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This airy, overhanging excursion is a must-do for those comfortable at the grade. While never fatal, this route is quite serious in a couple of places, including the 11d crux boulder problem, which you encounter off an exposed hanging belay on the third pitch. Alternately delicate, thuggy and heady, The Wisdom is arguably the best continuously free route on the Roof Wall.
P1: (10d s) Begin on the ramp about fifty feet up and left of Temporary Like Achilles and Dangerous Acquaintances. The route face climbs right from a small stance at the top of the double cave-slots, moving through a scoop past greasy laybacks and a so-so fixed pin to easier face moves above. Protect when you can.
P2: (11b) A completely unique experience! From the alcove at the top of the first pitch jug haul up to a bolt at the base of the Scary Canary dihedral. Clip then bolt then, counter to your instincts, downclimb right along the lip of the roof on a good rail (pumpy) until you can roll over onto the smooth, tan face above the lip. Belay under the small roof at double Metolius anchor bolts. This pitch is commonly combined with pitch 1.
P3: (11d/12a s) The crux. Undercling right off the hanging belay to an thin-walled but solid hole/flake. Load it up with 2"+ gear, then crank straight up on bouldery, commiting moves. The handholds are good but the footholds suck through here; a fall from the top of this sequence will send you for a good 30-footer. Have your belayer be mindful not to drop you beneath the big roof another 10 feet down, as sharp rails at the lip might cut your rope! Easier, better protected climbing up a R-facing corner leads you to a small belay stance.
P4: (5.9) Move up and right from the belay to the varnished plaque of rock, clipping a lone bolt and executing a series of hideously desperate slab moves (this is Psycho Slab) to reach the safety of the Upper Ramp.
Your standard Eldo rack, plus a fairly healthy selection of RP's and small cams. Don't forget two big hand-sized pieces for the crux pitch (#2 Camalot size, roughly).
The roof traverse
Above the P1 roof.
Rob following P2. It is a wee bit scary for the s...
Rob on his on-sight attempt of P3. You can see th...
Barefootin' on The Wisdom, 1st pitch.
The Wisdom Roof, Eldorado Canyon.
BH barefootin' The Wisdom Roof.
Hangin' at the lip!
BETA PHOTO: P1, 1st pin - can be backed up by a selection of R...
BETA PHOTO: Pin 2 - old, rusty, ring piton.
BETA PHOTO: 2-bolt anchor at top of P2.
BETA PHOTO: 1st pin on P2, downward traverse pitch. Upward dr...
BETA PHOTO: Unnecessary pin above the P3 crux. Note bomber re...
BETA PHOTO: P3 anchor with fat Metolius rap hangers.
|By Mark Tarrant|
Oct 15, 2001
I've got an old issue of "Climbing" (July 1978) which accurately describes the first ascent(s). Each pitch received separate FAs. John Bachar did the FA of the entire route. Pitch one FA: E. Webster. Pitch two FA: Candelaria or Higbee. Pitch three FA: Bachar. The article is pretty interesting. It sounds like they avoided the hanging belay above second pitch (hanging belays were considered aid), and just combined the second and third pitches--pretty exciting.The route was tried by some of the best climbers back then, but some were reluctant to do it because of the bolt placed above the roof--it was considered illegal, degrading, and ruined the route for some! Times sure have changed. The Wisdom is an Eldo classic. Back in the '80's the best hard-man combo was to do The Wisdom to Jules Verne to Lene's Dream to the Naked Edge.
|By Mike Abraham|
Jun 4, 2002
From Rocky Heights:
"History: An aid climb (5.8, A4 by Layton Kor and Pat Ament in 1961), it was subjected to free climbing attempts in the mid-seventies. The first pitch was lead free in 1975 by Ed Webster. The main roof was lead free in 1975 by Art Higbee after a few tries. The final roof was lead free by John Bachar after a couple of attempts."
|By Jason Nelson|
From: SLC, UT
Jan 6, 2003
I had been scared of this route for a long time, and finally tried it. It wasn't as bad as I expected, but most of what is said about the route is true. Here is some gear beta. You might use different gear, but this will give you an idea of what to bring.
P1 - blue Alien (or #0 Metolius), #1 Metolius, small stoppers, and quickdraws. P2 (roof) - 2 quick draws is all you need. P3 (crux) - #00 Metolius, 2 #2 Camalots for falling off the crux, #1 Camalot, #3 Camalot, and quickdraws. P4 (Psycho Slab) - #2 Camalot, quickdraw. I find cutting almost straight right across the slab on small edges (for fingers) the easiest way to go.
|By Steve Levin|
From: Boulder, CO
May 8, 2003
A tidbit of trivia about the FFA of pitch one:
Jim Erickson: "We were all trying the first pitch, but nobody was willing to do the unprotected 5.10 move. Along came Ed (Webster) hiking up the roof routes trail. He was young, impressionable, and out to make a name for himself. So he tied in and we sent him up there. Thankfully, he got the rope up there for us."
|By Joe Collins|
Oct 1, 2003
The first two pitches, linked together, made one of the most spectacular pitches I've yet to do in Eldo. The pin on the "first" pitch is not visible until you are literally face-to-face with it. This led to some pumpy and futile gear tinkering in the scoop below. The pin looks pretty good, certainly better than the manky nuts that I thought were going to protect the crux. "Pitch 2" has incredible position and exposure for being only 100 feet off the deck... this pitch is probably more scary for the follower than the leader. One 60 meter rope will just barely get you down from here.
|By Kristo torgersen|
Dec 18, 2004
Finally decided to give this thing a whirl today, and what a stellar line. The first two pitches as one was definitely the way to go. the third pitch, although not so hard once you've seen the holds, is hard to see/read from the belay and committing to the moves on slick/blind feet will get you crimping hard. Not as scary as I was expecting, but still has some spice! I was able to carry a light rack on this one, which helps on the steep stuff (single set from black Alien to #3 Camalot, double on #2 Camalot for crux). I'd say it's the best of the roof routes...I've yet to do.
|By Guy H.|
From: Fort Collins CO
May 27, 2007
Check out the latest issue of Rock and Ice (#161) for some great shots of "The Wisdom" roof. The article on Hank is pretty funny, also.
|By micah stocker|
Sep 7, 2007
This thing is 12a blah blah blah.... 11d if you can't send. I love this route got to be one of Eldo's best. Wait, I say that about every route in Eldo. Screw it I just love climbing in Eldo. All the routs ROCK!
|By Wyatt Payne|
From: Littleton CO
Sep 9, 2007
rating: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a R
Amen Stocker I agree it is only 11d if you don't send it. A nice comfy rest when you take does help out the pump significantly. Better bring two tickets to the Gun Show to send, the feet are nonexistent through the crux. I'm renaming this route in fine Mountain Project fashion. I dub thee, "The Mother @#?!&!". So sick it makes my palms sweat thinking about it. Don't bother getting on it, it's over rated.
|By Alex Shainman|
From: the best place right now!
Sep 10, 2007
After reading the description and Mark T's comment, I believe there is more historical info to the "second" pitch. I believe that for its FA, there was no bolt in the roof protecting the downclimb traverse!! I believe that pro was arduously placed up in the Scary Canary corner and most likely then the pin in the roof which is still there. Correct me if I am wrong....
I must admit, for better or for worse, in 1996, with Park permission, I replaced the bolts of the hanging belay (point of aid) for the "third" pitch. The Wisdom was one of my favorite routes to do then and of course I felt I was doing a community service.... What a way more proud ascent it would be to eliminate the hanging belay and do the "second" and "third" pitches like JB did for its FFA!!! I've never done it that way. (That left, old Star-Drive bolt did come out frighteningly easily and the other was not too much more difficult!!)
|By Brady Robinson|
Sep 28, 2009
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a PG13
Finally got on this after thinking about it for 2 years. While it is a little scary to climb above the gear, there are no features below the crux, so I don't really think it is an R route. You are more likely to get hurt on the first pitch in my opinion. The crux is about V3, with jugs at the top - not as bad as I expected. Put 2 #2 Camalots in and go for it!
|By adam brink|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2010
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a PG13
It seems that the anchors on the hanging slab (top of pitch two) are a point of aid. There is no obvious belay ledge there and it is just used to make the crux easier. I think Bachar had the real vision for a free ascent, ledge to ledge (combine pitch 2 and 3).
|By Stefan Griebel|
Apr 18, 2010
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c R
Wow, what an incredible climb! Definitely R for the bottom half of the 1st pitch. Good nuts or a big RP back up the pin nicely.
Of the 3 pitches, P2 felt the hardest and pumpiest, even with a top rope belay! This pitch is airy and exciting and the reason this climb gets 4 instead of 3 stars.
In accordance with most other comments, P3 seemed a tough mental pitch as you commit and get your feet 4-5' above your bomber gear before you can place another very good yellow Alien size. However, contrary to most other comments, these moves seemed easier than traversing down the roof on P2. Maybe I got lucky with the foot work or found a secret hold. I dunno, but this is likely the first route I've ever been on in Eldo that felt quite a bit easier than the consensus grade.
From: Santa Monica, Ca.
Jan 11, 2011
On the FA with Kor and Ament, it was done on a snowy, cold day, and Pat was 14!
Mar 13, 2012
Anyone know if pitches 1-3 have been linked into a single pitch? Seems very doable.
|By Chris Gamble|
From: Morrison, CO
Aug 7, 2012
I've heard that there is a climb in Morrison, Co, that was used to train for a climb up in Eldo. The climb is called Upper Wisdom or if you want, Full Wisdom. I wonder if this is the climb that was talked about?
Aug 7, 2012
Many years ago I met Jim Garber at Morrison while doing the Wisdom Simulator, and he said that he used that boulder problem to train for this route.
|By Scott Bennett|
Dec 1, 2012
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a
In reply to the above post, yes this climb goes easily in one pitch, it's about 50m in total (p1-3, I'm not sure about adding the Psycho Slab). With long slings, strategic runouts, and a skinny rope, I didn't feel there was any ropedrag at the crux.
Also, there's no reason to haul 2 gold Camalots up the route. If you wanna double down on gear before the crux, there's a great purple Camalot in the left side of the undercling pod.
|By Ian Cavanaugh|
Mar 11, 2013
Linked first pitch of Scary Canary into this route. It was an awesome link and full value fun climbing.