer, people coming by were only friendly and waved.
I did the crux with a good size pack on, and I would say it is 5.8, no harder. Once past the initial moves, go left to easier climbing. After this pitch (I ran out the full 60m), the climbing is pretty easy; no harder than 5.6, and usually easier. Stay on the arete. When you reach Kit Carson Ave., a large ramp, definitely do the "headwall" to the summit. Easy climbing, spectacular, well protected compared to the rest of the route.
I had a set of Camalots #0.3 to #2, and used one RP and small/medium stoppers up to 1/2".
By Andy Thien
Aug 29, 2011

I'll second Roger's comment that there are currently no mosquitos.

Regarding pro, I found sizes #0.5, 0.75, and 1 BD Camalots to be the pieces I used the most.

Also, I lost a 0.75 (green) Omega Pacific Linkcam somewhere between the third and fourth pitches. I know it's a long shot, but if someone happens to find it (marked with red and black tape), I'd really appreciate getting it returned to me and would happily offer cash in exchange. Thanks.
By jjjust
Jun 5, 2012

By bap
Sep 9, 2013

Was considering doing this climb if the weather continues to hold, but I had a couple of questions:
1. Can someone provide a little more information on the descent?
2. Would you recommend boots or shoes for the descent? I usually do routes that you can rap off of (the Petit Grepon).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
By cslice
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Sep 29, 2013

Has anyone does this climb in early October? I'm thinking about an ascent, as long as I can get a warm day and the route is clear (or mostly clear) of ice. From my research, it seems the climb is mostly south-facing...though the crux might be in the shade. Does anyone know how I can find out details on current conditions? Thanks.