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Waterfall Wall

Colorado > Ouray vicinity (rock)

Description

Although you're just across the canyon from the highway, it feels further away. Perhaps because the water is rushing over the cliff edge not far from where you are climbing, drowning out the highway noise.

This is a commiting wall to climb at since you will have to rap in and climb out. The alternative is to swim class 5 rapids. Located partway up Red Mtn Pass, storms can approach quickly at this location. The elevation here is likely close to 10,000 feet.

The location is just spectacular. There are other routes on this wall from 5.10 to 5.12. See the guidebook at Ouray Mountain Sports for more info.

The rock is a type of Quartzite and generally features lots of sidepulls and requires some balance.

Getting There

Drive S on US Hwy 550 from Ouray (maybe 5 miles?), pass the alpine loop/Engineer Pass turnoff on your left, go another mile and park at the second launcher site sign/pulloff on your right. Directly across the street is a mine shaft. You will be directly across the canyon from the wall and a waterfall. About 20 ft. up the road from the parking, a faint trail will lead down into the trees following a ridgeline. Do a tyrolean across the top of the waterfall, and hike up the other side. You can rap in on a ledge near a giant pine tree (watch for sharp edges! Rap 35m and some down climbing or with 2 ropes) or scramble (4th or easy 5th class) to the top of the wall up a gully (go around the corner at the first tree to a ledge). Do not continue up the broad buttress or you will be nowhere near where you want to climb. Walk around the tree and locate and bolted anchor with chains and rappel the route. These anchors are visible from the parking lot just above the steep part of the all and to the right of a small tree. You will do 3 raps with a single line to get to the base of the route. You'll want at least a 60m rope.

Routes from Left to Right

5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 1
Zombie Princess
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 101
Princess Ella's Magical Adventure
Sport 4 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 13
Princess Ella`s Happy Ending
Trad, Sport
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 8
Prince Charming Left
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 3
Prince Charming Extension
Trad
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 2
Ruby Slippers
Trad 2 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 10
El Sueno
Trad, Sport 3 pitches
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
 1
The Mist
Trad, Sport 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 1
Hang 'em High
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 2
For a Few Quickdraws More
Sport
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 14
A Fistful of Awesome
Trad, Sport 5 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 3
High Plains Crimper
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Zombie Princess
 1
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 3 pitches
Princess Ella's Magical Adv…
 101
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport 4 pitches
Princess Ella`s Happy Ending
 13
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, Sport
Prince Charming Left
 8
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
Prince Charming Extension
 3
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Ruby Slippers
 2
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 2 pitches
El Sueno
 10
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad, Sport 3 pitches
The Mist
 1
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Trad, Sport 2 pitches
Hang 'em High
 1
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
For a Few Quickdraws More
 2
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
A Fistful of Awesome
 14
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad, Sport 5 pitches
High Plains Crimper
 3
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

The Waterfall Wall viewed from Hwy 550
[Hide Photo] The Waterfall Wall viewed from Hwy 550
Lisa Nelson on the second pitch of El Sueno.  Photo by Jason Nelson
[Hide Photo] Lisa Nelson on the second pitch of El Sueno. Photo by Jason Nelson
Busy day for El Sueno! Andrew Temple, James Brakken, and Alex Spencer, summer 2011.
[Hide Photo] Busy day for El Sueno! Andrew Temple, James Brakken, and Alex Spencer, summer 2011.
Alex Spencer and James Brakken on pitch 1 of El Sueno, summer 2011.
[Hide Photo] Alex Spencer and James Brakken on pitch 1 of El Sueno, summer 2011.
New cable tyrolean installed 10/1/21.
[Hide Photo] New cable tyrolean installed 10/1/21.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] See The Misfits Wall and the Chunder Dome for routes (climber's) left of Princess Ella's. Oct 13, 2015
[Hide Comment] After crossing the Tyrolean and scrambling up the gully to said giant conifer, leave your packs, and traverse right along an exposed dirt ledge to reach a rappel anchor (two bolts with links). This rap is 45m, not 35m, although scrambling to the right in the slippery wet grass at the bottom may allow a rap shorter than 45m. Unless the creekflow is low, expect to be sprayed by the falls. Fixing a 45m rope to the anchor would allow an escape, using prussiks or ascenders, back to the giant conifer, in the event of failure to top out on your climb.

During high water, scrambling farther up the gully and ramp, then rapping down your route of choice, is a better choice and would avoid getting soaked by the waterfall. Aug 23, 2017
AJ Cohen
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] If someone would update the GPS coordinates or leave a comment with them to the location of the wall or parking spot, it'd be greatly appreciated. Can't seem to find the location using the description and Google maps. Thanks. May 27, 2018
Madison Stebbins
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] AJ, I added GPS coordinates. There are two pullouts that easily access the area, both on the right side of the road coming from Ouray; one is where the approach trail takes off, the other is slightly down-canyon from the trail. Looking for the mine shaft on the left side of the road should help--it's a weird looking hole in the cliff on the left side of the road that you could walk into. Aug 28, 2019
[Hide Comment] Was there last week and noticed that the the tree on the side of the highway to which the tyrolean is attached is 'wobbly' - it's hard to notice, but I had my climbing partner push on it and saw what looked like the roots pull up a bit out of the ground. It's probably fine, but I figured it was a good idea to give a heads up. Jun 14, 2020
Noah J
Desert, NM
[Hide Comment] Downclimbing to the start of the routes after a 35m rap seems really sketchy - the rock is slick and soaking wet, even in low water. Fixing a 45+ meter rope is really mellow and leaves an escape option. The rap line puts you back where you fixed from. Sep 26, 2020
[Hide Comment] A new cable with a fixed pulley has been installed for the tyrolean traverse on 10/1/21. This is far safer, easier, and faster than the old tyrol and gives those poor trees a break on each side before we kill them. A single locking carabiner off your belay/rappel loop is all you need to clip into the big steel locker on the pulley, putting you at an ideal height. Ladies and hippies be sure to tie back your hair, so it doesn't get caught in the pulley! Oct 1, 2021
Nicholas Moline
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] DO NOT FOLLOW THE RAPPEL DIRECTIONS LISTED TO CLIMB PRINCESS ELLAS MAGICAL ADVENTURE...
Doing so resulted in an 11 hour epic for us as it leaves you stranded and have to climb FOA to get out (or be "creative"). Jul 6, 2023