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BETA PHOTO: The Phantom
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.
The last bit of the approach over snowy slabs.
Rappelling from the prominent shelf at the base of...
The Phantom as seen from the road.
Doubt it gets in much better shape than this.
|By Allen Hill|
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Dec 31, 2009
I climbed this with the late Eric Goukas in 1985.