Type: Trad, Mixed, Ice, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Kevin Donald, Jeff Lowe, David Breashears, 1975
Page Views: 14,699 total · 70/month
Shared By: Malcolm Daly on Nov 2, 2001
Admins: Edward Medina, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Yield to mining vehicle traffic Details


About 15 minutes up the road from where you leave your car below Senator Gulch, you'll start to see ice on your right. Most of it forms up in clefts in the cliff. The Skylight is the prominent double-tiered route with the big chockstone defending the top of the first tier. Belay well off the road. The mine is now open and big trucks and snowplows roar by on a regular basis. They love scaring climbers.

P1 is easier than it looks and climbs the sometimes thin ice to the chockstone. Plug in a cam and layback left around it. Belay on a ledge to the right of the chockstone, out of the way of the ice-bombs that are about to come down.

P2 is usually harder than it looks and climbs the ice in the squeeze chimney to the tree at it's top. It's usually wet so bring belay gloves for the top unless it's really sunny.

Rap the route if there's nobody coming up behind you. There are slings around the tree at the top. Choppo's is a good alternate descent if The Skylight is occupied. If you don't have 2 ropes you can walk off by thrashing carefully to the left, over to Chockstone Gully.


A couple of hand-sized cams for P1 and the first belay. If P1 is mixed, a yellow Alien & #2 Camalot can help. 6-8 ice screws for the ice part. 2, 50m ropes for the descent.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I think I did this climb back in '94, the thing that confuses me was there was WAY more ice than in either of these photos, no mixed climbing at all. Just a good year, I guess. Nov 18, 2002
I did this thing back in the mid '80s and there was no exposed rock at all. The first pitch was kinda party ice and I was happy to follow it. The chimney lead was really fun, felt solid WI 3 (at least that's what it was rated at the time) and I placed six long solid screws (ahem) in 120 feet. It was really drippy though; for a while I didn't know if I was going to drown or freeze! I wound up nearly doing both. My partner wore glasses and couldn't hardly see what he was doing. We did a third pitch up a short, blue headwall to reach a rappel anchor. Over all, it was a good climb. I'd do it again if it were in similarly good condition. Dec 19, 2002
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Awesome climb! Finally finished it. Done the 1st pitch 3X, 2nd 2 X, 3rd 1X. Yeah, the conditions can be very different. Some fleshed out details if you want:

For safety, I do not recommend anyone climbing below another party on this climb! I nearly took out friends playing on the P1 while up in the chimney.

P1 can be harder mixed moves with rock pro or spectres on the L side of the boulder or fat ice (see Bruce below). Save a screw for a directional above the boulder if you belay at the tree to the R. 90 ft rap to the ground from this tree. You can belay here to continue or move the belay to just outside the chimney. You can't reach the top anchor above the chimney with a 60m rope belaying at the tree.

If you move the belay, a red Camalot, yellow TCU or yellow Alien, and medium wire work for an anchor just outside the chimney. Just stay out of the way of ice bombs from the chimney.

P2 can be short with a belay in the chimney. Fun stems in this part. It can be very chandeliered on this pitch. There is a pin, sling, frozen in anchor about 2/5 the way up the pitch. It is actually very protected from ice from above with room for 3 at least. But it is cold in there.

P3 is visually intimidating, but you get awesome rests quite frequently, at least in fat conditions like we found. There were many no hands rests to place screws. There is a choice to go in further (caving) or move out at one point. I moved in. The ice peters out at the top. Save a 13 cm stubby for just below exiting the chimney. There are some dry tool & crampons moves to exit. Not much pro after leaving the last stubby. Crux felt M4+ to me IMHO. Mostly WI4 or less.

There is an anchor with 2 good horizontal pins just 30 feet below the trees on top. It needs a link and probably a retying of the slings to equalize the pull. There is a wee bit of WI3 ice to top out. You can rap 190 feet from these pins to outside the chimney. Ropes pulled easily. You can't reach the tree with 60m ropes. Feb 12, 2003
I believe the first ascent of this lovely moderate route was by Kevin Donald, Jeff Lowe, and David Breashears in '74/'75. We were scouting routes for our International Alpine School Students and testing early prototypes of Humming Bird ice tools that Greg Lowe had made for us and a new fabric called Gortex that Greg and Mike Lowe were sewing-up. We climbed a number of short routes on the Camp Bird road as well as Gravity's Rainbow on the Engineer Pass road. On the first ascent, the ice on the first pitch (Kevin's pitch) was so thick you could not even detect the large boulder at the top. We called the belay cave half-way up the chimney "the glove compartment". The first pitch changes dramatically from year to year. Really a nice moderate climb when we did it. Nov 15, 2004
For all you non-locals, there is a bolt anchor about 20-25 ft above the boulder crux on pitch 1 on the left wall of the rock buried in snow, that has 'been there for years' revealed to us by a friendly lad. Thanks to our knight with shining armour! Feb 20, 2005
Meredith DB
Boulder, CO
Meredith DB   Boulder, CO
Please do not rappel this route when other climbers are on it. It's not cool to rap on top of other people in general, but on the Skylight it's particularly bad: the top of the climb is covered in rotten ice that gets funneled down onto climbers in the chimney. From the top, you can't see or hear the people below.

To descend, you can walk climber's left and rappel Choppo's Chimney or walk off far left. Jan 8, 2007
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
On second thought, I think the route I have done is Choppo's Chimney. No wonder it didn't look familiar. Apr 24, 2007
Jesse Morehouse
  WI4 M4
Jesse Morehouse   CO
  WI4 M4
The plan that I've found to work best is to climb P1 all the way to the entrance of the chimney and step right on to the nice sunny snow shelf in front of the headwall. There is a big ole hueco that turns into an awesome belay w/ a #4 and #3.5 (old style) Camalot. This allows you to go all the way to the trees on P2 in one rope stretching 60m pitch (might want to use a few long draws/slings on the first few screws). This keeps the belayer warm and completely out of harms way so more fun for all!

The bolt anchor at the top of the chockstone on P1 is one of the dumber things I've seen, and I sure would not shed a tear if someone removed that unnecessary metal from the rock. I'm guessing its only purpose is to allow some mis*guide*d souls to haul gumbies through the mixed section?

A terriffic route that ought not to be missed. Jun 5, 2008
Eric Goltz
Boulder, CO
Eric Goltz   Boulder, CO
Probably obvious, but it's ill-advised to belay directly beneath P2 off of screws. Your belayer might permanently abandon you, like mine did. Dec 8, 2009
Scott Bower
Fort Collins, CO
Scott Bower   Fort Collins, CO
The bolt anchor at the top of the chockstone is useful as a directional for the second when using the tree on the sunny shelf as an anchor. Dec 27, 2010
Rick McL
Arvada CO
Rick McL   Arvada CO
ABSOLUTELY do not belay in the road!!
The statement made in the beginning of this route description about belaying in the road is dangerous and misleading. It should be removed immediately.
The mine companies pay for and do the road maintenance on this stretch of Camp Bird Road and they are fed up with people recreating in the road. BELAY OFF THE ROAD if you don't want to get hit by a truck or snow plow like nearly happened to us. These guys mean business. Mar 7, 2014
Malcolm Daly
Boulder, CO
  WI4+ M4-5
Malcolm Daly   Boulder, CO
  WI4+ M4-5
Belay comments have been modified. Thanks for the head's up. May 25, 2014
My partner may have left an ice screw in the ice 12/30/14. If you happen to find it, shoot me a message! Dec 31, 2014