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Stone Monkey

5.12a, Trad, Alpine, Grade III,  Avg: 3.7 from 3 votes
FA: Chace and Stone,1985
Colorado > Alpine Rock > RMNP - Rock > Glacier Gorge > Spearhead
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


Named after the rogue-trickster Stone Monkey of 16th Century Asian literature, this climb provides one of the best difficult trad leads in RMNP.

On the left side of the wall find a 5.9 dihedral leading to Middle Earth ledge, or an easier variation just left of this (it is possible to third class to ME ledge in this area).

Climb an easy ramp that forms the right of two prominent dihedrals, belaying before a right-facing flake. Climb the flake (5.9ish) to its top, then scratch right across a blank wall to a semi-hanging belay (good 5.10, no pro, exciting swinging opportunities for both the leader and second). Climb the flake system up right and continue to a good ledge and belay. Pitch 5 is the business, a 5.9 undercling to a right-facing corner which leads to the sustained, under-vertical tips crack (crux). The climbing is more face climbing than a finger crack, although there are finger jams to be had - if you have tiny digits, you will be happy. Small gear (many RPs), good shoes, and positive thinking will bring you to another nice belay ledge, with hard-to-find anchors but nice wildflowers. Above is a longish 5.8 crack pitch which leads to easier climbing to exit.

Early season the crux crack can seep. This has much average climbing, but the crux pitch is stellar.


Double set RPs to 3" cam. Extra RPs, small wired nuts, and TCUs. Good edging shoes.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] One may also access the crux pitch of Stone Monkey via Three Stoners. To do this just head up and left on flakes after the 5.9 corner, aiming for the spacious ledge below the crux .12a finger crack. It is also possible, and recommended, to climb the last pitch of Obviously Four Believers (same exit pitch as Three Stoners), thus avoiding the loose blocks on the Stone Monkey exit. This is the crack system R of where you end up at the top of the .12a crack. A healthy selection of small wireds (Rocks, Stoppers, etc.) work well in addition to RPs for the crux, and have a couple of TCUs handy for pro after the hardest moves. Aug 16, 2001
matt bruton
Colorado Springs, Colorado
[Hide Comment] I must be missing something in the route description, but I only see 5.10 no 5.12a.
Any help? Sep 25, 2008
matt bruton
Colorado Springs, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Thanks much!
I'm looking at .12 thought this might be a good start?
Have .11d Trad 6 pitch down in Oregon..... Never-mind, I'm probably not ready for .12a. Yet thanks for the info anyway. Steve and Bob.
MB. Oct 14, 2008
[Hide Comment] The crux pitch is the best pitch I have done in RMNP. The first time I climbed this was with Dave Vartanian (Vart) and we faithfully followed the description in Gillett's first RMNP guide. I repeated it again years later with Matt Flach by starting on Three Stoners and traversing left eventually. I enjoyed starting on 3 Stoners more, but both are very much worth doing. A few caveats:

(1) The crux pitch gradually tapers from hands to tips with the smallest RPs protecting the crux. After the hard part on the crux pitch, the angle backs off but you are faced with some pretty stiff (5.10+ ish) lower-angled slab climbing and no gear for some tricky climbing 15 feet above some small RPs. If this stretch is damp, it is absolutely terrifying, especially if you are mortal like me and are suffering forearm cramps at this point. I could see Steve's advice regarding saving a TCU or two for this stretch to be very good advice.

(2) I don't think I ever found the correct line on the last pitch (the pitch after the crux). Netiher variant I've followed on the last pitch (both straight up in the gravelly crack or traversing out right and then up from the good ledge) was as easy as 5.9.

Regardless, a wonderful route. Nov 22, 2013