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Routes in Big Rock Candy Mountain

Childhood's End T,S 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Fields of Dreams Growing Wild T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a R
Petered Out T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Rotten Teeth T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Shock Treatment T 5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b
Sweet Catastrophe T,S 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A2 R

Description

At something like 1,000 feet high, Big Rock is perhaps the largest formation in the Platte and well worth the very full day it takes to find, climb, and descend. A day on Big Rock is not sporty, it's an adventure. Most of the rock is typical Platte, with smooth water streaks and crystal pinching, though there are some areas of friable rock. On the more traveled routes (e.g. Childhood's End), this has probably been reduced to reasonable levels. Most of the routes rely on bolts to some degree, though many are widely spaced. Bolts have recently been replaced on some of the more popular routes.

Descent: one 150 foot rappel down the back (northeast) side of the summit, reached by a short, dicey downclimb from the top.

Getting There

Ken Trout sums up the approach in his 1988 article in Rock and Ice, which is paraphrased below. It is also possible to approach from the Turkey Rock area to the east.

The best way to reach Big Rock Candy Mountain, with two-wheel drive, is from the west side of the South Fork of the South Platte River. From Goose Creek campground, drive almost four miles further south toward Lake George, passing the turn-off to the Lost Creek Trailhead. You will then find a a branch road to the left (east). his turn is more prominent than other, smaller left turns along the way. Take this turn, and then travel over a mile up, and then down onto a ridge, from where you will see Big Rock very clearly. Park on the open ridge where the trail drops down to the right (south; with four-wheel drive, it is possible to descend to the river, but this does not provide much of an advantage). Hike down the north side of the ridge toward Big Rock. There is a trail in the drainage which will take you to the Platte River. When the river is low, it is possible to wade across to the easy trail on the other side. After gaining the trail, turn left (downstream) until under the rock. If you want to avoid getting wet, scramble up and down along the river (downstream) until you get to a giant boulder choke in the river just below Big Rock. Crossing here requires some boulder hopping and dicey friction above rushing water (rock shoes needed? and unbuckle your pack's waist belt). Either way, the short remaining distance to the toe of Big Rock is all too obvious.

The ancillary summit on the right is Gum Drop Spire, separated from Big Rock by an obvious deep, smooth chimney. The route Childhood's End begins near the entrance to the chimney. The route Field of Dreams climbs the prominent prow up the center of Big Rock. The smooth prow right of the chimney on Gum Drop Spire is Sweet Catastrophe.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Big Rock Candy Mountain

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Ron Pivo
Westcreek
Ron Pivo   Westcreek
^^^^^^^^^
Looks good from afar...but it is far from good. Sep 19, 2017
Dr. Dre
Manitou Springs, CO
Dr. Dre   Manitou Springs, CO
Has anyone checked out the rock called Cedar Mountain for climbing potential? It is off of FR360, several miles past the Turkey Rock turnoff. Sep 19, 2017
Chris Dickson
Telluride, Colorado
Chris Dickson   Telluride, Colorado
A friend and I headed out to the Big Rock to climb Jason Haas's new route Nicaraguan Nut Butter, 5.9. It is a 10ish-pitch all-trad route that takes a direct line up the center of the formation to the Forest. Since the last comment here is from 2011, I though I'd put out some noteworthy beta:

The approach from the East on Metberry Gulch Road is currently in good enough condition to drive with almost any 4-wheel drive SUV. Clearance is definitely the most important factor. We drove it in a stock Nissan xTerra and hit 1 rock during a cruxy washed out section. Overall, it's a burly road, but it is very do-able and drops you off at the parking area pretty much right behind the Big Rock.

From where we parked, the approach took us about 45 minutes along the formation's southern flank, but this could easily be cut down to 30 minutes if you knew exactly where you were going. Once at the base, Jason's line is pretty obvious, and you can see the first 4 pitches from the ground. We took a leisurely 7 hours to climb the Big Rock, which included a long lunch break up in the Forest.

The rappels are on the northeast corner of the north summit. They are kind of difficult to see and require a little scrambling down a water groove to get to the them, but, boy, are they bomber! Beautiful shiny bolts and chains courtesy of the ASCA. With one 60m, we rapped probably 50 ft to the next station, which consists of one shiny new bolt and one old bolt. From here, it was easy to get to ground. Overall, it was a fun adventure and a very moderate line up one of the coolest granite formations in Colorado! Go do it! Jun 8, 2014
Jeremy Hakes
Golden, Colorado
Jeremy Hakes   Golden, Colorado
The west approach down to the river is now by equestrian or foot traffic only.... That road/descent near the Ranch is closed. Oct 15, 2011
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
For the descent, you can do 2 rappels with a single 60m rope; the intermediate station is ok. Jun 7, 2009
jhump  
What is the route under the rap line? A few steep face moves rising left to a nice crack. I think it ends at the mid way rap station. May 13, 2009
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
As of Jan. 09 only Metberry is open. Generally the next couple of weeks are ok for crossing safely. Apr 18, 2009
Madaleine
Boulder, Colorado
Madaleine   Boulder, Colorado
Curious, has anyone climbed Childhoods' End this spring or in the spring in general. For the Western approach, is the Metburry Gulch road (from the east side of the river) fine? (I see posts from 2008 saying it's fine and one from 2007 saying it's impassable) Also, can the Platte river be difficult to wade/ cross this time of year?
Thanks!
Madaleine Apr 18, 2009
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
Jason Kaplan   Glenwood ,Co
So what were the first two routes put up rated? I have heard there were routes up BRCM in the 5.7 range? Is this true?
Is the dihedral-looking feature right of route d in Pete's topo climbable? Jul 22, 2008
Jeremy Hakes
Golden, Colorado
Jeremy Hakes   Golden, Colorado
Today I replaced the webbing and added a new rap ring to the rappel anchors. I also added screwlocks to both bolts to facilitate slings being replaced in the future. The big piece of rap material is a bomalloy sling (for fall protection in construction). It is rated for 5,000lbs. Jun 14, 2008
The rappel anchors are on the NORTHEAST corner...behind the top-out of Rotten Teeth. Jun 9, 2008
slim    
Yeah, it looks like the Turret. Jun 5, 2008
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Tom, looks like the Turret? Jun 5, 2008
What is the big rock in the far background between Tick Dome and Big Rock Candy Mountain on the photo of the two?
Is it Helen's Dome? or am I turned around?

I've been told it's The Turret. Ok, that makes sense. Now I've got my bearings. It's been awhile since I've been to that neck of the woods.
Thanks guys! Jun 5, 2008
Rob Kepley
Westminster,CO
Rob Kepley   Westminster,CO
The drive in on the east side via Metberry Gulch is in pretty good shape now. A standard 4x4 will do fine (except Subarus, sorry). We actually saw a couple of stock trucks all the way down at the river. We drove in as far as we could with a small 2WD truck and went the rest of the way on a motorcycle (see picture in photo section for a good laugh). Jun 5, 2008
Jeremy Hakes
Golden, Colorado
Jeremy Hakes   Golden, Colorado
Awesome. Thanks for the update on road conditions, Christopher. I sent you a PM concerning an ascent.... May 27, 2008
Christopher Jones
Denver, Colorado
Christopher Jones   Denver, Colorado
I drove down Metberry Gulch and climbed Big Rock over the weekend. The road is rough but not too crazy for most stock, four wheel drives. This makes the approach and hike back to the truck pretty easy. It took us 45 minutes to get to the base of the rock and about 15 minutes to get back to the truck after the rappel. May 25, 2008
Christopher Jones
Denver, Colorado
Christopher Jones   Denver, Colorado
Metberry Gulch road on the east side of the river has been open since last July. Most trucks and SUVs should be able to drive to the area below the top of the rock. DO NOT drive down to the river unless you have a beefed up 4x4. I researched the conditions by doing a Google search of Metberry Gulch and several 4x4 sites came up with trail reports. I will be going down there this weekend and will let everyone know what I see. May 21, 2008
Jeremy Hakes
Golden, Colorado
Jeremy Hakes   Golden, Colorado
Pete - outstanding information on that topo! Thank you for posting it. Fascinating stuff!

Kevin - That's crazy! And amazing! Great story, glad you made it out alive! May 13, 2008
YDPL8S
Santa Monica, Ca.
YDPL8S   Santa Monica, Ca.
Yeah Pete,

You're right, my old beat up brain has the "F" and the "G" occupying the same synapse. Apr 3, 2008
Pete Williams
Dinosaur, Colorado
Pete Williams   Dinosaur, Colorado
Scott, I assume you mean Muff, not Mugs. I haven't a clue what happened to that collection after The Cobbler went belly up. Maybe Muff still has it. I haven't a clue what happened to him, either, though I heard a few years ago he'd moved to Grand Junction. Apr 3, 2008
Kevin McLaughlin
Colorado Springs
Kevin McLaughlin   Colorado Springs
EDIT POST
On our try for a single push day we were in the middle of the roof/ chimney pitch, Glenn above it at the base of the headwall, me suffering across the roof then stuffing myself into the chimney slot. Poor Glenn- watched as lightning shot all across the sky and water cascaded down the wall above. Next thing I knew I woke up spinning on the rope at the mouth of the chimney, stunned by the swirling view I got back on the rock and started up the slot to Glenn, I smelled a burnt, electrical kind of scent as I climbed, finally I could see Glenn out in the rain and I shouted that I thought I may have been hit by lightning and been knocked out...... he stared at me with literal FIRE in his eyes and said "YOU-- I GOT IT RIGHT HERE!!!! Grabbing his crotch!!! Needless to say, the boys rapped into the slot shaken badly. Slamming our biggest cams, we rapped the single line to the deck ....... and ran. At the truck, we then SLAMMED OUR BOTTLE of victory champagne (we had planned to be heroes, not the two trembling pups that we now were), all the beer, smoked everything in sight, and drove home. That is how SHOCK TREATMENT got its name. Cheers. (This is a an excerpt from a past post.) Apr 2, 2008
YDPL8S
Santa Monica, Ca.
YDPL8S   Santa Monica, Ca.
Boy, great account Pete, The Golden Book of Bullshit - I bet that is a cool thing! Does it still exist anywhere? Probably has stuff from Mugs and Harvey and all of those crazy Springs guys (which includes the "Pete's"). Apr 2, 2008
Pete Williams
Dinosaur, Colorado
Pete Williams   Dinosaur, Colorado
I've just uploaded a topo for the Big Rock that I created sometime in the mid 80s for Ken Trout. It's a bit crowded, but it has pitch ratings and some info on routes that haven't been written up here. Hopefully it will turn out to be useful. At that time I also wrote up what I knew of the history of climbing on the Big Rock, and the following is condensed from that.

I don't know who the first people on top of The Big Rock were, nor do I know how they got there. When Peter Gallagher and I first topped out in 1979 there was a small, very weathered, wooden structure on top, something resembling a weather station enclosure. It obviously was not put there by climbers.

The topo has a line marked as the "first ascent" of the rock. This line was climbed by Don Doucette and Earl Wiggins sometime in the mid 70s. I talked to Don soon after Peter and I did Fields of Dreams, and Don told me that he and Earl went out to the Big Rock with a huge bag of bolts, intent on climbing the buttress that eventually Peter and I climbed with Fields of Dreams. For one reason or another, they didn't persist in this intent, and ended up climbing another route instead. They placed a few bolts on the slabs between Rotten Teeth and the central gully, but I'm not sure how many. These may just have been belay bolts. I'm now wondering if they actually got to the top because my notes on the conversation also suggest that Don established the descent rappels off the summit after his "second ascent"--so possibly they backed off before the summit.

In any case, Don returned with someone else (possibly Kurt Rasmussen?). He reclimbed the first pitch or two of his first route and then moved left into the prominent gully that "Rotten Teeth" enters on its short, fifth pitch (he probably entered it at about the same spot). He then climbed up the low angled rotten groove that is the sixth pitch of "Rotten Teeth." From this point, judging from what I remember Don telling me, he continued up right on a layback/flake feature that becomes a big, right-facing corner, and then eventually ended up in the "Forest" area between and just below the two summits. (Peter and I always just called this "The Forest.") From there, he may have finished by a new pitch, or perhaps by a pitch he'd climbed before with Earl. In any case, this is marked on the topo as the "second ascent."

The third ascent of the Big Rock was probably by Leonard Coyne, Wendy White, Ken Sims, and possibly a fourth person. I don't know the exact location of their route, but the topo shows its general line. It was written up in The Golden Book of Bullshit, the new route record at The Cobbler in the Springs during the '70s, but that description was pretty vague. I think they did a slab pitch to the left of the start of Fields of Dreams, and then scrambled as far up the main, central gully as they could. From there they climbed some horrendous-sounding unprotected off-width to the Forest. Their last pitch(s) may have been already climbed by Don Doucette on his routes. They called their route "Hot Ice Cream" and rated it 5.10. This must have been a year or two before we climbed Fields of Dreams.

Thus, possibly Fields of Dreams was the fourth ascent of The Big Rock.

The other route on the topo that hasn't been described elsewhere on these pages is called Petered Out. Pete and I knew this was the last FA we were going to do on The Big Rock, thus the name. The bolted pitches that get you from the Gum Drop Spire to the main summit were established during this 1980 ascent. The route provides access to the summit by climbing nothing harder than 5.9-, but there's actually an even easier way. I once found a way to scramble up easy ledges behind the Gum Drop to its base, and from there the upper slab pitches get you to the summit via just 5.7. Apr 2, 2008
Jeremy Hakes
Golden, Colorado
Jeremy Hakes   Golden, Colorado
Anyone been down in the area recently? I'm also interested in one of the "easier" routes to the top, the 5.9 ...? Anyone have any experiences on anything "easy"? How about any updates on roads/access down there? Feb 10, 2008
Finally, Kevin Stricker replaced the old bolts. That must be the single biggest community service effort yet in Colorado. If Climbing and Rock & Ice are as good as they think they are, then we should see Mr Striker's picture on a cover as "MAN OF THE YEAR!" -- Ken Trout

He's been promoted to "Father of the Year!" Congrats to you both!! & thanks, Kev. Oct 10, 2007
Joshua Balke
Colorado Springs
Joshua Balke   Colorado Springs
Anyone have any beta on the obscure original line refered to in the Hubble and Rolofson guide? It just indicates that the route goes up the center to the hanging forest. No rating or topo nor does it say whether or not the route tops out or to decend from the hanging forest. Aug 15, 2007
jleining   CO
Checked out this area yesterday! Came in from the East from FR360 and FR205 in an Isuzu Trooper, FR 360 had three sections that were severely eroded the first section will not be possible to cross in a couple of more seasons. But the later two had big drops into a creek running across the road, crossing was tricky but fine. FR 205 "Metberry Gulch" was fine the eroded ravine has been spanned with logs. Although be careful once you can see the Big Rock and then loose sight of it you will go up a steep right curving incline and then down another. BEFORE going down walk down because there is another really tricky spot that involves a large boulder. I made it but is was quite bumpy. Immediately after this the BIg Rock is on the other side of the ridge. so parking before the boulder is not a big deal. From this ridge on the back side of the rock Sheep's nose, Sheeprock, Helen's dome, Acid Rock, and a number of other rocks, which i would love to know what they are, especially the 135' egg shaped rock perched on a slab to the east? Looks AMAZING!!!!!! Safe travels and remember FR205 is a dead end road so make sure you can get back out, and i think (but am not sure) FR 360 meets back up with 67 or maybe 77 so if you can't pass the 3 eroded section maybe try entering in 360 from farther south by woodland park or Lake George. By coming in from 205 there is only a decent to the big rock seeing as how this road takes you to the top back side of the rock. 205 does continue down but i did not go any further seeing as how i was there! Aug 15, 2007
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
CHILDHOOD'S END FIRST ASCENT INFO: A lot of people helped hand drill, on the lead, to put up what once was Colorado's most bolted route. Just over sixty bolts were placed during a total of ten daytrips from the fall of 1983 to the Spring of '84. Rob Baker and Kirk Miller helped me with the first half of the route. Eric Winkleman and Brian Hansen drilled the 5.12 pitch. And finally Eric, Brian, and I finished the task. The run out on the last pitch was partly due to an approaching thunderstorm. ERIC WINKLEMAN led the crux free, fast, and chalkless on the day we topped out. Bob Horan and Mark Rolofson did the second ascent that summer. Bob onsight-flashed the 5.12 pitch. Finally, Kevin Stricker replaced the old bolts. That must be the single biggest community service effort yet in Colorado. If Climbing and Rock & Ice are as good as they think they are, then we should see Mr Striker's picture on a cover as "MAN OF THE YEAR!"

SWEET CATASTROPHE FIRST ASCENT INFO: Peter Gallagher and Peter Williams. If you like this type of climbing, then you may think the quality rates more than the one star given.

Pete and Pete really explored the whole area extensively. In addition to several big wall routes, they also climbed on the dome across the river (Tick Dome) and a very beautuful flying buttress in the Lost Creek Wilderness, past the Shafthouse, 5.10r/x. Jul 14, 2007
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
As of 9/6/2006, the CO Hwy 67 south of Deckers is closed, so the eastern approach is not possible if you are driving in from the north.

For the western approach, a mountain bike will save you an hour or so total on the approach/de-approach, since the old road is closed to motor vehicles. I measured the parking area to be exactly 3.6 miles past the Goose Creek CG. The closed road is in good shape, and we were able to ride it both directions with climbing packs. It was about 3 miles, and took 15 minutes to ride in, and maybe 45 to ride out. Sep 7, 2006
Mike Anderson
Colorado Springs, CO
Mike Anderson   Colorado Springs, CO
I've checked out both the West and East approaches recently, and here are my thoughts.

Roads are closed on both approaches, so either will require around 3 miles of hiking each way.

The Eastern approach from Westcreek: The road is pretty good to Turkey Rock CG, after that it is still pretty good but there are two spots where erosion from small streams has created little ravines that would be hard to cross in a standard 2wd vehicle. I got over them in my Subaru Outback with some minor scraping. The "Metberry Gulch" jeep trail is well marked with a metal sign, but there is a new-ish sign indicating the road is closed. It doesn't matter anyway because the road is completely impassible. About 1/4 mile down the road there is a 6' deep ravine going accross the road, so unless you're driving the Batmobile, you wouldn't get down this road anyway. This road is pretty easy to ride a mt. bike down with a few spots where you need to walk (ie, the ravine). Riding up is much harder. I probably rode 50% of the way back and walked the rest...and this was without a pack. In short, I wouldn't recommend using a mt. bike to access from this side if you have a climbing pack. This road is mostly downhill on the way in, but contains a lot of up and down and the road surface is very sandy making it difficult to ride a bike on with any efficiency. It took me 2.5 hours from the start of the "Metberry" road to get to the top of Big Rock and back on a bike with no climbing pack.

The Western approach from Lake George: Having scouted both approaches now, I will be using this one when I actually try to climb this thing. The road you drive in from Lake George is in very good condition...you could get your lowridin' '64 Impala in there. The road that takes you down the ridge to Big Rock is still blocked by the gate (as of early May). This road is in very good shape and would be easy to drive down over half way. After that, there were some very large erosion burms that would be hard to cross with a long wheel base. Anyway, this stretch goes very fast on a mt. bike, as it is mostly downhill. You can get to the edge of the canyon in about 30 minutes on a bike. I didn't go further than here, but it looked like a relatively good trail leads down to the river. It seems like you could be at the river within an hour of leaving the car. The way back would be worse. On the way back, it is mostly uphill. The worst part would be the last half of the road where it descends steeply into the canyon...if you have a pack, you'll be walking your bike for this stretch which is probably 1/2-3/4 of a mile. After that, it's not too bad riding, but it would be worse with a pack.

Either way, you'll be in for a long day, but it's still shorter than hiking to the Diamond. I'm personally morally opposed to ATV's, but if you're not, they would make it real easy to get in there...of course you would probably be breaking the law....

The best bet would be for the FS to open that gate, but I suspect they feel that they don't have the manpower or something. It's there way of punishing us for our elected officials cutting their budgets I guess.

Oh, I almost forgot, the gate blocking the Western approach is very tall, so a short car or convertible jeep could probably drive under it. Jun 30, 2005
From the west, a bike would be useful part of the way. Once on the steep descent down to the river (and the steep climb back out at the end of the day), I think it would be much easier to walk. Feb 24, 2005
Would a bike be useful for the approach? Feb 24, 2005
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
The approach has changed- you have to walk a few miles down the CLOSED FR540 to get to the trail to get to the river. You can't drive it. This adds hours to the approach. I know what they SAY, but there is no real or legitamate reason given for why they have closed this road, which a VW bug could handle at present. Too bad. Cross the river upstream about 800 yards fromt eh rock and then work back down to it. The trail back is easier to find then the trail there from the river. Stay up-river when in doubt. Jul 19, 2004
iF YOU HAVE CLIMBED THIS ROUTE AND SAT AT ANY BELAY YOU WOULD WANT EVERY BOLT TO BE REPLACED THOSE LITTLE BUGGERS FLEX . 1 ST PROMBLEM IF YOU ENCOUNTER ANY WEATHER PROMBLEMS YOU NEED TO TO LEAVE A GRIP OF BINERS TO BACK OFF. SECOUNDLY IF YOU FALL ON ANY OF THOSE BOLTS WITH THOSE RUN OUT'S YOU WILL WOULD PULL THOSE BOLTS MOST LIKELY TO THE BELAY AND MAY BE THE BELAY. i AM TRYING TO RAISE SOME MONEY TO REPLACE ALL THE BOLTS ON CHILD HOOD, HOPFULY REPLACE THOSE BOLT IN LATE AUG EARLY SEPT. iF IINTERESTED CALL ZAC AT THE MTN MISER 303-761-7070 OR E-MAIL ME AT zac@mountainmiser.comTHIS PROJECT WAS FIRST CONCIVED BY MY FRIEND CHRIS HAMPSON WHO JUST DIED CLIMBING IN THE VALLEY THIS JUNE SO THIS PROJECT WOULD BE IN HIS MEMORYcheers and happy climbing Aug 1, 2003
I climb Childhoods end last summer and thought the "bolts" were fine for your typical South Platte. There didn't seem to be anything unsafe. When I say typical, yes the majority are star drives. There is no retro-bolting going on, on Childhoods and hopefully there never will be. Lets keep the excitement alive. Of course the area is closed now from fires, but in the future bring a set of stoppers for your first few pitches the rest is clipping bolts on the slabs. Jun 14, 2002
Just checking if anymore has been heard about retrobolting at BR. I have the thumbs up (as does anyone from reading Trout's guide) to do some [replacing]...but would rather not on vacation. I would be in interested in Dreams, and Childhood's End if they were safe. I hear the bolts are horrid...should I trust the rumors? jercollins@hotmail.com May 9, 2002
Darrin Stein
Vancouver, WA
Darrin Stein   Vancouver, WA
I was just around that area this past summer and was able to gain access to Big Rock (although I didn't climb it) from both directions. From Turkey Rocks, just keep following the road West till you see the sign MatBerry gulch and go that route. It really is easier than what Hubbel's book describes....he just does it in great detail. Keep in mind this is a 4x4 road, and I don't mean a Subaru. Access from the East side gets you very close to the top of the rock. From the West, the Coral Creek 4x4 road was open and no gate was erected. Jan 7, 2002
Brian Hansen
West of Boulder, CO
Brian Hansen   West of Boulder, CO
Thanks, AC. I have been gone too long. Anyway, I thought Big Rock should be in the database, because it's a great destination. Jan 4, 2002
Hi Brian - you've been gone too long. Last I checked, the west approach has long been closed due to private property and the only way to approach Big Rock is the convoluted east side as described in Hubbel's book. I don't believe any bolts have been replaced on Big Rock although I haven't been there in a while. Someone has been replacing bolts at Helen's, Acid, and Wigwam. In some cases, they have added bolts to routes and in some cases, Helen's for instance, they have removed routes. I've talked to Trout and some others, but they don't know who is doing this without the first ascensionist's permission. Jan 2, 2002

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