Over the Rainbow has a beautiful position, traversing over the top of the monstrous roof on the west face of North Gateway Rock, then firing straight up the awesome looking face above before reaching the top of that inspiring red ridge. The description in D'Antonio's book says the route offers "great position and good climbing on somewhat loose rock."
Change the words "somewhat loose rock" to "horrifying chossy sand" and you'll gain a more accurate description, if of only the first and second pitches. I cannot say anything for the remaining pitches because we did not get that far.
1)The climb traverses straight left from the belay on Rainbow Bridge for a pitch of "5.8". This is the only pitch we climbed of this route, because the movement was only slightly more difficult than Rainbow Bridge, rated 11a, but contained more loose rock on 70 feet than I have ever seen combined on all the routes I have climbed.
This pitch is a nightmare. Traverse left easily for 20 feet before clipping your first piton in a hollow sounding flake. Make some 5.9ish moves to reach the second piton, and then imagine how to gain the third piton with footholds crumbling away to dust. Spirit yourself past these difficulties and two more pitons to a wonderful, solid jug (the only one). Ponder the 10 foot runouts between remaining pitons and make your way past massive flakes held on with fairy dust, availing yourself only by using the smallest edges for your hands and sandy slab for your feet.
Finally reach the two piton belay with many bail slings (including ours). Laugh at your partner as he sketches across and knocks grapefruit-sized flakes down, because only you know the desperate plight he is immersed in.
And try to do this without ripping one of the many loose flakes to the vastness below, likely hitting a boulderer in the process. These flakes ranged in size up to approximately 30 lbs.
If you've had enough fun at this point, it is completely possible to rappel straight down with 1 60m rope. A 50m rope would not make it.
2) From what we could see of this pitch, it resembled the last pitch, only worse. Make your way up and left on depressions resembling holes dug by a child on a beach then washed by five waves. All of this appeared to be coated by a layer of dust that is already having quite the bacchanalian in your lungs.
From D'Antonio's guidebook: "Continue left past 7 fixed pins to a 2 piton belay.(10c)" If the last pitch you did was only 5.8, you are in for a ride.
The remaining descriptions are completely based off D'Antonio's guidebook.
3) Go straight up to vine ledge. 11 pitons (11a)
4) Head right on easy terrain to Pot of Gold (5.8). Summit.
Scramble down some ledges until you can walk south and downclimb tourist gully.
I apologize for not finishing the route and therefore presenting a complete description of the climb. In all, this posting is kind of wankish and lame-sounding. I only hope to dissuade people who are not prepared for the full adventure from climbing this route. If you would like to post a complete route description, email me your information and I will replace mine with yours.
Climb Rainbow Bridge. Look left. See the pitons? That's your line.
All pitons, of the usual Garden variety.
|By Bill Olszewski|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 4, 2010
Thanks, Phil, for your in-depth post; no apology necessary. Some friends and I had been considering rapping in from the top to check the anchors, the holds and the pins. Your exploration of this route is on a par with the adventurous nature of the FA.
Back in the day, this was an awesome route! I followed it a time or two with my climbing partner Scotty, who wasn't afraid of anything so long as he had a rope attached, and together with our friend Richard, FA'd Wimpish and Weak and Touchy Situation, the 4 pitch extension to OTR. I remember this as being a fun route, traversing high over the parking lot, hoping you didn't blow a move. And the two rope rappel from the second anchor, going free for about 120', was classic! What a shame that we probably have to just let this one die, unless some hard core climbers can run some laps and clean it back up. But I'm afraid even then, the result would be a much harder route that few will be able to do. Amazing what 25 years of neglect will do to a route on soft sandstone... :-(
|By Joseph P. Crotty|
From: Broomfield, CO
Jul 8, 2012
I can't resist and just have to chime in here.
I attempted 'Over the Rainbow' in the late '80s, probably 1988, with a friend who lived in Manitou Springs. The route was in a guidebook by John Harlin that had climbs from many areas in the Western USA. I had climbed previously, I think, twice at the Garden and enjoyed it. I had long dreamed that OTR was a classic and as being it was the longest line then on North Gateways' West face was determined to send it.
I onsighted Rainbow Bridge which was excellent. As my friend was just getting into climbing, I did most of the leading. The first traverse pitch went fine although a bit dirty. I took a small fall on the second traverse pitch when some choss under foot broke off. No biggie. The belay at the apex of the rainbow was simply awesome. Now it was time to climb directly up. In short order, I reached a pin in a crack where the grade ticked up to .10+/.11- range. A foot hold started crumbling, and I instinctively grabbed the pin, quickly reset my feet, and relinquished the pin. The crack petered out and a blank sea of red sandstone broke forth. The gear thinned to just mental pieces and occasional .10- cruxes appeared. I was terrified throughout but managed without incident finding myself in a deep pothole almost tall enough to stand in with a stalactite type feature in the middle of it wrapped with tat. I brought up my buddy.
His parents had surfaced in the parking lot and were watching our progress. I could see the drilled pins on the next pitch, knew it was supposed to be .10- or so, and figured for it to be a true team effort, he was due for a turn at the sharp end. Shortly after casting off and clipping two pins and a bolt, he was at the crux. He climbed up and down to no avail and finally committed. A foot hold crumbled and he was airborne. The bolt ripped and the next thing I knew we were level with each other eye to eye 2' apart - him dangling in space and me nearly pulled out of the cave but still lashed to its central column. I could hear the faint wails of his mother floating up from the distance - "my baby is gonna die, he is gonna die!!"
The decision was easy and painless although it brought me much remorse as I knew the crux of the battle had been won, but the war would be lost on a technicality. We bailed. At the second rappel, I lowered my car keys to his Dad who fetched us another 50m rope so we could finish the bail job. His mom and dad were kind enough to clear out before we touched dirt, and I dropped him off at home and split town.
Reflecting on this adventure brings me great joy. It was an epic I'll never forget! I would gladly attempt it again.