Type: Trad, 3 pitches Fixed Hardware (1)
FA: B. Culp, 1960s
Page Views: 23,545 total · 105/month
Shared By: Ben Mottinger on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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This is a great beginner lead, but it is a little runout on the last pitch of 6. The final pitch (same as last pitch of Yellow Spur) is spectacular, however. Start with Swanson Arete start up the West Chimney, but continue to traverse right along the Red Ledge to a right-facing dihedral. Follow the dihedral until it ends, then traverse right on an exposed and thin face. Continue up a good crack. The last pitch ascends a uniquely textured arete with a great view.


Standard rack extra wired stoppers and runners. (Bring extra rope for raps.)


Downclimb (N) to the notch and make 3 double rope raps, or downclimb to the East side of Redgarden.


George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Most aesthetic way to start this route is from the first 3 pitches of the Yellow Spur, but this considerably harder than Icarus (5.9). You can traverse right to the arete in several places, but the arete is 5.8ish and unprotected. Rapping the gully between Lumpe Tower and T1 is to be avoided. The last rap (from a big tree) is 48m and it took us 20 mins to get our rope down (knot snags going over the edge). Jun 7, 2001
This route affords a less-skilled leader to access the incredible and exposed last pitch of The Yellow Spur without having to climb anything harder than 5.6. A great multipitch route to take less skilled climbers on (not quite for those who have never climbed though - it is quite exposed and the final pitch has a little fall potential for the second). I recall one uncomfortable belay, but a fine compromise for the stellar exposure! Aug 1, 2001
The only thought is for the 5.6 climber, getting off the top is a bit exciting. I know my wife was non to thrilled downclimbing to the notch, but it was survivable. Great route though. Jan 14, 2002
I thought that the second to last pitch was way more runout than any other - for some reason I did about twenty feet of face climbing above the end of the dihedral, and then a tough traverse to the arete. Is this off route, or am I just a big pussy? Apr 10, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I remember traversing right to the arete soon after the dihedral ended, this may make the runout less. Also, Tony Bubb's photo of this route must be tilted or something, it looks way harder than 5.6 in that photo!! Apr 11, 2002
I agree with George, I remember traversing almost immediately after the end of the dihedral. There is some kind of strata making the traverse easier. I do not remember this being at all run out. The next pitch (joined with Yellow Spur) now that's run out! Apr 11, 2002
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
I wouldn't suggest taking a beginner leader or follower on this climb. The rock is loose in places and the gear is tricky (you have to be careful not to place gear behind potentially loose blocks). There is also usually a lot of people below the climb between Yellow Spur and Rewritten so extra care is required. I continued straight up the face after the dihedral which was easy but run out for 20 feet or so. Awesome climbing up an easy and exposed face. I belayed at a nice short tree and continued straight up the face from there. Excellent position on the climb. casey bernal Jun 17, 2002
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
This is a wonderful climb! Simplistic yet retains your interest. The route is easy to find and you can't beat the finish. Three stars in my book. Sep 2, 2002
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
You can easily protect the first half of the final arete finish. If this route is "s" because of the upper arete finish, why is not the Y. Spur also "s"? If runnout on the face above the dihedral ending is a worry, then as Warren states, go right about 8' to the start of a good crack which you can protect. This little traverse is exposed but the strata provides good foot placements. Sep 3, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
The Yellow Spur does not have an s because the runout pitch is significantly easier than the crux. This is a controversial aspect of ratings, but many feel that climbs shouldn't have an s rating unless the runout moves are within about 1 grade of the crux. Rossiter will sometimes give a split rating 10d (8 s) which indicates the 10d is reasonably protected but the climb also has runout moves that are only 5.8. He does not do this for the Yellow Spur but one could probably call it 9 (6 s). Sep 3, 2002
Joe Collins  
I was a little less impressed by this climb than many of the other folks who commented above. After doing Swanson's Arete recently, which is truly a 3-star climb, I had high expectations for this one. I would say this climb is worth doing, only because it gives you an easy path to access the incredible last pitch of the Yellow Spur. Besides that, the bulk of the climb is less than inspiring.

Icarus itself is a one star climb. It gets a bonus star for following the amazing last pitch of the Yellow Spur. Jun 3, 2003
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
IMHO, this is a great route, in particular, for its difficulty rating. It is a great combination for a day with Swanson's for 6x60m pitches. Bit of spice for the 5.6 leader with a breeze on the last pitch. Wonderful exposure.

It rivals Wind Ridge, Calypso (which feel tops in Eldo at 5.6) in quality of climbing and beats them in position. What else is better in the Front Range at 5.6? Jun 4, 2003
Steve Marr
Colorado Springs, CO
Steve Marr   Colorado Springs, CO
I would have to agree with some of the other comments that it's the final pitch that makes this a great climb. The first two are good, but not stellar. We used a slightly different belay after the first pitch. Instead of belaying in the dihedral like the book shows (small pro), I traversed along the wide crack that leads to the arete and belayed at the end. It was interesting. There is an old fixed pin directly above the belay. On the second pitch, we climbed the face directly above the dihedreal. The pro is good, the climbing is fun, and it didn't seam that run out. Great route. Jul 5, 2003
Steve Annecone
Steve Annecone   boulder
I agree with Leo above, this is probably the best 5.6 climb in the Boulder area. It is way exposed, involves lots of interesting and varied climbing, a little bit of spice for the intermediate leader, and the position and views are excellent!

For speed, you can do the route in two pitches with a 60-meter rope, going from the starting ledge to the end of the runout traverse discussed above, then to the summit on the second pitch. Jul 13, 2005
Tim Stich
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Tim Stich   Colorado Springs, Colorado
I just climbed this again a bit late in the day on Saturday. I did what Rossiter refers to as variation B for the second to last pitch. Instead of moving to the right to the arete, you go straight up at 5s. The pro here is pretty poor. In some places, all I could find was a shallow microcam or a Loweball placement every 20-30ft., but the climbing is easy. We got to the ledge with the two trees around 6PM, so we escaped down to the Dirty Deed gully from there. A rap anchor with two quicklinks will assist you in reaching the second rap station on Dirty Deed and then it's one rap to the Red Ledge with a 60m. We got to our packs at the base by the time it got pretty dark. Oct 9, 2005
Charles Danforth
L'ville, CO
Charles Danforth   L'ville, CO
Nice climb. A lot like Swanson's, but a bit harder. Two things to be aware of: First the first belay is not at all obvious or optimal. I kept going expecting the tree ledge I thought I remembered from the topo. 55 meters up, I was running out of gear and constructed a semi-hanging belay on a foot-sized ledge.

Second, there are two extremely loose blocks on P2 (the runout section much-lamented above). These aren't your standard Eldo loose blocks; they look like they'd come out if you looked at them funny. Each was probably 50#. Definitely an accident waiting to happen. We thought about gardening them, but the rock was crowded, so it seemed like a bad idea.

Anyway, nice climb though I chickened out on the last pitch in strong cross-winds. Oct 29, 2006
Danny Inman
Danny Inman   Arvada
Nice route with great exposure. Nov 6, 2006
Lloyd Garrick
Arvada, CO
Lloyd Garrick   Arvada, CO
Climbed this today. I disagree with those saying it's not so cool. It's awesome! Started with the West Chimney for P1, then a short traverse (more of a scramble then a climb) to Icarus. Two pitches on Icarus, not easy, some fun moves, but not real hard either. Final pitch, the Yellow Spur arete, is totally awesome - delightfully terrifying exposure and views.
Getting down was a long downclimb, 4th or EZ 5th class, and I didn't like it. I would rather have sprouted eagle wings and just flown off the top ....
I dispute the rating - I would give this a solid 5.7. But I haven't been climbing that long, so what do I know? Aug 25, 2007
Ament's 1975 Eldorado guide documents this as a variation to The Yellow Spur, first climbed by Bob Culp in the 1960s. According to Jim Erickson, this was (and one assumes, still is) one of Culp's favorite climbs in the canyon; indeed it was the first route Jim ever climbed with Culp, sometime around 1968 (personal communication). Aug 26, 2007
Mark Cushman
Cumming, GA
  5.6 R
Mark Cushman   Cumming, GA
  5.6 R
If you are climbing with a 70m rope, you can make it from the Dirty Deed Dihedral to the small tree at the top of the face (just before the traverse right) with ~3m to spare. We climbed the first pitch of the Great Zot, Icarus and then finished on the arete in 3 pitches. Nice! Mar 1, 2008
Debbie Vischer
  5.6 R
Debbie Vischer   Loveland
  5.6 R
This was a fun climb on a blue bird day in January! Although the afternoon winds made it a bit more spicy on that last pitch! We did this in 4 pitches (started up the West Chimney). Route finding was very easy.

Lots of loose rock in the chimney so needed to take it slow on the first pitch (and getting a #1 cam stuck didn't help. After breaking both trigger wires we left it for dead. HOWEVER... our new friends we rapped down with were able to get it out using 2 nut tools...thanks John!!).

Spectacular exposure on P3 & 4. P4 only protects with 1 piece (used a red C3). So get ready for some runout. The traverse to the dirty deeds rap was fun. We kind of did a layback hand-over-hand traverse until we were able to get our feet on a ledge. 2 loose rocks at the rap slings, so be careful. We rap'd to the red ledge with 2 ropes (must be at least 60M to do in 1 rap). Then 1 rap from the red ledge to the base (again, 2 ropes, 60M). No issues with getting the rope stuck. Thanks Kirk & John for sharing the rap & your rope! Jan 21, 2009
Devan Johnson   Foco
Yeah, I wouldn't suggest this one to a 5.6 leader, the pro just isn't there. Apr 22, 2009
Alex A
  5.6 R
Alex A  
  5.6 R
Fun climb, wild exposure on last pitch, this is not a beginner lead, with a possible for a 30 to 50 feet fall, if you blow it, the 5.6 lead for the 5.8 leader, no one should call a 5.6R a beginner lead route, WFT. Mar 14, 2011
Carl Dixon
Carl Dixon   Boulder
When starting this route with the first pitch of Rewritten (which is great), you can traverse up and left past the usual first belay and make it to a tree in the gully in one pitch from the ground. From there, you can easily walk unroped up the gully and right across the Red Ledge to the start of Icarus.

On the decent from the notch, rappel ~28m to a tree on one rope, then make a double rope rappel to the last ledge (below the Red Ledge) with a big fat tree, then one more double rope rappel to the ground. The big tree on the last ledge is far back from the ledge, so to make the pull easier, the final rappeller should stop on a small ledge and pull the knot past the edge before going all the way to the ground.

The final pitch is spectacular. Airy, exposed, and runout, but secure holds all the way. Aug 1, 2011
  5.6 R
  5.6 R
Went up the West Chimney and did Icarus in 3 pitches from Red Ledge. P2 was belayed 110' up in a real crappy position about 20' below the end of the irregular, right-facing corner. P2 was directly up the face after the end of the corner and runout for about 20 feet. P3 belayed from the moderate-sized tree and ledge. The final pitch was very runout. I got a #2 TCU and a large nut in the crack at the end of the ledge traverse right to the arete and a #3 Friend on the arete just short of the summit. Ridiculous exposure. Phenomenal climb. Sep 7, 2011
Bear Creek, CO
  5.7 PG13
percious   Bear Creek, CO
  5.7 PG13
Climbed this yesterday for the first time. Couple of notes:

If you have a 70m rope, you can reach the base of the climb by climbing West Chimney and trending right to the Red Ledge. There's actually some fun moves in there. From the ledge, you can get a small cam and place a long runner and make it to the small tree at the base of Icarus. I recommend one of those pulley carabiners if you do this. I wish I had one. This is a nice way to protect your second on the ledge if you find this necessary.

From there, you can climb as described up to the first belay. I never actually made this belay but headed right to the arete for some exciting exposure. The gear here is sparce, PG, and small. I placed one RP and two smaller cams while I wound my way up the arete. About where you connect with the original route is an excellent belay stance, with a large cam placement and a few nuts. This hanging belay has a small but adequate ledge. With my 70m, I had 20 feet of rope left. I felt this extra section of arete lent itself to a 5.7 PG rating. I will have to try the other way sometime to see if it goes easier. With this "intermediate" belay, a short 35m pitch will get you to the summit. The rope drag at the crux was quite noticeable, but I could have used a longer runner on at least one of my placements. May 11, 2012
Ross Philip
Boulder, Colorado
5.6 R
Ross Philip   Boulder, Colorado
5.6 R
Agree with those comments that this is by no means a "beginner lead". The protection is sparse at best, the route is not heavily traveled and therefore has quite a few loose blocks, and even the 2nd could take an interesting swinging fall as much of the climb is a rising traverse. That said, it is beautiful, exposed, enjoyable climbing - if you know what you are getting into. May 22, 2013
Crag Dweller
New York, NY
  5.6 R
Crag Dweller   New York, NY
  5.6 R
This is a great route. Not sure I'd put a new(ish) 5.6 leader on it, though. There's the runout last pitch, which has been mentioned, and the traverse at the end of the dihedral on the second pitch is a bit thin with the potential for a pendulum fall that could be jarring. Jun 1, 2013
Mark Oveson
Louisville, Colorado
Mark Oveson   Louisville, Colorado
Climbed this route twice in the past two weeks. First time I had some trouble routefinding, particularly finding the traverse on P2. Second time I got it just right. Here's what do to:

Climb the dihedral until it fades out into the face. A short distance above this point, there is a 3"-4" horizontal hold/ledge feature with a bunch of quartz pebbles embedded into it. Climb up until your feet are on that ledge, then traverse right to the arête. The traverse is a ways above gear, but the moves are no harder than 5.4. Once on the arête, you can get a good piece.

A spectacular route and a mind-blowing experience for a moderate climber looking to get way off the ground. Jun 5, 2014
Ed Krejcik
Broomfield, CO
Ed Krejcik   Broomfield, CO
Like a lot of folks here, I went straight up after the dihedral ends and belayed at the tree ledge then traversed right to the arete and up. I'm wondering what the bolt is on the face left of the arete on the last pitch? Jun 28, 2015
Matthew Windchime
Matthew Windchime   denver
This was my first multi-pitch climb ever, and we did it yesterday. I cleaned the route, and overall, I had a blast. I climbed a few other routes afterwards that I enjoyed, but the different pitches on this one afforded a great variety. It was well below my skill-level, so it was a great opportunity to get used to cleaning gear and communicating with a leader out of sight. That last pitch, like a lot of these comments point out, is stellar, from an aesthetic perspective.

If you are taking some friends that have some experience (not very much at all is necessary, as long as they are in decent shape) but haven't done any long climbs, I can recommend this one, for sure. Very rewarding for its grade. The approach is a bit more of a hike than a lot of the routes in Eldo, and the descent is quite a bit of a scramble but also presents an opportunity to teach some other alpine skills, which is great if you want to work on some of those class 4 safety skills. Two fun rappels at the end. Aug 1, 2015
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
Larry Shaw   Boulder, CO
A great climb for a solid 5.6 climber. Some of the best position in the canyon on the last pitch. Feb 2, 2016
LOST ROPE - had to bail off of the Apple Strudel rappel (between Rewritten and Yellow Spur) last night, as I managed to get my rope caught while pulling it. If anyone recovers my blue Mammut rope, please contact me at (207)450-7212.

James Oct 20, 2016
Katie Church
Katie Church   DENVER
Just to add my 2 cents: Chris and I climbed Icarus on Sept. 7. We did pitch 2 (per the Levin guidebook) direct, and I found it to be amply protected, albeit with small pieces (black Alien, medium ball nut, & RP) in the first 20 feet. I echo caution with the large (30#) block 3/4 of the way up the pitch. It's possible to move around it. All in all, this was a phenomenal route! Sep 12, 2017
Keith Leary
Broomfield, CO
Keith Leary   Broomfield, CO
My rope was stuck on the rappel. If someone covers it, would you please contact me? Apr 29, 2018