Type: Trad, TR, 80 ft
FA: Layton Kor and Ben Chidlaw, 1959
Page Views: 8,732 total · 40/month
Shared By: Jeremy Gilbert on Jan 31, 2001 with updates from L Kap
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This is a great route that receives good winter afternoon sun. It is shady in the morning in summer. It is a good beginner lead. Attain the belay ledge shared with West Crack via a 4th class scramble. Spy the large, left-facing dihedral to the right. Build an anchor and climb the dihedral. When the large obvious flake at the top of the climb ends, then traverse left to the West Crack anchor.

To descend, rap from the fixed anchor at the top of West Crack. Rap with a 60 meter rope to the ledge at the base of West Crack or a 70 meter rope to the ground.


Small or standard rack with a bigger piece for last (crux) move.
Fun lead, recommended for beginners w/ small racks. You can protect all but the final flake easily w/ stoppers alone. It is nice to be able to place a #4 Camalot behind the flake before you top out but not necessary. The anchor cable is located below the belay ledge, so you might just thread and rap w/ a 60m towards the large ledge. Watch for a rope eating crack and tie knots in the end so you don't get a quick tour of lower Whale's Tail. Jun 11, 2001
The top flake can also be protected by a #2 camalot with a long sling. Just bury it deep. In fact, I wasn't very happy with the large cam placement I found under the flake. Jul 15, 2002
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Beware for those with bee/wasp-type allergies: Today, for the first time, I saw a bunch of wasps at the end of this pitch. One stung [a] poor sod as he was reaching up R in the vicinity of the anchor. Aug 17, 2002
Santa Fe, NM
CharlesR   Santa Fe, NM
Climbed this route last week. At the anchors I was swarmed by wasps/bees. About 10 of them were flying around me, but I downclimbed quickly and didn't get stung. Not a fun surprise! Aug 22, 2002
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
James Garnett   Bellingham, WA
No stinging bugs as of yesterday (25 jun 2003), so perhaps it's a late-summer problem. More holds and opportunities for pro than you can shake a stick at on this one, but careful of the anchor: the steel cable has some burrs on it that might chew on your rope when you pull it after the rappel. Just make sure you're on the non-burr side of the quicklinks. A 60m rope gets you all the way past the belay ledge and to the deck. Jun 26, 2003
this was my 2nd lead and it was a very nice one (great pro - mostly stoppers) - so a great beginner trad lead - but if you are used to nice sport anchors or walk offs from your own anchors and see that jumbled pile of frayed cable and D-rings... please believe that you really are supposed to finish there and don't just keep going hoping to run into a magical top-out or bolt anchor (hmmmm......) - maybe bring an extra sling for peace of mind when rapping off Jul 30, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Lots of great gear and good holds make this a great lead for anyone working on their 4th or 5th trad lead. Obscure numbers, but for a good reason. This climb will gently teach your learning leader to place runners on gear, or pay for it. Medium nuts and cams up to a #1 make this route easily protected from 'toes to nose' (heard that one just today and had to use it) all the way up. The "crux" really isn't all that bad, and don't let your leader freak out from the traverse. It's REALLY short and quite easy with great gear overhead. ~Wm

P.S. No biting/stinging insects as of 23MAY04. Just lots of bugs dodging the swallows who were trying to live up to the moniker... May 24, 2004
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
PPS: Anyone know what the boulder problem is just below the ledge here? It runs from the boulder field up a chute and deposits you directly at the base of this climb. Kind of a highball given the exposure and felt like V2 with Tevas on... Just curious.~Wm May 24, 2004
Rob Migliore
Rob Migliore  
This was my first gear lead and felt comfortable. Plently of pro and good stances. Though I must of came around the roof funny b/c I wound up using a micro nut to protect it. Good buckets to just heave over it. Short (but sketchy approach). I've had to wait 1-2 hours to climb it because I've had people run past me on the approach and then teach somebody how to climb. Jun 25, 2004
Larry Shaw
Larry Shaw  
A fun but short climb that is easily protected. Jul 5, 2004
Just as good as west crack and similar in difficulty. Aug 29, 2004
Short, dumpy, inconsistent climb. Starts ~4th class and gets progressively harder with two tricky moves (the second is 2' below the anchor). West Crack (just to the left) is much more consistent, gobbles pro, and is longer.-s May 19, 2005
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Matt says that a deeply buried #2 at the top is better than a large cam (I think) in the wide spot under the top flake. I disagree. I placed a #3 cam in that vicinity to set up a TR with slings on the fixed anchor and a trad piece or two. This location for a trad-esque anchor alleviates rope drag problems, though it eliminates the crux moves as well. Realistically, they aren't worth it for me and if you're teaching a person how to climb, it probably won't be worth it for you either.

No buggies today (June 17th). Climb with an unstung happiness! ~Wm Jun 18, 2005
Mike Munger
Boulder, Colorado
Mike Munger   Boulder, Colorado
The fixed cam at the top of the corner has been removed. May 12, 2007
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
Todd A (re: Replacing Cable) -

Is there any reason not to add bolts? They would certainly be less obtrusive, much easier to replace and much easier to use. I don't understand why this hasn't been done earlier.

If you do go with cable, I would suggest larger than even 1/4". It isn't the strength that is the issue, it is the WEAR from the ROCK. Is there anything wrong with the cable currently? May 14, 2007
Ron Olsen
Boulder, CO
Ron Olsen   Boulder, CO
Casey Bernal wrote:Todd A (re: Replacing Cable) - Is there any reason not to add bolts? They would certainly be less obtrusive, much easier to replace and much easier to use. I don't understand why this hasn't been done earlier.

Changing the anchor to bolts may be a better idea, but would require approval by the local climbing community and the FHRC (Fixed Hardware Review Committee). Todd would have to submit an application to the FHRC for review at its fall session; see aceeldo.org/fhrc for details.

One-for-one fixed anchor replacement (bolt for bolt, pin for pin, and, presumably, cable for cable) can be done simply by getting a permit from Steve Muehlhauser, the head climbing ranger at Eldorado. Steve routinely grants permits for this type of work. FHRC and climbing community approval is not required. May 14, 2007
Hey guys, was just up on the West Dihedral last Wednesday. Cable at anchor is worn and shredding in places and should be taken off completely and replaced or different anchor put in. There were about 4 slings there as well so plenty of solid protection but I ended up with a piece of cable in my jacket, I would hate to end up with some in my rope....seeing old/shredding cable didn't make us feel too comfortable. Jun 15, 2008
B immele
Louisville, Colorado
B immele   Louisville, Colorado
I have a permit from Steve M at Eldo to replace the Cable at the top of the West Crack climb and intend to do it this weekend. I sent Steve a photo of the set up which he approved (cable with rings, similar to what was there, but better) and hope to get it installed this weekend. This should eliminate all the slings and other gear often left there.

Bruce Jul 31, 2008
Longmont, CO
HTP   Longmont, CO
Has the cable been replaced? Sep 4, 2008
Mike Pharris
Longmont, CO
Mike Pharris   Longmont, CO
Thanks for the nice new cable! Oct 6, 2008
Mike Nevko
Currently Charlotte
Mike Nevko   Currently Charlotte
Climb this this past weekend. The cable is in good condition, and the top ledge can support about 2 parties at the same time while waiting to use the rap rings. Mar 14, 2011
Rodger Raubach  
A fun romp in Eldo! Not at all hard, but just good fun! Mar 16, 2011
Edgewater, CO
Ryan-T   Edgewater, CO
This route is awesome! Much better climbing than the West Crack. Lots of good pro, I would recommend up to 4. This climb got me super psyched to climb more in Eldo! Sep 17, 2015
L Kap
Boulder, CO
L Kap   Boulder, CO
Has the cable been removed? Neither my partner nor I saw any kind of anchor at the top of West Dihedral today. We ended up traversing over to the West Crack anchor to lower. Luckily there was no one else on it. Jul 16, 2016
I left a tricam on a ledge leading up to West Dihedral. Please contact me if you are able to retrieve it! Aug 8, 2016
L Kap
Boulder, CO
L Kap   Boulder, CO
Please be aware that there is just ONE 2-bolt anchor at the top of the west face of the Whale's Tail. (The steel cable mentioned in other comments has been removed.) The sole 2-bolt anchor is located at the top of West Crack and also shared by West Dihedral, West Face, and Jim Crack. You can build a trad anchor at the top of West Dihedral / West Face, but there is no easy walk-off that I'm aware of, so you will still eventually need to traverse over to use the West Crack anchor to rap down. Yes, there are 4 climbs here, but more than 2 parties crowded on the belay ledge or trying to ascend the west face at the same time is a cluster.

If there are other parties on the belay ledge before you, please be courteous and negotiate how to share the anchor (or go find another climb). It should go without saying, you do not have a right to TR your second on the same anchor chains that someone else is currently using. You do not have a right to kick another party off the anchor so that you can use it. If you have some urgent need to use the anchor without waiting your turn, try asking nicely. May 6, 2017
Tommy Copeland
Motueka, New Zealand
Tommy Copeland   Motueka, New Zealand
Took a friend on his first ever climb here today. He had tons of fun and wasn’t too scared except for the crux. He didn’t want to rap, so we were able to easily scramble of the back side. Great introductory climb. Nov 25, 2017
Christopher Bishop
Boulder, CO
Christopher Bishop   Boulder, CO
About halfway up before you move left, there is a small tree growing out of the rock. Behind this tree there is a big block that is very loose; it's only a matter of time before it comes down. Mar 19, 2018
Azissa Singh
Boulder, CO
Azissa Singh   Boulder, CO
Found some gear on this climb today (5.24.18). Happy to return it to whoever lost it if they get in touch. May 24, 2018
Tan B
Lakewood, CO
Tan B   Lakewood, CO
Very creative climbing, and you get what you make of it. Really fun placements that eat up pro. Rack up to #2 (can use #4 at the flake, but a deep #2 does great). Don't place anything in the first 30' to avoid too much friction. Dec 17, 2018