Type: Trad, 200 ft, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Alec Sharp, Pete Bradshaw, Dan Hare, c.1980
Page Views: 14,300 total · 65/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This route is on the Rock of Ages, the first of the cliffs mentioned in the Fern Canyon intro. It is one of the best shorter routes I've ever done, with clean, splitter cracks from fingers to hands and also some wild 5.10 moves to access these cracks. A classic with character. The pro is generally great on the harder climbing, except for the first pitch, but the route still feels burly for 5.10!

Hike a mile from the Fern Lake trailhead to the Arch Rocks-- massive boulders, right on the trail, which have tumbled from the cliff. (There is some really good bouldering in this area). From there, the cliff should be visible-- a clean, hanging 200 foot slab which sweeps to vertical and is laced with cracks. It faces slightly SW. Scramble up through talus and thickets to the left side of the cliff where a large boulder forms a chimney with the main wall below a long overhang.

P1 - belay from the top of the large boulder which offers easy access to the overhang. Stand on a horizontal spike of rock, and turn the roof on jugs (5.10a, a bit committing) to a good rest. Continue up a funky 5.9 groove, and belay on a small ledge above it, if you have the right gear. If not, traverse left to a semi-hanging belay at a piton and horn that can be slung, 80'.

P2 - head straight up (or back right) up seams, and climb into a flake system which angles up and left. When a good finger crack appears to the left, place a bomber TCU, and make a wild move, getting almost horizontal, over a blank wall to gain the crack. Climb up that for 20 strenuous feet to a wonderfully exposed belay perch right on the edge of the cliff (5.10c), 70'. (Note: if bad weather comes in, you can rap from here straight to the ground, which slopes up below the left side of the cliff, with a 60 meter rope, but you'll have to leave gear.)

P3 - head up the splitter right-slanting crack, reaching the top (5.10d), 50'. Pitches 2 and 3 can be combined, though the belay atop P2 is worth savoring.

Descent: scramble carefully off to the east, or traverse west (most will want a rope) to a rap anchor above a mixed climb (Heavenly Daze) to the left. A 60m suffices for this rap with some downclimbing, and a 70m would be comfortable.


A standard rack to a #2 Camalot with doubles from #1 Metolius or equivalent to a #0.75 or #1 Camalot. A #3 Camalot is optional (it can help on P1).
Patrick Vernon
Estes Park, CO
Patrick Vernon   Estes Park, CO
This is possibly my most favorite route in Colorado. Jan 1, 2001
Perhaps I (and my partners) missed a trick sequence, but the second pitch felt more like 11b. To me, the third pitch was fairly straightforward and was far easier than the second. Tom Isaacson Aug 1, 2001
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
This route protects better than advertised, I feel. I found the first pitch to be reasonably easy at the grade, relative to the second two pitches. I protected it well on a few stoppers below the roof and found the roof to be easy by grabbing the jugs and cutting to the right as I pulled the lip. There upon I found more decent gear.

As for the second pitch, I am a shave shorter than average, but with disproportionately long arms and legs. The "step-across" move on P2 to the good foot was easiest by moving up high on the right before stepping over and down to the good foot, then doing a near-splits to set the right foot up high for a push, then leaning out to a left hand in the finger crack. I felt that this was probably honest 5.10d.

As for the third pitch- I should have rested to break the two up. The beginning of P3 was easy, but where it went to 1.25" I had a hard time getting hands and feet in. I was wearing my bathroom-slippers-like loose wide-crack shoes, having just blown out one of my thin-crack shoes on a previous climb... I swapped to a layback and got my butt kicked when I was pumped at the crux. If you are not rock solid on 5.10d, I'd suggest breaking P2 and P3 up, not running them together. Aug 12, 2002
I think that there are at least two distinct ways to do the second pitch step across. I led this pitch and made the step across move at about the height that the traverse flake peters out. From this height, I had a good cam in the flake and an ok purple Metolius at about head height on the face. There are a few small but positive edges here for the hands and thin feet. I'm just under 5'10", and from here it wasn't that far of a reach to get a left foot into the crack. Once the left foot is established, moving the left hand into the crack felt pretty secure. Maybe I was just in the adrenaline flush of the moment, but I felt that this move was solid 10/10+ but no harder. I thought the balancy crack above it was more sustained and difficult. My partner who followed the move went to a good handhold that had chalk on it that was a few feet higher than where I traversed from, and that looked to be a good bit more reachy and difficult. Any way you do it, it's an awesome route. A little taste of Yosemite in our own backyard. Jun 20, 2003
This has got to be one of the best and only truly splitter cracks around. The second pitch is certainly the crux, but if you have no idea how to jam, you're screwed. The last part of the second pitch is sustained, but it is not all that bad. When the flake peters out, you have about 15-20' of a few 5.10/5.10+ moves to the belay. This climb is worth what everyone says about it, even if it is short. Jul 2, 2003
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
Back again, 2 years later. Still great and will go back again. This time I led P1, followed P2, and led P3 again. The P1 ceiling is well protected and pretty easy. Get your shoulder into the ramp/corner and place a green Alien above. Then swing left (!) on jugs--definitely NOT obvious. Big holds and easy to step up. The P3 step across is easy now that I know what to do--I wrote it down last time. Memory is fading... Work R foot up the flake until you can reach a flat almost jug. Smear L foot and then, key, is to get right foot onto the slab high at hip level on a small but decent edge. Then step down left into the crack. Because right foot is set, it's easy to lean across and grab the crack. For the finger crack you really want 3 or more yellow Aliens or equivalent. It's pretty hard, but more tenuous than hard, if you walk the crack using the crack on the right as long as you can. The final thin hands section went better this time, but not perfect. Had to hang once or twice before getting a high piece. Then lowered and did it. I think I was trying way too hard last time. Having just gone to the Montral Splitter Camp at Indian Creek and doing lots of thin hands certainly helped! May 21, 2005
Fort Collins, CO
nolteboy   Fort Collins, CO
After pitch 1 is dispensed with, pitches 2 and 3 offer perfect rock, awesome exposure, and splitter cracks. Highly recommended. Jun 20, 2005
Jeff G.
Jeff G.   Lyons
I did Days of Heaven for the third time last weekend and I have to say, this climb is as incredible as everyone says! I think the step across move is probably 5.10d with excellent protection. The final pitch is truly beautiful and will test your thin hand jamming technique. Jun 22, 2005
Brian Weinstein
Brian Weinstein  
If pitches 2 and 3 are combined, it makes one of the finest pitches around. I found the gear to be relatively good on the first pitch (stoppers) when pulling the roof and in the 9 slot. As for the grade, 10d is right on, the cross over move and finger crack being 10c with bomb proof gear. This route is one to do over and over. Jun 2, 2006
Menlo Park, CA
JP.8d   Menlo Park, CA
Guidebooks call the 3rd pitch the .10d crux. Most agree that the technical crux is on the 2nd pitch. I have never talked to any two people who have made the traverse move in the same way. First pitch is a little exciting but not really scary, even for the timid. Some say this is one of the finest short .10s in Colorado and in my limited experience, I would agree. Indeed a route worth doing over and over. Best to rap the anchors on climbers left off the top of the route. One can also get in a good TR burn on neighboring route. Jul 15, 2006
Chris Sheridan
Boulder, CO
Chris Sheridan   Boulder, CO
I've never done the walk-off. We used a rappel anchor just west of the top of the route and were down in now time. One rappel with a 60m puts you on an easy slab and about 100ft from your packs. We did choose to belay down to the rappel anchor, which is a little ways below the top of the cliff. Jun 22, 2008
Devan Johnson   Foco
Tricky route, especially pitch two. Pitch 3 finishes with 20 feet of green cam sized splitter. Green cams with no feet means 5.11 to me, but it is pretty short. Jul 18, 2008
Kat A
Boulder, CO
Kat A   Boulder, CO
Difficulty of P2 and P3 is related to hand size - smaller hands would make P3 significantly easier. P2 is more technically difficult, very balancy. Overall a great route - just wish every pitch were longer!

If you rap off the route to the climber's left of Days of Heaven, FYI there is a ton of loose rock up there. Aug 9, 2008
jeremy long
jeremy long   BOULDER CO
I thought this climb was hard. The third pitch felt pretty thin to me. But there are a couple of bomber and tricky stopper placements on the third pitch! I may just need to go do this route a few more times to work out the beta. May 19, 2011
Superb rock quality. We didn't see anyone at the crag. Oct 20, 2015
Eric S
Boulder, CO/ Tacoma Washington
  5.10b/c R
Eric S   Boulder, CO/ Tacoma Washington
  5.10b/c R
With a 70 and a lot of slings, you could do it in one pitch. Also I thought the gear on the first pitch was super finicky and runout. Jun 17, 2018