The Piz Badille is a large formation, some 500' from base to summit, which rises from just above the South St. Vrain River on the Peak-To-Peak Highway. Like a majority of the St Vrain Canyon formations, access is pretty easy right off the road. Unlike the majority, however, the Piz is located off Route 72, a few miles south of the Ironclads, not Route 7.
Named for its resemblance to the Piz Badille in the Alps, the rock was first climbed, and named, by Ray Northcutt in 1954, probably by the Ridge Route. The rock saw a resurgence of interest in the nineties when a number of bolt-protected routes were added to the lower slabs. There is still potential on the upper slabs for long moderate routes as most of the bolt protected routes end on the slab after only one pitch with miles of stone above.
The rock on the Piz is dark gray granite that is very variable in consistency. Most routes follow nice slabs split by intermittent cracks and overlaps, except the Ridge Route which follows a prominent ridge on the north of the formation. The rock quality can be quite good on the slab, but loose areas abound.
To descend from the Summit, scramble down the talus slope along the north edge of the mossy North face of the Piz. The more recent bolt routes have rappel anchors. Per Bill Duncan: there is now a double rope rappel near The Ridge finish.
To get to the Piz from Lyons, take Route 7 up the St. Vrain Canyon to the intersection with Route 72. Take a left (south) and after a few miles, the Piz will dominate the left side of the highway across the St Vrain River.
Access to the base of the Piz is very easy, that is, if you don't mind crossing a no trespassing sign. Park slightly north of the Piz at a turnout with a small bridge crossing the St Vrain River. There is currently a chain and _No Trespassing_ sign on this bridge. Cross at your own risk and head upstream to the base of the Piz. If your karma can't bear the thought of trespassing on the bridge, you can park slightly south of the Piz on Route 72 and cross the river at a shallow area. Expect this crossing to be the crux of your day!
This is the premier mountaineering route on the Piz Badille, a long, moderate journey up the ridge along the left margin of the west face. The route is obvious in George Bell's photo. The hardest part of the route is gaining the ridge crest - a route finding quandary - but these early difficulties are inconsistent with the remainder of the climbing, as you'll enjoy easy climbing with good protection on decent rock for the remaining three or four pitches.P1. (5.6 - 5.8) The first pitch of the R...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
A couple points of clearification: the river in front of the Piz is the Middle St. Vrain, the South St. Vrain flows into this river downstream a couple miles...and George Lamb was also on the first ascent party, although it is unclear about the date and the actual route they chose.
Other comments: This crag is not in the South St. Vrain guidebook! In fact the only guidebook I'm aware of that includes this rock is Gillett's RMNP "Crag Areas" guide. Most routes face NE and are in the shade until about 11AM. It is possible to descend the south side of this rock as well, and there are a number of new sport routes on the steep SW facing (climber's right) side. Hopefully someone will add info on these here. Finally, crossing the stream is probably not a big deal in the Fall.
I used to live in this area. The bridge at the parking area is private. The man who owns it(when I talked with him) said he preferred that people not use the bridge to access the Piz. Also, the rocks across the road are off limits!! He owns that too, and said very plainly that he wanted no one up there.
Has anyone climbed those upper routes on the Piz? From the ground, I can't tell if they are total piles or beautiful routes. I'm going to head up there this month, but it would be nice to know what I am getting into!
There are bolted lines on the Piz. Not sure how many. I saw 2 for sure, a 5.9 and a 5.10. I've done the standard route up the Piz (5.6) from the bottom to top and it's lots of fun. Solid rock and easy slab climbing. You can walk off as well so single 60 m rope is all you need. Highly recommended. Beautiful views of the Indian Peaks from the summit.
I have climbed all the routes on the Piz. In fact, I have bolted many of them with my friends. We placed the new anchors on the nose route about 12 years ago. We also bolted, Too Many Puppies, Re-usable Love Bag, Sympathetic Mind Fu--, and all the routes around the right hand side. We called this wall the 'Santa Rita' Wall. There are at least 12 routes on this overhanging wall ranging from 10a---hard 12. If my memory serves correctly, we placed these bolts and anchors around 1995-2000. There are many sets of anchors on the west wall, most are easier to access by climbing the routes but you can hike around to the right to get to them if you absolutely had to.
Just finished up an old project with EVD close to the Pizba. This place is awesome because there is sense of solitude, potential, and albeit roadside, adventure. The route we finished had a name that would be appropriate for Bernard's book, 'Man's best friend.' Although I wanted to call it 'Guardians of the ass fortress.' Maybe that could be the new name for the old 11a finger crack?