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Suggested RMNP routes
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By Ryan Tuleja
Jul 30, 2008
standing on the summit
So, I would like to start climbing in "The Park", but dont really know where to begin. Hallets, Ypsilon and Mchenry's all seem to have sub 5.8 routes, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a first "mountaineering" route. I lead in the .8 range generally, but would probably keep it lower, till I get some mileage, or find a partner with some experience to show me the ropes. Thanks.

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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Ryan Tuleja wrote:
So, I would like to start climbing in "The Park", but dont really know where to begin. Hallets, Ypsilon and Mchenry's all seem to have sub 5.8 routes, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a first "mountaineering" route. I lead in the .8 range generally, but would probably keep it lower, till I get some mileage, or find a partner with some experience to show me the ropes. Thanks.


Long's Peak: Stettners Ledges to the Notch Couloir if you want a long, ultra-classic mountaineering route that involves several pitches of (5.7-5.8ish) rock climbing, followed by 1,500 feet of snow climbing, then another pitch of 5.5 rock to the summit. Descend the Cables Route back to the boulderfield.

If you want a bit less rock climbing, then do Kieners Route - also on Long's Peak.

Both of these routes are in the MP.com database and are mega-classic, technical mountaineering routes.

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By Dusty
From Fort Collins
Jul 30, 2008
just teasin' the sharks...
-North Ridge on the Spearhead... Glacier gorge is f-in rad.
-South face on Petit (only do this on a weekday).
-Culp-Bossier on Hallett...much shorter approach.

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By Mike Pharris
From Longmont, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Climbing above Black Lake
I've not done it yet, but my partner says that Culp-Boss is somewhat run out, but that the harder sections have decent pro.

For a 'first alpine' experience, i've been told that the Cables Route on Longs is a good one to cut your teeth on, a couple pitches of not too tough climbing followed by some 4th class scrambling. The plus is that then you'll have good knowledge of where the rap route is for futre climbs on the mountain.

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By Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Bunny pancake
Ryan Tuleja wrote:
So, I would like to start climbing in "The Park", but dont really know where to begin. Hallets, Ypsilon and Mchenry's all seem to have sub 5.8 routes, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a first "mountaineering" route. I lead in the .8 range generally, but would probably keep it lower, till I get some mileage, or find a partner with some experience to show me the ropes. Thanks.



If oyu are leading 8 in the crags I would keep it to 6 in the mountains. I have seen many an epic on Culp-Boissier b/c the leader was at his limt on 8. You need to be able to move fast and securely in the mts and if this means climbing below your grade until you get enuff experience then so be it.

With that said, the North Ridge on Spearhead is a great beginner route. SOmeone mentioned cables rt on Longs that would be good. I would staty away from anything on the Diamond (notch, stetners, kieners) as your first route. The logistics are pretty involved.

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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Michael McKinnon wrote:
I would staty away from anything on the Diamond (notch, stetners, kieners) as your first route. The logistics are pretty involved.


Agree on Culp-Bossier advice, but have to disagree on this. I'll grant that Stettner's can involve routefinding to keep it down to 5.8.

But Kieners and or a Kieners-Notch Couloir link-up is a very straight-foward outing. It is obvious how to go (at least it has always been for me) if you study the topo for the route before getting on it. Climb Lamb's slide, take right onto obvious ledge system on Broadway to the obvious base of the Notch Couloir, go up that, or walk right 20 feet and start climbing easy rock on upper Kieners. Don't stop until you get to summit. There is little significant route finding to do, because there are almost always several options to get to the top.

Kieners was my first mountaineering route in the Park, and I had no other prior experience other than playing on Tyndall Glacier one day (I was an experienced rock climber, though). I soloed it even. I carried a rope just in case, and did self-belay for one short section near the beginning of the Notch Couloir. But I never had any trouble route finding. I came down the Cables Route, and had no trouble finding the eye-bolts for the final rappel.

I'm only saying this because I'd hate to see Ryan get discouraged. Kieners is a beautiful and very do-able introduction to real mountaineering in the Park.

Just be sure you have good weather, though. Otherwise, I agree you could have a real epic up there. Turn back if in doubt. But that can happen on any route in the backcountry.

Oh, and Ryan - if you do the Notch, you do not need any snow pickets or screws, etc. the entire thing protects with a light rock rack.

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By Mark Hammond
From Eldorado Springs, CO
Jul 30, 2008
The Spiral route on Notchtop would be another one to consider.

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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Jed Pointer wrote:
Kiener's is 2 pitches of 5.4, and a lot of big mountain slogging with a lot of objective hazzards, snow, ice and routefinding, not to mention a huge day of hiking - most of which can be said about any route on Long's.


Remember he asked for "mountaineering routes" - most of you guys are posting pure rock routes, which he says he's already considered.

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By brenta
From Boulder, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Cima Margherita and Cima Tosa in the Dolomiti di Brenta.  October 1977.
Kieners and Notch are great and the climbing is easy, but they are long. Routefinding is simpler for the Notch, but the couloir has to be in conditions. Lambs Slide becomes unpleasant towards the end of summer. I liked the Notch better than Kieners, but that's just me.

An alternative on Longs is the Keyhole Ridge. There is only 70 m of technical climbing (5.5), but the position is awesome. It's a much shorter day than either Kieners or the Notch, and it's a pure rock climb.

Something that is technically easy, but in a spectacular environment is the ascent of McHenrys Notch Couloir from Solitude Basin followed by an ascent of either McHenrys or Powell. Nothing beyond class 4 and 50-55 degree snow/ice, but a true mountaineering experience. McHenrys Notch Couloir is well protected from the sun, and typically has snow year-round, but it has been a very hot summer so far, and I have not been there recently. If the opposite gully is any indication, you really don't want to be there after the snow melts.

Pagoda's North Buttress is very nice, but once again, it's just rock climbing. I liked the north ridge of the Spearhead, though I'll concede that the Sharkstooth is a bit better. The descents from both Pagoda and Spearhead are forgettable, but don't let that deter you.

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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Jed Pointer wrote:
Where does he say he's already considered the rock routes? Just curious. Reads to me like he wants a rock climb, or should. It's the middle of the alpine rock season. Where is a decent 5.8 "mountaineering" route anyway, in the true sense of the word? Most in the Park will be low angle snow and/or choss. Chamonix it is not. Too late even in the Tetons now, really.


Well, he didn't come out and say he'd excluded pure rock routes, but he did say this:

"Hallets, Ypsilon and Mchenry's all seem to have sub 5.8 routes, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a first "mountaineering" route."

I hear "mountaineering" and Ypsilon mentioned (does it have any pure rock routes?), I am thinking "mountaineering" in the sense that he wants the full deal - rock, snow or ice, hiking, and a summit.

And there most certainly is a decent 5.8 mountaineering route in the Park! It's the first one I listed. Stettners Ledges to the Notch Couloir to the summit of Long's. It's not just a "decent" mountaineering route, it is world class!

I'll let Ryan clarify what he really meant if he chooses to do so.

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By Ryan Tuleja
Jul 30, 2008
standing on the summit
Wow, lots of good suggestions here!

As far as rock, snow etc..etc.. I'm looking for all of it. My focus is to increase my skills and knowledge during the summer, in hopes of not killing myself in the winter, so if you think it's a good learning route, than I'd love to hear it!

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By John Korfmacher
From Fort Collins, CO
Jul 30, 2008
Long's
Ryan, I would definitely recomment N Ridge on Spearhead, and also Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon as first alpine climbs in RMNP. Niether has anything harder than 5.7 if you're on route. They are both difficult to retreat from though--start early and watch the weather. Also, both are quite lengthy (10-12 hours or more car-to-car), so make sure you are well-conditioned and acclimated.

Culp-Bossier is a real classic, but I would recommend recruiting an experienced 5.9-5.10 leader with alpine experience before heading up that one. It's long, committing, a bit runout, and the route finding is less than obvious on the upper pitches.

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By timt
From Wheat Ridge, CO
Jul 30, 2008
on lead, Mean Green Cody,WY
i have climbed all over the park and NE ridge of sharkstooth is by far my favorite rock route under 5.8. in fact it probably only trails the petit and the casual route for any grade climb that i've done there! easy routefinding. easy decent. and really good rock quality on an aesthetic line.

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By Ryan Tuleja
Aug 11, 2008
standing on the summit
Ok, so between Spearhead and Sharks tooth, are any of these going to require a permit to camp, or should I be able to hike in, climb and hike out? I know I can read to description, but I have often found peoples insight quite helpfull! Thanks.

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By Not So Famous Old Dude
From Denver, CO
Aug 11, 2008
Ryan Tuleja wrote:
Ok, so between Spearhead and Sharks tooth, are any of these going to require a permit to camp, or should I be able to hike in, climb and hike out? I know I can read to description, but I have often found peoples insight quite helpfull! Thanks.


Both require backcountry permits. If you just get a bivy permit, you can camp near the base on "rock or snow" - no tents allowed. If you want a tent, you can camp in one of the organized camping areas. The rangers can give you adivce at the backcountry office.

However, you can definitely hike in, climb, and hike out in one long day. It's a looong day, though. The hike all the way to Spearhead's base is 3-4 hours at a reasonable speed with gear, depending on how hard you are pushing. The hike isn't hideous though, as either approach has long sections of reasonably flat hiking with the major altitude gain just at the end. I'd say the uphill to Sharkstooth is more intense than to Spearhead, though.

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By Mike McKinnon
From Golden, CO
Aug 11, 2008
Bunny pancake
Not So Famous Old Dude wrote:
Both require backcountry permits. If you just get a bivy permit, you can camp near the base on "rock or snow" - no tents allowed. If you want a tent, you can camp in one of the organized camping areas. The rangers can give you adivce at the backcountry office. However, you can definitely hike in, climb, and hike out in one long day. It's a looong day, though. The hike all the way to Spearhead's base is 3-4 hours at a reasonable speed with gear, depending on how hard you are pushing. The hike isn't hideous though, as either approach has long sections of reasonably flat hiking with the major altitude gain just at the end. I'd say the uphill to Sharkstooth is more intense than to Spearhead, though.


The hike top Spearhead is pretty flat except for the last 1/2 mile where you have to surmount the drainage to get to the spearhead basin. I am by no means mr. tri-athlete. I did the hike in 2.5 hours and the hike out in 1 hour 45 mins.

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By Ryan Tuleja
Aug 27, 2008
standing on the summit
Thanks for all the input! I'm heading for Sharkstooth this weekend!! Anyone been there lately? I'm curious about the conditions on the approach. Thanks

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By Ryan Tuleja
Sep 4, 2008
standing on the summit
Sharkstooth was AWSOME!! Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I think Spearhead is next, and I'm saving Kieners for October, as I hear that is when the snow will be really nice. Any other suggestions for the fall?

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