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Montezuma Tower
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North Ridge 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, 2 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: U.S. Army climbers, 1950s, FFA: Harvey Carter, 1950
Page Views: 15,646
Submitted By: Darin Lang on Aug 24, 2001

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As seen July, 2006.
Seasonal Closures - some are lifted MORE INFO >>>

Description 

Super classic. This is one of the best 5.7 climbs in Colorado aNd ascends the narrow North ridge of Montezuma's Tower, offering up good moves on reasonably solid conglomerate sandstone, tremendous exposure and short cruxes. Usually it is done in two pitches, although it is possible to do it in one pitch with a 60m rope. Keep in mind that you still will need two ropes for the rap off.

Begin at the base of the North ridge, climbing unprotected but moderate rock to the first of three giant eyebolts (5.7). Run it out up the ridge (5.4), threading a pothole along the way if you feel uncomfortable, until reaching a small ledge which, in 1999, had a 3-pin belay. One of the pins could be pulled out by hand but due to its orientation, provided good protection.

Pitch two is a short one, moving past a short vertical section (5.7) to the summit and a 3-pin belay.

Rap off to the West with two ropes.


Protection 

A few QDs, a very small selection of cams and stoppers, and a long sling to thread a pothole.



Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower (photo: Dan Russell)
Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower...
Montezuma's spectacular North Ridge.
Montezuma's spectacular North Ridge.
Brian Mead belaying Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower (photo: Dan Russell).
Brian Mead belaying Jeff Russell on the North Ridg...
The wife on the north ridge.
The wife on the north ridge.
Mike Sandoval leading the North ridge on Montezuma tower after threading the pot hole.
Mike Sandoval leading the North ridge on Montezuma...
Me standing at the first belay, looking down!
Me standing at the first belay, looking down!
Brian Wandzilak on Montezuma's Tower.  Jon Cannon took this picture.
Brian Wandzilak on Montezuma's Tower. Jon Cannon ...
Climber:  Jim Stack. <br />Photographer:  Josh Genz. <br />Montezuma's Tower.
Climber: Jim Stack.
Photographer: Josh Genz.
Mon...
Brian Wandzilak leading the inspiring spire Montezuma's Tower.
Brian Wandzilak leading the inspiring spire Montez...
Classic views fer sure.
Classic views fer sure.
Getting ready to rap off the tower.
Getting ready to rap off the tower.
Jon Cannon on the exposed North Ridge (5.7) of Montezuma's Tower.
Jon Cannon on the exposed North Ridge (5.7) of Mon...
Janis and Aaron leading the way in the Garden.  <br />
Janis and Aaron leading the way in the Garden.
Kevin Jenkins rapping Montezuma.
Kevin Jenkins rapping Montezuma.
Aaron on lead.
Aaron on lead.
Jason Partin leading the first pitch of North Ridge.
Jason Partin leading the first pitch of North Ridg...
Awesome fall day on Montezuma.
Awesome fall day on Montezuma.
View of west side Montezuma's Tower....  Bill and Ed readying to rappel from 2nd pitch.
View of west side Montezuma's Tower.... Bill and ...
Having fun on a warm January day.
Having fun on a warm January day.
A different perspective of the North Ridge of Montezuma's Tower.
A different perspective of the North Ridge of Mont...
Gabe on the 5.4 chopped step ramp.
Gabe on the 5.4 chopped step ramp.
Third to last bolt.
Third to last bolt.
Gabe just below the 2nd 5.7 section on the first pitch, made psychologically easier by an easy to reach eyebolt for protection.
Gabe just below the 2nd 5.7 section on the first p...
Arron on the start.
Arron on the start.
The crux of the route, IMO.
The crux of the route, IMO.
Montezuma's, unknown climbers.
Montezuma's, unknown climbers.
Working up the climb's second pitch.
Working up the climb's second pitch.
Kevin Jenkins on the top of the first pitch of Montezuma.
Kevin Jenkins on the top of the first pitch of Mon...
Erik Marr rapping off the tower.
Erik Marr rapping off the tower.
Classic climb fer sure.
Classic climb fer sure.
The x-posure of leading P1.
BETA PHOTO: The x-posure of leading P1.
Classic rap fer sure.
Classic rap fer sure.
Jason leading the second pitch of North Ridge.
Jason leading the second pitch of North Ridge.
Jason high on the first pitch.
Jason high on the first pitch.
Tyler Enna and Dane Casterson almost done with the first pitch.
Tyler Enna and Dane Casterson almost done with the...
Jason leads North Ridge on Montezuma Tower.
BETA PHOTO: Jason leads North Ridge on Montezuma Tower.
Ryan Derrick leading up the ridge on Christmas Day. <br /> <br />Patagonia New Belgium beers in tow....
Ryan Derrick leading up the ridge on Christmas Day...
Bree about to finish the 1st pitch, 2013.
Bree about to finish the 1st pitch, 2013.
Another view of this great piece of rock.  Climbers are Dane Casterson and Tyler Enna.
Another view of this great piece of rock. Climber...
Fischer on top with all his glory.
Fischer on top with all his glory.
Mike Tozzi leading the ridge - Fall 2013.
Mike Tozzi leading the ridge - Fall 2013.
Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 25, 2013
By Darin Lang
Sep 4, 2001

Additional beta from yet another ascent of this fine climb on 9/3, which refreshed my recollection. There is one giant eyebolt after the initial crux moves, then a bolt with a hanger. Thread the pothole and clip another pin before the belay ledge. A pink tricam or #3 hex makes the runout to the ledge reasonable. The belay now has a giant eyebolt and only one fixed pin. One more eyebolt on the short vertical section, and then to the top. A #2 Camalot/#3 Friend can be placed between the last bolt and the summit. Two giant eyebolts on the summit for the rap. I_ve done this climb 5 or 6 times now, and it still gets the juices flowing. Superb.

By Barrett Cooper
Apr 9, 2002

The large boulder on the second move off the ground (right about where the climber is standing in the attached photo) is really moving now. Last year it was a little loose, and when I went up the route today it was all over the place. It felt like something I would not like to pull out on and have land on me or my belayer. So use caution getting to the first eyebolt as the rock is a big sucker.

By Sean O'Dell
Apr 9, 2002

Just a note: we just attempted to do this route in 1 pitch. Turns out LENGTH isn't a problem with a 60m rope, but the rope drag on what is normally pitch 2 is just too gnarly to mess with (especially on a route where balance is such a huge part of things). Do it in 2.

By Brian T. Wandzilak
Aug 30, 2002

Despite Darin's questionable judgment, he got this route about right. In my limited experience outside this is one of the coolest routes I have ever done. I can't add much to Darin's beta, but I can address the rope drag. I found that a couple of good, long runners can help this a bit. I was able to do it all in one pitch. A great climb with plenty of exposure, both to the ground and to the tourists ambling about.

By Anonymous Coward
Oct 19, 2002

Wow, what a great route! Cruising up this with both feet exposed to air is a real fun rush. Agree with the Beta about carrying a couple cams, and threading the one pothole. With just that minimal gear and the clips to bolts, a reasonably well protected route. I think there are only two-three 5.7 moves, this is a mental climb if anything. Great fun!

By Anonymous Coward
Jan 12, 2003

Not to belabour the point, but that loose block is really loose. And it's the block on the left, not the block on the right (where the climber is standing in the photo), which looks like it might be loose, but isn't. Great route, have fun.

By Chris R
May 8, 2003

Not to take anything away from a mega-classic route, but this line really should be added to the blacklist. I climbed it again last night and was amazed at how much modification the first pitch has undergone. The middle of the first pitch, especially, has gone from what might have been 5.7 or 5.8 smearing to a 5.3 staircase of cut holds.There's nothing that can be done about it now, of course, but since this website can be used as a powerful communication tool within the climbing community, routes like the North Ridge of Montezuma's Tower should be used to exemplify what not to do to our rocks.That said, I fully intend to continue climbing and enjoying this unique route.

And watch the hell out for that loose block at the start. That thing moves in a stiff breeze....

By David Danforth
From: California/Colorado
May 8, 2003

Yeah. last comment....i agree that the middle section is kinda like a ladder of rock and easy climbing. MOntezuma has been one of my favorite mod. routes in the Garden; ive done the route many times for a long time now, and as long as ive been climbing there, it has always been the same thing. So, my question for you, Chris, (or anyone) is if this section of the ridge was at anypoint of .7 or .8 rating to begin with?

By Dan Russell
May 8, 2003

Let's not get carried away with criticism. This route shouldn't be blacklisted for the same reason Otto's route on Indy shouldn't be blacklisted. The modifications are very old - historic even. If you've done much at all in the Garden you've noticed these carved out pods in many places - the Practice Slab approach and Silver Spoon gully descent come to mind.

Don't get me wrong. It's not wonderful that they were created. But they aren't being created anymore and need to be viewed with a little historical perspective.

By steve dieckhoff
May 11, 2003

Re: route modification...

I don't believe those dishes you're refering to were done intentionally. I think it's just the traffic on a popular soft sandstone route. Otto's Route is a different story. One would think the art of climbing had evolved since then but apparently not (see: S St Vrain, Boulder Canyon, Clear Creek Canyon, etc).

By Brian T. Wandzilak
Jun 9, 2003

Along the lines of what Dan had to say, view this route with a historic perspective. If you look at the FA info/background of the North Ridge you will see that the first DOCUMENTED ascents were by military personnel getting practice in. It is rumored that they chopped steps in. Oh well, it is part of the history of the route. So, it is the difference between what may be a 5.9ish route or a 5.7. Oh well, it is done and irreplaceable. The bottom line is that this is a great moderate (possibly in part to the route characteristics), possibly one of the best in the front range when you take everything into account. Just my two cents. . .

By Brian T. Wandzilak
Jun 14, 2003

I was thinking about this some more the other night. The steps were not chopped in to to make the route possible. That is, this was not someone's project that they were working on forever and just couldn't get so, they decided to make it easier (possibly similar to something like the alleged chipping on Kryptonite?). The "steps" were put in for easy access, they are part of the route and should not take away from this climb. Just another thought that I had.

By Lance Bischoff
Oct 12, 2003
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

There are new = recent chopped steps up this fine route. Sections requiring smear moves just weeks ago now have a sequence of steps that are not the ancient/military ones referred to. I am disappointed to see this happen on the route, which I did with a party again today. Why is this happening?? Also, note that the left block on bottom is indeed loose, right start on right block is solid, and there is an overkill (probably about twelve) of chopped steps to access the leveraged move that are new and don't even add to the solution of moves off deck. Bummer.

By Sean O'Dell
Mar 30, 2004

More chopped steps....JUST what the garden needs. Lets just hang a ladder from the top while we're at it. If you ever see anyone in the gardern carrying an alpenstock, please impale them on it.

By Matt Chan
From: Boulder
Apr 1, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Be prepared for some real runouts on easy terrain if you don't thread the pothole and use a few of pieces of gear (a #13 BD stopper, pink tricam, and a #2 Camalot). Granted this is easy climbing to the top of the ridge, but the gear will make you feel a tad more secure. Also, be very cautious around the loose rock on the left just off the deck.

By Gabe Anderson
May 17, 2004
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Climbed Montezuma's north ridge yesterday....It was great fun. I felt that the crux of the first pitch was definitely within the first 20-25 feet. Not hard, just unprotected. Surprisingly to me, I got quite a bit of gear in. A #13 stopper, light blue tricam, along with .75 camalot, and a #4 flexcam supplemented the eyebolts and thread all on the first pitch. I'm sure a better climber than I wouldn't need all that gear. Overall very fun route....but made more interesting by a stiff breeze.You can easily rappel with a 60 m rope from the first belay ledge to the west.

By Ernie Port
From: Boulder, Colorado
Jul 11, 2004
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

One of the best (7) climbs in the state? I beg to differ.This route left me wanting. A far cry from most (7) climbs in Eldo for instance. A decent warmup to others in the area perhaps, but too short and not sweet enough...

By Jason Shatek
Apr 17, 2006

Did this one yesterday. Fun climb. Felt very exposed with balancy moves for a 5.7, not a lot of hand holds, more of a trust your feet route. I was sad to see that this route has clearly been altered in a most profound way! There are many "steps" that have been carved into the rock. This route should be in the "chipped" section on this website as there can be no question this route was altered to make it easier. The steps are less than 6 inches apart and some are newer than others!

By Jimn Seiler
From: North Platte, NE
Jun 24, 2007

Regardless of the steps I found this to be a stellar route. As far as the previous comments about Eldo having better 5.7s, all I can say is it's two different worlds. It's like asking which city you like better, New York or Seattle? It just depends on what you want.

By Sara Weimar
From: Del Rio, TX
Aug 14, 2007

That loose block a few feet off the ground is definitely not part of the route anymore. I don't know if a climber or the weather we've been having lately that knocked it off, but it makes the start just a bit harder.

By zoso
Sep 17, 2007

This raps with one 70m, just barely.

By Phil Lauffen
From: The Bubble
Jul 3, 2008

Climbed this route this morning. Awesome exposure/climb. At the top me and my partner couldn't find a definite rappel anchor....Just two bolts and chains. No Rap rings or carabiners located on the end of the chains. We ended up simply creating our own system with a rap ring and sling. If someone gets up there and knows how to rap it without our junk and ends up with an extra ring, I guess it's just good climbing karma for us..... Don't know how long that sling will last with UV exposure. Be cautious.

By Dave G
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 4, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

We rapped off MT 3 weeks ago with no issues. I either put my rope through two eyebolts or two bolted hangers and had no problems pulling the rope. I'm pretty sure I didn't use the chains although I have elsewhere in the Garden.

By SaraB
From: whitefish mt
Sep 8, 2008

Brendan and I did this route today and we both thought it was a beautiful line that challenges the sport climber in me. As for "chopped" steps. I think that it's sad to think that people are out there defacing rock to make things easier but I also believe that there are a lot of kids and teens playing in those areas and it may not be the act of a rock climber. Garden of the Gods is an amazing place and this is a beautiful climb.

By GMBurns
Oct 2, 2008
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

Pretty easy climb, but one fall and you're probably flying through the air on one side of the arrete or other with your rope searing against the soft sandstone. I think the exposure increases the grade on this climb.

By Matt McMurray
From: Castle Rock, CO
Jan 20, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

Done in one pitch. Lots of rope drag if you belay from the top chain anchors, even with double length runners from the preceding pro. Great exposure, but I wouldn't call it classic....

By Scott Matz
From: Loveland, CO
Feb 9, 2009

Bad day on the tower. On Saturday I was belaying from top, and seen a guy fall 50 feet off Red and White Spires landing straight on his back in the sidewalk. I heard him hit the ground from the tower, and the ambulance was there in about ten minutes. Not a good sight before the long rappel to the bottom.

By Sam S
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 2, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Climbed today, such a fun route. A little bit of beta though:

This climb can be safely done with nothing but a set of tcu's, a #2 C4, a long sling and some draws (along with two ropes and something for the anchors). It is a bit runout in spots but that is half the fun!

This is an absolute classic and would recommend it to anyone, so airy.

By Jason Kaplan
From: Glenwood ,Co
Mar 10, 2010

I found this to be a romp after climbing the 5.6 route on the south ridge of white spire. I think it took me less time to lead it too. Lead as one pitch with about 4 cordalettes and quite a few long runners and a #4 for up top. NO bad rope drag at all. Super fun regardless of the chopped steps.

By Stephen Wilson
Mar 18, 2010

I would agree that this is both a classic and should not have bad rope drag. I threw in a couple of pieces, and while I could have done the climb without them, the placements I got were good and would have reduced falls significantly. No need to bring the whole rack though, it is mostly a sport climb.

By Taylor Tolle
From: Colorado
Jun 3, 2010

I found to eliminate rope drag all together on this route just throw a 70m off to the East (right side of the climb) and free solo it. I have been doing this for a month or so whenever I can't get a belay partner, the climb is super easy and I have never had a problem with it.... If you really want a adrenaline pumper, repeat the same process only at Westpoint Crack, just forget the rope and walk off the back side. The sketchiest point is the second move on the 3rd pitch, other than that it's a great time.

By mountainmicah83
From: Colorado Springs
Jan 24, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Ugly chopped bolts at the 2nd piece of fixed pro.

Since I climbed this last in October, someone has re-bolted this thing and chopped it a couple of times. There is a brand new bolt and hanger and 3 ugly chopped bolts on this classic route. This is sad to see, and I can only hope that it is a work in progress before the chopped bolts are pulled out and the rock is patched. Sad thing is that there is a chance for a cam just a few feet under this clip, and it isn't even really necessary.

By England
From: ?
Jan 29, 2011
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Mountainmicah83- hate to inform ya that the majority of the footholds you used were chopped in with an axe many years ago. Yeah, some of the chopped stuff is BAD, but convenience anchors were added for the, "Climbing is for everyone" crowd.

By Mike Nevko
From: Currently Charlotte
Jan 6, 2013

We used a 70m and 60m rope together. You could do the rappel with a single 70m.

By Aaron W
May 25, 2013
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13

Getting to the first bolt seems like the most dangerous part to me. Except for the traverse which is extremely easy, most of the route is well-protected.