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Otto's Route 

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

   
Type:  Trad, Chipped, 5 pitches, 400', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: John Otto, July 4, 1911.
Page Views: 41,099
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on Jan 1, 2001

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BETA PHOTO: Otto's Route pitches.

Description 

This is a nice climb in four short pitches that finishes with the last exposed and dramatic prow to the summit. It's on the shady side of the monument, so warm days are preferable. The FA, Otto, drilled and chopped many holds in the soft sandstone to aid up this route with pipes in the holes, but now just the holes remain, which gives the route a moderate rating.

P1: Start on the NW side near the East end at a right-angling ramp (5.4) past chopped steps to a large ledge with a crack to protect for a belay.

P2: Head up the wide crack (#4 Camalot at the top) and exit the slot to another large ledge. The 2" drilled holes can be protected with the tricams.

P3: 3rd class through the Time Tunnel up the ramp below a face with some drilled angles. Climb this short pitch to Lunchbox Ledge, a large belay spot with a terrific view. Three drilled angles at the belay.

P4: The awesome crux pitch. Take the chopped steps to the right up the easy, but runout and exposed face. Some drilled angles protect the final overhang on good holds to the belay ledge. A short hop up off this ledge gains the summit.

To descend, make a double rope rap past Lunchbox Ledge to the large shelf with the Time Tunnel. Traverse down the small tunnel to a short rap to a large ledge (top of 2nd pitch). Look for the last double rope rap to the right at the edge of the ledge, which was the top of the first pitch.

Protection 

A small rack of cams with a 1.5 and 2 tricam, and a #4 Camalot. About 6 draws should do and several shoulder slings. Two ropes (for the rap).


Photos of Otto's Route Slideshow Add Photo
Peter and Patty marrying at the top of Independence Monument after climbing Otto's Route on May 8, 2007
Peter and Patty marrying at the top of Independenc...
George Bell finishing off the crux on the last pitch.
George Bell finishing off the crux on the last pit...
You think you're tough, Here's Zane age 5 or 6 finishing up the final overhang (with a little aid).
You think you're tough, Here's Zane age 5 or 6 fin...
Annie coming over the crux of Otto's Route.
Annie coming over the crux of Otto's Route.
On the summit in March of '03.
On the summit in March of '03.
?
?
Mike pulling the summit ledge.
Mike pulling the summit ledge.
The dreaded desert rock lizard enjoying his lunch.
The dreaded desert rock lizard enjoying his lunch....
Jason pulling the final overhang.
Jason pulling the final overhang.
Rapping down the Monument--what red soil! Crazy!
Rapping down the Monument--what red soil! Crazy!
360 summit.
360 summit.
Kit signing with blood. What's with that sticker on the ammo can?
Kit signing with blood. What's with that sticker o...
Icy summit pool.
Icy summit pool.
The final pitch.
The final pitch.
Carl Pelletier tags the top of Otto's Route, Independence Monument.
Carl Pelletier tags the top of Otto's Route, Indep...
Thanksgiving day, '09.
Thanksgiving day, '09.
Rock art.
Rock art.
Jekich rapping off Otto's to Lunchbox Ledge. (70m rope)
Jekich rapping off Otto's to Lunchbox Ledge. (70m ...
Rapping off Otto's Route.
Rapping off Otto's Route.
Logan finds a faster way down....
Logan finds a faster way down....
A top out photo.
A top out photo.
Following on Pitch 3 of Otto's Route.
Following on Pitch 3 of Otto's Route.
Tim in the tunnel through time.
Tim in the tunnel through time.
Eli starting the offwidth crux of pitch 2.
Eli starting the offwidth crux of pitch 2.

Show All 82 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Otto's Route Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 30, 2014
By BJ Sbarra
From: Carbondale, CO
2 days ago
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

CONDITION REPORT 
We got a #5 Camalot stuck on the 2nd pitch on Oct. 3rd and had to rap off without getting it due to other obligations, went back today and it's gone. Anybody grab it?
By Steve Levin
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 1, 2001

The first chipped route in the state! More of a face climb than a crack climb. In recent years this route has been closed for nesting birds late winter to mid-summer, so call the headquarters first to see if it is open. Ottos route can get very crowded, especially on weekends at high season. Because the descent line overlaps the route, be prepared to encounter other parties and take care to not throw your ropes down on anyone or knock rocks. Also, because Ottos is north facing, this is a poor choice for mid-winter or cold spring days, but can be climbed mid-summer without getting heat stroke.
By Anonymous Coward
Nov 5, 2001

This route can be rappelled in two raps with double 60m cords. The first one heads north from the summit anchors to the top of the Time Tunnel. Scramble down to the anchors at the beginning of the tunnel (top of pitch two). From here, rap directly off the north side to the ground. This rap does not follow the climbing route. When there are mulitple parties on the route, this rappel is the best option as you will not be in anybody's way or knock rocks on anybody. The last rappel requires 50m cords.
By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 19, 2001
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I thought the second pitch was the crux-I was struggling on that much more than on the summit overhangs. The second to last pitch was no harder than 5.6, not 5.8 as at least the Bjornstad guide indicates.

Great unique route, definitely 8+ or maybe even 9-
By Tyson S Arp
Aug 16, 2002

Funny how everyone's perceptions are different. My wife and I both expected this route to be much harder. I' wouldn't call it any more than a 7+. The only real interesting moves were the last three--and that's because it's so darn sandy and worn from too much traffic.
By Brad Brandewie
Nov 22, 2002

I agree with Andrew. I thought the second pitch was the crux.
By Warren Teissier
Apr 14, 2003

Let's see, we just climbed this on 4/12/03.

What a surreal route. A must do if in the area.

The third pitch Off-Width is definitely size-dependent: Tall / slender people will fare better than chubbier / shorter ones. It is burly for sure, but protects very well with large cams and a sling around a chockstone.

The last pitch felt insecure. The chopped holds have turned into gritty sloppers. The reaches ae loooong and the pins looked just O.K. Felt like 5.9 to us.

Otto was a wild man, he climbed this in Cowboy boots!

Ironic that he was responsible for both chopping a 5 pitch route up the most beautiful formation in the Monument and leading the charge to turn the area into a National Monument thus ensuring its preservation.

Perhaps the same thing will one day happen with the Sports Park, NOT!

WT
By Ben Mottinger
Founding Father
Apr 15, 2003

I updated the route to modified as it should most definitely be.
By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 16, 2003
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I think its pretty silly to blacklist this route. Yes, the holds are not natural, but since it occurred *way* before there was even a thing called climbing ethics, try as I might I can't get too worked up over the defacement.
By Dougald MacDonald
Apr 16, 2003

I never really looked at Otto's Route as a climbing route anyway. It's more like a super-advanced trail or via ferrata to a great summit.
By Joe Collins
Apr 16, 2003

In a word, Bob, the answer to your question is: history. No one is going to argue that Otto's route has stellar climbing... in fact if you ask me, the climbing blows. The reason it's classic is because Otto had a vision, that by the standards of the early-1900s was insane. It wasn't ethically appalling back then to use these methods to climb. Its amazing to climb this route and think of the determination and obsessiveness that drove Otto to the top. The route is more of a museum relic... that and the summit is pretty darn cool. The sport park developers and chippers of today know better.
By Ben Mottinger
Founding Father
Apr 16, 2003

I agree, Andrew, that I'm not worked up or disturbed about the drilled holes on this route when I'm climbing it (since it did occur so long ago) but my intent of placing it on the modified route list was to back our stance of indiscriminate classification of modified routes. "Blacklisting" it was not meant to deter people from the climb, but just to make more people aware of the chipping issue on the whole.
By Jonathan. D.
May 5, 2003

Excellent !!! Great Feel Good climb. The final move onto the roof is blistering ....Kudos Mr. Otto.
By Peter Spindloe
From: North Vancouver, BC
Oct 31, 2003

The only rappel that requires double ropes is the last one (ie. to the ground), but a single 70m rope will get you down with a foot or two to spare. Less to pack in and out, less to haul, and less to drag over scree-covered ledges (helmets most highly recommended).
By ET
May 22, 2004

Rappelling: Ok you could Rap the whole route with 1 60 or 70 if you did 4 raps; however its probably better to do it in 2 2rope Rappels. Use 2 60 meters to rappel from the summit to the time tunnel. Hike the time tunnel to belay station 2 then 2 60's to the ground (50meters will not work). This is probably better then trying the rap from the summit to lunchbox ledge.
By Dustin Bauer
Jun 3, 2004

Ol' Otto you one crazy REDNECK! any ways did the route [Memorial] Weekend 04. I have to say the route was the easiest "5.8ish" [I've] ever done. Compared to the Durrance on DT which is 5.7ish this is a walk in the park. Little exposure, Monster "HOLES" some how perfectly placed.. Rapping down and a family of 5 having a picnic after time tunnel. All other aside in 1911 on the last pitch wearing cowboy boots with a [chisel] and hand drill in the other hand I must say Otto you one crazy REDNECK!
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 18, 2004

The crux move is definitely harder than 5.8. I've done this route 4 times now, and it feels like a burly 9 move to me. With that said, it's a great route that demands a helmet given all the other parties that are going to be going up and down it when you are. It truly is a proud formation, especially when viewed from the east. So good!!!!!
By Elijah Flenner
Jan 9, 2006

After climbing this route on 1/09/06, I wanted to provide a warning on some of the gear mentioned above. The chockstone on pitch 2 is about to fall out. When I got to the chimney, the chockstone was slung with a piece of webbing and a cord. I clipped the cord and pull tested it. The cord ended up at my knees and the chockstone dropped a little bit. It should not be trusted. Fortunately, the gear there is great (I placed a 3.5 and a 4.0 camalot). I also could not find a good placement on the last pitch for a 2.0 tri-cam before the pins. A larger tri-cam might have worked.

Also, it appears that the pins on the last pitch have been recently replaced, but I don't know how recent. They were all shiny and new looking.

In my opinion, the position on the last pitch is great, but the climging is uninteresting due to the drilled pockets. However, without the pockets the climbing would be much harder on the last pitch as well as the second pitch.
By Ben Boykin
From: Cheyenne, WY
Mar 27, 2007

Suggestion: Somebody take 4 quicklinks up next time you go, to place at the rappel points. They're all singles, just think it'd be prudent to have two links on each rap station, instead of one.

I'll do it if nobody else will. Thanks
By Jovan
Nov 16, 2007

If anyone is interested in speed climbing possibilities of this route, my friend Andres and I simul-climbed it in 10 minutes and 24 seconds on Nov 9, 07. It could definitely be done in less, I was having to do the mountaineer's rest step on the slab of the last pitch due too lack of cardio fitness.
By Ben Kiessel
Nov 17, 2007

Hell yeah, Jovan! I wonder what the speed record is? I bet it's been free soloed pretty fast.
By Jovan
Nov 17, 2007

I don't know. The only other people I know of that have tried speed climbing it did it in twenty something minutes (they couldn't remember, it was back in the late 80s) and 18 minutes. I personally could not go as fast soloing due to no margin for error. (Not that simul-climbing leaves much room either.)
By Ben Kiessel
Nov 17, 2007

That is a good point, the rock is sandy enough that it is not impossible to slip.
By Ryan Jennings
Nov 18, 2007

Don't get too excited it's been done in well under 10 minutes. Probably gets speed climbed more often than you think. What's the going speed for car to car?
By Jesse Zacher
Administrator
From: Grand Junction, Co
Nov 19, 2007

Why speed climb the thing at all. One section of 5.8 the rest a sandy mess.
By Dan Mottinger
Nov 21, 2007

Fixed gear alert/info: the second anchor has one of of its two expansion bolts moving around a bit in the hole
By Jovan
Nov 25, 2007

Ryan, what is the fastest time you've heard of, just curious what the record is?
By Ryan Jennings
Nov 26, 2007

Nothing comfirmed but I've heard of ascents in the 7-9 minute range. Talked with a friend this morning who remembers their time being 8min40sec but it was quite a few years ago. I always remembered him saying 7min something.

Sandy mess, Jesse? It's desert rock, so of course there is sand, but it's got to be one of the cleaner routes in the desert and the climbing throughout is actually quite enjoyable. With the abundant protection and easy climbing, it's perfect for speed climbing. You speed climb to learn specific techniques for moving fast. You learn to be efficient as a team. You learn what is possible which gives you confidence to tackle a more ambitious project. For those who venture onto the larger faces, speed often equals safety and just like everything it must be practiced. Otto's is great practice. There are plenty of big routes around the world that require fast efficient climbing on nothing harder than 5.9.
By jbarnum
From: Denver, CO
Mar 13, 2008

Climbed it two days ago. Ice at the second belay and getting up into the Time Tunnel. Cold Toes. I was shocked to find foot prints in the snow patches up there. Some wizard left the register open and it was filled with water. I poured it out, however the book and contents are soaked. I did not bring it down since I did not have a bag or anything, and the register might be saved if left to dry out. I am sure it will get replaced this summer, at some point. Just plan ahead with a bag or something. Lot of trash in that box.
By Minesh Bacrania
Sep 1, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

A most excellent introduction to desert tower climbing. Lots of mellow climbing to get to the last three or four pumpy crux moves (5.8).

Some comments:

We climbed over Labor Day weekend, topping out at 10:30AM. Everything below the last pitch was in the shade the entire time.

A light rack is all you need: singles of BD 0.5 - 4 cams, nothing smaller. Single (or less) set of small/med nuts. 2-3 tricams (black or smaller). Lots of shoulder-length slings.

First pitch seemed harder than I was led to believe, but the hardest moves are no harder than 5.6. Tie in long to the first anchor (chains + piton), and keep going around the corner to a comfy belay stance.

A BD 3 is useful for backing up the chockstone (it's fine, the webbing around it isn't) at the bottom of the p2 OW, a 4 is good higher up. As described in the Supertopo topo, it's possible to stem around the opening of the OW. The climbing is a little more delicate (5.8?), but the significant reduction in the grovel factor is well worth it.

Leave the big gear behind on the ledge at the top of the Time Tunnel. The last two pitches can be done with tricams (I had black, pink, red), a handful of nuts and/or small cams (BD 0.5, 0.75), and a few shoulder-length draws for the fixed gear. (The crux pitch would've been a lot easier without a full set of cams hanging off my shoulder.)

The crux pitch was considerably easier than it looks from the belay. The steps are worn but secure, and there are a couple of tricam placements in the handmade pockets if you desire. The last few moves are well-protected (3x pitons) and juggy. 5.8, but it seemed a little harder after all of the easy climbing leading up to it. Your second will appreciate the use of a long draw on the highest piton.

Following ET's comment, two raps with 2 x 60m ropes leaves 5 feet to spare on the second rap. Watch the loose rock coming down with the rope.
By Lynn S
Oct 3, 2008
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Did this today with my 13 year old daughter and 15 year old son, what a treat! We had a great time, only party on the route. I thought the climbing was a blast, I can't wait to go back and do it again.

If you keep out of the OW and stem the holes, the crux is definitely the last moves on the final pitch (Tobin led this). #4 Camalot in the OW is all you need, you can also clip the ratty sling on the chockstone if you want.

I think I placed about 6 pieces of gear on my leads today (#0.75, 2, 3 and 4 Camalots, a green C3 and #4 Stopper), a few long runners and that is about it.

2 60m raps gets your down. Top to the fixed anchor at the bottom of Time Tunnel, then down looker's left to the ground, about 3 feet to spare. You end up 30 yards south of where you started the route.

We did the approach hike in 45 minutes, beautiful hike by the way.
By tobin sanson
From: Carbondale, CO
Oct 4, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

So, three or four pieces of gear, a couple draws, and balls of steel will get you through this route pretty well :)
By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Mar 23, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Good fun!! Aside from waiting 45 minutes at each belay we had a great time on this classic. All you really need is that #4 Camalot, a few mid-range cams, half-dozen draws, and some steady nerves on the airy last pitch.
By Chris M.
May 11, 2009

A 70m rope will get you down with 3 raps. On the last rap just be sure to go straight out and not back down the route. Be sure to knot your ends as it is right to the end of the rope!
Great route: Otto had gorilla balls!
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Oct 11, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Worst route ever?
By Cindy Mitchell
Apr 7, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Very fun route! 2nd pitch OW was the crux for me as it is height dependent. I couldn't reach the second hole on the right side to pull myself up and into the OW.

Last moves on the last pitch were pumpy and the footholds were slick and sandy. The summit is absolutely incredible!
By jeremy long
From: BOULDER CO
May 19, 2011
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Fun, fun, fun. Done it twice, will do it again. Bring a blue tricam for the pockets on the last pitch. This route seems to get harder as the pockets erode, but it is still easy 5.9.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 21, 2011

Has anyone ever done the last pitch without using any of the pockets? This is a good challenge for bored climbers who think it is too easy using the pockets.
By Christian "crisco" Burrell
From: PG, Utah
Oct 23, 2011

Great fun! Exposure really wasn't an issue. Big ledges and chimneys galore. Pitch 1 ended up a little harder than I expected while pitch 2 ended up MUCH easier. And I'm not tall (5'9"), but I was able to reach the HUGE, juggy pockets on both sides and just pull through. The final pitch was harder than I expected it to be. Feet kicking in the air and grunting didn't make it any easier. Finally got my feet to the right side (the slopey pockets were very sandy) and was able to get up.
By Josh Allred
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 23, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Absolute classic for its history. Unique climbing.

Happy 100 years Otto!
By RyanO
From: sunshine
Nov 28, 2011

We lost a blue Alien on this route on 11/25/11. We simul-climbed to the top of the third pitch past a big party on the first two pitches. Someone in that party clipped an extra runner to our blue Alien at some point, and my second cleaned the runner to our line and left the blue Alien because she wasn't sure what belonged to who. Please help us replace this irreplaceable piece of gear. Thanks!
By Dan L
From: ZION
Jan 3, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Nice climb! Got a #4 Camalot stuck in the 2nd pitch....
Very sandy last pitch!
By rmaultsby
From: grand junction, co
Mar 18, 2012

One single 70m rope is enough to get down!!
Rap from summit anchors to Lunchbox Ledge. 3rd class down time tunnel, rap to first pitch anchors. Then rap straight back down to ground. You can make it down with the single 70m. Tie knots to be sure your rope makes it.
By Turnbuckle
Oct 23, 2012
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

This is a awesome climb and a must do. I climbed this for the first time last month and came back two weeks later to bring another friend up. The first time I climbed this I listened to all the spray about all the gear you need, so I brought a ton of gear only to see the party ahead of me climbing in bare feet with just a set of quickdraws. I would not suggest that to anyone; however, the second time I climbed it I brought a single set of Camalots up to a #4 and some stoppers. You can place a number 4 high on the offwidth and be fine. Thanks to Otto, there are holes everywhere. Do yourself a favor and climb this with a light rack.
By Brad Edwards
Administrator
From: Grand Junction, CO
Dec 2, 2012

Done this four times now, and it's just a pleasure each time. Good fun!
By ozram
Feb 22, 2013

I climbed this route several years ago and it is 1 of my favorites. The moves are all there and the scenery to incredible to describe. Having read some of the history behind this route made it even more enjoyable. I'm not sure what makes this a 9 other than a couple of runout spots that I could have used a tri-cam. I agree with an earlier post that a large rack is not needed. Bring what you are climbing with, and you will enjoy this route. Come early, we got at the base a little before 7am, and by the time we reached the 1st anchors, we saw 2 parties waiting.
By climberboy228
Apr 1, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

Did this route on Easter 2013...24 hours after doing Castleton's Kor-Ingalls route...this is waaaay easier than Kor-Ingalls! The only hard parts come in very short sections...not sustained at all...lots of rests...hardest part is going to final anchor on slopey feet and a couple drilled pockets for hands...overhung and a bit scary. Historically very cool and unique with all the chops...Otto was a beast! Also, we rapped entire route safely with a 70m rope...just do last rap straight down (climber's right) and not on the route.
By mike olsen
From: Clarksville, TN
Sep 25, 2013

The 1st bolt of the final pitch is hangerless. This makes the initial section of the last pitch quite runout if you can't protect the chipped handholds. The other 3 pitons seem solid.
By Tristan B
From: La Crescenta, CA
Nov 16, 2013

I brought a second rope but left it at the top of the first pitch and rapped everything with a single 60m and then one double rope from the top of the first. Also I didn't have any tricams, but I found a nice spot for a BD #2 in one of the holes on the last pitch.
By seth williamson
Mar 25, 2014

I climbed this route last week and in January. It is the same as it has been for at least a year. There are still plenty of pitons and drilled holes for climbing and protection. I didn't feel a need for gear. A #4 and maybe some tricams would be comforting to the timid. Still a 5.8 climb. All anchors are in good shape.
By Peter Blank
From: Grand Junction, Colorado
May 6, 2014

My boy Bryce just led the crux pitch barefoot and skipped clips in 40 mph wind!
By Kris Hjelle
Jul 30, 2014

The bolts and pitons are the same as they have been for many years.

However, the big vertical "handlebar hold" between the first and second pitons on the last pitch has broken off. There is now a flat, platform-ish hold which is incut in the back. Please be very careful and do NOT pull OUT on it as it is part of a block that is not firmly attached to the wall - you can see a crack in it. It does make a better foothold than was there before!

Such a fun route!

Kris Hjelle