Elevation: 11,856 ft
GPS: 40.282, -105.674 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 30,864 total · 147/month
Shared By: Kurt Johnson on Dec 30, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


Towering over Sky Pond, just right of the Petit Grepon, is a massive spire named after its first route, "The Saber." Though most parties bypass it in favor of The Petit, it's truly an inspiring sight, taller and steeper than it's more famous neighbor. Layton Kor put up it's namesake Route in 1962, calling it 5.8. But don't be fooled - every pitch will feel a number grade harder, and it'll make the Petit's equally rated "South Face" route feel like a walk in the park. No need to worry about crowds either, thanks to the Petit. I'm willing to bet that even its two classics (The Kor Route and the Southwest Corner) have rarely been climbed more than once on the same day.

Descent: You can either climb all the way to the summit (which involves a lot of 4th and easy 5th class ups and downs) and down the back side into The Gash (may require some easy 5th class downclimbing). Once on the talus slope, you can either head down towards the Andrews Glacier trail and back out to the trail you came in on, or traverse east beneath a few smaller spires and descend the gully marked with a cairn, which, after one short rappel puts you back near Sky Pond. The other option is to do the rappel route which starts at the beginning of the summit ridge and which heads down the east face and eventually into the gully on the east side of the formation. It's a good and fairly straightforward route, and from what I remember, most or all of the anchors are slings around blocks or constrictions (except for possibly a couple that are bolted near the bottom) and are set up for double 50 meter ropes. There may also be intermediate slings put in place by retreating climbers who only had one rope.

Getting There

From the Glacier Gorge parking lot, head up the trail to Sky Pond (about 3 1/2 miles) and scramble up the talus to the base. If you find yourself at a rock that looks like the Eiffel tower with crowds of people on it, you've gone too far.

5 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Saber

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Kor Route
Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
Southwest Corner
Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Southeast Corner
Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
The Pocketknife
Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Kor Route
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 10 pitches
Southwest Corner
5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
Southeast Corner
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Alpine 7 pitches
The Pocketknife
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad, Alpine 5 pitches
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Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
We did the rap route from the top of the "South Buttress" (beginning of the summit ridge), and what we found for the first anchor was very disturbing: it looked like a deliberate death trap, or at the very least someone's idea of a bad joke. Slings were somewhat loosely arranged around a horn, which upon further inspection proved to be completely detached from the rock, and the back-up sling, which went up and out of sight from this, was attached to...nothing at all. Had I clipped into and weighted this anchor, it would have failed instantly and I would have fallen about 80 feet. Disturbing, to say the least.

We rearranged these slings around a different horn and hopefully that's where they'll stay. The rest of the raps are all off of slings around horns and constrictions, and seemed solid--no problems pulling the rope, not too much loose stuff, etc. 2 ropes are mandatory--we only saw one intermediate anchor. Jun 29, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
The first rap anchor at the top of the first summit (= south buttress = spire proper) has now been refurbished. It *was* 2 stoppers set within 2 inches of eachother in the same piece of rock clipped with a single bent-gate biner on them. This is where the book topos show slings. I put a new sling around the summit and fixed this to the stoppers and put on a new 3/8" Mallion Rapide (8,800 lb.-tested). This is now a better anchor, but was limited by what I had on me for replacement.
This first rap is ~110' to a good anchor. (Est. we used a 70m, which had length to spare.)
The second rap is ~100 to a 'not so comforting' anchor. (Est. w/70m)
The third rap is ~150' over the edge into space and down to a ledge...
The next two raps can be combined with 60 or 70m ropes, skipping a not-so-inspiring anchor at the end of the gully with loose rocks to pull down when you pull your rope- so stay on the E-facing wall and skip the one at the back of the gully with the long 'leash' on it.
After that, you rap to the ground on double ropes again. Jun 9, 2006
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
A few notes on this, particularly for the descent:
#1) Someone rearranged the infamous top anchor since I did in May. They have added some cord on a second pinnacle and bound this to the sling I put on the summit. While this is probably stronger than I left it, they removed the good fixed stopper on the right (BD #8 or 9). This anchor still needs a little more work. The two slings are presently joined with a third sling which is rapped from. There are single points of failure in this that could still produce "very exciting" results, or in the case of the adjoining sling, deadly ones. I was fine rapping off of it, but it does stand in harsh conditions and will erode with time, a finite amount of time. The stopper should be replaced and tied into the anchor and/or the slings should be made redundant, particularly the low one from which the link is hanging. Perhaps someone that knows this anchor can suggest an even better alternative. Backing uo the main sling placed would require ~30' of webbing. Sorry I did not do this- I feel like I am asking for something I was not willing to do myself. Actually we took the gear to do it, (small wired hexes and some webbing) but a storm was coming in and speed was our most immediate concern.

#2) The suggestion I made about avoiding a particular rap was a darn good one. After getting my rope stuck TWICE trying to pull from the station I said was a bad idea this time, I cursed the darn thing for hours. There is a natural "notch" for the rope to slip into that is a total locker. We eventually pull rope from the far end of the ledge, out to the East end on the chockstone rap. This was after climbing back up and untwisting the junk that popped into it as it rolled into the notch. Read the first set of notes and follow them. Aug 13, 2006
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
Climbed the Southwest Corner yesterday and it was AWESOME!!! Ended up doing the last two 9 pitches of Southeast corner because we were a little far right at the belay but it was such a great route. Highly recommend simul climbing to the main belay ledge (350 - 400~) where both Kor route and SW start.

Rap the east face / gully with double ropes. 5 raps in all if I remember correctly. Despite what I read about the raps on this site, we both thought the raps were all good, comfy ledges (one was so-so), easy to find, and plenty strong.

12 hours car to car. I feel pretty good about that! Yeah summertime in the Park!!!

CL Jun 29, 2008
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
The rap route now goes with a single 70m.
We added 1 station, all but 1 are obvious.
The inobvious station is the last rap. Instead of using the obvious anchor off the overhanging chock stone...look off to skier's left, there's another rap off a chockstone.

josh Jun 24, 2010
Dan 60D5H411
Colorado Springs, CO
Dan 60D5H411   Colorado Springs, CO
Tony B's rap instructions are dead on. On 7-18-2010 added a secondary biner to the single quicklink on raps 2 and 3. All rap stations mentioned in the above instructions now have either 2 quicklinks, biners, rings or combination of the above. Jul 19, 2010
Martin le Roux
Superior, CO
Martin le Roux   Superior, CO
As J. Thompson mentions, the rap route now goes with a single 70m. If you're using double 60s, Tony B's 2006 description is still accurate, but the 3rd rap (150' over the edge into space and down to a ledge) now has an intermediate rap station. Something to be aware of if you're counting rap stations and trying to follow Tony's description.

It's not hard to arrange the ropes so they don't run through the rope-eating notch that Tony mentions. This is at station #5 (Tony's original count) or #6 if you count the new rap station mentioned above. Aug 13, 2011
Eric and Lucie
Boulder, CO
Eric and Lucie   Boulder, CO
As of June 2012, all rap stations are in good shape with fresh slings/cords and good rings or 'biners.

The third anchor is still less than comforting given what it is attached to (large, wedged block whose stability is hard to judge), but I could not find any obvious way to improve/replace it. I for one would not have any problem with a pair of bolts on the nice solid rock 30 feet or so below this one and right at the edge of the drop....

Also, one minor correction to Tony's rap instructions:
  • the second rap is also ~110', i.e. if you have double 60s, you'll need to use both ropes all the way down.

Finally, the last two raps are very long. Only a couple to a few feet to spare on our 60m doubles. Jun 22, 2012
J. Thompson (above) says to look "skier's left" on the third rap. There is a spike over there, but the stance sucks, and the tat is super manky. If you go straight down the fall line to the inviting ledge (about 30m), you'll see a nice station a few meters down to climber's left ("skier's right"). Go there (34m rap). All the other raps were obvious and straightforward with a single 70m. Aug 13, 2016
Andy Kowles
Andy Kowles   Longtuckles
This is a serious, committing tower with plenty of mandatory danger just getting to the top. Seems a waste to rap off that detached thing. Jul 4, 2017
Tim Stich
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Tim Stich   Colorado Springs, Colorado
As of 7-15-17, the rappel stations need new webbing as most or all of the current webbing is very UV faded. The rap station with two nuts and a rigid Friend could use some quicklinks into the nuts instead of the threaded slings directly in the wires. The last rap is way off to the left as you face down in the back of the gully between the Foil and the Saber. You will need to swing very hard to reach this ledge. Rap down the the level you need, wrap the rope around your leg, and do a running pendulum to make it. Not the best rap, but otherwise you would be hanging in space if the rap anchor was on the wall. This anchor probably has the freshest webbing, as it doesn't look degraded yet, and the constriction the anchor is on is a horn that pinches off against the wall. The rap from this is a full 35 meters, so be prepared to swing back and hop off onto the ledge in the alcove. You can downclimb from this alcove, hence the lack of any additional rap anchors. Be aware that this final rap puts you on an undercut roof. Jul 16, 2017
Jonathan S
Golden, CO
Jonathan S   Golden, CO
We rappeled with double 60 m ropes and found that to work really well. All the rap stations (that we used) were in pretty good condition and not too hard to find. Word of caution: if you intend to use a skinny pull cord, the last 60m rap to the ground starts way back on a ledge and adds quite a bit of friction to the pull. Extending the rappel hardware closer to the edge would be ideal but would require quite a bit of webbing/cord. Aug 29, 2017
Did this route yesterday, 6/4/2018. NOT 10a! This route is seriously runout and should not be a beginner route. The moves on the 4th pitch, the 10a pitch, are 10+ or 11- at least. We live in a modern world. Upgrade the grades people, the Admins need to do their job.

That being said amazing route. Every pitch is incredible.

Also, all the rappel anchors are easy to find of the SW corner are easy to find and all safe. Jun 5, 2018