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North Cheyenne Canyon
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The Phantom 

WI3-4 M6

Type:  Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 80'
Consensus: WI3-4 M5- [details]
FA: Allen Hill & Eric Goukas, 1985?
Season: Winter / Good Snow Pack
Page Views: 3,378
Submitted By: Julian Smith on Jan 10, 2007

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The Phantom.

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The Phantom is a rarely forming ice/mixed climb that appears in the lower part of North Cheyenne Canyon. It gets its name from how elusive it can be to find in condition and snag an ascent. When it forms, the Phantom can be found on the South side of the canyon (facing to the North) just East of the Pinnacle. It is very easy to spot from the road in order to determine if making the hike up to it is going to be worth your while. A good place to park is the in the pull-outs just East of the Graduation Boulder.
From the parking area, find a trail along the South side of the Canyon, crossing the creek on a bridge, and then head East back towards Colorado Springs. Take the lower branch of the trail if you encounter a fork. Simply walk until you are below the obvious drainage, and then start to scramble uphill, keeping mainly to the East side of the drainage until you reach the base of the climb. Depending on ice and snow conditions, you may feel comfortable putting on crampons and roping up a little below the climb, because the approach finishes over some slabs that lead to a distinct shelf beneath the climb. There are a number of fixed pins to the right side of the climb that can be used for a belay, depending on your comfort level with how far to the side you want to belay from.
The climb itself moves over steeper rock past fixed pins and two bolts until you can get onto the ice, depending on conditions. A few smaller TCUs and stoppers might be in order for gear as well. For the ice, shorter screws will probably be best, because the ice may not be the thickest.
The climb is probably 75 to 80 feet in length with ample trees at the top for setting up a top rope anchor or rappelling from. From below the climb, it looks like a scramble can be made to East if you don't want to lead the climb before setting a top rope. After you are finished climbing, it is probably best to rappel from the shelf off of a big tree on the right hand side of the shelf. This will take you back below the slabs that are found on the approach.
The grade of the climb is tough for me to gauge. This is because I do not have a lot of experience with scratching tools over rock. It feels like a middling mixed grade if that makes any sense. I will be happy to edit the grade if a consensus emerges. As a reference, use Joel G McWhinney's 1997 book, In Search of Ice, if you can find a copy of it. McWhinney's guide gives the climb a grade of WI 5, but I think this is somewhat of a stretch. I would suggest M6/WI3/4. Enjoy.


Quick draws, slings, small TCUs and stoppers, and a few shorter ice screws should be a gracious plenty.

Photos of The Phantom Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The last bit of the approach over snowy slabs.
The last bit of the approach over snowy slabs.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Phantom; 23 November, 2014.
BETA PHOTO: The Phantom; 23 November, 2014.
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappelling from the prominent shelf at the base of...
Rappelling from the prominent shelf at the base of...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Phantom
BETA PHOTO: The Phantom
Rock Climbing Photo: The Phantom as seen from the road.
The Phantom as seen from the road.
Rock Climbing Photo: Logan Berndt on The Phantom.
Logan Berndt on The Phantom.
Rock Climbing Photo: Doubt it gets in much better shape than this.
Doubt it gets in much better shape than this.
Rock Climbing Photo: Andrew Simpson finishing up The Phantom.
Andrew Simpson finishing up The Phantom.

Comments on The Phantom Add Comment
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By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Dec 31, 2009

I climbed this with the late Eric Goukas in 1985.
By Logan Berndt
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 3, 2015
rating: WI4 M4

Andrew Simpson and I snagged an ascent of The Phantom today on 3-3-15. The snow-covered slab leading up to the ice proved to be the most dangerous. There was about a foot and a half of snow on top of less than an inch of frothy ice that just crumbled underfoot. We belayed from the tree left of the base before the second snow covered slab. The second slab section had a nice upward driven pin to clip for pro which felt great! When I first reached the base of the ice pillar, I opted out of the lead because the ice was less than 2 inches thick for the first fifteen feet and my stubby bottomed out less than halfway home. Then I noticed a bolt about 10ft up the rock dihedral to the climber's right, and this boosted my confidence enough to give her a go, and boy am I glad I did! What a classic route! The ice was a bit thin for my liking but good enough to take my screws. A bit of an unprotecable snow-covered rock slab in the middle made for an exciting runout! I have been trying to get an ascent of this for nearly 5 years! Amazing Day!
Rock Climbing Photo: The Phantom.
The Phantom.
By Michael West
From: Enterprise, AL
Mar 4, 2015

Logan, a buddy and I also managed to hop on it this past month. Your photos look like it's coming in nicely compared to a few weeks ago! When we climbed it, we also thought it looked fairly intimidating (the ice you're climbing in your photos wasn't touching down and didn't start for 15-20 feet), so we ended up top roping the route. We climbed straight up the dihedral you mentioned, and it felt thin to me. As far as the approach, I did a little recon before, and I think the best way to get to it is to approach from above. We parked at the Mount Cutler trailhead and followed it to the top. Continue east for a little past the summit until you pass the pinnacle, and I think it was the first drainage on the left. Drop down a hundred feet or so, and you can rap down to a good stance. We ended up doing the regular decent from there, but I suspect it would also be much more enjoyable climb out and hike back down the Mt. Cutler trail and avoid the snow covered slabs and scree....
By Logan Berndt
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 4, 2015
rating: WI4 M4

I have never been too interested in a TR... and definitely not interested in bagging this any other way than clean on lead, that's the fun part....
By phil wortmann
From: Colorado Springs, Co.
Mar 4, 2015
rating: WI3-4 M5-

Nice send, Logan! I've never climbed it this fat, I'll have to get on it again quick.
By Michael West
From: Enterprise, AL
Mar 4, 2015

Touche, I still think approaching from above versus below when the slabs are snow covered is a better option, and I'd rather get some mileage and practice on hard mixed (for me anyway), even if it's on top rope, than turn back empty handed. Gotta practice if you wanna perform! And Nice lead!

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