Elevation: 11,711 ft
GPS: 40.28, -105.673 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 119,330 total · 538/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


By now, this spire has perhaps the most popular alpine climb in the country. DO NOT--repeat, DO NOT do this climb on a weekend.

It has excellent climbing to an unimaginable summit. If crowded, there are many alternatives.

Getting There

Park at the Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead (a mile below Bear Lake), and hike five miles or so to Sky Pond (above Loch Vale).

Scramble up talus above Sky Pond to the Petit, which offers a steadily narrowing South Face and is overshadowed by the Sharkstooth to the West and flanked by the Saber on the East.

Possible Descents

Andrews Glacier trail descent: per Paul Huebner: we did short rap down the back on the east side and traversed over to other spire behind it. Then we scrambled up to our left/west through chimney that opens up onto large ledge/ramp leading down to the base and back side of that spire. From there, we descended gentle snow field down to talus and continued on down the Andrews Glacier Trail (approach for Sharkstooth) to Loch Vale and on down to Glacier Gorge Parking lot.

Rap descent - per James Beissel: - All of the rap stations are bolted. If you are rapping off anything besides bolt you are screwing up.- You will need two 60m ropes- All of the raps are double rope rappels- Do not try to rap into the gully!!!- You should not have to downclimb at all

1. Rap from a Fixe anchor at the (climber's) right end of the summit. ~160 ft.
2. Rap from two Fixe ring anchors just past the terrace to a pair of Metolius rap bolts. ~160 ft
3. Rap from the fatty Metolius bolts to the big grassy ledge. ~160 ft. The next set of bolts are about 50' to your left at eye level, above a chimney of sorts. Addendum: it's exposed clipping the anchor.
4. Rap from the anchor over the void (homemade hanger + modern Fixe ring bolt). Pass up the grassy ledge (Second Terrace) at about 160ft. and aim for the big horn about 20' below you. There's probably slings around the horn. They'll help you spot the station, but you will actually be rapping from bolts below the horn. ~180' ft.
5. A 200+' rap to a big grassy ledge (First Terrace). The next bolts will be about 50' climber's right. Addendum: you may not reach this anchor, but there is a slung boulder at ~165' to make a short additional rap.
6. Another 200' rap to the ground off two Fixe ring bolts.

4 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Petit Grepon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
South Face
Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Southwest Corner
Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
South Face
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad, Alpine 8 pitches
Southwest Corner
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine 9 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Petit Grepon »

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Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


justin dubois
Estes Park
justin dubois   Estes Park
As of now the park is going OFF!!!!!!!I have not been to Loch Vale yet, but there is very little snow anywhere else and the Petit is a sunny place. Jun 24, 2002
The climb is unforgettable, but the descent could be epic if impatience is your best resource follow the 5 bolted rappels off the southeast side that wrap around to the south side, one scary reach from a large ledge and your home free. This climb is very cool, the best I've done in the park. The day I climbed it, not a soul in sight and the weather held up nicely, unfortunate fools the day before got hail the size of cherries. Sep 5, 2005
orin bakal-molnar
pagosa spgs, colorado
orin bakal-molnar   pagosa spgs, colorado
Just climbed the South Face route last Tuesday, conditions were great. The route is 99% dry. We also talked to some folks who climbed the South Prow on Sharkstooth. Looks like it's in good shape as well.

Snow on the hike up is in grape shape, possible in boot's without snowshoes. You may desire crampons or an ice axe. Enjoy the early spring! Mar 26, 2007
Sunny Jamshedji
Mumbai, India
Sunny Jamshedji   Mumbai, India
Just wanted to add my two cents concerning the descent. There are solid bolted rap stations for stretched 60m rappels (TWO ROPES!) to the base of the climb. We had a single 60m, and you can do it the grassy ledge, but we could not find intermediate rap stations for the last 400 feet. So, take two ropes and be happy! Jul 16, 2007
Paul Huebner
Portage, WI
Paul Huebner   Portage, WI
When I climbed the South Face route in 1994, we did short rap down the back on the east side and traversed over to other spire behind it. Then we scrambled up to our left/west through chimney that opens up onto large ledge/ramp leading down to the base and back side of that spire. From there, we descended gentle snow field down to talus and continued on down the Andrews Glacier Trail (approach for Sharkstooth) to Loch Vale and on down to Glacier Gorge Parking lot. Made summit of Petit at 11, had cold beer we had stashed in creek near the Loch and were back at car at 3 PM, just ahead of huge raindrops. Course to do this you have to climb with your pack and take your approach shoes or boots, nothing new in the Mts. Jul 30, 2007
Climbed up to the pizza belay ledge before having to bail. Winter conditions make for a cold and windy ascent. Bring plenty of warm layers and don't skimp on the small gear. Also, bring as many long trad draws as you have to reduce the high potential of rope drag. The third pitch (traverse) or as I call it "epic pitch" is less than desirable in the winter due to snow. Used a 70m to lead, and it reduced the amount of total pitches to 5 or 6. (To the top) Found good bivy towards the base of the tower a good distance up from Sky Pond. Better to take the Girlfriend up in the summer, LOL. Jan 3, 2008
Scott Matz
Loveland, CO
Scott Matz   Loveland, CO
Me and Cale got off work Friday and had plans to head right for the Peton (Petit Grepon). After a ten hour shift of slinging steel, I figured it would be nessesary to pick up a six pack before the hike. Hitting the trail head at 7pm, we biveed near the Loch and finished in the morning. Getting to the base of Petit at 600. We scramble up the first two pitches in about an hour 1/2. The third and forth pitch is what slowed us down a bit. I lead the forth pitch and ended to the left of the ramp and pretty much screwed us from there. Sorry Cale. We both noticed the ramp to the right we should of anchored at. Being so far left, there was no pro on hard face moves for thirty feet. Our only choice was to traverse left and rap down to the grassy ledge, on the way over to the slings I had wedged my foot in a side crack made a small move and twisted the shit out of my ankle. I heard a crack and knew our time was done. On our way down we got caught by another team. We figured we'd let them pass by that time my ankle was killing me and decided to rap off. Pretty sketched, we called it a day. Very disappointed but content with our efforts. This was my first attempt of an alpine climb and ready to get back up there maybe before winter. I learned one brilliant mistake on an alpine climb could cost it for you. You betcha the hike down after that felt like an eternity. Sep 22, 2008
Sweeta ass route! Super exposed after the 3rd pitch, but bomber pro! Good job, Scotty, we'll get this one, we were a little rushed so be prepared! Weather was great but towards the end got a little sketchy, would love to do a winter ascent on this big guy! Sep 29, 2008
Clint Locks
Clint Locks   Boulder
Beautiful hike in and the Cathedral Spires are AWESOME!

The climb was equally beautiful. You can reach the 1st Bench with a 60 meter, and, if you belay higher up in the chimney (25 ft, +or-) for the 2nd pitch, you can string 2 and 3 together, giving the leader an interesting chimney/5.7 crack to reach the second bench.

After the next chimney pitch, The climb goes vertical, beginning the real deal. Stellar climbing! Up higher, I don't know what the Gillett guide meant by 'sparse pro' on the upper 5.7 'meandering' east face pitch; I found plenty. The Pizza pan ledge at the end of that pitch reminded me of the Yellow Spur's arete belay. Very cool! Get comfy.

The final 5.6 summit pitch needs attention, as there really ISN'T good pro for THAT one. It's all there, however, and the summit is amazing! If the weather's holding, definitely spend a little alone time up there before pulling up the slack.

On the descent, watch for ropes sticking on the upper rappels. Also, rock fall is very possible (probable?), so be cautious. But that's all part of climbing, so really doesn't merit mentioning, generally. Whatever. ENJOY IT! Jul 10, 2010
Dave Polan
Worcester, Massachusetts
Dave Polan   Worcester, Massachusetts
Rap description is right on, but slings are removed from block at the bottom of the 4th rap. Look for a big L-shaped block perched on the edge of the lower tiers of grassy ledges and the bolts are right below it. I spent a bit of time searching for them. From there you should reach the 1st terrace w no problem w two 60m ropes Jul 19, 2012
Really helpful description of the descent via the five or so raps. We missed the fixed rap rings for the third rap (be sure to keep looking climber's left around 160 feet) but continued for roughly 180 feet to a solid block that's slung with good webbing and a cold shut and rap ring. From there, it's about a 40 foot rap down to the large grassy ledge where you gain fixed rap anchors at the far end of the ledge (as described on MP site). For the fourth rap, note that there isn't any cordage currently on the horn, though it's pretty obvious and you will see the rap station just below it.

We climbed the Petit (south face) on 9/5 and had amazing weather and, even better, the whole route to ourselves all day! Sep 6, 2012
Nate Flynn
United States
Nate Flynn   United States
We had the whole route to ourselves as well! And it was beautiful weather as well! August 2011! Aug 12, 2013
Mark Oveson
Louisville, Colorado
Mark Oveson   Louisville, Colorado
The spire directly behind (north of) the Petit Grepon is called the Penknife. Here's an alternate descent route for the Petit:

From the summit of the Petit, rappel 100' to the north and scramble down the very narrow ridge to the base of the south face of the Penknife. One moderate pitch with a 5.6 move or two gets you to the summit of the Penknife. Rappel to the north from slings to the saddle between Sharkstooth and the Saber. Hike and scramble north down the Gash to the Andrews Glacier trail. Jul 21, 2014
Daniel Worley
Big South Fork, TN
Daniel Worley   Big South Fork, TN
Has anyone been up there lately? What are the conditions? May 20, 2015
justin hausmann
Fort collins
justin hausmann   Fort collins
Found purple sling on talus below Petit on June 22 2016. Boulder dudes? Describe the tape, and I'll try to get it back to ya. Jun 22, 2016
Caleb Mallory
Seattle, Wa
Caleb Mallory   Seattle, Wa
So, I climbed the south face a couple weeks back on a beautiful Saturday morning, and the only other climbers I saw were the rangers doing a link up. Where were the infamous crowds I've heard so much about? Aug 10, 2016
Andy Hansen
Longmont, CO
Andy Hansen   Longmont, CO
Caleb, those people have all graduated from crowding the Petit Grepon to crowding the Casual Route. Get with the program. Aug 10, 2016
Home is where you park it
Reedrombo   Home is where you park it
Hey, girl named Marisa on the south face on Sept. 10, I was on the southwest corner and we snapped photos of each other halfway up but never linked up afterwards. You should message me so we can swap photos. Thanks! Sep 11, 2016
If anyone ever finds an iPhone or pieces of one below the SW corner of the Petit, I'd love to try to recover it! Who knows where it ended up - probably in the Gash somewhere. Message me if you come across it. Oct 31, 2016
Jeremy C
Golden, CO
Jeremy C   Golden, CO
My partner and I climbed this yesterday and had a great time. We took the southwest corner and found it to have a large number of loose rocks but really quality pitches and amazing exposure. Tricky gear in a few spots and a definite roof crux up around P5-6. We chose to try this alternative descent and took only a single 70m rope with us.

We did a similar descent as Mark and Paul describe, except we did a very necessary second rappel that I'm not quite sure how you would avoid. For the first rap, aim for a pinkish, broken, sidewalk-looking ledge below with visible tat anchor just past it. Scrambling over to those and getting the rope pulled is exciting. Be careful. The tat anchor for the second rap is currently a little old looking but seemed solid enough. We backed it up for the first. A second rappel gets you down to a cool spot with 2 corner lines that you could potentially use to escape. We climbed the left side, 50' or so up a chimney/corner. There were a few easier 5.moves culminating in an easy squeeze chimney that will probably require you to take your pack off. We didn't rope up, but some people will probably prefer to. From here, it opened up into another little, rocky alpine field and, eventually, a saddle and a drop down to the north for a long time. Snow conditions will probably vary greatly from here. We traversed a scary but super solid, 80 degree snow slope then hiked down boulderfields and glissaded amazing snow fields for hundreds of feet, eventually making it back down to the Andrews Glacier trail. I'm not really sure of the difference in time, but this way seemed pretty fast compared to the traditional alternative. Definitely more adventurous! Jul 3, 2017
Russ Moore
Littleton, CO
Russ Moore   Littleton, CO
Retrieved two ropes from the raps on Sat 8/5 mountainproject.com/forum/t…. Aug 6, 2017
Hey, yesterday (Sunday, 6/10/2018) we descended the standard rap route. On the last rap, after pulling our tag line until our lead rope was out of reach, something got stuck, and we had to leave the rope (and a locker) up there. We trimmed off the end of the tagline, in an attempt to leave less trash out there, but it would be really great to get the rope back.

If, in the next few days, someone is willing to carry out that rope and return it, we'd be very grateful, and would gladly give you $70 for your trouble! It's a 70m 9.5mm orange Petzl rope.

Also, if you don't want to pack it out, but could drop it onto the ground could you please let me know? In that case, I'm guessing something would chew it up, but I'd still hike out to pack out the trash. Or, if you notice it's gone completely, it'd be great if you could let me know so that I don't waste a hike out trying to pack out the trash.

Thanks! Jun 11, 2018
Climbed Southwest Corner today 6/15/18. No stuck ropes. Jun 15, 2018
Thanks for letting me know, Wes! Jun 17, 2018