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Routes in Helen's Dome

A Nice Top Rope TR 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
AWOL (aka Moss Toss) T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Beam Me Up, Scotty T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Borderline Boulevard T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Brave Cowboy T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Buffalo Soldier T,S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Buffalo Tears T 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b PG13
Electric Koolaid Acid Test T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Face Value T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Fool's Gold T,S 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Fractured Fairytales S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Gettin' the Groove S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
On the Bus T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Pebble Beach T,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a X
Roototop S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Spree T,S 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Sticks 'n' Stones T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Unknown on South Face T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c


Helen's Dome is a large granite formation located west of Cheesman Reservoir. There are actually 4 separate rock formations - Sheep Rock, Helen's Dome, Baby Helen, and Acid Rock. The climbing on Helen's Dome is predominantly face climbing, with feldspar crystals providing welcome relief from pure friction slab climbing. A few crack climbs are found on Helen's Dome, while many of the face climbs have short sections of crack climbing.

The protection on Helen's is mostly from 3/8" bolts. A light standard rack (small wires, TCUs, and cams/hexes up to 2") should provide enough gear to protect the crack sections of the face climbs. A larger rack is necessary for the pure crack climbs. The majority of the climbs on Helen's are 2 pitches long with rap stations at the belays.

Climbers can either rap the route or continue to the top of Helen's on easy, sparsely protected slabs (about 300 feet of 5.2-5.5 depending on the route taken). To descend from the top of Helen's, head right around a large block on top, downclimb a short crack (easier than it looks) and scramble southwest towards Acid Rock until you can easily step down to solid ground. Acid Rock and Baby Helen are uphill and behind Helen's Dome.

The climbs on Acid Rock are both crack and face climbs of exceptional quality. Again, 3/8" bolts provide protection for the face climbing with natural gear needed for the crack climbs. Double rope rappels will get you down. Baby Helen has 3-4 nice climbs (crack/face) on it.

Getting There

From Denver, take US Hwy 285 south to Pine Junction. Turn left on CO Hwy 126 east towards Deckers. Turn right on Forest Road #211 (about 3 miles before Deckers, just past Wigwam Picnic/Campground). This turn is marked by a sign pointing towards Cheesman Reservoir, Molly Gulch Campground, and Lost Valley Ranch. [Note: Molly Gulch Campground has been closed since the Hayman fire. References may have been removed from signage.] Follow signs towards Molly Gulch and Goose Creek Campground. About 1 mile from the former Molly Gulch campground, park in a pullout on the left (sign indicates parking for Sheep Rock climbers). [Note: As of 2011, the sign was no longer there. The pullout is approximately 7.7 miles from the pavement.]
From the Sheep Rock parking area, head south towards the stream. Where the trail branches above the stream, go right towards the former campground. A large log crosses the creek below the former campground. Cross the log and follow the trail along the creek to the right for a few hundred feet and then up the steep hill to the left. The trail then trends right around the top of the ridge to end up at a drainage/valley at the eastern edge of private property (the Lost Valley Ranch). (Note that some branches in the trail go more directly up and over the hill to the same place.) Go left across the drainage and follow a faint trail straight up the hill to the lower right corner of Helen's Dome (as seen from the trail). The trail zigzags up the path of least resistance through a field of huge boulders. One short slab scramble and a chockstoned gully that is passed by climbing the short wall to the left are the only difficulties. At the base of the dome, head down left and across a couple of large rocks to the base of a short crack. Scramble up the crack and face (5.3?) about 30-40 feet to a large shelf with trees which serves as the base for the routes Buffalo Tears to Spree. The approach takes about 30 minutes. The drainage can be followed further east (left) and then up the hill (bushwhack, faint trail) to approach the routes on the left side of Helen's Dome (Moss Toss, etc.).

There are three options to approach Baby Helen's or Acid Rock: 1: climb a route on Helen's and continue to the top. 2: from the point where the trail reaches the base of Helen's Dome, go right up the trail to the base of a HUGE, right-facing corner/slab system with a big tree about 50 feet up the corner. (Locate a bolt about 15 feet up & right from the tree). This corner/slab can be climbed in 4 long pitches (entirely bolted - mostly easy, max 5.7-5.8) or simul-climbed in one LONG pitch as a warm up (bring lots of long runners). 3: continue past the corner to the right (follow 3-4 cairns heading right through a rockfall) and head up and left along a faint trail for several hundred feet. The trail tends to stay close to the Dome. Stray too far right and enter no-man's land. If followed correctly (lucky?), this trail ends up at the walk-off from the top of Helen's Dome. This takes about 45 minutes. This trail also serves as the walk down from Helen's Dome/Acid Rock/Baby Helen's.

Per John Peterson: to approach the right side of the dome (probably anything from Buffalo Tears and right) - hike down to the creek and go upstream - we crossed about 100' up from the spot where you meet the stream, about 18" deep at max. Once you get to the far side, go up until the horse trail. Go right (not up towards the rock). This will curl around left to a trail junction near a fence. Go left up a small stream, and look for a cairn leading up right - there's no real evidence of the trail at this point, but it gets better as you go up. If you get to a huge boulder, you missed by about 50'. Once you start up, there are plenty of cairns. To access routes to the left of Fractured Fairytales, you can climb its first pitch to the ledge where many of the routes start. We found this to be much easier than the trail approaching the left side.

Descent: 1: reverse the trail. Beware that the trail crosses rock which becomes extremely slippery when wet. Take EXTREME caution when descending in the rain. The trail zigzags through a huge boulder field with deep crevices/holes. Get off route and potentially get in BIG trouble. 2: rappel the simul-climb with double ropes (both 60m). I'm not sure if this is any faster. Last time down (in the rain), we walked down faster than a party of 3 who rapped the simul-climb.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Helen's Dome

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Here's some better beta on the approach to the right side of the dome (probably anything from Buffalo Tears and right):

As mentioned before, hike down to the creek and go upstream - we crossed about 100' up from the spot where you meet the stream, about 18" deep at max. Once you get to the far side, go up until the horse trail. Go right (not up towards the rock). This will curl around left to a trail junction near a fence. Go left up a small stream, and look for a cairn leading up right - there's no real evidence of the trail at this point, but it gets better as you go up. If you get to a huge boulder, you missed by about 50'. Once you start up, there are plenty of cairns. To access routes to the left of Fractured Fairytales, you can climb its first pitch to the ledge where many of the routes start. We found this to be much easier than the trail approaching the left side. Sep 9, 2015
Did this route last weekend with my climbing partner and stayed the night on the wall. The drive is fully accessible; however, only the signs are not as accurate as reported.
Road 211 is on the right (coming from Denver) and marked with the brown signs. The brown signs are a bit confusing, they say everything is 3+ miles with an arrow which usually means 3 miles ahead, you will turn - wrong, you turn AT the sign (it's a bit of a hidden turn). If you see the Wigwam Lodge, the campground on the South Platte or the town of Deckers (3 buildings?), you have gone TOO FAR. Once you have turned onto 211, a sign will tell you that you're on it.
Down the dirt road you will come to a fork with a stop sign and mailboxes on the right - take that road (signs say Lost Valley Ranch).
The next fork you come to have more brown signs pointing you left (as per the original description for this wall).
The parking area is the last thing to look for (it's on your left). My truck said somewhere around 9-10 miles from the pavement when we got there (not 7). It is only marked with a little brown parking area sign. The lot is one of the crappiest ones on the way there, and you will know you're there, because it's the last parking area before the dirt road turns away from Helen's Dome.

The approach trail is visible from the parking area. The approach on foot is probably longer than 30 minutes now because the downed tree bridge seems to have been removed. When you get to a little camping area with a fire pit and a tree trunk with seats carved into it, turn right (up hill) along the horse trail. The river/stream will be on your left and you'll be going upstream. The only place we could cross and not get totally soaked was at the private property fence that you run into. Cross the river on foot, it was about thigh deep at the time of this post.
After you have crossed, go up the hill and follow the horse trail, you'll pretty much be going straight towards the boulderfield/wall. Look for cairns, but more importantly, keep going up towards the wall. There are countless trail variations to get there - pick your poison.

It was chilly in May, and the sun will not hit this side of the wall until around 10:30am. We also thought the routes are on the hard side (when leading) due to the long runs and inherent nature of granite having tough-to-follow beta. We ended up doing the last two pitches of Face Value when we were trying to do Fractured Fairy Tales.
Oh, one last thing. BRING AN 80m+ ROPE for rappelling down. The belay stations were too far for our 70m. May 19, 2014
It sounds like you missed the right turn just before you get to the lake. Oct 23, 2013
Thanks for the update. We didn´t see a right turn anywhere. The road that we wanted to keep going on, was to the left of a lake. We might have just messed it up. Oct 22, 2013
Moritz B., could you have accidentally tried to go straight to the Reservoir instead of right to stay on FS-211? That happens at mile 2.0. There's no gate at 2.2 though.

I saw your post so I checked it out yesterday - the entire road is open. No locked gates for over 15 miles on 211. I'd also find it hard to believe they'd lock 211 since they never have in the past, plus there's the ranch that uses that road.

Government shutdown maybe? Who knows. Anyway, the drive/approach is good to go. Oct 22, 2013
Today we tried to get to Helen´s Dome but couldn´t. After we went on Forest Road #211 we were stopped by a gate after 2.2 miles. The closed gate said: "This area is closed for all activities. Closure effective from Sep.30 - May". I hope I can save some peoples´ time by posting this info on here. If anybody has more info regarding this access issue, I would be very interested in knowing more about it. Oct 19, 2013
Yucca Valley, CA
Locker   Yucca Valley, CA
I slipped off that damned log during winter months and cracked right through the ice, pack and all!

Totally wet, we climbed FF.

Cold but an absolute blast!

Aug 27, 2013
Traveled in from Oregon to climb Helen's (wife used to work at Lost Valley...), but we can find the approach once we cross the drainage at the base of the boulderfields. We spent 4.5 hours freelancing the boulderfield. Some good climbing and could be wrong, but DANG we couldn't figure it all. A storm came in, and we retreated ropes, racks and everything. Any updated or specific beta for finding the approach? Jul 5, 2013
Derek Lawrence   Bailey
Thanks, Darren - I've tweaked the description some more.... You oughta tag those photos as "beta" photos for this page! Mar 22, 2012
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Glenn. glad you got my humor. ;)

(Even though in reality, this is THE log you cross to get over to the Sheeprock and Helens formations downhill from Molly Gulch. It's a big one.)

Oh, speaking of Molly Gulch, here is the climbers parking area just before what was Molly Gulch Campground:

Mar 22, 2012
Glenn Schuler
Monument, Co.
Glenn Schuler   Monument, Co.
Haha Darren - you crack me up, man. That could be any one of say 10,000 log crossings in place since the Hayman. That should narrow it down tho. ;) Mar 21, 2012
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Yo D. log crossing (last time I was up there in 2010(?) looks something like this:
. Mar 21, 2012
Derek Lawrence   Bailey
I tweaked the description above to add Kent's mileage to the pull-out (and remove that you can pay to park at Molly Gulch CG which isn't there anymore...).
It's been awhile since I've been back there. If anybody has any other beta (e.g. what's the current stream crossing set-up), let me know and I can update the description. Mar 21, 2012
Found the directions to Helen's Dome to be a bit confusing and possible incorrect. But again, it could have been just me. We never did find Molly Gulch Campground, and I feel that this could be attributed to the fact that the NFS closed this campground? Either way, we drove all the way to the ranch and never found a campground. So, we just parked due west of the dome and walked from there. Mar 21, 2012
Adam B
Wheat Ridge, CO
Adam B   Wheat Ridge, CO
The 1st pitch of Fractured Fairytales ends at the Spree anchors and is a good approach to the ledge. You can also rap from the Spree anchors w. a 70m rope and be deposited on the approach trail. Oct 26, 2011
Kent Pease
Littleton, Colorado
Kent Pease   Littleton, Colorado
We found the directions to the parking area a bit confusing - to clarify: At the turnoff from Highway 126 to FR 211, there is a sign sticking out of the rock cut. At the parking area, we did not see a sign indicating "parking for Sheep Rock climbers", but the lot is 7.7 miles from the pavement. Aug 1, 2011
Did FF about a month ago and all bolts were present, except of a missing hanger on the last pitch that tops out at the base of Baby Helen's. This bolt is basically on flat walking, but you can still girth hitch it with a stopper. Aug 9, 2010
Tom Willard
Avon, CO
Tom Willard   Avon, CO
Does anyone know the current status of the bolt condition of Fractured Farytales or Sticks 'n' Stones? Thanks Aug 6, 2010
Casey Bernal
Arvada, CO
Casey Bernal   Arvada, CO
Mi Chica and I climbed Darren's route Sticks 'n' Stones on 6/5/06, and the same (or at least similar) chopper did some work to the route. They chopped the 1st bolt on P1 and chopped 2 of 3 bolts at the anchor atop that pitch. They also chopped the second bolt on the origional third pitch. All other bolts seem untouched. The ones that were chopped were simply pounded flat leaving a very unsightly and unusable stud.

Current route condition: P1 190' 16 bolts small cams or nuts for start, P2 180' 12 (?) bolts + nuts in bad rock at chopped bolt. 5.8+/5.9 sustained, fun, and interesting climbing.

I could not understand the purpose for changing the route. Darren put it up in good style, ground up, and the bolts were never close, with an average of 7 to 8 bolts per 100'. There are NO routes near this one. The 'cracks' that were 'near' the very first bolt wouldn't protect a fall very well. The second bolt on the og. third pitch was near a crack, that was however the end of a questionable attached flake. Basically, in both places a protection bolt was resonable. And why remove the anchor at the stance on top of the 1st pitch, creating a 190' pitch with significant rope drag since it traverses where the anchor was.

The person(s) who is doing this seems to be 'correcting' the routes to thier standards, without the FAs permission nor any explanation for thier actions. Yes, nothing speaks louder than action itself, however, when it leaves other wondering what language they are speaking, it needs an explanation.

So, if you or someone you know is doing this, please post here why or contact me yourself. Routes will continue to go in. Bolts will be replaced, and probably subsequently chopped. The rock looses and creates an unsightly scar for the ones who wish to climb them. Explaining why the person needs to correct the route could help the bolters/choppers come to an understanding and hopefully a compromise.

Casey Bernal
c a s e y b e r n a l @ h o t m a i l . c o m Jun 5, 2006
Just took a couple of friends up the main section of Fractured Fairytales today. I found that someone had removed a hanger from the belay anchors at the top of both pitches 3 and 4, leaving a single welded cold shut as an anchor. Simulclimbing with a party of 3 was not an option. I've replaced them with new hardware. Removing hangars from a route is one thing, but removing them from belay anchors is bad form. If you're planning on doing this route, be sure to take hangars and nuts along with you just in case. May 28, 2006
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Slim. Yeah that was just me up there, except I was bivied and working on a new route to the LEFT of Ankar Gate and SolArian. You might have mistaken my haul bag as a partner. Oct 6, 2005

Was that you on the north face on Saturday? We were hiking out after doing west face routes, and saw some people on the route that goes up to the saddle below acid crack. For the life of me I can't remember the name of the route. The pitches go 11a (or 11b variation to left), 9, 9 or something like that. The second pitch is one of the best in the Platte. I think the route name starts with an 'a'. Dammit! There was a monster Toyota truck in the parking area, I thought it might be Mike and the old timer. Hope things are going well. Oct 5, 2005
I did Fractured Fairytales and the other new routes on the south face of Helen's back in July. Very fun stuff. I did add hangers to some of the bolts that were missing hangers so that you can climb the route with just quickdraws. It did seem a bit overbolted in places, especially since most of the route is fairly easy. Anyway, bring a selection of small wires to fit over the bolts with the missing hangers if you want to sew the route up. It's a good climb to do as a warm-up if you're en route to Acid Rock or to take rank beginners up. Sep 21, 2005
Jay Hippel
Denver, CO
Jay Hippel   Denver, CO
Fractured Fairytales-Many of the bolts are indeed gone. In fact, MOST of the bolts on the upper 4 pitches have been removed. All the anchor bolts are still there, but pitches that used to have 7-8 bolts now only have 2 or so. 20ft runouts are now 40-60ft. There are a few places you can supplement with gear- nuts, cams (BD#.5-3) and slings(4ft) for trees. But mostly it's just run out. Why are there people out there who just can't let others enjoy themselves? Why must they ruin things for everybody? Did they get picked last everytime for kickball in 4th grade? Rejected prom date? Not hugged enough by their mothers?

Why not just have a full-on hissy and remove all the bolts? Destroy all of someone's hard work not 75% of it. All you've accomplished is making the route more dangerous. And really, who benefits from that? Guess it's just not a hip-happenin time unless you can deck and kill yourself on a route.

In any case, it's a great and casual way to spend an afternoon. And it USED to be safe. But what fun is that? Jun 12, 2005
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
The new route Matt is refering to is now called "Sticks'n'Stones" (5.8+/9-). Climbs the middle of the right side of Helens (starts about 200' left of big left facing flake) in 3 pitches and then some. The older route, "Roototop" (5.10-) (the other one Matt refered to), starts on the right side of the left facing flake. Roototop, ironically, climbs the far right side of Helen's, the middle of Acid, then you can run across the saddle to climb Velcro wall and top out on the very top of Sheeprock.

Both of these are slab routes with bolts for protection.

Regarding the protection bolts of Fractured Fairytales (AKA The Date Route): many of the hangers are gone, especially on the easier upper sections, but the belay anchors seem to still be there. Jun 6, 2005
Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
The hangers were there a month ago.... Which pitches are they missing from? There is another route right of fractured (Way at the North end). 4 Pitches 5.9. It's the first part of the 5.9+/10- route on Acid. Another 4 pitch 5.8 in between the two was going to be finshed this weekend but it's a bit soggy. Jun 4, 2005
My name is Mike Carrington and the route is fractured fairytailes. I am trying to get more info on the routes on the north side of Helens. Peter hubbel and a guy named Darren told me of a web site but I can't find it and don't have much access to the web. Any help would be much appreciated. Jun 3, 2005
Derek Lawrence   Bailey
Mike, Which route is the *date* route? Jun 2, 2005
Some one has removed lots of hagars on the date route. Whats up with that. That route was put up for people to enjoy without the tipical death runouts in the platte. May 28, 2005
New bridge is back up, downstream of old one. What a fantastic place for views, climbing, solitude. Aug 13, 2004
Drew Allan
Drew Allan   Denver/Aspen
On Saturday night, August 30, a raging rainstorm washed the bridge at the campground away that evening. It is amazing the power of water even in small stream. Once the runoff from the storm recedes, the stream should be easy to cross for the fall season. Next spring may be another story if we have a good snow pack in the mountains. Unsure whether it will be replaced with all the damage in the area from the Hayman fire. Sep 1, 2003
06/21/03 This rock is pretty sweet, however there is a lot of strange 5.5-5.7 bolted climbs on the lower face. Compared to all the other climbing in this area, these are piss poor FAs. This area has good trad climbing from the 5.7-5.11 range, and I have never seen anyone there. Be aware of gunfire thoughout the surounding area. Jul 30, 2003
Just to add some more info. The route Buffalo Soldier on Helens has been entirely retrobolted. It used to be that the first bolt was something like 30 or 40 feet off the ground. Now it is better protected than the routes to either side. Sep 9, 2002

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