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Routes in Deer Ridge Buttress

Center Left Face T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Crystal Balls T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b X
Crystal Ship T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Deer in the Headlights T 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Forrest Solo T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Nun Buttress T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Praying Nun T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
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Type: Trad, Grade II
FA: Bob Culp, possibly
Page Views: 4,279 total · 20/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: Season raptor closures: March 1 - July 31, NOW LIFTED Details


The route, as good as almost any route of the grade that I've done at Lumpy, starts behind and obvious spire at the base of the cliff, toward the east side.

P1 - traverse out right onto an obvious, clean prow reminsicent of Cob Rock. Find 5.8 hand cracks on immaculate granite that lead to a belay ledge.

P2 - climb the left-facing corner to a belay (5.7).

P3 - head up a 5.7 slab and belay on lower angle terrain.

P4 - finish things off with moderate moves.


Standard rack.
A really beautiful climb. The 'alternate' first pitch up the first headwall from the boulderfield is highly recommended. On the second pitch of Nun's the left side of the corner is easier than the right, which I found out the hard way....... Aug 21, 2001
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
The 5.8 pitch on this climb is in the running for the best 5.8 pitch in the Estes Valley. From the big belay ledge at the end of this pitch, it is possible (and recomended) to traverse out right (north) on a weird little ledge. By doing this, you can climb some awesome cracks on the east face and avoid the so-so corner. Jan 11, 2002
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
There is a start slightly right, going up a crack system and traverses slightly left into the route perhaps 30-35 ft up which you may find adds a bit of spice at 5.9+ or so. Mar 14, 2002
Great climb. A few notes: We didn't find a 4th pitch, we did it in three pitches with about 20 feet of rope left over from a 60m on each pitch. On the start of the 2nd pitch, if you're going to go up the dihedral, don't try to make it easier by going right for a few moves, the moves back into the dihedral are silly and just as hard as the dihedral. Also, beware of expand-o flakes! There were a lot of loose flakes that would expand and not hold pro in a fall! Jul 8, 2002
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
Michael Walker   Loveland, CO
Classic route. The first pitch of Nun's ranks as one of my top five hand cracks I've done in the Boulder area. While others peter out after a couple moves, this one goes on and on. Some notes from our climb:

We hiked in from the Deer Mtn Trailhead and the key to starting the bushwhack is to leave the trail at the first switchback encountered that has a large cairn. Don't bother looking for an obvious trail, it is very faint, and the contouring bushwhack will feel very rugged, even if you are on the right track. Keeping plodding east until you see Deer Mtn Buttress take up the eastern horizon - then shoot for the base. This approach took us an hour and a half (maybe?).

We couldn't decide on which of the more difficult starts to take on the _warm up_ wall to reach Stagway (the large ledge at the base of the Nun's Buttress Route), and fearful of botching the Nun's route with an epic on the intro pitch, we chose to start at the base of the gully leading up between the Praying Nun and Deer Mtn Buttress. The climbing started right up the chimney/gully then followed cracks leading right up to the base of Nun's. This went easily at 5.2 or so.

P1: To get to the killer hand cracks, hand traverse in from the left. This was exciting and provided nice variety compared with the jams found above.Once at the cracks, head straight up on some of the finest hand jams around. Near the end of the pitch, the crack flares into a v-slot of sorts, and I found the crux to be working up through this awkward section. The belay ledge is just left of a huge left leaning flake and is a palatial pad. 170'

P2: Above the belay, the huge flake, which now forms the right wall of the climbing above, holds a fine finger crack just below its edge. To get to the crack you will pass easier escape routes on the left, but hold in there, the climbing is quite good on the finger crack. The difficulty is deceiving, however, just notice before you commit to those hanging finger locks that your feet are pretty poor for a while there. Above, continue up along easier cracks that trend slightly right and after about 170' you'll come to a set of small ledges with a perfect belay horn. This was my favorite belay of the climb as the views of the CD and the Mummy Range took up my left, McGregor Slab was ahead, Lumpy and Estes to my right and 400' below me.

P3: From the horn, for a little excitement, I headed straight up to a crack and followed this right, out to the edge of the ridge. The exposure here above the north face was tantalizing. And then the crack ended. I placed a stopper and forged straight up the blank face, all the while knowing a flight over the North Face was in store if I peeled - Glorious climbing! It was indeed very easy to reach hiking terrain after this long pitch.

We scrambled off the West side and back down to our packs with no drama. Aug 25, 2002
I agree with MW, pitch one of Nun Buttress is one of the best around. I loved this climb, one of my current favorites. The climbing and views can't be beat.

Just a note on the approach/descent. For the approach, if coming up on the Deer Mountain Trail, we left the trail at the 4th switchback and contoured north with little difficulty. A bit of a bushwhack, but not too bad. You may find some of the beta on the approach posted above a little misleading (at least we did), but if you head into the woods on switchback #4, a steady contour should take you right to the bottom of the buttress.

For the descent, if you don't leave anything at the bottom of the route, you can descend via the Deer Mtn. Trail. From the summit, look southwest-ish over another small, broken buttress, and you will see a mass of rocks, a high point on the ridge (about 1/4 mile away).Scramble east of the small broken buttress and towards the rocks on the ridge. From this rocky high point, a short descent towards the south will intersect the upper switchbacks of the Deer Mtn. trail. This seemed much easier than reversing the approach route. Jul 18, 2004
Steve Annecone
Steve Annecone   boulder
Agree strongly with Leo's comment above, that 5.9+ or 10- variation start is excellent! It pros reasonably well although is a bit spicy as you leave the shallow corner and head up left on an exposed face to the horizontal. The double cracks above this are excellent and reminded me of Bishop's Terrace in Yosemite. Jun 29, 2005
Fort Collins, CO
nolteboy   Fort Collins, CO
If the first pitch of this route were on the Book, you'd have to wait in line to do it. It's that good. After that, the angle drops off and... well, you know how that goes. Basically, you're walking up here to do the first pitch!

If you're doing no route other than this one, and if you've parked at the Deer Mtn Junction Trailhead, a great way to get down is to climb the route with your packs, and then once on top, strike out to the south across the top of Deer Mountain - easy walking. After about three or four hundred meters, you'll run into the trail that runs from east to west across the plateau-like summit. Take a right and stroll down to your vehicle. Jul 3, 2005
phil Sabet  
The section of rock that Nun's Buttress is located has got to be, without a doubt, some of the best granite in the Estes valley. As far as the route is concerned, the first pitch is spectacular and protected well with nuts and midrange cams. I thought the exposed traverse at the beginning of the first pitch was quite intriguing on the [synapses]. The second pitch's crux protected well with a #2 Camalot about 25 feet into the pitch (a deceiving section of rock at first glance). The rest of the climbing is so so on fine rock. The first pitch by itself is well worth the approach... which wasn't bad. Oct 1, 2006
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
Climbed 7.27.08 with Al Wiedmann. Route is currently in good shape. Not sure why it is not more popular. A few comments:

You can add an additional pitch below P1 by climbing any of a number of corners below and west of the Praying Nun, your choice of 5.7 to 5.10. This would be preferable to the original 5.easy scramble to Stagway.

P1 as described above is a fine, fine pitch. Al led the alternative start which has reasonable pro and goes at solid 5.9. The rest of the pitch is very similar to the 5.8 crack on Pear Buttress--one good jam after another on perfect rock. Extra small to mid-size cams are helpful.

P2 crux is not hard but is a bit awkward. After the crux we simul-climbed the rest of the route without difficulty. Jul 28, 2008
Loveland, CO
rob.calm   Loveland, CO
For decades, as I’ve climbed at Lumpy Ridge, I’ve looked at the silhouette of Nun Buttress dominating the southwest skyline and thought that’s a must-do route (see photo). Somehow, I didn’t get to climb it. The years rolled on, and I was 79 at the beginning of this summer (2010). Climbing 5.8 was OK, but the approach appeared challenging at my age. I decided if I was ever going to climb it, I’d better get it done this summer. I found a willing partner, Timt. Really willing: he carried the rope and most of the gear on the approach.

To find the easiest way up, I spent four days assessing approaches to the climb. Some published approaches described modest bushwhacking when using the Deer Mt. Trail. More often than not this was through downed pine trees and young aspen filling in (see photo). The bushwhacking may have been modest when the descriptions were written, but a few years of aspen growth can change that. My experimenting showed that the best approach starts at the Aspen Glen Campground at Fall River Road, goes straight up before veering left for about a furlong on a broad trail, and then head straight up to the pillar (Praying Nun) standing in front of Deer Mt. This approach is the shortest (less than a mile) and ascends a swathe of stable scree hidden in the trees. Scrambling up the scree is easier than bushwhacking.

We started the approach at 6:30 on July 2, got to the base of the climb at 8:30 and were on top at 11:30. The weather was perfect. I led the first easy pitch, Tim led the 5.8 pitch and then we alternated leads on the next two pitches to the top. As others have commented, it’s fine climbing with a first rate handcrack, but what really makes this a great route is the purity of the line and its magnificent position on a protruding prow that dominates Fall River Valley and looks down on Lumpy Ridge.

We didn’t descend the scree field to the right (W) as it appeared unstable. Going further right and descending through the trees was horrible. If we did the route again, we’d bring some old stoppers and carabiners and rappel. We got back to the car at 4 PM. A great route that I’ve wanted to climb for over 30 years. Sharing the experience with a good partner in perfect weather made for a satisfying day. Nov 29, 2010
Mitch Musci
Estes Park, CO
Mitch Musci   Estes Park, CO
Approach: Switchback #4 is still a bit short. Go to switchback #6, this is maybe 100ft higher in elevation and makes the traverse more of a contour to get to the base of the crag. Note you will pass the base of a sizable slab prior to reaching Deer Ridge Buttress. Don't mistake this as your destination. The approach took us 1.5 hours, return trip took 1 hour.

We started on Friar's Frontress for P1, which starts on the right side of the small pillar just right of the notch between the Praying Nun spire and the main wall. This was a quality pitch at 5.9, though I stayed left of the line described in Gillett's topo. From the top of the small pillar, angle up and right to a nice right facing flake. Lieback this to its top...this will put you at a small tree. Continue straight up to a small bulge and an awkward lieback (crux). This will put you right at the base of the money pitch on Nun's Buttress.

For the next pitch, I climbed the left of the two splitters, which was beautiful 5.9 fingers. Eventually it narrows to tips and you can step right into the right crack for a thin hands and hands finale. With a 70m rope, I climbed past the belay and linked the 5.8 corner to a nice ledge higher on the prow. From here it is one more long pitch of quality slabs and cracks to a tree belay at the top.

Descent: go west from the summit into the first broad gully. This will funnel you down to a 5th class slab. Instead, go west through a small notch into the next gully. From here, you will find an eroded climber's trail that leads down 3rd class ledges to the base of the wall. The exit of this gully is a good place to initially leave packs and rack up. Sep 5, 2011
Really nice climb but a bit on the short side: for us there were really only two pitches, third pitch being in the 5.4/5.5 range for maybe half a 60m rope. The 5.7 second pitch starts felt harder than the 5.8 first pitch... but maybe we took the wrong corner.

I dropped my #1 and #2 cam on the starting ledge of the first pitch (so dumb). If someone goes there anytime soon, please hit me up if you recover them. Aug 12, 2013

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