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Routes in North Narrows Slabs

Alley Cat Street S 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Climb to Safety T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Death Tongue Variation T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Hitcher, The S 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
Narrows Crack T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
White Line Fever T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Description

This is the roadside crag which nearly abuts the road on the N side of CO Hwy 7. There are a few glinting bolts which attract the climber's eye to wonder what's there if you haven't perused either Rolofson's 1995 or Hubbel's 1999 guides. This is the narrowest bit of the South St. Vrain canyon. Nice slab of granite in stretches here. Routes include Alley Cat Street, White Line Fever, Cling to Safety, Climb to Safety, Flash Flood, Death Tongue variation, Death Tongue, Crack, Narrows Crack, and The Hitcher.

Parking is best obtained just downhill in front of Observatory Rock or just uphill from the crag.

Getting There

Find this rock approximately 5.3 miles up CO Hwy 7 from the intersection of CO Hwy 7 & US 36 in Lyons. Drive W, uphill and when you park or stop, the rock rises nearly from the road.

Routes

Per Bernard Gillett: (routes listed left to right).

A. Alley Cat Street, 5.9+ (some say 5.10a) (left-most bolt line up black water streak; bolts just got replaced)
(note: with the exception of one route, none of the bolted lines are sport climbs; bring a bit of gear)
B. Gas Huffer 5.10a (starts with 3 diagonal bolts from block, then gear, not in Hubbel guide)
C. White Line Fever, 5.9- R (gear, run out)
D. Cling to Safety, 5.11b (first bolt route right of trees; wires for the bottom, then 4 bolts)
E. Climb to Safety, 5.9 (gear to two bolts and anchor)
F. Flash Flood 5.12a (thin slab with 4 bolts, a little gear at top)
G1. Death Tongue 5.12b (has been listed in guides as 5.11d/12a; I think the start is quite difficult) (mixed gear and bolts to big flake in large roof -- the Death Tongue)
G2. Death Tongue Var., 5.9+ (gear; start right, cross DT, and angle left with big flake)
H. Narrows Crack, 5.11a (listed as 5.10d in older guides) (gear to obvious jam crack through roof to tree rappel station -- run out and junky in first half)
I. The Hitcher, 5.12b (the only sport route on the wall, follows bolted arete -- the 4th bolt has a quick link on it. Cruxes low and at the quicklink. 5 bolts to anchor)
Hanging Bridge 5.10b (height-dependent crux) (newer route on right side of wall, gear to two bolts, more gear -- not a good route for short people unless you add a bolt below the 2 that are there; that would better protect the 5.11a LB section that tall people can avoid with a stem. I put the route in and don't mind if short climbers want to add a bolt)

6 Total Climbs

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On 9/15/75, Milt Strickler, Barry C. and I did most of what became known as "Hanging Bridge" in two longish pitches, all the way to top, and walked off.

Edit (7/05/15): Milt, Barry and I began on big fragile holds (5.8) about 10 feet left of the "pair of cracks" that Gillett's guidebook states is the start of "Hanging Bridge."

Before traversing right on big unprotected holds at about 70 feet, we stayed to the left of what later became Gillett's "10b" (at least 11a for people of my height), left-leaning dihedral that contains his two bolts (which Gillett named "Hanging Bridge"). Mike Endicott and I toproped that today for the first time, after Mike led the 1975 variation, which converged with Gillett's later effort at about 70 feet.

Above Gillett's double-bolt anchor (at 95 feet and which didn't exist in 1975), Milt, Barry and I continued up the clean, left-facing dihedral and straight up cracks and through bulges, to the top of the cliff bands.

BTW Milt introduced me to Mike in the late '70s. Jun 29, 2012
Bruce Hildenbrand and Dale Haas replaced the two bolt anchor shared by Climb to Safety, Death Tongue, Flash Flood and Cling to Safety with 3/8" stainless steel Rawl bolts. We added quick links and chains for rappel. The bolts, hangers and quick links were provided by the ASCA (www.safeclimbing.org). They appreciate your support. Oct 10, 2007
Kevin Cooper, I and various partners put up three new ice routes on this crag this last weekend 12/1/2006. Perhaps they have been done before. If not they are now called "Skidmark Left, Skidmark Right and Road Rash". All three climb 1-2" thick ice and use existing bolts and natural protection except for Road Rash which required the addition of one bolt above a loose flake. They form most years for a few days. Skidmark Left is the black water streak of Alley Cat Street and uses this routes protection. Skidmark Right is just right of Alley Cat and uses mostly natural pro with a long reach right for a bolt 30ft? up. Road Rash starts left of a left facing corner (100ft? right of the other routes) and starts out steep up and slightly right to some sketchy flakes that must be stood on to reach the new bolt before commiting to a slab that takes you to a small overlap which leads up a left leaning/facing corner. All three routes are WI5+M6 or thereabouts and 80-100ft in length. Enjoy!
Dec 4, 2006
Will M.  
Hey, I am looking for some info on the roadside crags and the North Narrows off of CO 7 in the South St. Vrain Canyon above Lyons.

In this one spot, I think it may be close to Alley Cat (not sure) I see about 8 sport routes, and I haven't been able to find the names and ratings of them yet. Any info?

I am going to climb it today, hopefully I will take a bunch of photos to post, may need some help with rating and descriptions if someone cares to help in the coming weeks

Will M. Aug 22, 2006

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