Type: Trad, 2 pitches, Grade II
FA: Bob Bradley
Page Views: 3,262 total · 15/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

27 Opinions

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Access Issue: Season raptor closures Details


An interesting, old classic up the East Owl, and one of the most reasonable ways to reach the summit. Hike the Gem Lake trail for 1/4 mile past a large boulder, and take the approach trail leading left to Hen and Chicken/Bowls of the Owls. The route starts above the Hen and Chicken Buttress, just right of the East Owl's SE corner.

P1-Get on top of a boulder, and take the left-most crack (currently sporting a piton). Pull around to the left (5.8), and continue up mildly runout, but easier and enjoyable terrain. Belay on a huge ledge.

P2-surmount a large block, then turn an A-shaped roof (exciting 5.8, tcu or small nut at your feet). Continue up 5.7 terrain to the top, with intermittent pro. 5.7 variations to the right and left avoid the roof, but they are reputedly quite run-out.

Scramble a ways west to find the descent.


Standard rack to a #3 Friend.


Good route. You can do Cackle crack 1st than walk 40 feet and start East Ridge. You could probable do any route on Hen and Chickens as a 1st pitch. That TCU or small nut through the roof may be a bit mis-leading the roof is very well protected (#1 or ..75 Camalot) Oct 7, 2002
Brian Faulkner
Fort Collins
Brian Faulkner   Fort Collins
This is an easy 8 to do and has a lot of great aspects to it. The first pitch start out about 30 feet above Cackle Crack (fun to do both), and if pretty consistent. If you look around you should find some old pitons down low. The climb will wind around the owl a bit untill you see the Estes Valley, great views. Pitch two starts at the huge belay ledge at an obvious central roof. There are a few gear placement you can make with either a big piece or small Alien/TCU. If you feel around on the right edge of the roof there are some good holds that make it much easier. Climb up past it for easy climbing and a great day. Mar 12, 2003
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
If you do the Rossiter's 1a variation of P1 (out L on the S face after the first pin), the crux is at the first pin, and there is a second, silver pin, above to let you know you're on route. There is a mess of slings around a chockstone with rap rings R of the P1 belay, if you have to bail in the rain. The 5.7 variation out the roof, as pictured here, can be protected with a #3 Camalot under the roof, behind the climber's L foot, to make it safer than depicted. If you're on the top for the 1st time, the top of the Bowel's of the Owls descent is 3rd/4th class (down & R, down a gully from the notch), not 5th class terrain just to the N (where we went), until you have to traverse back into the furthest back of the 2 chimney holes. Sep 4, 2003
Just did the climb today (well, one of many variations). First off, the first pitch felt surprisingly easy, less than 5.8 to me, and pretty easy to protect. The horizontal cracks 15 feet apart all provide bomber gear, as do a few of the vertical cracks. Belayed at the top of the sloping ledge in an alcove. The second pitch is were things got interesting. My guidebook (which I now consider to be a POS) hardly gave any beta for the second pitch, so I had no way to know what to do. Ended up on the undercling flake thing above the rap slings and to the right of the overhang. The flake moves felt 5.8, and the face moves (reach dependent) above the flake felt like 5.9 (especially compared to the "5.8" of the first pitch. The gear wasn't horrible, but not exactly ideal to fall on, and the sharp flakes below on the ledge remind you of that! Ran it out 30 or 40 feet above in 5.easy terrain to the summit. Really good climb!

The descent was not so great... once again, my guidebook gave absolutely no beta for the descent, except "descend Bowels of the Owl". We finally figured out which gully was the proper one, but missed the chimney/tunnel/cave in the back of the gully, so we rapped off of the slings right next to the cave/chimney, but rapped down the gully rather than through the hole we were supposed to. The ropes absolutely would not pull, we jugged back up, rapped back down, pulled, jugged back up, rapped back down, tried to pull, jugged back up and finally figured out that the only way was through the chimney cave in the back. I'd still rope up for this, but I could see how it could easily be scrambled. Just don't slip! Sep 6, 2004
Gary Schmidt
Boulder, CO
Gary Schmidt   Boulder, CO
After having been on it, imho the 2c variation in Rossiter's guidebook (5.7s) left of the intimidating roof is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for more than one runout session.

I have always found the descriptions to the decent of the "Bowels of the Owls" somewhat confusing or misleading. Basically you head down what seems to start out to be straightforward easy class 4 down climb from the low point grassy area between the two summits. When you cliff out look to your left for your rap slings around a boulder. You will be peering down what looks like a vertical cave about 25 feet deep. You can downclimb it but the walls are a little slick and quite often wet. You will probably want to lower any packs/ropes etc. down the well first as it is quite narrow. Once you make it safely down the well, you are basically down to terra firma. There is a great trail down the eastern side (You can also hike down the western side) which eventually joins the Gem Lake trail. Sep 3, 2005
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
Climbed 7/15 with S. Costello...thought it was a nice but not great route. The move near the pitons (low on P1) was a little tricky but kinda fun. Tried to go through the apex of the roof on P2. There are a lot of ways to do it but the geometry of the pro (I used a #3 Camalot in the large, left-leaning crack) is such that one might take a nasty swing-you-into-the-face kind of fall. I eventually chickened out and did the left-side variation that is described as 5.7s in Rossiter. There is a bit of pro there, got in most of a green Alien just off the ledge (sketchy) and a small but adequate stopper a little higher up.

For my money, Cackle Crack looks better. Jul 17, 2006
Amos Patrick
Estes Park
Amos Patrick   Estes Park
Did this route a few days ago. Super fun, in my opinion. I was a bit apprehensive after hearing about all the runouts but found it to protect very nicely, especially the A-shaped roof. I was a bit sketched before pulling the roof so I loaded it with gear. 2 bomber stoppers and a #3 Camalot all in about 3 feet and then a #0.5 Camalot a little higher. Sep 29, 2009
Stan Pitcher
Stan Pitcher   SLC, UT
Decent route - be ready for some sharp rock though! Got confused by Rossiter on 2nd pitch. Tried going right at roof apex but seemed a lot harder than 5.7. Do you leave roof lower? Probably best to just go out roof - lots of pro up there. Aug 22, 2011
Pete eye
Fort Collins, CO
Pete eye   Fort Collins, CO
I was apprehensive starting into and over the apex, it is committing, and a fall with to much rope out would not be good. Protection was never tested, but the #6 BD nut, purple and blue TCUs felt bomber. To be clear, you can get the bigger stuff in that others have mentioned up higher, if you can reach. It felt like if I had a few more inches on my reach protection would have been higher, and I would have been more comfortable committing to the move as well. Exciting nonetheless. Aug 29, 2011