The Bastille Crack
Trad, 350 ft, 5 pitches,
Avg: 3.5 from 1,589
FA: US Army climbers, 1954. FFA: Stan Shepard, Allen Bergen, 1957
> Eldorado Canyon SP
> The Bastille
> The Bastille - N Face
One of the most classic climbs in the country, it begins right off the road on the Bastille, a 350' cliff on the left as you enter the canyon. Often crowded, a weekday is probably the best time to attempt this climb.
The climb is north facing and in the shade until mid-afternoon. As Jim Erickson said in his classic 1980 Rocky Heights guidebook, "avoid it like the plague if the weather is not warm, or you will shiver away much of its charm."
Start at the center of the north face of the Bastille, below a hand crack that starts 20' up the wall, with a huge, serrated flake to its right.
The first pitch has been the site of numerous accidents, so make sure you're solid on 5.7 crack climbing and placing pro before attempting to lead it.
P1. 5.7, 60'. Climb up to the flake and step left to the crack. Jam or layback up the polished crack (crux), then follow the crack up and left to a small stance at a 2-bolt anchor with chains. You can belay here (if you want to watch/coach your second through the crux), or continue with the second pitch.
P2. 5.6, 90'. Climb up to the chimney left of the bolts, and step left onto the face. Climb up to a finger crack, then traverse right above a little roof (crux). Continue up steep, enjoyable cracks and angle up left on easy ground to a sloping ledge by a steep wall. Belay at a crack with a fixed pin. If this belay is occupied, it's possible to belay about 20' lower at another stance.
Variation: near the top of P2, take a right-angling wide crack up and back left, 5.8. Bring a big cam (#4 Camalot) to protect this line.
P1 & P2 can be combined with a 50m rope.
P3. 5.7, 50'. Climb up into a pod, then work up past a small roof (crux). Continue up the cracks to another sloping ledge. A #1 and #2 Camalot are useful for the belay anchor.
P1-3 can be combined with a 70m rope.
P4. 5.6, 100'. Traverse left to a short corner with a destroyed fixed pin. Continue traversing left on awkward, off-balance moves past another fixed pin (crux). Go all the way left to a hand crack and climb it to a corner. Don't start up too soon or you'll be off route on a harder variation. Climb the corner, then continue up and right on easy ramps to a belay stance below or just right of a chimney.
P5. Several options here:
a. Easy finish: 5.4, 60'. Climb the chimney to the top.
b. Fun finish: 5.8, 80'. Climb up a ramp right of the chimney to a huge corner with a wide crack. Climb up the face left of the corner to a fixed pin. Continue up the steep headwall and surmount a little roof at the top (crux). If you have a #3 and #4 Camalot, you can belay just above the roof (and watch/coach your second at the crux roof), otherwise continue up an easy gully and belay from a spike of rock at the top.
c. Grovel finish: 5.7, 80'. Climb the wide crack in the corner just right of the previous variation.
To descend: follow deep grooves to the south until you reach a dirt trail. Go 30' right (west) and then follow the marked Bastille descent trail north and down to the road at the base of the cliff.
(Ed. Note: beginner leaders--make sure you're solid on crack techique before trying this one. Placing gear is not trivial for the inexperienced.)
Standard rack to #3 Camalot.
Bring a #4 Camalot if you want to do the 5.8 variation on the second pitch, or if you want to belay just above the roof on the 5.8 variation on the last pitch.
Well managed gear and a 70 m rope allows you to combine P1-3 and P4-5.
Ashleigh pulling the crux on the first pitch!
Someone jugging. Not sure who it was. Oh, wait--now I see his name tag in case he gets lost--it's Dan.
More aid foolery on the Bastille. Ben wishing he had a broom.
Heather Selitrennikoff approaches the P1 belay, 8/27/06.
Steve Baskis on the first pitch of The Bastille Crack. Steve is completely blind, and this was his first ever multi-pitch climb.
On top of the Bastille Crack over where the 5.8 finish takes you.
I thought this would have been a handy view. So, I took a picture and made it!
Bill Fitzgerald at the base of the bastille, on 9/29/03, taken by Phil Rhoads, as we gear up for the climb. This pic is actually several overlapping photos stitched together, all from the same posi…
More info on getting down.
Bastille Crack route. Taken March 2009.
Clay took this photo of my kids (7 & 8) working the 2nd pitch of the Bastille Crack.