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Yellow Wall

5.11b R, Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 8 pitches,  Avg: 3.9 from 63 votes
FA: FA: Layton Kor & Charlie Roskoz, 1962 (V 5.8 A4)FFA: Charlie Fowler & Dan Stone, 1978
Colorado > Alpine Rock > RMNP - Rock > Long's Peak > Diamond
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


The Yellow Wall was the second route up the Diamond, completed by Layton Kor in 1962 at V 5.8 A4. Much of the route later went free, most notably the first pitch dihedral by Roger Briggs in 1976, and then later the "A4 Traverse" by Charlie Fowler and Dan Stone in 1978. This last effort marked the free climbing of the original line in its entirety at 5.11b R, although several variations allow the climb to go free at easier and/or safer grades [Editor's Note: Credit goes out to Patrick Vernon and Bosier Parsons for their contributions to the Mountain Project database of the most common variation of the Yellow Wall and the A4 Traverse, respectively].

Find the start by following a narrow catwalk up and left from the Broadway bivy cave to the first, obvious, left-facing dihedral. This corner has a few pins in it and appears quite thin from below.

P1: Hard moves right off the deck, climb the dihedral with imperfect but adequate gear until the corner disappears and turns into an intermittant hand and finger crack splitter. Follow this to an obvious belay at 150' on some flakes. 5.11b. Alternatively, beginning just right of the corner, follow a ramping system of flakes up and right, then back left, eventually rejoining the corner at about 75'. This variation avoids the 5.11 at 5.7, but the climbing up the remainder of the original first pitch still checks in at 5.9.

P2: Continue up the steep crack system via very cool climbing and great rock. The pitch climbs like a face climb but utilizes the crack for pro. Also, much fixed pro on this pitch. Belay on another flake/ledge. 5.9, 150'.

P3: Continue up the same system. The climbing is very similar but a bit steeper. High on the pitch there are several fixed pins and suddenly Crossover Ledge becomes apparent 10' to the left. Clip a high pin and make a difficult move left to the ledge. It may be possible to continue straight up the crack system, but Crossover Ledge makes a sensible belay. 5.10c, 150'.

P4: Above the ledge the crack system continues up and into Black Dagger. Climb up off the right end of the ledge, and forego the Black Dagger by doing a wild, exposed traverse right. Continue up and right to an obvious left-facing, right-leaning corner with a hand crack. Up above this is the Forrest Finish (5.10c), a popular escape from/variation of the original Yellow Wall (climbing the Yellow Wall this way is known as the "Briggs/Candelaria Variation"). Belay about 15' below the A4 Traverse at a small stance; this stance is about 20' up the corner, and above the level of a few old rusty Leeper bolts that appear on the wall way off to the right. 5.9, 100', and a great pitch.

P5: The A4 Traverse. In order to give credit to Bosier Parsons, I'm using his excellent description for this pitch, with some minor edits afterwards to serve as an update:

"This is a description of the A4 Traverse pitch on the Yellow Wall. I decided to add it to encourage those who aspire to climbing it. The pitch is excellent in quality and does deserve the rating given, but it is definitely very doable, and not horribly dangerous. If you've been wanting to climb this pitch but have been afraid of the serious rating, get up there and do it! If you want to attempt the pitch with minimal beta and have more of an adventure experience, do not read on.

The belay at the end of the pitch off of Crossover Ledge can be made at the base of the first wide section on Forrest Finish, or, it is better to climb the right leaning, left-facing corner, via 5.9+ hands to a good but small ledge about 30 feet higher. This is in the middle of the left facing dihedral that begins the A4 Traverse pitch.

From the higher belay, continue up the corner about 15-20 more feet via 5.9+ or 5.10- liebacking. At the nest of webbing with a couple pitons, hand traverse right for a couple moves, then mantle up onto the thin ledge. Once on the ledge, you will find a good piton, then a rurp with a very old piece of webbing. Continue traversing the ledge about 15 more feet to a fixed bashie, just below the crux move. This traverse ledge is very small and thin, but pretty easy to walk across. The bashie protects the crux move and is bomber. Believe me, I tested it with about a 20 footer (with rope stretch). The crux move takes you up into a shallow, left-facing corner, that involves strenuous liebacking with small footholds. This section is protected by one 5/8" angle driven about 1/2 way (but seemed decent enough), and then at the top by a fixed wire. I thought this corner seemed like sustained 5.10+ climbing for about 20-25 feet. At the top of this corner, pull up onto another ledge, and traverse right and up past some more fixed pins to a steep left-facing corner. Climb this corner for about 40 more feet of 5.10 with gear from 1/2" to 3". I placed my #3 Camalot for the exit move from this corner onto the large ledge where the route joins the Casual Route (still 40 feet below Yellow Wall Bivvy Ledge), but I'm sure many climbers would not need this piece of gear on this pitch. Belay here or continue up easily to YWBL (190')."

Updates as of August, 2007: The nest of webbing at the top of the first corner is no longer there. The pin at the start of the traverse can be backed up with a small cam placed a few feet above it. The webbing on the RURP looks really bad, as does the copperhead, but a fall from the crux move would probably be safe, albeit terrifying, even if they both blew. The pin in the second corner (above the bashie), seemed decent and it can be backed up with RPs and a 00 TCU, but the fixed wire at the top of this corner is no longer there.

I thought this pitch had excellent climbing and was well worth doing, although the fixed pro is pretty suspect. If the gear held, as it did for Bosier, a fall would be no big deal at all.

5.11a, 190'.

P6: The Casual Route's crux pitch. Continue up difficult finger cracks to a squeeze chimney to another difficult finger crack and belay on Table Ledge. 5.10a, 150'.

Evidently, most parties traverse off on Table Ledge at this point, but two more, seldom done and dirty/wet pitches continue upwards.

P7: Hand traverse 15' straight right on Table Ledge and then climb a wet, moss and mud choked crack system for 50' before traversing slightly left to a right-facing corner. Folllow this up to the right end of the huge roof system above. Belay at a stance. 5.10+, 120'.

P8: Follow the right-facing corner above the roof via a wide crack up to the top of the wall. Wet, 5.9, 150'.

Descend via the North Face/Cables or by reversing upper Kiener's and doing the D7 raps.


Double set from tiny to thin hands, single #2 & #3 Camalots. Include wires and RPs.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Climbers at a hanging belay mid way up the "Yellow Wall" on an early '80s direct aid ascent.<br>
Photo: Olaf Mitchell.
[Hide Photo] Climbers at a hanging belay mid way up the "Yellow Wall" on an early '80s direct aid ascent. Photo: Olaf Mitchell.
The first pitch is a little more solid now.
[Hide Photo] The first pitch is a little more solid now.
Route overlay for The Yellow Wall + Forrest Finish.
[Hide Photo] Route overlay for The Yellow Wall + Forrest Finish.
Aaron starting up the A4 traverse....
[Hide Photo] Aaron starting up the A4 traverse....
Eric approaching crossover ledge. 25 Aug. 2012. Eric - msg me for more photos.
[Hide Photo] Eric approaching crossover ledge. 25 Aug. 2012. Eric - msg me for more photos.
Yellow Wall pitch 5 goes right. Forrest Finish goes straight up.
[Hide Photo] Yellow Wall pitch 5 goes right. Forrest Finish goes straight up.
Tom Sciolino on the lower section of the Yellow Wall.<br>
Aug of 88.
[Hide Photo] Tom Sciolino on the lower section of the Yellow Wall. Aug of 88.
Climber starting into the 5.10 traverse on Yellow Wall.
[Hide Photo] Climber starting into the 5.10 traverse on Yellow Wall.
Yellow Wall  Bob Rotert/photographer  Tom Kimbrell/climber
[Hide Photo] Yellow Wall Bob Rotert/photographer Tom Kimbrell/climber
Bobby Lowe works his way up pitch 2 on the Yellow Wall.
[Hide Photo] Bobby Lowe works his way up pitch 2 on the Yellow Wall.
Top of P3 and Crossover Ledge.
[Hide Photo] Top of P3 and Crossover Ledge.
Dave Rone leading 2nd pitch of Yellow Wall. July, 2013.
[Hide Photo] Dave Rone leading 2nd pitch of Yellow Wall. July, 2013.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Mark Hyams
[Hide Comment] I climbed this route in 1999, I have to say it was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. After reading all of the above comments, I should point out what I actually did. We climbed the 11b dihedral on the first pitch, did the A4 traverse, but traversed off at Table Ledge, skipping the final two headwall pitches. Did I climb the Yellow Wall route? I dunno, but I sure had a good time. Mar 19, 2003
[Hide Comment] Is the Diamond climbable right now, or is it still too wet? I'm looking at the Yellow Wall, Pervertical or Ariana for this Friday (the 13th...scary). Thanks, Mike Jun 10, 2003
[Hide Comment] My guess is that its pretty wet up there right now. As of Sunday, you can clearly see snow covering the length of Table Ledge. Since Ariana and Pervertical are directly below Table, I would expect that meletd snow from Table Ledge drains straight through the cracks on those routes. Jun 10, 2003
[Hide Comment] Of all the Diamond routes the crux pitches of Ariana will be the first to dry-out. It is on the outer face of a partially (largely?)detached pillar, the Obelisk. The Obelisk route goes up the left side of it, Pervertical Sanctuary the right and Ariana up the front face via a thin crack. Once atop the Obelisk have a look down the back side. The view may encourage a hasty departure. When the pillar falls it will take three fine lines with it so get there before it goes.

I suspect a party might breath a sigh of relief upon setting an anchor at the base of many left-side Diamond routes, having the North Chimney and Broadway traverse (especially way out left) in the rear-view mirror. Parts of the Yellow Wall will undoubtedly be wet right now. Jun 10, 2003
Les Moore
Port Townsend, WA
[Hide Comment] Just climbed the last two pitches of Yellow Wall above Table Ledge yesterday. It felt great to finally top out at the apex of the Diamond after traversing off at Table Ledge on all the other routes I have done up there. I highly recommend these two pitches.

My partner Steve led the 10c pitch and I led the 5.9 last pitch. The 10c pitch was steep, sustained, a bit wet, had some stout 5.10 moves, but protected well enough and had some moderate rests from time to time. The 5.9 pitch was wet at the bottom, where it's a chimney, and had a few off-width sections above that, and was longer than I thought, but not too pumpy. I was happy to have a #4 Camalot on this pitch.

After topping out, we descended half-way down Upper [Kiener's] toward Table [Ledge] and rapp'd down a steep clean wall about 140' to the Almost Table Ledge rap station. Aug 8, 2005
[Hide Comment] The last comment about the upper Yellow Wall pitches contradicts the adage that Les is Moore. Aug 11, 2005
Kevin Stricker
Evergreen, CO
[Hide Comment] While the original version has a lot of historical significance, it is not the best free-climbing option. The Briggs/Candelaria version is more continous and cleaner, IMO. Jan 26, 2006
Bosier Parsons
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] Josh - Thanks for cleaning up the description of the complete Yellow Wall. Additional thanks for the credit for my previous submittal of the A4 Traverse.

When Kishen and I climbed it, we climbed to Crossover Ledge in two pitches with 60M double ropes. These also helped with rope drag on the traverses. Sep 4, 2007
Fort Collins
  5.11b R
[Hide Comment] Jeff Giddings and I climbed the entire original route yesterday. We did the first three pitches in two with 60 meters. Although a pumpy warm-up, I'd recommend it. The crux of the A4 traverse seemed to be the corner above what the description calls the "crux move". This corner felt hard and desperate with bad feet. The upper headwall pitches were a bit dirty, but dry and worthwhile. Do not expect an easy exit pitch if you do these two pitches, the last pitch did NOT feel 5.9, very physical and demanding after a long day.

All in all, it turned out to be a perfect day on the Diamond. No storm clouds in sight, nice temps, only two other parties, one on D7 and one on Casual. Jul 13, 2008
[Hide Comment] When Charlie Logan and I climbed Yellow Wall in 1970, naturally we tried to follow in Kor's big footsteps. Not many had done the route at that time, and I was keen to see if I could do an A4 pitch (or one generally called that).

When we got to the crack which is Table Ledge at that point, I realized there was a pretty easy escape to the left, but it didn't occur to us not to finish the route. In those days a climb like this usually took three or four days: a day to get to a bivy on Broadway, maybe fix a pitch. Two days on the route (the Yellow Wall has an exceptionally fine bivy ledge, albeit not overly wide), and either stumble down in the dark, or sleep on the summit, since we had hauled the gear anyway. So there was no special sense of hurry when getting to the traverse to the right (whose continuation formed Pat Ament's Grand Traverse). I was retreating from a D-7 attempt in 1967 when Goss and Logan did the first parking lot to parking lot one day climb, and D-1 at that, but most of us weren't that good.

P7 (gratifying that my guide book has it also as P7, despite all the changes in style and rope lengths) was perhaps the most memorable for me of the whole memorable route. Mostly aid, as was the style then, but shaky. I was astounded when someone climbed this free. 5.9 was a hair over my limit, so I am in a state of perpetual amazement at casual mention of easy 5.10 and so on. Charlie did the next pitch, up a sort of chimney through the overhangs. It was getting late, he stalled up there somewhere out of sight, and called down to me to come up and take over the lead. Not wanting to do this, I yelled up that he should place a #1 copperhead. Of course I had no idea what problems he was having nor what would work. Shortly thereafter the rope started moving again, and all was well. A group of summer camp kids gave us some water the early the next morning on the summit.

Some day I'll copy my slides and post some.

But I recommend finishing the route. Dec 24, 2008
David Appelhans
Broomfield, CO
[Hide Comment] The last two pitches feature neat moves and some great cracks. They are a little dirty would probably clean up if they got more traffic. A great way to add an extra challenge to the casual route and actually climb the whole Diamond. The position as you pass the hanging roof/dihedral on the right is amazing, and would make for great pictures from Chasm View. Jun 29, 2012
Ryan Kempf
Boulder, CO
  5.11a R
[Hide Comment] The current state of the fixed gear on the A4 traverse. The RURP might be able to be re-threaded (with cord or small cable) but has been tapped in to the hilt. The current webbing is "suspect" to say the least. The bashie looks like it's been there for a LONG time, With the freeze/thaw cycles up there, I would hesitate to call it a trustworthy piece of gear.

Jun 27, 2016
Golden, Co
  5.11a/b R
[Hide Comment] You definitely don't want to fall on that RURP. Bring a sling to either place on the bashie or replace it entirely, as the current one is old.

Great route. A little wet to get to cross over but good to go otherwise. Jun 28, 2016
Noah McKelvin
Colorado Springs
  5.11b R
[Hide Comment] Great route. The A4 traverse is one move and not dangerous. It would be a totally safe fall even if both suspect pieces ripped, though scary, and the head should hold. In other words, do it! Jul 15, 2016
Patrick Vernon
Estes Park, CO
  5.11b R
[Hide Comment] I submitted the 5.10 version of Yellow Wall back in early 2000 to the database when MP had about 10 users and we had no idea what the site would become. I got a lot of flack later when the website became more popular for not including the A4 traverse and the description was updated as it should have been. I finally got out yesterday and did the direct 5.11 start and A4 traverse pitch both for the first time.

The 5.11 start isn't too bad, two distinct cruxes down low and about 60 feet up. Bomber gear up until the second crux where I got a tipped out c4. Better gear could be had, but it's a strenuous placement, and there is bomber gear 5 feet below. Good climbing. Good warm-up for the A4 traverse which felt harder and more committing despite having the same grade.

The A4 traverse is an excellent pitch. I felt like it deserved 5.11b with a distinct crux move and a powerful laybacking section that feels like the real crux. This is the sort of pitch that someone could hang on the gear and pull through sections (though probably not the actual crux move), but the gear is suspect enough that large whippers while committing to the moves would be scary. Excellent and memorable climbing. Unable to complete final pitches due to weather. Aug 17, 2016
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] The crux corner piton on the A4 traverse pitch pulled out with my fingers in late August. It was bent downwards and driven upwards and only partway. You might be able to protect with a purple c3 or a purple/grey Mastercam in a funky flared slot, but otherwise no gear is available to protect these strenuous and insecure moves. This pitch is now R+. If you fell from high in the corner and the small cam blew and you were lucky enough to clear the ledge, a fall would be enormous if any of the manky fixed gear were to stop you. If not, it would be a swinging whipper of monumental proportions with serious potential for injury.
The lack of protection certainly makes an already exciting lead even more interesting. I know this is taboo for classic "trad routes", but I would vote for a bolt in the corner to replace the missing pin. It would give some semblance of sanity while still preserving excitement and big air potential. Sep 4, 2017
Mitch Friedeman
Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
[Hide Comment] I can confirm that there is no longer the pin on the crux pitch. I placed a pretty good black Alien and some more microgear at the start of the crux A4 Dihedral. I climbed to the top of the dihedral, missed the final good fingerlock, and took the scary fall. Popped multiple of my small poor pieces of pro, including shearing the 5kn black Alien in half at the head (the lobes stayed in crack). I had equalized the 2nd or 3rd smallest RP and a mediocre ballnut which surprisingly held the 25+ foot fall. If that would have blown, I would have fallen even further onto the bashie which I would be surprised if that would have held. The fall was clean (cleared the ledge by 15 feet), but it was terrifying. I got the severed black Alien head out, but the ball nut was totally fixed. This pitch is super fun but is quite heads up. Bring RPs if you're gonna lead it. In my personal opinion, I don't believe this pitch should get a bolt. The stance to fiddle in a bunch of micro gear is good, I would just place lots of it, because none of it is that confidence inspiring. Sep 10, 2018