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Sentinel and Specimen Rocks

Sentinel and Specimen Rocks  


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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Lauren D. Hollingsworth on Sep 15, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: North Face of Specimen.

Description 

These secluded, east-facing granite cliffs are visible from High Drive. This area is definitely an adventure climbing area as there is no established trail and no known routes.

From a forum about this area from S. Green: "Sentinel Rock on the right and Specimen Rock on the left. Both have a bunch of routes. The Directissima up Specimen is classic. The other routes, put up over the last 40 years by a bunch of locals including Harvey Carter and Harvey Miller, are variable in quality. Tenney Crags, named for Colorado College's first president, is a great crag, too, but the approach is very long and the cliff is above 10,000 feet. Lots of trad routes have been done up there. When I've been up there I've always camped in the canyon below since the hike is so arduous. Other nearby cliffs include the summit knob on Mt Arthur, slabs on Cameron's Cone, Aiguille de Almalgre on the upper slopes of Almalgre Peak, and Stove Mountain's big multi-faceted east face. Lots to explore. Like so many of the great Pikes Peak crags, these are strictly adventure climbing areas where almost every route, even if it's been done, feels like a new route."

Additional information 

In R&I 95, there is a good mini-guide by Stewart Green.

Climbing Season



Weather station 4.1 miles from here


Photos of Sentinel and Specimen Rocks Slideshow Add Photo
This is the southern crag, Specimen Rock, and it is highly visible from High Drive.
BETA PHOTO: This is the southern crag, Specimen Rock, and it i...
This is the northernmost, Specimen Rock.
BETA PHOTO: This is the northernmost, Specimen Rock.
Sentinel and Speciman Rocks in morning light.
Sentinel and Speciman Rocks in morning light.
A look at the back side of Sentinel; basically a walk-off and downclimb following the 2 trees in the left hand side of the photo. No need to rappel; and not really any possibility of getting rappel anchors at the top anyway.
A look at the back side of Sentinel; basically a w...
Here is a shot of Directissima taken from below the route at the base of Grand Specimen Rock.
Here is a shot of Directissima taken from below th...
A topo of Directissima, on Specimen, using one of the photos from this page.
BETA PHOTO: A topo of Directissima, on Specimen, using one of ...
Closure info.
BETA PHOTO: Closure info.
Sentinel from the approach.
BETA PHOTO: Sentinel from the approach.
Took this pic of Tenny Crags with a digiscope I borrowed from work on an unfortunately hazy day.
Took this pic of Tenny Crags with a digiscope I bo...
Long Range shot of the main formation at Sentinel and Specimen Rock.
BETA PHOTO: Long Range shot of the main formation at Sentinel ...

Comments on Sentinel and Specimen Rocks Add Comment
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By loc
From: colorado springs co
Sep 16, 2006
Take it it's trad climbing?
By Stewart M. Green
Sep 16, 2006
This area is not called Tenney Crags. Tenney Crags is the summit of the mountain high above. These are Sentinel and Specimen Rocks. There is a climber trail to Specimen and there are many established routes that have been done in the past 50 years. So, it is not a great unknown crag or area. The directions to access the cliffs are way off. It is advisable to approach by parking lower on High Drive, and hiking up the Palmer-Red Rock Loop before cutting up a long steep ridge on a climber/mineral collector trail. The area, besides climbing, is also renowned for its excellent smokey quartz specimens dug from pits below the cliffs. Before posting information like this on "new areas," it is probably a good idea to ask around and see what's been done. If anyone wants beta, contact Pete Gallagher or myself for route info.
By Rob Powell
Jul 21, 2007
Stewart, could you give more details on where the trail breaks off the Palmer trail? Is it down low at the 1st hair pin turn on the Palmer trail or up high off the ridge straight away? I ride that trail a lot and the only turn I've ever noticed was way down low. Still looks like a grunt to get to it, but the rock looks beautiful from a distance. It's calling me....
By Michael Murphy
Nov 9, 2007
Reuben Gershin and I climbed Directissima on 27 July 2007. There is a sign at the base that states the rock is closed from Apr 1 to July 15th for nesting. Judging by the amount of birds flying around the rock and the cries from the falcons, it is probably a good idea to stay off the rock during nesting for your own safety. Stewart Green has a great topo and route description on his website. All in all we thought the route was a bit sandbagged, however not out of the norm of other old school routes in the area. We did a different variation for pitch 2: we lied back and stemmed outside of the chimeney. It is probably around 5.10a and you need a #5 and #6 C4 Camalot to protect. The roof on pitch 2 that you can clearly see in the picture felt like 5.10+, but it protects well with a #4 Camalot and is a clean fall if you blow it. We took the easy way out on pitch 5, so I cannot comment on the crux offwidth pitch, but if you try it bring some big bros. Classic Route!
By Jake Carroll
From: Fort Collins
Nov 22, 2008
I did a hike to Specimen this summer. I found the trail after some searching. To answer your question, if you wait for the first sharp turn on Palmer trail, then there is a blocked off clearing that continues straight ahead. Look in the clearing and up to the left on the hillside for the trail. I left a small cairn, but I don't know if it is still standing. If all else fails, then just start climbing the hillside and follow the ridge up to the rock, you'll find it eventually. I was thinking about climbing it later next year. Does anybody have any other info or be willing to climb it with me?
By Kurt Ross
From: Boulder, colorado
Jul 17, 2011
I'll climb it with ya, Jake. Stewart G will give you a route description if you contact him.
By Logan Berndt
From: Colorado Springs
Oct 5, 2011
Lee Rittenmeyer and I ascended Directissma on the 3rd of October 2011. What a true test of ones ability and endurance! The entire route is exposed and classic! A true adventure climb in every way possible, make sure you are prepared (Micro nuts to #6 C4s provided some bomber pro). I read somewhere that this line was one of Layton's favorites in the Pikes Peak area and I can see why!! We worked for every inch on this one!! Classic!!
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 25, 2012
Climbed the North Ridge of Sentinel today; basically the right hand skyline in Lauren's photo of Sentinel Rock. Boy, this sure is a crag that looks better the further away you are from it. What a piece of junk when you get up close; even by my standards. Beta for the approach is spot on as per taking the trail straight up the canyon from the 1st big switchback on the Palmer/Rec Rock Loop Trail as described by Stewart Green below. There are some interesting cabin remains just as you get on the approach trail. Not really worth the hike up to climb Sentinel's north ridge. Didn't really get a chance to form an opinion of the main face. Hike up to the Tenny Crags is pretty long and brutally steep, but well worth ticking the summit. There are some short and interesting looking cracks on a small crag half way between the top of Sentinel and the Tenny Crags, but is it worth hiking the gear all the way up there?
I have hiked up to the Specimen a couple of times, and always just headed uphill from the Bear Creek Canyon trail/drainage from directly beneath the crag. Not so sure if using the approach beta for Sentinel is the best way for getting to the Specimen, as you would end up way on the north side of Sentinel, and far away from Specimen. Raptor activity is very obvious at Specimen, but I didn't see any sign of raptor activity at Sentinel.