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Routes in Swift Rock

Blue Swift T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
Spanky Goes to Hollywood T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
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GPS: 40.186, -105.333 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: spanky on Apr 10, 2005
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
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This north-facing 80-foot slab is directly across the river from the Wilford Roof area. It can be identified by a large, right-facing corner bordering the left edge of the slab and also an attractive-looking thin crack that diagonals up and left across the slab at approximately mid-height. Swift Rock is accessed by crossing the river, most easily accomplished by boulder hopping when the river is seasonally low. March and April seem to be good months to find low water conditions. Descent can be accomplished by rapping off slings around a large tree on top or by hiking down the gully immediately to the west and then reversing the river crossing.

Getting There

Park at a large dirt pullout on the north side of the road, immediately below the Wilford Roofs area and approximately 1/4 - 1/2 mile uphill from the Infirmary Slabs. Cross the road and cross the river and a couple of minutes of uphill hiking finds the base of the crag.

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Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
Was the bolted route on the left ever finished? As of 2003, Alvino only had tape to mark the locations of the last few bolts. On TR the route appeared to be modified. A pocket was enlarged (possibly to place a piton?) and one crimp was questionable. Apr 14, 2005
I don't know the exact location of the bolted route to which you are referring, but if it's the one that goes straight up the middle of the rock, past the prominent diagonaling crack, I hope it hasn't been finished.

[Marc Hemmes] and I put up the first two routes on {Swift Rock] in spring, 2003. One of these is that diagonaling crack, which goes at 9+ R with a pretty good little runout at the end. The crack protects with tiny wires and TCUs/Aliens. I had already heard that a bolted route was put up on this slab and that a pin had been placed in the diagonal. If this is true, the pin should be pulled since it compromises the integrity and adventure of leading the thin diagonal which had been previously established.

I am disappointed to read about the possibility that the thin crack had been enlarged to accept a piton. Is this what the state of climbing has come to? Swift rock is, even by my own admission, a small, podunk little crag in the relatively small, podunk [S. St. Vrain Canyon]. Look around you, especially up here in [Estes], and all you see are bigger plums to pick. If the person establishing this bolted route didn't feel that the thin crack accepted adequate protection (and I can assure you that it does, you just have to work for it, although these days I guess that is too much for some people) then leave it alone. Don't bolt the route, and don't EVER sculpt out a crack to make it accept pro. Hell, that's worse than placing a bolt. A bolt can be removed, the hole patched, covered with rock dust, and you'd never know it was there. Good luck restoring an altered crack to its original condition.

Is the climbing world going to take a major blow because one little bolted line in a little canyon in [Colorado] wasn't done because a crack wouldn't take good enough pro? Definitely not. This is about placing the rock above our own ego. These days, too many people are obsessed with painting their names all over the rock and across guidebook (and internet) pages. These misplaced priorities are what cause ego-indulgent new-routers to do things like enlarge a crack to accept pins, just so their "uber-classic" new line will go and they will get at least a 1/1000th share of their fifteen minutes of fame.

I'm sick of this recent trend in climbing. Just look at [Boulder Canyon]. So many bolts... and for what? To establish another 30 or 40-foot 5.10 route? Are these routes going to mean anything to anyone besides the first ascentionists? Is anyone going to notice if they weren't there at all? If doing or not doing a route means it's either the rock or your ego that suffers, well the rock wins, hands down. It was there way before any lycra-panty clad sport climbers existed and it will be there way after they've all gone the way of jrat and pink flamingo tights.

I'll get off my soapbox for now. Perhaps the crack wasn't enlarged to take a pin and most of this diatribe was unwarranted. If a pin is in that diagonal it should still be removed. I invite the person who established this bolted line to write in and clarify or defend his actions. And if anyone goes out to [Swift Rock], please bring a hammer with you, because you have my permission to pull any piton you might find in the diagonal. Apr 17, 2005
With respect to the ongoing discussion about the thin crack route....

Was the first ascent of this route ever recorded anywhere? Was there a reasonable expectation that other climbers would know about this route? I don't like people adding gear to existing routes, but, if nobody knew the crack had been climbed, then what do you expect. And, having climbed the route just once (or even a few times) doesn't necessarily leave enough of a trace of past visits.

Bruce Apr 17, 2005

Since when do climbers search for a bolted face line first and ignore an obvious natural line? Talk about screwed-up priorities. If the bolt climb was established on rappel, as I'm sure it was, then the climbers were sure to find our rap slings around the big tree up top as evidence of previous ascentionists. With their being no bolts already on the crag, it doesn't take [Sherlock Holmes] to deduce what line or lines had probably already been climbed on the cliff. And, even without following these logical conclusions, any party visiting this cliff to establish new routes ought to have climbed the thin crack first since it's the obvious line to do. After having done so using gear, when they went on to do their uber-classic bolt line they would have eschewed the pin in the crack because it would have compromised the integrity of their previous lead. Like I said before, it's all a matter of priorities.

This is all bullshitting anyway. There are plenty of precedents set in which climbers have placed fixed gear for new routes without being aware of previous first ascent information. In these cases, it is customary for the fixed gear to be pulled, regardless of the reason/s it was placed. That being said, ignorance doesn't save the pin; it should be removed. Apr 18, 2005
Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
When I was up there a couple years ago there were two routes. One bolted line went up the right side to the seam, then followed it up for a few feet, and finished with bolts on the arete. Felt like 9+. The other route ("Gardening with Powertools" in my notes) was started on the left side of the face (a few feet away from the dihedral). It was mostly moderate with a section of 5.11 about halfway up. From that point on there was white tape but no bolts. At the crux there was a small pod in the crack that appeared to be modified. Based upon the bolt spacing a pin was going to be placed there for the crux moves.

As for the pin on the right line ("Graverobber" is what I named it) It also appeared to be place in an enlarged hole. The issue for me now is that if the pin is pulled it will leave a large lock that shouldn't be there. It might be better just leaving the pin? Apr 19, 2005

I have a better idea. Why doesn't [Alvino] (I'm assuming that's the perpetrator of the bolt "dolt" job, or maybe it's his son, Tam) go up there with a hacksaw and saw off the eyes of both offending pins. That way, the character of the previous ascents isn't changed by any additional fixed pro and no one gets an enlarged fingerlock. Wait, I've got a better idea: how about we just don't enlarge the crack to accept two pins. Damn, I forgot, we don't have that choice anymore. May 5, 2005

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