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Photo op: Sarah Watson on last pitch approaching t...
Beginner classic. This was named in memory of Jon Swanson who was killed descending Mt. Sir Donald in the Selkirks in 1968.
There are many ways to start this climb.
Option 1: Start as for Rewritten, but after P1, traverse up to the Red Ledge to the right. Find a tree to the right of the West Chimney and belay from here. 5.7 PG-13.
Option 2: Do the West Chimney passing a 2 bolt intermediate anchor and continue up to either the 2 bolt 2nd anchor (50m) or continue up to the tree (60m). 5.6.
Option 3: Do the 1st pitch of Great Zot, 5.8+.
P1. Follow the arete on the right side. Note, the start is a bit loose in places. There is a easier-than-it-looks slot with holds in the back (crux). You can belay on the left side of the arete at a tree.
P2. Continue up to the right of the arete, passing a slot with a tree or along the arete (5.6 R). Move up into a left-facing dihedral (crux) with a thin crack protectable with wires to a tree.
P3. Continue up on airy but blocky holds. Skirt the roof to the right and finish up the dihedral to the summit.
DESCENT (multiple options):
Option 1: Downclimb (S) to the notch in between Lumpe Tower and Tower One and make 3 double rope raps--or downclimb to the East side of Redgarden.
Option 2: Downclimb to the tree just below the summit. Three 2 rope rappels off the tree, off another large tree with a rope (left of Dirty Deed), and another off a large tree on the Red Ledge gets you down.
Option 3: traverse off to the west along the ridge (lengthy and involves some exposed climbing/scrambling) to the gully descent near the top of Redgarden Wall.
Standard rack--double ropes, or an extra rope for raps on descent. Be careful of loose rocks on the ledges of this rap, known as the "Dirty Deed" rappel.
Steven Watson on pitch 1.
John Barton on P3 of Swanson Arete.
Unknown climbers on tower one photo by J.Wang.
Red Bull gives you wings!!
Paul (before he bought his helmet), at the top of ...
Nelson - Lumpe mid-area belay area going climber's...
BETA PHOTO: Swanson's arete as viewed from near summit of Rewr...
BETA PHOTO: Chockstone Chimney rappel route. From the top of ...
BETA PHOTO: Upper Ramp rappel route. From the base of Chockst...
Second pitch, unknown climber.
BETA PHOTO: A view of the final pitch from Swanson's Arete Pro...
Mike Hubbard Topping out on the classic final pitc...
BETA PHOTO: An option to climb from Red Ledge in two pitches w...
Leading off on P2 of Swanson's Arete.
Wayne tip-toeing up the arete.
BETA PHOTO: From Rewritten/Great Zot, cross over the W Chimney...
Start of the arete.
Looking toward Walker.
More easy terrain.
Looking toward Icarus/Yellow Spur finale.
Looking toward Green Spur Buttress.
Top of the arete.
Looking down the dihedral.
Final roof (easy moves out right).
BETA PHOTO: New summit rap gear.
BETA PHOTO: Downclimb to the notch between Lumpe Tower and Tow...
E Slabs descent.
Eva leading pitch 1.
Eva coming up pitch 2.
Eva leading pitch 3.
View from the summit of Swanson Arete.
Jenna Marie climbing with Joey from Colorado Mount...
|Comments on Swanson Arete
|By Patrick Vernon|
Jan 1, 2001
Descending from routes in this area is a bitch, yet if you know where the Pigeon Crack rappels are, you can save yourself quite a bit of hassle on the descent. This rappel is to left of Ruper (when facing it) and goes down a chockstone-filled chimney from two new big Metolius bolts. This rappel with a single 160 foot rope reaches a small ledge just off the upper ramp from which you can downclimb. From here you are are right on top of the Veritgo raps and can reach the ground easily. By far, this is the quickest and least annoying way of getting to the base of such climbs as the Yellow Spur or Swanson's Arete. Descending the East Slabs sucks.
|By Chris Zeller|
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 1, 2001
I did this climb this fall and thought it was much harder than 5.5. I felt it was much harder than the Dome in the canyon 5.-5.6 or Calypso on Wind Tower 5.6. I took a more direct line, starting from the West Chimney, and rejoining the route at the big ledge, where I made the first belay. There was pleanty of pro on this pitch but the rock was all loose and a little manky. The second pitch was the best of the climb, a good crack with solid gear. The third pitch had some runout sections, and it wasn obvious to move right into the notch. Rather than go the 15-20 feet without pro, I opted to go left and sling a tree, then move into a right angling crack before dropping into the notch. This added huge rope drag and necessitated a fourth pitch at a tree. The fourth pitch was super short. Anyone who can get my nut out of the crack around the roof can have it! Getting off was the hardest part of the climb. Getting down from the top is probably fifth class. I wasn impressed with the rap anchors so I took the east slabs decent. It felt a little like decending the third flatiron unroped. There were two short fifth class boulder problems to the decent. Either way it seemed like a bitch. Overall a good climb, but certainly a step up from the Dome and Calypso, both in terms of commitment and technical difficulty in places.
|By Chris Zeller|
From: Boulder, CO
May 30, 2001
It looks like someone submitted an application to the Eldo Fixed Hardware Review Committe to have Bolts placed on the Dirty Deed Rappel. AMEN! As I mentioned before in my previous comments to this route the current anchors are a nightmare and an eyesore, I hope this application is approved and access from all of Redgarden Wall is made the better for it.
Please submit an endorsement to climbingboulder.com/community/fhrc.
|By Chris Dawson|
From: Denver, CO
Apr 18, 2002
This route can easily be done in two pitches from the Red Ledge. Staying directly on the arete is supposed to make it harder, like .7 or something, and with less gear. With a single 60meter, rap twice (almost reaching the Red Ledge-a short down-scramble) from trees and then rap down the loose chimney with bolted anchors to the right of Rewritten/Great Zot's Pitch 1. Total of 4 raps.
|By Leo Paik|
From: Westminster, Colorado
Apr 30, 2002
There is an ancient variation to P1. It is left of the arete and goes at 5.7? or so. Find 2 pins to start and follow a broken slot system to a 3rd pin. Join Swanson's at the tree (traditional top of P1). Anyone know the name?
You can also rap from the tree just below the top (requires short down lead to this tree) 120 ft to a big tree (with a rope, cord, 2 slings and 2 rap rings) slightly left of the gully of Dirty Deed. Rap 140 ft to the Red Ledge and another big tree (with slings and 2 rap rings). Rap 160 ft to the deck. Rope pull and this last one can be tough.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 30, 2002
Another variation that Rossiter listed was the 5.8 arete. The normal "Swanson's Arete" is very little like an arete route- you can't even reach the arete, or even get near it for most of the standard route.
The variation of which I speak is to actually climb the arete. This is about 5.8 and only deviates from the arete at the big roof near the top, where it goes out to the right to avoid the roof.
Although this variation is S/VS, and is basically void of protection in some places, there are reasonable belays.
|By Anonymous Coward|
May 23, 2002
Okay, so I took Intro to Rock through Colorado Mountain School last weekend, and this was what my guide, Mark Hammond, took me on! Never been climbing in my life.... I lost my nerve at the beginning, but got over it with the help of some complete strangers on a parallel route, who took the time to talk me through a tough part (for me). I really appreciated that. Once I got going though, it was a total gas! By the time I was done with this climb, my confidence and enthusiasm soared. I can't wait to try this new sport some more. Oh, about the route- I don't know what to say, as this was my first time. Lots of loose rock to avoid kicking down on the rappel... What a view !
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jul 5, 2002
I was doing Swanson Arete on 6/29/02, and I saw bolted anchors in the West Chimney. The first set was about 60 feet off of the ground and the second set was about 80 feet above that. When I moved right onto the arete I couldn't see them any more. I was just wondering if this was a rappell route and if it could be done with a single 50 meter rope. The East Slabs descent SUCKS!!!
Aug 7, 2002
Really cool beginner route. Although it kind of sucks that there is not an easier first pitch, it would make a great early lead. I almost got struck by lightning on top a couple of weeks ago and have a beef with somebody. The rappel anchors on top were totally funky, one old sling and a red one that was too short and tied to the rappel ring via another sling and an overhand knot!!! To avoid being barbequed I extended the red sling with a biner and rapped to my salvation. I went back last week with a long piece of webbing and some cheapskate had swiped the biner and retied the overhand!!! I don't care about my four dollar biner but I think it is very uncool to leave behind an unsafe anchor, especially on a beginner climb where someone could assume it to be an established and safe rap anchor. Anyway, enough of my rant, the anchor now has a brand new piece of webbing and that cheapskate has some bad karma coming his way!!
|By Anonymous Coward|
Aug 8, 2002
Wishing bad karma upon another reeks of recursiveness. Maybe they really, really needed that 'biner for a good cause. Probably not, but it's remotely possible.
|By Drew Kurry|
Sep 16, 2002
Be careful of rope getting stuck on summit rappel to rap station between Lumpe and Tower one. May be more appropriate on summit to rappel to the tree that is on route on Swanson's or downclimb to rap station between Lumpe and Tower one. Overall, better to take the station between Lumpe and Tower one, but, just be careful of rope getting stuck on rocks on this very short rappel from summit.
|By Scott Thompson|
Sep 16, 2002
This is a pretty good route. We did it in 2 pitches from the Red Ledge; 3 seems pretty absurd as each pitch would be really short! there is [definitely] a runout section (basically the last half of P2 as per Rossiter and the topo photo above) but if you choose your path wisely, the climbing is very easy. the path of least resistance for us led away from the arete (after P1 Rossiter) and up to a big tree above a large flake, with a nice ledge for belay--watch out for rope drag.
My partner and I were kinda disappointed with the route...then we got to the last 30 feet, where the climbing is truly fun! This is a fine finish--a nice dihedral to a steep crack, then a cool little jaunt around the corner (see 1st pic below), and the top!! The rest of the route is pretty forgettable, but don't miss this last section, and the summit is way cool too!
|By shad O'Neel|
Oct 11, 2002
This is probably my favorite 5.5 of all times. Great fun. I didn't notice a runout. Of course, this climb is a hard 5.5- it was put up in 1960, and Eldo doesn't sport easy routes. Loose rock was there, but a little thought and it is all easily avoidable. I thought the clean dihedral was awesome, make sure to bring little nuts or a small Alien- they came in handy. We planned on Rewritten, but it was taken, if this happens to you, the first pitch of the Great Zot to Swanson's seemed a great outing. Never having been on Redgarden before and only having one rope along, we scampered down the East Slabs, which I found to be an interesting finish, but I wouldn't do it again.
|By Tom Wilson|
Oct 29, 2002
Approach: I still find it interesting that this classic 5.5 route begins on the Red Ledge, which is only accessible via one of several harder first pitches. I've climbed this using both the Rewritten P1 start, and the "unrecommended" West Chimney P1. The chimney is actually an interesting pitch - some real chimney climbing, among other things. However, it *is* in the main rap route and there are plenty of loose rocks, so I'd avoid it unless you can be sure there's no-one above.
The climb: From Red Ledge, this just two 50m pitches. I've always climbed directly up the arete until you have to move around some overhanging stuff at the top. The first belay off of the Red Ledge almost runs out the rope, but a nice spot with a couple trees appears to the right, and just in time. Protection seemed very good to me, and the grade seemed a nice, consistent 5.5. This route has the view and exposure usually reserved for higher graded climbs.
Getting down: I've done the East Slabs a couple times. I can see why gym-trained crag climbers don't like it, but if you have any interest in mountaineering, it's great training. (OK, maybe it would suck if you had to do it in the dark, or in the rain.) Of course, it implies you climb with your pack since you dump out in front of Wind Tower, and don't even think of taking off your rock shoes until you're off the slabs.
I've also rapped down the route shown in the picture, down the Dirty Deed gully to the south. DO NOT get your rope caught on the rap anchor on the "shrub" at the top of the climb (like we did.) It's probably best to downclimb south to the top of the gully and rap from there.
|By Jason williams|
From: Parker, Colorado
Sep 6, 2003
Swanson's Arete is a good beginner route thats fortunately or unfortunately located after a more difficult start. If you can lead 5.8, the Great Zot is defintely the way to go. Rewritten is an excellent route, but Id say the Great Zot start to reach the red ledge is better. At the top of the first pitch of Great Zot, traverse right along the clean face, then up the loose section for 20ft, you'll see a big tree to your right. The route starts here behind this tree and goes straight up. Stay right of the true arete for better pro. 2 pitches to the top. If you rap the Dirty Chimney, use one rope for the first and second rap stations since their short , the third it seemed you'd need two ropes to reach the ground. Lots of loose rock in the chimney so take your time. The slings at all 3 stations looked good although the tree at the summit you rap from seems a little scary. Enjoy.
|By Gary Schmidt|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2004
Did this route couple of days ago and it made for fun enjoyable day. Unfortunately, we got a late start and there as a long queue of climbers waiting to do Rewritten so the first pitches of that and the Great Zot were plugged up, so we reluctantly headed up the infamous West Chimney with our helmets secure on our heads. It is not a classic pitch by any means with some weird stuff in it but really not that bad, though I would rate it a challenging 5.5 much like the rest of the climb. Once on the Red ledge it was easy to finish the climb in two long pitches with about 25 ft of rope left on our 60 meters each time and rope drag was not a problem. The rap down the Dirty Deed is not that much fun and I was pretty amazed our rope did not get stuck. Since it appears there are other ways to rappel down, I for one will be looking for them if there is a next time for this climb. This is a classic climb with great views and some fun interesting climbing along the way.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jun 12, 2004
A great classic. The reasons for this may be helpful. It is a great intro to Eldo rock because, though long, it puts you in a great position, gives you a test piece first pitch in Rewritten or Great Zot (harder crux but less sustained overall, better pro and often faster), tours you past and near other classics, provides intermittent challenges for a 'beginner' climb or rest day and a sense of climbing history.
|By Rob Dillon|
From: '81 Sunrader
Jul 28, 2004
About the DESCENT: I hiked off to the north and it wasn't too bad, walking all the way, and I didn't need a rope or an hour to hike the E. Slabs and return to the base. Does no one else do this?
|By Jason Shatek|
May 4, 2005
Easily the best 5.5 around, seriously! About the way down; I've done both the hike and the rappel. I would say they take about the same amount of time. The rap down the Dirty Deed's chimney didn't seem to have have that much loose stuff to me so I don't mind rap'ing there. But if there's a line to rap; don't even bother; take the East Slabs trail; you'll be down an hour before they will :).
|By Buff Johnson|
Jan 24, 2006
Best 5.5 in the State - the West Chimney is underrated as far as a quality climb, keep the whole thing 5.5-6 and get a good chimney pitch in also (you would need an early start so you aren't climbing when parties are descending this chimney). Watch for loose rocks along the Red Ledge. On Lumpe, the mid-belay ledge (the next stop above the Red Ledge) has a variant to the right that goes to a flake which has a detached "feel" to it; I wouldn't use it for an anchor. The final 50M on this route is what makes this route an all-time 5.5 classic.
|By Ben Randolph|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2006
Excellent moderate climb. I linked the second and third pitches together using a 60m rope. Had about 15ft. of rope left. A little more runout than I was expecting, but on easy ground.
May 8, 2006
Liked the route immensely. We did it in 3 pitches from the ground, climbing near the "ancient variation" to the left of the arete for a p2 that started at the top of G. Zot and ended 40' above the tree at a beautiful flat triangular belay seat with stunning views all around. A 70m rope probably helped although 60m might reach. Descent was fine rapping off to the NE and then wandering N. to reach the notch for descending back down U. Redgarden. Don't think it took more than 1/2 hour to get back to packs this way, and as an added bonus it's a nice meander through rock gardens.
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 14, 2006
Did this route last spring with the Rewritten start. Wasn't very impressed by the route overall. Can be a bit confusing on route finding for the new leader. While the last 30 feet were really fun climbing, wasn't worth it IMO.
Apr 2, 2007
Definitely a great route. If you combine the first two pitches of Rewritten (5.7) and then combined 2 pitches of Swanson's you can easily do this climb in 3 pitches including approach climb to the red ledge. We did it in 4.
|By Jason Kaplan|
From: Glenwood ,Co
Apr 9, 2007
Did this route today and it was a lot of fun! P1 onsight Great Zot, pitch 2 let the partner lead the first pitch of Swanson's up to the ledge, then I got the gem last pitch to the top, and it was great going far out right after getting pro in the the roof (incredible exposure). The chimney was wet today so after seeing another group on the Great Zot and having climbed that chimney once last week we would be retarded not to have given it a shot.
We rapped off a tree into the notch between Swanson's and Tower 1 to the south then made a single 60m rap off a slung block almost not making it to the tree (slight downclimb on to the tree and down and around the tree to where the rap rings are on the slings). Then another single 60m rap left us with 10-15 of easy down climbing which got us to the Red Ledge.
Also, it could be run in two pitches with slight simul-climbing and different anchor spots or a 70m might do it.
|By James Beissel|
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 6, 2007
Descent Beta: You can get down the West Chimney (the gully to the north) easily with one 60m (and probably with a 50m rope but I've never tried).
1) On the summit is a shrub, usually with slings. Ignore it. Look about 20' down on the northeast corner for two fat Metolius rap bolts. Rap ~90' to the saddle between Lumpe and the Middle Buttress.
2) Find the slings at the top of the West Chimney and rap ~100' down the gully to a big tree with slings.
3a) Rap ~90' to slings on a small tree on the right side of the gully, then rap ~65' to the Fixe bolts on the left end of the ledge.
3b) Rap 100' and downclimb about ~10' of easy 5th class and then some 3rd/4th class to the Fixe bolts on the left end of the ledge.
4) Rap ~80' to another set of Fixe bolts.
5) Rap ~80' to the ground.
Use care - there is a lot of loose rock. If there are parties below consider doing the walkoff instead.
|By Buff Johnson|
Jun 6, 2007
James, I guess a concern I have is the second rap & 50m single:
"2) Find the slings at the top of the West Chimney and rap ~100' down the gully to a big tree with slings."
With a single 60m you almost to come out of the system to grab the rap slings on that tree, it's a difficult position to attain. I don't see a single 50m working, but maybe I'm missing a station that could work??
|By tom stocker|
From: Lakewood, Colorado
Nov 19, 2007
Yesterday, 11/19/07, I led Swanson's Arete again (Lisa Roth was my team mate), but this time with a 70 meter rope. As I had hoped, on the rappels down the messy Dirty Deed chimney, the 70M rope allowed me to get to the Red Ledge with just two rappels. The first rappel just got me to a tree on the left (north) side of the chimney, and the second to the Red Ledge. On the second rappel, the rope ends were about a foot above the Red Ledge, but just long enough for me to touch down and build an anchor. The last time I was up, I used a 60M rope, but it requires three rappels. So the 70M rope eliminated one rappel setup with the attendant savings of time.
|By Wes B.|
Nov 13, 2009
Climbed the route last week. After climbing the West Chimney we scrambled up the Red Ledge to where the route proper starts and climbed the entire route in two rope stretching pitches (60m rope). Lots of lose rock on 1st pitch of arete. Great exposure on the last pitch. It's a shame you have to climb the West Chimney to get to this route. Highly recommended for Eldo newbies!
|By Doug Redosh|
From: golden, CO
Apr 11, 2010
from the top of the West Chimney P1, make sure to go up first and then right to the Red Ledge. Twice now I have inadvertently traversed straight right along a large ledge that I thought was the Red Ledge, then started from the high point of that ledge (as Rossiter describes)up a bushy corner to the Red Ledge. Today my partner then climbed straight up a small dihedral, joining the route at about 60' above the Red Ledge 80' above the belay. We called it "Sara Lee" 5.7.
|By Rodger Raubach|
Sep 13, 2010
This route is a Classic in Eldorado Canyon, but it requires some good route finding ability to keep the grade at "only 5.5." It is easy to get onto some harder climbing.
The original line takes the W. Chimney start, as described above.
I've only done the route once, and thought that there were other climbs significantly nicer. It's worthy of---maybe 2 stars---at best.
|By Ted Eliason|
From: Westminster, CO
Jun 20, 2011
rating: 5.6 PG13
I concurr. This route is not a 5.5 the way Boulder Direct or Breezy on Wind Tower are a 5.5, it's a notch or two above Fandango on the first Flatiron, and bares no resemblance to a gym 5.5. There is no 5.5 start option to get to the Red Ledge. The arete isn't vertical, but it's not solid jugs either. There are some tricky hand and foot combo moves on it with exposed fall potential between stretches safe enough to run the rope out, although in most cases it is possible to back off any crux move. I oddly felt safer leading Gambit a few weeks ago than Swanson yesterday. Will see if a second run up in a few weeks changes my first impression.
Jul 27, 2011
Did this today after worrying over the descent for entirely too long. Came up the West Chimney, which was a pretty decent climb. All the way to Red Ledge just below the start of Swanson's with a short unroped walk to the belay. Pitons in the chimney were well placed and appeared solid.
We went from the start of Swanson's to the summit in one long (~180') pitch and one short pitch with a 60m rope. Belayed the second pitch from a poor sitting stance in the open book - should have belayed 30ft lower, at the ledge with the two trees, but oh well. I did not find the climb to be difficult or run-out. Lots of hollow sounding flakes. I placed maybe a half-dozen pieces on any of the three pitches, and rope drag was never an issue. Did not place anything bigger than a 2.5 Friend.
For the descent, we rapped off the small tree on the south side of the summit to the notch between T1 and Lumpe, scrambled 5 minutes down the East Slabs, turned right (south) at the Ruper saddle, and turned right (west) to up and over the notch in the Italian arete, and rapped 100' off the chockstone anchors to the upper ramp, then up and over to the west and rapped twice (90') to the Vertigo ledge. The Levin description is perfect. Much cleaner and safer looking than the Dirty Deed or West Chimney raps, and saved my knees from the east slabs. Took about an hour from the summit back to the Redgarden Trail. Apparently this is not the typical descent because someone climbing on Chockstone did not believe me when I said that we had come from Swanson's. It's not that far.
Fantastic outing for the exposure and views, the climbing itself is easy. Easier than Calypso or Wind Ridge, IMO.
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
May 6, 2012
Having soloed both the W Chimney and Rewritten (not quite ready to try the Great Zot start) I found Rewritten to be less creepy, but then again I'm not big on polished rock. Both P1 of Rewritten and Swanson's have (avoidable) chossy bits. The arete was mellow 5.5.
I personally like the E Slabs descent. It gives the descent an alpine feel, it's scenic, and it dumps you off close to the entrance. Plus you get to practice downclimbing.
|By Jay W.|
May 6, 2012
As of 5/5/12, there was webbing around a large block with rap rings to get down to the saddle between T1 and Lumpe. It all looked pretty new. There was also some older webbing/rings tied around a small tree. The tree rappel looked a little more suspect.
|By Scott McMahon|
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 30, 2012
Rope pull on the summit rap anchors is incredibly difficult. I've never had such a hard time pulling a rope through due to friction.
I don't recommend the east slab "walk off" descent. The way we went basically was the equivilant of downclimbing the Second Flatiron, with some mid-5th class and very sketchy moves in places. Very long descent. This is not the easy or fast way down. Do it once and rap any other time.
There is also a TV-sized block at the east end of Red Ledge. Probably just a matter of time before it goes down West Chimney.