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|Type: ||Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 900 feet, Grade III|
|Consensus: ||5.9+ [details]|
|FA: ||FA: Richard Sykes, Dave Rearick, David Isles, and John Wharton 1958?, FFA: Royal Robbins and Steve Komito 1964?|
|Submitted By: ||Anonymous Coward on Jul 6, 2003|
Pope on a wet 1st pitch.
Amazing- Spearhead is located in Rocky Mountain National Park and is perched above Glacier Gorge. Spearhead is an 800-ft granite spire that rises to a sharp point above the upper basin (past Black Lake). In the middle of the immense vertical wall is a right arcing crescent roof dubbed the "Sickle". Syke's Sickle is a wonderful route that ascends several crack systems before arriving at the "Sickle".
P1 ascends a 5.5, left-arcing, wide crack (easy to spot in the center of the wall), then unites with a flaky system that moves up and left (watch rope drag) before ending 200 feet up on a ledge to the left of a blocky roof (bypass the weathered webbing for the “standard” first belay).
P2 crosses the "flat earth" (a 35-degree grassy ledge) with an easy dihedral before ascending a 35-foot slab, w/ no protection, to a nice [flake]- don't fall (this is the most direct, and exciting, way to the [flake] system above)!
P3 moves diagonally left (past slings) then ascends hollow and loose flakes up an amazing wall with great exposure and fun aesthetic moves (pass the upper slings and set up camp 20 feet higher on a "nice" horn below a large dihedral). If in doubt, go to the highest 3rd/4th class part of the ramp, until you are below a dihedral and "real" climbing.
P4 starts the business- 40 foot of great dihedral, then everything goes vertical, to the right, with side pulls- stemming- and fun moves for another 50 feet (5.7+).
P5 gets a little crazy: move up into a wide crack, then make a relatively thin face traverse, to your right, before rising high on a one foot thick OW flack that starts vertical then bends right and ends 10 feet below a nice ledge w/ a huge loose block (the book says 5.7, if so- it was a very hard 5.7).
P6 is the crux (the book says 5.9.... I thought it was solid 5.10a ). (Note: keep in mind: you are well over six hundred and fifty feet off the ground, and below an amazing roof that cuts out then daggers down). The view is absolutely incredible! You are on a beautiful wall (Spearhead is the smallest peak amongst the surrounding spires). The valley is painted with golden aspen, evergreen trees, bright red bushes, and turquoise lakes. At eye level there is an array of jagged peaks that jut forth from a wrapped ridgeline. It's so awe inspiring: everything is sharp and edgy and very intense.
The "crux" starts with a nice 20-foot dihedral that intersects the roof (great pro w/ two good fixed pieces at the roof intersection). Time to get to work...move out above a void of space, stem, place big gear (the crack above takes large cam), stem some more, fist jam, then pull through the roof slot to a huge edge. Looking down into the void, from the stemming position, is wicked cool! For the sanity of your second- slot a fat nut above the apex of the slot exit and remove your #3 - #4 cam placement from the crack (this increases rope drag, but makes the crux more enjoyable for your second). Ride the edge above the abyss for about 40-feet, on easy rock, and set-up a belay.
P7. From the belay, continue up the left-leaning crack system a short way, place pro as high as you can (I put it under a flake just to the right of the system), then climb down a little and traverse right and up a little for ~20 feet until you come to the bolt (which has recently been replaced). As you are climbing up the crack system, make sure to take your time and look to the right for the bolt, which is very hard to spot, especially from where you need to start the traverse. Unfortunately, the hardest move on the pitch comes just before you clip the bolt, but it is no harder than 5.8 at the very most. After you clip the bolt, head up and right on easier climbing into a dihedral and then step right around an overhang to third class terrain. This pitch is not really dangerous for the second.
Very nice beta photos for the route and descent: climbinglife.com/spearhead/sykes-sickle.html
Standard rack up to a #3.5 or #4 Camalot. Many are comfortable with a #3 Camalot, which does work in the crux roof (though the fixed gear is actually better placed, and as long as it's still there, you probably won't need additional protection on the crux).
Pope on a block.
Tony Bubb leading an early pitch on Sykes Sickle o...
Tony Bubb leading pitch 6, approaching the famous ...
Tony Bubb leading the crux roof pitch of Sykes Sic...
Joseffa Meir leading the airy 5.7 traverse pitch o...
Enjoying initial pitches (c) Jesse Ryan 2000
Climbers enter the giant sickle on Syke's. Photogr...
Mike leading the fourth pitch, just about to head ...
Myke changing shoes on the wall
Cranking those killer flakes.
Nice lichen at a belay
Twisting around at the crux
Eli, at the crux!
Bill leading up on great flake action on pitch one...
Belay after the crux pitch of Syke's.
BETA PHOTO: Clint following the traverse on pitch 8. The bolt ...
Matt Battaglia getting "Syked" on a beautiful day ...
At the bolt. It is there, you just have to look.
Top of Sprearhead
BETA PHOTO: The Sickle
Seth Dee approaching the Sickle.
Climber on the middle pitches of Syke's, as seen f...
Climbers on the 4th pitch.
A German climber finishing the crux pitch of Syke'...
Looking down on the belay from the roof at Tim Lom...
Looking out at your stemming objective. That crac...
BETA PHOTO: Topo showing how we pitched out Syke's. Note that...
BETA PHOTO: Greg leading the runout slab towards the elusive b...
Long's Peak, Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda, and Sp...
Starting up Syke's Sickle.
|Comments on Syke's Sickle
|By Anonymous Coward|
Jan 1, 2001
Descent- At the top of the last pitch: head to the right, and loop around to the back (it's an easy scramble to the vertigo inducing tip-top). Descend the obvious path (NW) for a hundred yards or so, then cut to the left (south), to exit the ridge. If you keep descending the obvious slide path it turns into a cliff!
|By Mike Sofranko|
Jul 30, 2001
The Sickle - wow. Not sure how to prepare for that one. Much easier (but still pretty strenuous) for the long-legged and big-handed. Definitely a wild feature to climb up into and through. Now that I'm forgetting how scared I was - wow that was cool.
The face pitch above the roof really wasn't that big of a deal, but I probably wouldn't be too psyched (get it?) to do it in the rain. Follow the crack up to where there are a couple blocks jammed in it. From there, the bolt (new) is pretty much straight right. There was some blue webbing hanging from it when I did it - kind of hard to not find it. The bolt itself is pretty well camoflaged, though. Gillett mentions a pin before the bolt, but I didn't see any.
Judging from the decent rap anchors, this route obviously sees it share of retreats.
|By Joe Keyser|
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Sep 10, 2001
What an awesome climb!!! This route was a bit over my head for an alpine route, so, I was very happy to climbing be with a solid alpinist, Dave Russell! Thanks Dave, you da man! Just wanted to add some comments about the traversing second to last pitch...
We didn't see the bolt, but think we did it right?? After going up through the slot (wow!), the sleet caused the rock to be wet, and the impending traverse had put our game faces on. We moved up on the left side of the belay for about a body length, and then traversed straight right on crimpers. Dave got a sketchy Yellow Metolius half way through the traverse which goes maybe 20 feet to another short crack system. He said a yellow Alien would have been better, but, probably shouldn't fall here anyway!!! After we scrambled up to the true summit to check out the vertigo, we decided that we possibly climbed right past the bolt, if so, someone did a good job on the camoflauge! We did see the bolt further up and to the left with the blue sling hanging on it, and agreed that that wasn't the right way for this route...
A few more like this one, and I should be just about, almost, ready for the Casual Route on the Diamond, one of my biggest alpine goals!
|By justin dubois|
From: Estes Park
Jul 5, 2002
Did this a couple weeks ago and had a blast. We did not bring a cam bigger than #3 camalot, and did not even need it on the crux. there are about four good fixed pins leading up to the roof and one about at your feet doing the crux moves. the moves seem pretty secure, because you can fully chimney it. The Spearhead has to be one of the coolest formations i have ever seen.
|By Todd Bauck|
Jul 15, 2002
The bolt on the pitch after the crux was camoflaged and did not have a sling on it as of 7/15/2002. It is hard to find. After climbing through the roof, continue up the left leaning crack system for about 40' until you come to some large blocks in the crack system. The bolt is about 25' up and to the right of these blocks. It can be seen if you lean way back from the blocks. It is a light tan color.
|By Tony B|
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 30, 2003
If you have anxiety about finding the traverse and the bolt, check the photos. The one posted 1/11/2002 is of my partner [on the] traverse- you can see the draw on the bolt in the photo, as taken from the belay. Thin moves to get there though- a little [spooky]
|By Ryan Sayers|
May 1, 2003
What'd be the earliest this this might come into happy season? Mid-June by any chance? Danka
|By Michael Komarnitsky|
From: Seattle, WA
Jul 7, 2003
Probably the best route I've ever done in the park, I had dreams about laybacking huge flakes for hundreds of feet last night - my brain trying to process the day's experiences. The bolt on the final pitch: I started the traverse 15 feet down from the belay, on the block resting in the crack. The holds seemed more defined here, and I wasn't too sketched out.
That roof wrecked us - my partner got his hand stuck in a twisted fist jam and nearly broke his knuckle, and I ended up using a heel-toe lock above my head. I didn't get beta from the free-soloer who spent 20 minutes up there looking at it before committing - we were on the belay ledge below, afraid to look. Yikes!
[I also edited the route description, it should be much easier to follow now.]
|By Nate Christiansen|
Jul 11, 2003
The roof is certainly hard to figure out. with that much exposure, it's hard to commit to such weird stemming (chimneying) moves. mentally, it's a 5.11 roof. this climb goes by way [too] fast for the quality
|By Fred Vanden Bergh|
Jul 21, 2003
My partner and I were stormed off of Syke's Sickle, on Spearhead in RMNP, Saturday, July 19 ... a mere 50 feet or so from the top! I had just completed the roof crux, and was near the belay, when the sky opened up with the full wrath of [insert Diety of choice here]! You know what I mean if you were in the area...wow. Lightning, hail, torrential rain...needless to say, we bailed ASAP. In so doing, I was lowered from a number 1 (red) Camalot, right before the belay at the end of pitch 7 (the crux, roof pitch), before the final slab 5.7 traverse.
I submit this plea: I know there's an active debate as to whether or not we deserve to get this piece back, but if you are so inclined, there's the good karma and a reward in it for you! I'd head up there myself to get it, but work gets in the way... Also, we left a few nuts, 'biners, and slings on the retreat down the face, if you happen to scoop those up as well, but of course, those are far less important.
Anyway, thanks much!! You can reach me at phred(at)frontier.net.
Fred Vanden Bergh
PS: Before the storm hit us, the climbing was stellar...gorgeous granite, amazing setting, fun route. And the crux is a blast! Great position and exposure! Can't wait to get back up there and stand on the tippy-top.
Sep 4, 2003
Hey, did this a few days [ago], and if you want to bump the difficulty up to mid 5.10, there is a variation on the last pitch that allows you to do so. Its R/or X though, so make sure you are a confident face climber. Where you would take off for the last pitch, look up and left and you will see a blue sling that marks a fairly good looking bolt . Climb up and clip the bolt, then traverse left on knobs to a good 2 inch rail. These are probably the trickiest moves on the pitch. Then, you will see a thin crack leading up to a right facing corner. Fish in you 00 TCU or black Alien, clip it long to avoid rope drag and do two or three thin moves into the right facing corner, where the difficulty eases off to 5.7 or so. Good Luck!
|By Josh Janes|
Sep 4, 2003
The variation Jake refers to here is actually the final pitch to Spear Me the Details - an amazing route in it's own right. I found this to be the scariest section of Spear Me the Details - if you fall after clipping the bolt but before getting solid gear in the seam (gear that can handle a directional force nonetheless), you're looking at broken bones.
|By Anonymous Coward|
Aug 20, 2004
Ahh... the dubiuos 9+ rating was invented for cruxes like this one. Weird, weird, weird. This route is a natural passage up a grand monolith of bulletproof granite. So good!!!!!
|By another estes drunk|
Jun 15, 2005
Dude, there is exactly three and a half buttloads of snow up there right now.I was up near Black Lake last weekend and Spearhead has a lot of snow on it, the decent looked very snowy.
|By chris berg|
From: Erie, CO
Jun 21, 2005
This route is excellent. Didn't find that bolt on the last pitch though. Talk about being exposed up there, very, very airy. One of the best routes I've done out here in Colorado. Well worth the approach.
|By James R. Arnold|
Jul 13, 2005
Climbed this route yesterday with Joe Chorny on a perfect day. We were the only ones on the route all day - going midweek is highly recommended.
Overall, I thought the route was good but not great - for some reason I was expecting better. There is a surprising amount of loose rock on the route - particularly on pitch 3 - which took away from the overall quality. On pitch 3 don't be tempted to keep going up and right to a large flake system it is very loose - angle up right initially (40 ft or so) but cut back left ASAP.
The climbing felt hard for the grade on nearly every pitch. Since the route is an old one the ratings don't appear to have been inflated over time.
The crux pitch is very well protected with 2 or 3 fixed pieces, then a piton, and then two fixed wires. The good gear aside, this pitch is strenous and a little bizarre. Joe and I both found that stemming/chimneying with both feet on the left wall was the easiest way up. We didn't do any fist jamming.
A #4 Camalot is not needed on the crux pitch but is very nice to have on the pitch before the crux. That pitch has a pretty hard traverse to the right to go from one crack system to a flake system. The flake is wide and the #4 works well (doubt anything smaller would fit). I moved the #4 up a couple times on that flake. Without a #4 it might be 20-25 ft before you can place gear and the climbing is not trivial.
I found the last pitch to be easier than advertised. The bolt is there and is about 15-20 feet from the belay and not the 30-40 ft reported. Traverse about 10 feet right on good footholds, make one harder move straight up using the very obvious chalked knob for the left hand and clip the bolt. The moves after the bolt are actually a little harder but the bolt is right there.
Overall, good route, worth doing, but probably wouldn't do it again.
|By Greg Sievers|
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 31, 2005
DESCENT:there are several descents listed for Spearhead. I am still amused at folks who head north or rap the north ridge. A very safe and plesant stroll is to walk west to the lowest point in the saddle between Spearhead and Chiefshead, and turn left - SOUTH. Then stay to your left and head east, down ledges. It is mostly 3rd class and one tiny section of 4th. I've done this about 8 times over 15 years, it kewl.
Just continue to keep left and head east from the saddle. You will follow a long ramp and be deposited at the base of (just below) Age Axe and the SE prow.
We carried out [trail] shoes to the summit and did the complete descent in them; safely.
From: Morrison, Co
Jul 19, 2006
Don't bring a #4, and don't bother bringing trail shoes to the top. Too much weight to bring. We did the down hike in climbing shoes and it was perfectly fine. Great Route!
|By Clint Locks|
Jul 6, 2007
rating: 5.9+ PG13
It might be possible to climb the 5.8 crack to the right of the run-out slab past Middle Earth Ledge, then make a rising traverse back to the flake system. In regards to the belay after the crux pitch--I belayed just past the crux, at an old bolt, with a #1 and #2 cam instead of heading up higher, as is described. This allowed me to communicate with my partner and negotiate the rope out of the crack from time to time. FIXED GEAR-As of 07-07, there were 4 pins in the dihedral, and 2 fixed stoppers just before you pull over the roof. Tons o' fun!
|By Terry Bryant|
Aug 13, 2007
I guess most people are finding the route obvious, but my partner and I were slowed a bit on pitches two and five. On pitch two take the left-angling ramp/dihedral to its highest point before committing to the slab. This reduces the runout to the flakes significantly, and some small nuts/RPs can be found. On pitch five, the route goes up only a body length or so in the widish crack before traversing right. We stayed to the left in the dihedral thinking (and then hoping) the traverse would appear higher up, but it never did. Fortunately, we found an excellent retreat anchor where the dihedral meets the far left edge of the roof which we used to pendulum over to the route proper. Fun but time consuming. A great route in a spectacular setting.
|By Ol' Toby|
Jul 14, 2008
I found this route to be less classic than advertised. The loose flakes and meandering nature of the lower pitches detracted from the overall character of the route, although the crux pitch is unique. Pretty hard to put an accurate rating on the crux roof, definitely would give it 9++ if you're shorter. I couldn't stem and ended up with back against one wall and feet against the other, shuffling sideways until I could reach out and grab the lip to pull over. Last pitch wasn't hard to find: After pulling the roof climb the crack above 20-30 ft to an obvious scoop/trough belay. Look for a flake directly above you. Continue up the left-trending crack to the flake, place a small piece, and head straight right to the bolt and easy ground.
|By Stuart Paul|
From: Tahoe City, CA
Aug 10, 2008
P2. 35 foot slab can be protected by moving 15 feet to the right and then back left.
P6. Crux -- I chimneyed with my back against the left wall -- then switched to a chimney against the right wall up higher. I am very tall. ;) Climb the large crack above the crux 40 feet to the largest block in the crack. Sling an belay from here.
P7. From the belay, there is a hand crack that goes to the left at head level. Traverse left with your feet in this crack for ten feet and you will see the bolt up and to the left another ten feet away.
|By Brady Robinson|
Jul 5, 2010
Jumped on this after doing a route on Arrowhead, so it was late and we were feeling tired. Soloed the start of North Ridge to gain Middle Earth ledge and traversed across to the route, belaying the last section. This was to avoid the snow at the base and to speed things up. We didn't have any beta other than old photo copies of the guidebook topo, so it was an adventure. We got off route a few times, including the pitch off Middle Earth which I believe we started too far to climber's right. On the crux pitch I was pulling some 5.10 moves before finally leaning across the chimney. Fixed pins and a wire made for a casual working out of the moves. Finding the cursed bolt above was another story. After trying ever other option, most of which are described above, I finally found the lone bolt out on the face to the right. I found the climbing up to the bolt exciting and it would have been next to impossible in rain. We topped out at 7pm with no headlamps, trotted/ran out and got to the car just as darkness was nearly complete at 9:40pm. Whew! There's nothing like incompetence to enhance an adventure.
Apr 6, 2011
Does anyone have experience climbing Syke's Sickle in early June? Wondering about expected weather.
Jun 29, 2011
I'm surprised there aren't more comments on the direct approach to the pitch 2 35 foot runout to the flake. I elected to try the direct route, starting directly under the left corner of the flake. I found it to easily be the mental crux of the climb. Felt like old school 5.8 R/X slab- inobvious and insecure with a 30+ foot fall onto a 4 foot wide ledge, followed by a likely additional long fall after that. Since I am not a lover of slab to begin with, it might go easier than that. Regardless, it is a mental $#!* storm with amazing exposure. I would definitely try one of the other approaches discussed above next time.
For the second pitch I tried the route about 15-20 feet right of the direct route in the route description above. It is much easier with one well protected move of 5.6 slab and the rest likely 5.4 or .5. A blue/yellow offset mastercam provides pro about 10 feet off the ledge, with another chance for pro 10 feet above that. For ultimate piece of mind for leader and second plug a purple (0) mastercam into the roof.
|By Andrew Hildner|
Aug 1, 2011
I know the rules of bootied gear, but I'd happily give a beer bribe if someone is/was able to unstick my purple 0.5 cam from the first pitch belay of Syke's Sickle on Spearhead (stuck as of 7/30/11).
Please PM me through the site, and I can come meet you.
P.S. the Sickle is an absolutely awesome route, a must do. Brought a double set of cams through #2 Camalot and one #3-equivalent hex: I didn't place any small nuts, found large nuts helpful but not necessary, didn't get much use out of my two smallest C3s (purple, green), and would have preferred to have a #3 cam instead of the hex. YMMV
|By Top Rope Hero|
From: Estes Park
Aug 2, 2011
"I know there's an active debate as to whether or not we deserve to get this piece back...."
Actually? There's no debate. Never has been. If you leave gear, you've left gear. Gone. Done. See ya.
If someone HAPPENS to wanna return it (I have, once or twice), then thank the gods, you just got wildly lucky. Otherwise? Climbing remains a war of attrition. Budget for that or get a more tenacious second.
|By Arnold Braker|
From: golden, co
Aug 21, 2012
This route is a chosspile. Amazing position but I've never seen so many hollow flakes in my life.
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Aug 22, 2012
There's a nice starting variation you can do if you want a more sustained and exciting line in the 9/10a range (and have the extra time). Start with the first three pitches of Spear Me The Details, and belay on the long thin ledge after the 10a pitch. You can then traverse right along this ledge for maybe 60 feet and clip a pin along the way (with other pro). Then climb up and right along a series of stacked flakes (some of dubious quality) until you can turn the corner and arrive at a belay niche on Syke's with a bunch of rappel tat around a pointed block. It takes some route finding skills to find the best path, but eventually you do merge with Syke's. Maybe 5.6.
This variation adds a nice 5.9 layback pitch; you might want a #4 Camalot or bigger for this (I had only a #3 and ran it out 20 feet at least). As a side benefit, since you are already carrying this piece, you can use it in the 9+ roof. P3 includes a slightly runout 10a face section and a runout 5.8 face section too; think of it as prep for the runout 5.7 pitch of Syke's, I guess. See Spear Me The Details for more info. These can be exciting pitches.
No doubt this variation has been done before, but I have some nicknames ready for this path like "Spare Me The Spear" or "Spear Syke Out", because Lenny and I had planned to do Spear Me The Details, only to realize after P3 that today was not our day for glory - and we escaped to Syke's. Nice route in any case!
From: Boulder, Colorado
Jan 1, 2013
Can an ADMIN update the FA info on this one?
According to the Gillett guide:
FA: Richard Sykes, Dave Rearick, David Isles and John Wharton 1958.
FFA: Royal Robbins and Steve Komito 1964.