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The Painted Wall
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The Dragon 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a A4 R

   
Type:  Trad, Aid, 16 pitches, 2000', Grade VI
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a A4 [details]
FA: Baillie, Lovejoy, Baxter and Karlstrom
Page Views: 1,466
Submitted By: phil broscovak on Mar 7, 2010
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My hand drawn Dragon topo.
2013 Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is Rusty Baillie's visionary line up the gnarliest stretch of the PW. It is a serious helping of old school, whup azz.

It has 16 pitches of diverse, mixed, and wandering climbing on often uninspiring stone.

Whenever a climb has well known named features that define the route you can pretty well bet it is a classic route with historic importance. Well the Dragon has a slew of named features. Features that inspire "fear and loathing" to those who know. Features like the first & second Dragons (large and fearsome pegmatite barriers). Or, Kor's Cave (may it rest in pieces). Or, the Rubbly Ledge, or the first and second scree fields. Or the Stygian traverse (aka the Zuider Zee). Not to mention the named belays like; 3 Bolt, Bugger (aka booger) belay, the Broken Hanger belay, the Horn Belay, the LBL (Lovely Bivouac Ledge) and the Buzzard's Roost. My all time favorite named feature on the Dragon however is the Yellow Queeziness. Sounds inviting doesn't it? With that many named features the Dragon has just got to be a "Classic" right?


Location 

From the upper left side of the 2nd scree field of the Painted Wall, climb up and leftward to the neck of the 1st Dragon and on to the top.

The Exit cracks are obvious features high on the wall. The 1st & 2nd scree fields are obvious features down low. But, if you intend to venture up the wall in between you really should possess very keen route and gear finding abilities!


Protection 

A full Black Canyon wall rack. It is now possible and desireable for a competent team to leave the hammer and iron at home.



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By phil broscovak
Mar 8, 2010

I'd be curious to see what it all looks like now that the Kor's Cave ledge has tumbled off. That was a spooky, hollow sounding, vibrating and massively exposed perch. I wonder if Baillie's ratty haul bags are still there hanging off the anchors?

By Jesse Zacher
Administrator
From: Grand Junction, Co
Mar 30, 2010

After doing The Hallucinogen, this route has sat in the back of my mind as a smoldering ember. I am still trying to step up to it. I remember reading that quote from Rustie about if he didn't finish the route, he wasn't really living. Thanks for the topo, Phil. I have printed it off and it will stand in front of me reminding me of my dues.
-Jesse

By phil broscovak
Mar 31, 2010

Rustie used to recount that climb in vivid detail. Some climbs are like that.
He had studied that wall from so many angles and lighting conditions that he had detected a massive continuous fault system like a giant exfoliation flake that encompassed at least a third of the Dragon Wall. During an attempt at one desperate point, the rope tugging pulled off a flake that Rustie said was well over a hundred feet tall and more than sixty feet wide. It was so massive that it blocked out the sun as it plummeted past, just behind his belay stance on its way to the roaring Gunnison River. He said at that moment he was sure the whole enchilada was coming down and they were all dead. They retreated. But as history shows they went back. What Balls!

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jun 5, 2010

What about Bryan Becker's solo of it in the early eighties? Burly. He totally talks it down when asked about it.

By Jack Childress
Jul 18, 2011

This route, ironically was the first, and only, roped climb that I ever did in Colorado. It was 1999, and I went down from Montana to visit my friend Pike Howard who lived in Crested Butte, and had big plans for a "warm-up" route before we went to the Vampire Spires near the Yukon/ NW Territories border.

The climb was kind of a mental journey for me. Approaching the cliff is straightforward, but loose rock and rockfall abounds, it's definitely an experience to rope in at the base of this cliff.

We used the topo that is shown on this site, and it's good, with minor modification. I'd honestly rate the route VI 5.10R C/A3- (with note that every pitch has some "R" factor to it). The Zuider Zee traverse is much shorter than what is depicted on the topo, and I free climbed a lot of it at 5.10R, but definitely sat in the aiders when given the chance when a good piece could be sunk, as the pitch is quite exposed. At the end of the pitch, I used Lost Arrows, even though slider nuts could be used, basically because the cable would have gotten badly warped on the sliders. The route could go hammerless, if that's your thing.

Kor's Cave was actually a small overhang with fuel jugs, used as water jug, tied to wired nuts (I think...it's been a decade or more...), with an extraordinary amount of loose rock and scree filling cracks and ledges...loose. It blew my mind that the roof used to be a cave at one time.

I did not like one of the belays with a flexing, broken Leeper hanger that acknowledged every tug like Pac-Man as I hauled the pigs up.

The Dragon Chimneys were very straightforward, and well protected, but were not entirely enjoyable.

When we topped out, a rain and hail storm punished us, and I put the haul bag over my body (and helmet) to deflect the deluge.

All-in-all, I was left with a sense of respect for those that forged the route. As my only roped rock climb in Colorado, I give it a big thumbs up for adventure points. It's been 12 years since I was there, but some of the memories from that adventure will last a life time.
-Jack C.

By Jesse Zacher
Administrator
From: Grand Junction, Co
Jul 20, 2011

Hey Jack, As it happens, I am friends with Pike, and I remember him telling me to go get on it and that it was not that bad. I saw a Glimmer in his eye and knew better. I still want it though!

By Jack Childress
Jul 20, 2011

Go for it, Jesse! Bring 2 strong friends, as having one at the belay to provide encouragement is important. After the Hall. Wall, you will do great! Have fun.
-JC