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BETA PHOTO: Otto's Route pitches.
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.
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).
George Bell finishing off the crux on the last pit...
Ben Schneider at the belay ledge before the final ...
BETA PHOTO: Taken from the Saddlehorn CG area. You won't see ...
BETA PHOTO: The lower part of Otto's Route. Green X's mark fi...
Schneider on the rare "sport" pitch of the route.
Rapping down the Monument--what red soil! Crazy!
Dan Mottinger finishing the overhanging and expose...
Ben Gnorga leading pitch 5 to the summit. taken 4...
You think you're tough, Here's Zane age 5 or 6 fin...
Jason pulling the final overhang.
On the summit in March of '03.
Warren starting pitch 2, with the nasty flare visi...
Warren beginning the crux of pitch 2.
Following on Pitch 3 of Otto's Route.
Sara on the second to last pitch of Otto's route.
Eli starting the offwidth crux of pitch 2.
Eli punches his way through the difficulties.
That black tri-cam might slow him down.
BETA PHOTO: Bob finishing the last pitch. Two drilled pockets...
A top out photo.
Tim in the tunnel through time.
Tim on the final pitch.
Peter and Patty marrying at the top of Independenc...
Otto has diminished in size since first setting up...
Another shot of somebody (in this case, my husband...
Charles Vernon in the crux at the top of pitch 2, ...
Kurt Johnson belays Carl Pelletier at the top of p...
A photo of one or both of our beloved founders (Mi...
Charles Vernon at the crux, Otto's Route.
Charles Vernon looks out from the summit of Indepe...
Carl Pelletier tags the top of Otto's Route, Indep...
Rappeling from the summit of Independence Monument...
The final pitch.
3 Otto's and 120 oz of malt liquor.
Yeah, I'm stoked!!
Jeeeeze it felt bigger when I was climbing it!
My dad in the Time Tunnel!
2nd time climbing Otto's Route. Very fun! Made it ...
Boulder in gully of Otto's Route.
View from gully of Otto's Route.
Annie coming over the crux of Otto's Route.
Dean is following the crux summit pitch on Otto's ...
Rapping off Otto's Route.
Mike pulling the summit ledge.
Independence Monument from the trail in to Otto's ...
The dreaded desert rock lizard enjoying his lunch....
Lee Rittenmeyer atop pitch 1.
Lee starting pitch 2.
Logan Berndt coming up pitch 3.
Logan finds a faster way down....
Christ, getting ready to pull the final roof on Ot...
Here is pitch 1 of Otto's route. My first gear lea...
Trail in photo, Rockscape.
Independence from a distance.
First glimpse of The Monument.
the sunny side (unfortunately not where Otto's rou...
Wishing I were in the sun instead of the frigid no...
Daniel on P3.
A few of the many holes left by Otto.
Michelle leading P4 (photo by Daniel).
Daniel on P4.
Icy summit pool.
Daniel topping out the summit boulder problem.
Thanksgiving day, '09.
The final moves are interesting.
Jekich rapping off Otto's to Lunchbox Ledge. (70m ...
Brian throws the totally unnecessary (but fun!) dy...
Kit signing with blood. What's with that sticker o...
|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|
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 19, 2001
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!
|By Ben Mottinger|
Apr 15, 2003
I updated the route to modified as it should most definitely be.
|By Andrew Gram|
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 16, 2003
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|
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).
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
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.
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|
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
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.
From: Fort Collins, 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
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).
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
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
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
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 Matt Toensing|
Oct 11, 2010
Worst route ever?
|By Cindy Mitchell|
Apr 7, 2011
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
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 J Red|
Oct 23, 2011
rating: 5.9- PG13
Absolute classic! Unique climbing, great moves, memorable second and last pitch. You can do a pelvic jam on this climb! Be solid at 5.8-5.9 for this climb. There are a few spots where you could really deck if you are not careful, which is why I put the PG13. Also a great piece of climbing history.
Happy 100 years, Otto!
From: Golden, CO
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: Moab, UT
Jan 3, 2012
Nice climb! Got a #4 Camalot stuck in the 2nd pitch....
Very sandy last pitch!
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 Brian Wright|
From: Glenwood Springs, Co
Oct 8, 2012
rating: 5.9 R
Lots of opinions, but I'll add mine. Be prepared for some runouts! Not just on P4. Not a big deal really but might freak some people out. I thought P1 was more like 5.6, P2 was a tricky OW that was hard to protect (maybe bring a #5 or #6 for the second part of the OW), P3 was quite runout, although we didn't have tricams, and P4 was actually well-protected (other than the cruiser beginning) but sandy and pretty overhung, thus a 5.9 rating seems appropriate. When P4 seems like it might get harder, there is always a perfect two-finger pocket right where you need it.
Descent: We double-rope rapped from the top to the bottom of P3. This rap was about 120'. We hiked through the tunnel, rapped from the top of P2 to the top of P1, then from there to the ground. I am told you can rap with doubled 60m ropes from the top of P2 to the ground. I can't confirm.
About the quality rating: This route is a classic, and it's awesome to have a 5.8 desert tower route in Colorado, but this climb just isn't natural enough in my mind to warrant 4 stars. Compare it to Castleton and the difference is obvious. Still, I wont poo poo it like some do. I think Otto operated in a different era and the route's unique history makes it almost more appealing. But compared to other classic towers, I dont this competes. Still a great climb and lots of fun.
Oct 23, 2012
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|
From: Grand Junction, CO
Dec 2, 2012
Done this four times now, and it's just a pleasure each time. Good fun!
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.
Apr 1, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 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.