Trad, Alpine, 900 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III,
Avg: 3.4 from 187
FA: FA: Richard Sykes, Dave Rearick, David Isles, and John Wharton, 1958?, FFA: Royal Robbins and Layton Kor, 1964?
> Alpine Rock
> RMNP - Rock
> Glacier Gorge
Amazing! Spearhead is located in Rocky Mountain National Park and is perched above Glacier Gorge. Spearhead is an 800 foot granite buttress that rises to a sharp point above the upper basin (past Black Lake). In the middle of the immense vertical wall is a right-arcing crescent roof dubbed the "Sickle". Syke's Sickle is a wonderful route that ascends several crack systems before arriving at the "Sickle".
P1 ascends a 5.5, left-arcing, wide crack (easy to spot in the center of the wall), then unites with a flaky system that moves up and left (watch rope drag) before ending 200 feet up on a ledge to the left of a blocky roof (bypass the weathered webbing for the standard first belay).
P2 crosses the "flat earth" (a 35-degree grassy ledge) with an easy dihedral before ascending a 35-foot slab, with no protection, to a nice [flake]- don't fall (this is the most direct, and exciting, way to the [flake] system above)!
P3 moves diagonally left (past slings) then ascends hollow and loose flakes up an amazing wall with great exposure and fun aesthetic moves (pass the upper slings and set up camp 20 feet higher on a "nice" horn below a large dihedral). If in doubt, go to the highest 3rd/4th class part of the ramp, until you are below a dihedral and "real" climbing.
P4 starts the business- 40 foot of great dihedral, then everything goes vertical, to the right, with sidepulls, stemming, and fun moves for another 50 feet (5.7+).
P5 gets a little crazy: move up into a wide crack, then make a relatively thin face traverse, to your right, before rising high on a one foot thick OW flack that starts vertical then bends right and ends 10 feet below a nice ledge with a huge, loose block (the book says 5.7, if so - it was a very hard 5.7).
P6 is the crux (the book says 5.9.... I thought it was solid 5.10a ). (Note: keep in mind: you are well over six hundred and fifty feet off the ground and below an amazing roof that cuts out then daggers down). The view is absolutely incredible! You are on a beautiful wall (Spearhead is the smallest peak amongst the surrounding spires). The valley is painted with golden aspen, evergreen trees, bright red bushes, and turquoise lakes. At eye level there is an array of jagged peaks that jut forth from a wrapped ridgeline. It's so awe inspiring: everything is sharp and edgy and very intense.
The "crux" starts with a nice 20-foot dihedral that intersects the roof (great pro w/ two good fixed pieces at the roof intersection). Time to get to work...move out above a void of space, stem, place big gear (the crack above takes large cam), stem some more, fist jam, then pull through the roof slot to a huge edge. Looking down into the void, from the stemming position, is wicked cool! For the sanity of your second - slot a fat nut above the apex of the slot exit and remove your #3 - #4 cam placement from the crack (this increases rope drag but makes the crux more enjoyable for your second). Ride the edge above the abyss for about 40 feet, on easy rock, and set-up a belay.
P7 continues up the left-leaning crack system a short way.Place pro as high as you can (I put it under a flake just to the right of the system), then climb down a little and traverse right and up a little for ~20 feet until you come to the bolt (which has recently been replaced). As you are climbing up the crack system, make sure to take your time and look to the right for the bolt, which is very hard to spot, especially from where you need to start the traverse. Unfortunately, the hardest move on the pitch comes just before you clip the bolt, but it is no harder than 5.8 at the very most. After you clip the bolt, head up and right on easier climbing into a dihedral and then step right around an overhang to third class terrain. This pitch is not really dangerous for the second.
Here are very nice beta photos for the route and descent: climbinglife.com/rmnp-alpin…
Standard rack up to a #3.5 or #4 Camalot. Many are comfortable with a #3 Camalot, which does work in the crux roof (though the fixed gear is actually better placed, and as long as it's still there, you probably won't need additional protection on the crux).