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Bird Brain Boulevard

WI5 M5, Trad, Mixed, Ice, 7 pitches, Grade IV,  Avg: 3.9 from 46 votes
FA: Fowler, Lowe, Wilford, 1985
Colorado > CO Ice & Mixed > Ouray (Ice/Mixed) > Camp Bird Road
Access Issue: Yield to mining vehicle traffic Details

Description

BBB is a 1200' route up a prominent chimney, 200 yards right of The Ribbon. The best view of the route can be had by walking 50 yards west of the Skylight area parking. From this vantage point, you can look straight into the chimney/slot. The route is a bit of classic alpine groveling, a little rock, a little ice, and frozen moss when you can get it. From the top of the route, head east for 40 yards to the first of many trees with slings. About 7 rappels with double ropes to the base.

Pitch one: 70m, S3, WI3. Snowy rock gully, finally some ice. A #3 Friend in the left wall of the chimney for the belay, 30' below huge chockstone. A touch of easy simu-climbing will get you there.

Pitch two: 55m, WI4+. Steep, somewhat rotten, ice step behind huge chockstone. If the ice went to the top of the steep bit it would be straightforward. Since the ice stops a body length shy, it's chimney mode on rock to pull through, a great indicator for what's to come. Climb cruiser ice to the belay on the left side of the cave/alcove.

Pitch three: 55m, WI4, M5. Step down and right from belay, then up slender pillar. Snowy rock, ice, and chimneying leads over three chockstone/roofs. #3.5 Friend and a medium/large stopper in final roof before belay. There are two fixed pins at the top of this pitch on the left wall for the belay.

Pitch four: 45m, WI4+/5. Steep, easier-than-it-looks ice in the left-facing corner (fixed standard angle in right wall), then easy ice with occasional steep sections-all good. Belay off screws below iced up chimney.

Pitch five: 35m, WI4. Move up the iced cleft, then cruiser (this is the stuff you came for) ice to the belay below rotten rock roof.

Including our descent in the dark, from a timing perspective, this was the halfway point of our day.

Pitch six: 40?m, WI5, M6. A circuitous pitch, it might be better to break this up after the right traverse. Go up steep, easy ice, then walk right across ledge. Continue up vertical, broken corner with frozen moss and frozen rocks, with a smattering of ice here and there - the real deal. You can get some gear in questionable rock before traversing back left to chimney. We fixed a pin near the end of the traverse. Think happy thoughts when you clip it. Belay in chimney.

Pitch seven: 60m, 5.8. There is just enough ice to warrant keeping your crampons on and tools available. Chimney up past a steep chockstone (with your back against right wall) to cruiser snow. Where chimney closes down again, there was a fixed angle in roof. Step left, then back right into offwidth, then more chimneying until standing on two chockstones. Turn so your back is on left wall, and exit out and right into daylight (in our case, not much).

This is a very cool route, the sixth pitch is far and away more necky than anything else on the route.

Protection

#2-#8 wallnuts, yellow and red alien, friends 1.5 through 4, long kb, bugaboo, baby angle, 8-Qd's, 4 runners, webbing or perlon for raps. 3-10cm, 3-13cm, 2-17cm screws.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Chimneying/ice climbing in the beginning of pitch 5.
[Hide Photo] Chimneying/ice climbing in the beginning of pitch 5.
Pat emerging from the run out chimney at the end of pitch 6.
[Hide Photo] Pat emerging from the run out chimney at the end of pitch 6.
Pat McCarthy coming up pitch 2.
[Hide Photo] Pat McCarthy coming up pitch 2.
Two unknown climbers on Birdbrain, 2-7-07.
[Hide Photo] Two unknown climbers on Birdbrain, 2-7-07.
Dusk over Ouray from the top of the climb.
[Hide Photo] Dusk over Ouray from the top of the climb.
Kurt Ross leading P4 with sparse ice. December 2011.
[Hide Photo] Kurt Ross leading P4 with sparse ice. December 2011.
BBB, ice on the start of the 4th pitch.
[Hide Photo] BBB, ice on the start of the 4th pitch.
Start of pitch 1 with entire route in the perspective.
[Hide Photo] Start of pitch 1 with entire route in the perspective.
BBB as of Feb 04 2007. We marked the belays and gear used for anchors. The belay on pitch 3 was more convenient above the two pins mentioned in the description.
[Hide Photo] BBB as of Feb 04 2007. We marked the belays and gear used for anchors. The belay on pitch 3 was more convenient above the two pins mentioned in the description.
BBB is the cleft to the right of the Ribbon.  Tough to see what's in the upper pitches until you get there.
[Hide Photo] BBB is the cleft to the right of the Ribbon. Tough to see what's in the upper pitches until you get there.
Soloing ended at the scary looking cicle. Fractured all the way through, it still held my fat ass.  As usual, Jack hiked it.
[Hide Photo] Soloing ended at the scary looking cicle. Fractured all the way through, it still held my fat ass. As usual, Jack hiked it.
Kacper Tekieli on upper part of Birdbrain Boulevard (March 2015).
[Hide Photo] Kacper Tekieli on upper part of Birdbrain Boulevard (March 2015).

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Todd Ritter
Lafayette
 
[Hide Comment] I just did BBB on 12-11-04. While I never felt it was too difficult, I agree with the overall rating of M6 WI5 in Jack Roberts' book. The first M6+ crux seemed easy, the vertical crack and traverse back left much harder. I'm the A.C. who submitted the route description-I didn't feel its a "highway year". If looking for an additional challenge, try leaving the old webbing and leaver biners on the rap route. Dec 19, 2004
[Hide Comment] I think you have to keep in mind the era in which BBB was first climbed, in addition to the style that was current, in order to rationalize its grade. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember reading that Jeff Lowe and Mark Wilford climbed the Boulevard for a photo shoot, displaying the former's then new clothing line, Latok.

I climbed the route Thanksgiving Day 2000, topped out in the dark, got really scared and cold, and somehow made it back to the snow, with one working headlamp. A dark and cloudy night, I erred in thinking that, due to a faint light somewhere down there, that one of my friends was waiting for me in the parking lot, when it was in fact the dome light in the trunk of my car, that I had foolishly left on.

Needless to say, there certainly wasn't much if any fixed gear or a "rap route." It's mostly bushes and trees, if I recall.

Why complain about the grade being a wee bit soft? Christ, accept the modest sandbagging as keeping away the hordes. Dec 20, 2004
[Hide Comment] Car started. Dropped K.C. (Boss? Where are you?) at his car in Ouray. Mind you, he led all the hard stuff anyway, I was a bit spooked. I think that we got the first seasonal ascent, and having knocked off the crux column (P3? 4?) it was by no means easy. Really long pulls when there's not really any ice to speak of.

My brain still occasionally sizzles. Talked to a good friend yesterday, he was up on BBB sometime last week and says it went great; maybe it's slightly more straightforward this year. But then, I don't know, as I am in Cali.

Best to all on the Front Range. Dec 22, 2004
[Hide Comment] NO M6 on this route, even when there is no ice. M6 equates to about 5.9+ or 10a, none of that on this route at all. It was ground breaking when it was established, pretty moderate these days. Most of route is 5.8R chimney climbing, pretty secure. Just remember, it was soloed super fast in a lean year seven or eight years ago, and climbed with a bottle of wild turkey while knock down stinking drunk last year, just to put it in perspective, still fucking classic though. Jan 27, 2006
Kevin Gillest
Arvada, CO
  WI5 M5-
[Hide Comment] Climbed BBB Saturday Nov 27th with Carl Pluim. Not much ice until the first sublimated column on the start of pitch 3. The rest of the route was is great condition. The traverse on the cave pitch, back into the squeeze chimney we experienced a fairly large rockfall, maybe 200 lbs. The rope was dragging on the right side of the chimney causing the rockfall. Luckily nobody else on the route this particular day!

Last time we climber the route was 2006, conditions were considerably more runout Dec. 2010. No one move was much harder, but if looking down 25 foot at your last piece of sketchy gear is not your idea of a good time, you might wait for a different year? Dec 6, 2010
Noah McKelvin
Colorado Springs
  WI5 M5
[Hide Comment] The route has gotten cleaned up. No more tat or any signs of anchors (pins and etc.). Keep that in mind when getting on it. It has definitely been restored to the FA type of route now. More commiting as I see it. Super classic! Dec 26, 2011
[Hide Comment] Greatest route on Earth. Jan 3, 2018