Best route of its grade at The Gym? Probably. Hike up the trail and stop. The stunning arete right before your eyes is The Gym Arete. The line has a direct start at 5.12c that I have top ropped on several occasions. This seems really fingery and gets quite powerful in the entry moves that are very steep. Alternatively, step into the corner and pick out a short diagonal variation for "only" 5.12b. This seems a lot more user-friendly and gains the arete on a very natural, curving line. Overall, the route is very continuous. Climbing is unusual for the Shelf, being on edges and square cuts until quite high on the route when a rogue pocket or two will start to emerge. This is positively a great line and I wish my notes referenced the FA team. I have some guesses but nothing concerete. Jump on it!!
Wow! Thanks Bob D'Antonio. As a founding father of the Shelf, I was guessing that this was your route. How did it ever come to pass that all the FA data were neglected in Mark Van Horn's book? I was under the impression, perhaps wrong, that you had worked together on several routes.
I do believe that the FA data are important, and I will pick up Rico's guide. The effort spent in getting a line in, the cleaning, the rehersal, the cost, and the imagination are part of the history that I like to invoke when I'm on a good line. I can't recall all the times that I have looked up at a route simply jazzed by the imagination of a great line or marveled at what an eye it took to spy the line in the first place. It is interesting in this context that many of the European guides cite the equippers and re-equippers of a route and not the single individual who apparently snagged the first free ascent. Unless the route is right at the cutting edge, the FA information is far more informative and interesting than the FFA data.
Glad to see old Bob and Richard patting each other on the back...also like to read about how Richard really likes to see FA info in a guide, this seems to be a common thread in his comments on routes at Shelf. Van Horn, right or wrong, left the FA info out of the book and explained why...if you do not like it you can buy the Rick T. book and read all about the crappy new routes installed in the past few years...lots of nice choss with only a few quality lines here and there. If the lack of FA info was such a tragedy, why didn't someone step up and write a new guide years ago? Too lazy? Producing a guide book is not easy work and at the very least Van Horn took a shot...more than can be said for anyone else.
Maybe I use this moniker being aware of your perchance for unpleasantries...you are correct that you did not directly insult Van Horn's guide but, in a left handed way, you did an even better job...with lines like -_
"I never worked with Van Horn on any route in the area and rarely talked to him. He was not invovled with early FA's and I never saw him down at Shelf in the early going.To my knowledge he has never asked Richard Aschert or any other(me included)climbers who were active with the early FA's and even the newer routes at Cactus Cliff."
Reading this, I wouldn't say you are endorsing his book now are you? Also, I did not say that ALL the new routes are rubble piles, just the vast majority of the new routes. There are great, new lines that have been installed but that has not been the norm.
"If the routes are "worthless choss piles" explain to me why Cactus Cliff is so popular with Front Range climbers"
Maybe it is because it is nice and warm in the winter? I dig the quote but who are you quoting..it was not from my post; Never said anything about "worthless". Maybe they are mostly, read MOSTLY, middle-of-the-road climbs on less than perfect rock. Can we agree on that?
Lastly, maybe I just like crusing these msg boards, posting loads of shit and seeing who gets the most tweaked. It is not far removed from the general rehashing and bickering that is the norm.
And now... back to the climbing. The direct start isn't wildly harder than the upper arete. However, I receieved excellent beta for the tricky sequence of clipping, downclimbing and traversing at the third bolt on the direct start. I'd give 12a for the arete and 12b for the straight up version. The direct is a great combination of steep pulling at the bottom and extremely technical movement above.
I spoke too soon. The direct version is harder than I thought -- in fact it's the first climb at that grade in Shelf that I haven't been able to finish in a day. It must be solid for 5.12c, or even c/d, as the Van Horn book lists.
Kids, can't we all just get along? Come on now; just agree that this route a mega classic, and lets get back to the business of climbing. History will sort itself out.
By Jay Samuelson From: Denver CO Mar 9, 2009 rating: 5.12a7a+25VIII+E5 6a
Great route. I couldn't find a distinct crux, although I imagine the crimp could count since it's the smallest hold on the route. I also don't think this route deserves an R rating. Sustained route that starts out on decent pockets, increases in difficulty and stays with you for a great ride to the chains. Classic.
By Zane Dordai Dec 3, 2012 rating: 5.12a7a+25VIII+E5 6a
Spoiler alert!: Maybe I had bad beta, but I disagree with a lot of the comments about this not being very cruxy. The entry moves were all on pretty good holds ('twas a bit sequential but no hard moves) to a really tiny hold and then some sustained outro moves. The end was awesome in that there were for sure a few places where one could fall; I almost fell hiking my feet up with the anchors right in my face. Definitely one of the best Shelf and all time routes that I've done...get on it and bring your crimp strength!