Type: Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: unknown
Page Views: 83,946 total · 382/month
Shared By: Patrick Vernon on Dec 31, 2000 with updates from D L
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This is a great route, it has 8 pitches and is slightly runout on easy terrain at the top. It is very crowded and in my opinion not nearly as good as the slightly harder and more sustained Culp-Bossier on Hallett Peak. Give yourself plenty of time to do this one as four rappels are required to reach the ground. The summit is awesome and the upper pitches are high quality. The first few pitches aren't as fun and kind of mungy.

From Charles Vernon:

Approach by parking at the Glacier Gorge juntion trailhead (about a mile before Bear Lake) and follow the signs for about 4 miles to Sky Pond. Scramble up talus to the base of the Petit, which is overshadowed by the Sharkstooth. The Saber will be prominent to the right.

P1 - aim for a groove in the center of the steadily narrowing South Face, and climb that for a long easy pitch to a grassy ledge.

P2 - enter a giant chimney in the center of the face and belay on top of a chockstone (5.6, 100 feet).

P3 - take the left-slanting line out of the cave and belay on a large ledge below a smaller chimney (5.7, 140 feet).

P4 - climb the chimney, then traverse right to a belay below the right end of a roof (5.6, 120 feet).

P5 - head straight up at 5.9, or pull around to the right on easier rock (spotty pro either way). Climb up a steep crack, into a left facing corner with a beautiful finger crack, and proceed to a ledge on the east side of the Petit (sustained 5.8, 120 feet).

P6 - climb up, head right and then back left to a small stance on the southeast arete--the Pizza Pan Belay (5.7, 130 feet).

P7 - climb the crack above the belay to a ledge, and climb straight up the wall, then slightly up right to belay just below the ridgeline (or on it if you have enough rope) (5.7, 160 feet).

P8 - gain the ridge, then follow it up to the spectacular summit (5.6 or 5.7, 80-90 feet).

One more note of caution - some guidebooks describe a "5.4" variation to the right of the first five pitches of the route which purportedly bypasses the crux and leads straight to the south face. That is completely bogus - I have searched in every conceivable spot, and there is no way to bypass the traditional crux at 5.4 from the so-called "second terrace". Don't count on it.

Alternate descent description

Rap descent - per James Beissel: - All of the rap stations are bolted. If you are rapping off anything besides bolt you are screwing up.- You will need two 60m ropes- All of the raps are double rope rappels- Do not try to rap into the gully!!!- You should not have to downclimb at all

1. Rap from a Fixe anchor at the (climber's) right end of the summit. ~160 feet.
2. Rap from two Fixe ring anchors just past the terrace to a pair of Metolius rap bolts. ~160 feet.
3. Rap from the fatty Metolius bolts to the big grassy ledge. ~160 ft. The next set of bolts are about 50' to your left at eye level, above a chimney of sorts. Addendum: it's exposed clipping the anchor.
4. Rap from the anchor over the void (homemade hanger + modern Fixe ring bolt). Pass up the grassy ledge (Second Terrace) at about 160ft. and aim for the big horn about 20' below you. There's probably slings around the horn. They'll help you spot the station, but you will actually be rapping from bolts below the horn. ~180' feet.
5. A 200+' rap to a big grassy ledge (First Terrace). The next bolts will be about 50' climber's right. Addendum: you may not reach this anchor, but there is a slung boulder at ~165' to make a short additional rap.
6. Another 200' rap to the ground off two Fixe ring bolts.

Old, outdated descent:
Rappel off of fixed anchors at the northeast corner of the summit. Either swing right to a ledge after about 140 feet, or continue on to more hard to see bolts further down. If taking the first option, look for a deep chimney to the north, and climb it up to the saddle between the Sharkstooth and the Saber. From there, descend the 3rd class gash to the north, the hike out the drainage, following a trail which rejoins the Sky Pond trail, thereupon taking the appropriate direction depending upon where your equipment is. It is also possible to traverse east behind the Saber from the saddle and descend a gully (possibly necessitating a short rappel or two), which leads to the talus above Sky Pond.


Standard rack?


Patrick Vernon
Estes Park, CO
Patrick Vernon   Estes Park, CO
The 5.9 Route to the left of the south face was a much better route in my opinion. It was a little harder, a little looser, but a lot less crowded (we were the only party on the route). the 5.9 pitch is short, but very cool. Jan 1, 2001
JBowman - One way I've used twice to get around folks _ get first position on the route from the big ledge where the real climb (in my opinion) starts: simul-climb out left up easy slabs, left around an overhang _ then pretty straight up _ then back right to the big ledge at 1/3 height. I've just always thought it better to miss the first few pitches (did them once, not that great as I recall) in order to avoid getting creamed by lightning due to getting behind slow parties. On the descent - never have rappelled the face or either gully, always just done the walk-off down the Sharkstooth side - not bad at all. If you find the S. Face overcrowded, try the SE Ridge - it actually has better position near the top, as it climbs to the very tip of the triangular S. Face. Its a bit harder - couple of .9 spots, but is well-protected _ a gas. Jan 1, 2001
Mark Wyss
Denver, CO
Mark Wyss   Denver, CO
This is the best routes I've ever done. The exposure is great. The hike in from Glacier Gorge is windy as hell at times, but normally, when the sun hits, it dies down. This one is sweet as hell! From when your standing on the beginning ledge to when you are balancing yourself on the "perch-like" summit, you have a five star view of the surrounding mountains and of sky pond down below. The rap down is fun as hell also. However, the scramble down to the base where the packs are tends to be a bitch, especially in climbing shoes. One last thing, keep your lunch well protected in your pack at the base. I found a marmot on top of my pack when I got back to the ledge; and I know the little bastard was about to rip into my stuff. Anyway, it's definitely worth checking out. I'm pretty sure it's one of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America. Jan 1, 2001
Nice route but not an exceptional route. If you are swinging leads make sure you get the crux pitch as it coincides with all the other good pitches. The summit makes the crowds worth it. The decent using the raps was quite evident and mellow. Plan an early start to avoid the early afternoon thunderstorms. Jun 5, 2001
I agree with Patrick and Frank. Good route but by no means exceptional. We free soloed the first two pitches then piggy-backed the rest. I managed to get the crux pitch which was fun but not as difficult as expected. The run out on pitch 7 was very sporty, especially when your that high off the ground. If you can climb 5.7 without hesitation, make sure that you are the first one on the route as we had to wait on each pitch for the climbers above us. Jun 18, 2001
Another bad choice by Fifty Classic Climbs. There's maybe 150 feet of good climbing on the route. Ok, the summit is neat, but not worth the crowds, the descents, etc. If you want to stand on a small summit, do Zowie. The climbing is comparable, the approach easier, the summit smaller and the descent far better--right back to your pack. Tom Isaacson Jul 31, 2001
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
I'm not sure which 150 feet you're talking about--I thought every bit of the final four pitches was fantastic. The crowds are a bit much, though not so bad if you get up early on a weekday. But the summit, IMHO, tops anything I've been on, even Ancient Art. The great thing about this route is that it starts kind of slow and easy and then builds steadily to a fitting, spectacular finish. Jul 31, 2001
I just don't know where you guys come up with this shit. Maybe I am just not cool enough because I can't see how the Petit could be any more fun. Sure it could be harder or longer or whatever but if it were perfect, it would be the last climb anyone ever did. For the grade, the summit, the exposure, and the experience, this climb deserves ten stars, and it really is not that crowded on week days. Let's not dwell on what this climb lacks when we should be thankful it exists in the first place. Dec 9, 2001
Here is how I came up with this "shit": Forgive me for not remembering it pitch by pitch. I must only remember the 10 star routes in detail. Up to the crux, this climb is less than good. Low grades, chunks and chimneys, 0 exposure. The crux move (and it really isn't much more than that) is a bit awkward but fun, however, you lose whatever exposure you might gain when you hit the belay ledge/meadow. The pitch up from the crux is fun face, but again, nothing special. The next pitch was great. Classic, exposed fun stuff. The summit is pretty nice to.

This is how I remember it: Chunks, getting better as you go, to a really good summit. Over all, a good route. Not a great route.

To me, 10 stars would be exposed, solid, clean rock with sustained climbing, cool stuff each pitch with a nice summit. Good history adds flavor. The First Flatiron is pretty close.

Of course you are entitled to your different opinion, but then again, credibilty may be lacking if you log in as "anonymous coward".

Cheers, Frank Dec 14, 2001
Hey Frank, is this a date climb also? I doubt you even know what a ten star route is if your considering the First Flatiron as one. Dec 19, 2001
The regular E Face route on the First Flatiron is a 10 star climb in my book. While it is "sustained" at only maybe 5.2, it has everything else you could want in a climb. It also probably qualifies as a date climb. Just my opinion, of course. Dec 19, 2001
Loose rock, 3:00 am start if you want to be first, lightning by noon - definately not a date climb. As for 10 stars, to each their own I guess. I think the first is great.

Frank Jan 14, 2002
When I climbed this route two summers ago, I experienced the severe misfortune of rapping the gully between the Saber and the Petit. My partners and I were the first ones on the summit. Only one other team was behind us. On the way down, they turned the gully into a bowling alley. We managed to find a few roofs to hide under, but the inceasant shower of baseball to pumpkin sized rocks kept us clamouring for safety everytime we began or got off a rap. Although our neighbors above were unnecessarily careless, this gully is really loose and nasty. I certainly recommend that people descend the rap route on the face or go down the back way over the ridge. This gully is a death trap-- no joke! Feb 4, 2002
Yes indeed a classic, and the crowds that come with that title, but nonetheless worthy of the time and effort for an ascent. I've tried all the descent options. I feel that if you're up for one more pitch of "funky" climbing to reach the saddle on the West Ridge, this is the quickest descent option. If done early enough in the season you can glissade down the the trail and hike out Andrews Glacier. The rappels, whether in the "gully" or on the Petite itself, are all OK and not too difficult to find. They just add time you could be walking out if you had gone over the West Ridge. I had heard numerous horror stories about the gully rap, but when we did it with two half ropes @200 feet a rappel, again it wasn't that bad. Mar 23, 2002
Does anyone know if the Petit or Saber are climbable yet due to snow conditions? Any info much appreciated! Thanks in advance!! Apr 22, 2002
Climbing in late fall or early spring will eliminate the crowds. I climbed in late November several years back and only had one other team on the route.

Special note about raps:

When [rapping] off the north face with the intent to descending to the north through The Gash, WATCH your rope. The small ledge between the summit and the short pitch leading to The Gash will catch your rope. I spent a long cold night on that ledge after getting our ropes stuck.

As of July 2001 a new [rap] route leads down the south face left of the route. I have not [rapped] this route but have seen others doing so. New anchors and chains are also present on the east side which will keep you out of the gully. STAY OUT OF THE GULLY! May 24, 2002
I think the window for an obscenely early season ascent passed 2 weeks back with the first of the Spring rain/snow. There is probably a bit of snow up there now.

Because it is south-facing, the regular route on the Petit can often be climbed early season (late-April and May) and late season (October and on exceptional days far into November). Obviously the odds of acceptable rock climbing conditions increase the closer to summer high-season you are. But then again, I've been up there mid-summer and gotten shut down by wind/cold on an otherwise cloudless day. May 24, 2002
Does anyone know for sure if there is an established rap route as of 7/2001 (bolts, chains, etc)? I read somewhere that someone thought they were on a rap route but it turned out to be bail anchors all the way down - scary! Is the Gash descent down 3rd class (N) the best bet? May 30, 2002
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
On July 4, 2001 I made two double rope raps straight down towards the gully. I traversed some 3rd class rock above the gully to more acnhors, and then rapped 3 or so more time down the edge of the South Face near the gully. Bomber anchors the whole way down, no rope pulling epics, no gully thrashing, and very minimal scrambling. All in all, it was a totally casual descent that deposited me very near my pack. May 30, 2002
I went out there on Sat. and there is still snow on the way to Sky Pond. The Petit itself was pretty dry and very climable. Jun 3, 2002
Soloed the South Face this morning. There was very little snow on the trail. Running shoes sufficed. Trip report is here: summitpost.com/mountains/tr… Jun 16, 2002
Climbed the Petit on 6-14-02. I'd like to mention a dangerous loose block on the summit. It's a HUGE cube-like block, at least 500 pounds that is tempting to grab on the last move as you top out. My partner grabed it briefly and it shifted. This thing is ready to go and it could easily hurt or kill someone. It was pretty frightening when it shifted.

As for the descent...the double rope rap to the north is VERY likely to result in stuck ropes when you pull the ropes. Consider having the last person, or everyone, rap in two short raps, there's an anchor point at the end of the Petit-Penknife ridge. We climbed the left chimney...easy but a squeeze, consider hanging your pack below you. If your new to the gash, you'll encounter a cliff band about 2/3 of the way down. It's most easily passed on the left side of the gash( as you decend ). This break in the cliffs was 30 degree snow on 6-14 and probably will be a snow slope for some time yet, maybe all summer. Jun 17, 2002
DESCENT: Here it is.. Must have double ropes (60M) R1- Start with standard rappell off the summitt, 150+ ft rappell to two new bolts almost directly in line (little to the left) of the rappell. R2- 100ft rappell to 2 big bolts. R3- 100ft. rappell to big ledge. Walk southwest toward arete, look down from ledge to find slings on a block. Then downclimb about 15 ft through a chimney. R4- 130ft rappell to second terrace. R5- Almost directly in line with the previous rappell, on the outside edge of the second terrace is another set of bolts. 200ft. R6- Find bolts on big boulder on 1st terrace, 165 ft rappell brings one to the base. One hour. Jun 20, 2002
We did this climb yesterday and had a blast! Only two parties on it all day! Very fun, although not overly difficult with really only the one hard 5.8 move, and a couple 5.7 moves the whole way. The rappel descent is definitely the way to go. On the approach (especially if it's still dark!), be careful not to hike up to the right as you reach the first lake at the top...go all the way to the 2nd lake (Sky Pond) in the cirque before making any ascent up the talus. We got sucked up right and had to traverse. Jun 20, 2002
Pitches 2 and 3 can be done in one go with 50 m rope if you scramble up the chimney for 10 metres or so. Watch for loose rocks at the top of pitch 3. We were rained off at the top of pitch 6. Good climbing - my first alpine route attempt. Different to climbing in Zimbabwe where I'm from. Still aiming to have the dubious honor of being probably the first Zimbabwean to summit - Bruce Davison Jul 30, 2002
I guess your leading Zimbabwean Rusty Baillie did it years ago Jul 30, 2002
Jason Nupp
Denver, CO
Jason Nupp   Denver, CO
Spectacular alpine climb-- backdrop, exposure, weather-- all the ingredients. Only two other parties on the route so really no gridlock. Definitely start way before 7am as this is about the time everyone arrives at the base. Had to bail 1 1/2 pitches from the summit but we enjoyed every minute of the climb up. The .8 pitch was just beautiful! The descent was another story. Bringing one 60m rope was a bad, no, rather, a horrible idea. The rap down took us seemingly forever. Definitely bring twin 60m ropes and be prepared for a long descent either way. If there were intermediate rap stations, they weren't obvious and down climbing and slinging blocks is no fun at all with weather approaching. Bring a light rack (cams up to a #4-double up on #2, #3, set of stoppers, a couple large hexes, at least eight 24" runners and a couple 48" runners to avoid rope drag. Bring extra webbing in case bailing becomes a reality. One of the best climbs I haven't completed! Aug 23, 2002
The exposure on this climb make it a 50 classic climb, IMO. The climbing is not that great, especially the first two long pitches and the chimney pitch, but the rest is ridiculously exposed and that is why I would call it a 50 classic climb. Plus, where do you find a huge 800 foot rock that looks that cool? For those who have not done the climb, PLEASE, don't think that once you get to the top, the rest will be easy. I spent more time on the descent than on the climb. Feb 25, 2003
I just did the route last weekend. There is still a good amount of snow on the trail. Only when you get pass the Loch but we had sneakers on and seemed just fine (you'll posthole up to your thigh once in a while). The route was awesome, the best one I've done in the park. I just wanted to make a comment on the rappel in instead of waking off. From the summit, rap about 150ft straight down to a 2 bolt rap station, then rap about 130ft down and slightly to the left on a good ledge to a 2 bolt Metolius rap. Rap about 100ft to a very good ledge system and walk right (east) about 50ft to a 1 bolt and sling rappel. Rap 150ft to the second terrace and walk around to the right and slightly down to the next rap station. A trail is visible to them. A long rap 195ft to the first terrace. Off the left is last rappel to the ground, 180ft. The rappel from the summit took a little less than an hour. Good luck. Jun 16, 2003
Jay Hippel
Denver, CO
Jay Hippel   Denver, CO
Did this climb on 8/22/03. Good stuff. 8 pitches- ran 1 and 2 together. top pitches were sparse on gear placements and made things a bit sketchy 600 feet up. CLIMB FAST. We started early and moved way too slow. Started at 8am and summitted at about 4pm amidst thunder clouds. Take 2 ropes and rap down to the base. We only had 1 60m and had to rap 3 times then climb out The Gash. Hiked out the saddle and had to rappel 1 more time down a gully in andrews to get to the trail. This descent was a pain in the ass, more climbing and lots of scrambling down 1 huge boulder field. We were the only party to carry everything with us on the climb and go out via The Gash. I was jealous watching everyone else rap down to the base with double ropes and recover their packs that they didn't have to tote up 800ft. My first alpine route, overall it was cool but I felt we did everything the hard way. Learn from the mistakes of dumb kids. Aug 24, 2003
Despite the warnings about climbing this rock on a weekend, Bryan Keith and I did this route last sunday (Labor Day wknd 2003.) No problems with crowds, in fact we were on the rock alone. Since you are all friends, I will tell you the secret:

Climb when it rains.

(Barely rain, but enough to scare away the throngs, I guess.) Just get up an hour ealier, walk a mile farther, or climb when it's a little colder and wetter and you can usually avoid the crowds, even in RMNP.

Unlike Eldo, where you can get route beta from the obvious chalk trail, here you can almost follow the trail of fixed gear.P7 could be called the "lost rack pitch." There must be half a dozen cams and even more nuts stuck in that single pitch. I wonder if it's time for a gear cleanup - before the cracks fill up.

We did the Gash descent because that's where our bivy gear was stashed (long story.) Guidebook descriptions of this descent are excellent; it requires a rap and a little climbing, but the views are worth it (cover photo of Rossiter guide must have been taken from there, for example.)

While the ratings seem reasonable, it's relentlessly vertical for the grade, with even more 5.7 runout than we expected. If it were not an alpine route this would certainly get an "s" rating in the title. Sep 3, 2003
Brice W
Brice W  
Great route! The first few pitches are not spectacular, but the last few make up for them. Tremendous exposure and fun climbing. A note on the rap descent. The 2nd and 3rd raps can be combined with double 60M ropes, they just reach. For the start of the 3rd rap (if you combine the standard 2nd and 3rd raps) walk SW towards the arete and the two raps bolts are obvious. No downclimbing is required. All raps are from nice large bolts. The bolts for the 2nd to last rap are hard to see from above. They are right below a large, blunt horn sticking out below a grassy ledge. Aug 1, 2004
Thinking to myself "What information would someone who has never climbed this route find useful" I'd say this: bring two liters of water/person if you're alright with the weight; and, the most serious climbing comes in the latter half of the pitch off of the pizza pan belay, not because it's the hardest but because of its runout nature. Be sure to sling the old, fixed hex that's in a horizontal pocket - it helped me psychologically and it seemed solid to boot. Muy chevere. Aug 12, 2004
Michael Amato
Michael Amato  
Climbed this spectacular route on 8/11/2004. While the weather was apparently stormy in Boulder, it was a great day in the park. Some logistics about our trip that will hopefully be helpful: we took the first shuttle at 5 AM, stashed some supplies at the Andrews Creek trail junction, got on the route at 8 AM, simul-climbed the first two pitches, climbed the remainder of the route with double 60 meter ropes, linked the last two pitches together and summited at 1:20 PM. We did a double rope rap to the big ledge in the gully and, though a brief snow squall and numerous visible rap slings tempted us to continue down the gully, epic tales of nightmarish descents down the gully kept us tuned-in to the Gash descent. We traversed north and climbed unroped back up the leftmost chimney, then through the notch and down the talus to the Andrews Creek trail to our supplies, and onto a long, lazy lunch at The Loch. As with any alpine climb, get an early start, know the route and your descent, climb fast and be prepared for any kind of weather. Aug 13, 2004
Joe Leonhard
Denver, CO
Joe Leonhard   Denver, CO
I thought that all of the pitches were very fun with the exception of the first. Not because it was low angle or lacking exposure, but because someone decided to take a dump on it! That may have been the crux of the entire route, holding my breath as I mantled onto a ledge with my face inches away from a 4 inch turd. If you have to do your business, use the talus pile at the base of the route, or worst case, traverse off route on one of the terraces. That route sees enough traffic and I couldn't imagine having to engage in staring competitions with a log every couple of pitches. Aug 13, 2004
I finally got around to climbing this. We did it this Tuesday and had the climb practically to ourselves.

I must say this is a damn good climb. The Petit is simply awesome. We soloed the first pitch's 4th/ easy 5th class slabs and grove left of the "direct start". And linked pitches 2-3 from deep in the chimney.

I have never been on a climb with so many fixed pieces: Stoppers, camalots, rigid friends, hexes, trango cams, aliens. Can't understand why this is so.

Simply amazing summit.

We did the rappel descent and found all the spots with relative ease. The rappel bolts from the Upper Terrace (one before last) are "hidden" below a Horn. I noticed cordellettes tied around the horn but took them to be a bailing point and not the bolted rap. It turns out the codellettes are there to help you set up for the rap.

Great climb. WT Aug 18, 2004
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
Avoid yarding on a very large, loose block on the left side of the crack, half way up P1. Accident waiting to happen.... Aug 24, 2004
Good climb, not the greatest! One of the "50 Classic"? If your going car to car and you do the raps, be prepared for one Hell of a workout. Aug 24, 2005
James Beissel
Boulder, CO
James Beissel   Boulder, CO
Rapping the route is fairly straight forward but some of the info above is outdated. Here's what you need to know:

- All of the rap stations are bolted. If you are rapping off anything besides bolt you are screwing up.- You will need two 60m ropes- All of the raps are double rope rappels- Do not try to rap into the gully!!!- You should not have to downclimb at all.

1. Rap from a Fixe anchor at the (climber's) right end of the summit. ~160 ft.
2. Rap from two Fixe ring anchors just past the terrace to a pair of Metolius rap bolts. ~160 ft.
3. Rap from the fatty Metolius bolts to the big grassy ledge. ~160 ft. The next set of bolts are about 50' to your left at eye level, above a chimney of sorts.
4. Rap from the anchor over the void (homemade hanger + modern Fixe ring bolt). Pass up the grassy ledge (Second Terrace) at about 160ft. and aim for the big horn about 20' below you. There's probably slings around the horn. They'll help you spot the station, but you will actually be rapping from bolts below the horn. ~180' ft.
5. A 200' rap to a big grassy ledge (First Terrace). The next bolts will be about 50' climber's right.
6. Another 200' rap to the ground off two Fixe ring bolts. Sep 1, 2005
Jim Arnold
Jim Arnold  
Climbed this route with Joe Chorny on August 17th. We thought the route was great. We found the climbing relatively easy for the grade - not like Syke's Sickle which we did earlier this summer and which felt hard for the grade. The new rap route is pretty nice. The last post gives an excellent description - thanks to that author. Sep 2, 2005
Did this route back in September of '05 and had no problems finding any of the rap stations. My only concern is setting up for the 4th rap after walking 50 ft from the 3rd. Make sure not to throw your ropes skier's right (looking down). There is a large flake that could potentially catch your ropes, and appears to have some history . Had no problems but just a heads up. If it's windy, you can butterfly coil or lower the first. Awesome route. Spectacular summit. Do this climb during the week and get up nice and early unless you want to be following other parties. Oct 30, 2005
Rob "Roberto" Dowse
Toronto ON
Rob "Roberto" Dowse   Toronto ON
Did this a few weeks ago and I'd like to thank James Beissel for the decent info. We did find that using 2 60m ropes we could skip the Metolius Rap Hangers (Rap 3) and go directly to the grassy ledge where we walked left and found the anchors above the chimney. Jul 6, 2006
Buster Jesik
Allenspark, CO
Buster Jesik   Allenspark, CO
Climbed on June 23, 2006. We lucked out and had the whole rock to ourselves all day. This was my first long rock climb in the mountains, and it scared the piss out of me. We swung leads, and I had the wonderful experience of being stuck at the Pizza Pan, or as I call it, the insanity belay for about 1 1/2 hours. After fighting panic and leading through to the summit, I couldn't shake this awful sensation that the whole Petit was going to collapse, sending us 1,000 ft into Sky Pond. Anyway, the rap route is good, although we messed up the third rap and had to go off some old slings. We did the 5.9 version of the crux which had so many fixed cams and nuts is felt like sport climbing. I can’t wait to go back! Jul 11, 2006
Boulder, co
Hammertime   Boulder, co
The descent you use on PG determines the level of commitment and the "alpine" classification of the climb: The Gash descent is much longer and somewhat tricky to find, but it is a walk-off and therefore safer than rappelling. The new bolted rap-superhighway turns the climb into a casual roadside outing similar to something in Eldorado, especially if you consider rappelling not to be dangerous. How do I know that the descent makes the difference? As I topped out after the run-out seventh pitch carrying my backpack with storm-gear, hiking shoes, first-aid kit, extra clothes, extra food, and basic bivy-gear, I was shocked to find a lady in shorts, tanktop, and nothing else. I was even more puzzled when she said: "Wow, looks like you brought the whole picnic!" Needless to say, she and her partner zipped down the rap-route while we scrambled around, climbed a tough (wrong?) chimney to get into the Gash, and spent hours working our way down the nasty talus and exposed ledges. By the time we got back to Sky Pond to retrieve our sleeping-bags, the lady was probably long in Estes Park sipping her latte.... The choice of how you climb and descend Petit Grepon is yours, and I concede that there is safety in speed, just remember that it is no longer a committing alpine climb. And please bring at least a rain-jacket. :-) Aug 24, 2006
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
We climbed a few 5.9 variations on this climb on pitches , P5, and . The first is not highly recommended and is only useful in passing slower parties. The last variation is spectacular and undocumented.

: This 2 pitch variation is between the South Face and the SW corner route. Climb a thin crack (w/ loose rock) about 20ft to the left of the South Face's chimney. Traverse 15-20ft left under a huge roof and enter a LF system. The crux pulls a roof with tricky moves and poor feet. (5.9+, 1 star)

: Instead of climbing 20-30ft right of the arete, stay within arms reach of the arete the whole way. There is a pumpy 5.9 finger crack down low, and runout 5.8/9 face climbing to the pizza pan belay. Great exposure... Aug 24, 2006
Avery N
Boulder, CO
Avery N   Boulder, CO
It's worthy to note that part of the belay anchor for the 5th (crux, no-pro at the start) pitch is a pair of partially opposed pitons. Unfortunately, they're setup as an American triangle with new webbing -- I am sure many, if not most, parties clip. Not good -- especially with somewhat opposed pins. Please don't clip the American triangle!!! You can squeeze a Neutrino through both pitons, but only flip the biner on the top pin.

Had I remembered that I brought a tied runner, I would have fixed it. Perhaps someone else can bring up some cord to fix it correctly next time???

A second note... James's rap comments are pretty on-the-mark. You will pass many 'sling' stations as you do your raps. I think the 3rd rap (maybe it was 2nd) was not 160', but maybe 120'... and the Metolius hangers are probably 20' climber's-left of the fall-line from the 2nd rap.

Awesome route. Cheers! Sep 5, 2006
orin bakal-molnar
pagosa spgs, colorado
orin bakal-molnar   pagosa spgs, colorado
Just climbed the South Face route last Tuesday, conditions were great. The route is 99% dry. We also talked to some folks who climbed the South Prow on Sharkstooth. Looks like it's in good shape as well.

Snow on the hike up is in grape shape, possible in boot's without snowshoes. You may desire crampons or an ice axe. Enjoy the early spring! Mar 26, 2007
The Descent description is confusing; here's hopefully a clarification.

Option 1: Rap the South Face. Need 2 ropes. Rapping this route seems strange to me, but whatever.
Option 2: Rap into the East Gully. I think this is what most people still do. With one rope: R1 - 60'-100' off summit onto flat but really exposed knife edge. Scramble 10' further north to another anchor (2 rusty pins backed by horn; nothing equalized). R2: 60' down to major ledge. Walk 50' north to anchors at top of East Gully. R3: Down into East Gully. With two ropes: R1: stop at intermediate anchors, maybe only 50' down. R2: Two ropes will take you directly down into East Gully.
Option 3: Descend via the Gash. Do R1 & R2 - need one rope only - then instead of continuing to R3, climb 100' up the left side of huge block to Saber-Grepon saddle. Major view of PG; a nice spot. Then scramble a little down then up north to Saber-Sharkstooth saddle. Then hike/scramble down to Andrews Glacier Trail. Monster views.

I recommend Option 3. It's more fun, much more scenic; a nice outing. One rope.

Maybe people got in the habit of descending the East Gully because they were camped at Sky Pond. Nowadays, most people realize it's easier to do PG in one day, so there's no real reason to leave gear at the bottom. Plus, the East Gully is a bowling alley; you can really get whacked in there. Jul 4, 2007
Matt Chan
Matt Chan   Denver
Bringing one rope does sound like a nice option, but considering the chances of being weathered off the Petit - I'd opt for two. I'm not quite sure why Buzz thinks the raps described by James are "strange". Safe - yes, fast - yes, no scrambling - yes, takes away from the alpine experience - probably. Nonetheless, I found the raps to be a great option to keep you out of the bowling alley gully, which I've done before and never wish to do again.

BTW, the route is great and the no-pro section described by Rossiter (P6 or P7?) was protected quite well with micro cams. We simuled the first two pitches to the belay on the chockstone, which I would recommend to save a little time. Fantastic last pitch to a memorable summit. Jul 24, 2007
Climbed this a couple days ago with my compadre Larry Pedigo. For the hike we debated between shoes and boots. Definitely wear boots, as you will have to climb up a stream to get to Sky Pond. Our climb went good, no issues until the rap, although we were behind a group of three which ultimately slowed us down considerably. After an excellent last pitch we summited around 1:00pm, it rained and rained and rained the rest of the afternoon with a lot of thunder and lightning. We did the first rap off the summit as described by James above (great directions by the way). However, we absolutely could not pull our rope down. We tried for at least a 1/2 hour before level headed Larry prussik'd up the rope and probably saved our lives. At last our rope was freed and we completed all the raps by 4pm. We have no idea what the rope got hung up on or why it was stuck. The rope freed itself after Larry prussik'd half way up. PLEASE TAKE NOTE, GET AN EARLY START! IF WE HAD STARTED LATE WE WOULD HAVE HAD GREAT DIFFICULTY FINDING THE RAPS IN THE DARK. BE CAREFUL......Jason Aug 9, 2007
  5.8 X
  5.8 X
Disappointing! That is the best word to describe this route. I recommend hiking in without gear and hang out at Sky Pond and take in the scenery. That’s the only reason this route is climbed anyway. If it wasn’t for the scenery, you would see very different reviews on this route. But, if you want to find out for yourself here’s what to “really” expect. First off, here’s some useful information on the approach that everyone left out: the first pond you come to at the top of the waterfall is not Sky Pond. I’ll say it again because it’s that important. THE FIRST POND YOU GET TO AT THE TOP OF THE WATERFALL IS NOT SKY POND! I like to call that F-U pond because this little piece of information turned our approach into a 4 hour tour. When you get to F-U pond, follow the cairns to the rest of the obvious trail to Sky Pond. You will not be able to see the route until you can see Sky Pond, so don’t waste time looking for it yet. Then, right before you get to Sky Pond look for a slightly beaten down climber's path that eventually scrambles talus to the base of the route. PUT HELMETS ON HERE! You might as well get used to wearing a helmet now, because you are about to encounter the loosest rocks you have ever seen. Oh, and if you’re thinking the approach is only 2 hours…think again! Expect a MINIMUM of 2.5 hours for the approach if you know EXACTLY where you’re going, even with the beta you get here and anywhere else, and expect about 3 hours if you’ve never been there before. With some of the untold beta I’m giving you, there shouldn’t be much issues with finding it the first time, even when you’re doing a pre-dawn start in the dark…as you must if you want to do this as a day climb.

So, you finally made to Sky Pond…quite the view isn’t it! You’re saying to yourself, “Boy the Petit Grepon sure looks cool from here, and I bet the view from up there is even better. I don’t care what Shawn said about the route, I want to climb it!” Well, I understand. I am the same way when it comes to climbing and most things in life: I like to find out for myself and I always seem to learn things the hard way. So here’s some beta from my recent experience on 29 July 2008.

When you get to base of the climb the description is to start to the left of the huge crack. Well, we saw some shoes at the base of the route to the right of this crack and thought maybe this is where to start. “But the book says to start to the left?” I said. So, I decided to stick with the description I had and start that way. A lot of people say that they solo the first 2 pitches. If you start on the slabs to right of the crack, then I can see doing that, but if you’re starting on the left, I don’t recommend it because of the loose rock you will encounter. Now, I’ve soloed the entire East Buttress on Whitney so I’m familiar with soloing easy stuff at high altitude, but with the amount of loose rock on this route, I wasn’t feeling it, so I roped up part way up. I’ve had a bad experience with loose rock in the Highlands in Scotland and let me tell you…this is no place you want to chance it!

The top of the first two pitches is the first big grassy terrace. It’s huge and you can see the nice new rappel anchors way to your right. Here is where the climbing really starts, but this pitch is not inspiring at all. Here is where your “loose rock” adventure really starts. Climb the chimney and follow the beta Mr. Vernon has described. Be very careful on EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH! This includes hand and foot holds. This entire piece of rock is one big loose mess and any piece of it can break off, so be careful. I like the hard-tapping method with my palm to see what it sounds like before I use it.

The next pitch (I’m not going to say the third pitch, fourth pitch, etc. since it all depends on what you did to get to the first terrace) actually has some good climbing on it. The diagonal left-leaning crack is pretty fun and well protected. Enjoy it while it lasts! Soon after, it’s back to the loose mess again.

The next pitch is not impressive at all and is confusing. I had one description that said go left out of the chimney and another that said go right. I decided when I got up there to go left since there was actually places for pro and I was already worried about killing my wife with loose rock belaying me down below. At the top of this pitch are the two fixed pitons at a hanging belay and a gnarly thin crack directly above. Save a #1 Camalot for another good anchor point in a small hole down & left of the pitons. The rope hook was very handy here also!

The crux pitch. That crack directly above you…that’s a stiff 5.9 crack. Let’s mention that again. THE CRACK DIRECTLY ABOVE YOU IS A STIFF 5.9! I failed to note this in the description I had with me and went up that way, since that’s the only place there was any chalk. As with all alpine climbs, everything up here is about 1-2 grades harder than usual. I can climb 5.9s and some 5.10s all day long at 7,000 ft or lower but up here it’s a lot different. This is the only place I hung and had trouble on and I looked stupid on this pitch. I wasn’t climbing anymore, I was aiding. I wasn’t convinced that avoiding the crack and going right was correct or safe so I tried my luck at the crack. Also, I was not sure that I would end up where I was supposed to be after the runout up & right of the pitons. That’s probably the way to go to keep this route at 5.8, but I was already nervous about runouts on this climb by that point. I don’t mind runouts and that’s probably why my absolute favorite type of climbing is old-school slab climbing (like you see on White Punks on Dope in the Needles). However, based on what I already saw regarding loose rock up to this point, I decided to play it safe. The weather was already looking bad on the previous pitch and it started raining and hailing a bit. But by the time my wife got up to the previous pitch it cleared up and I decided to stick it out. Now, add the fact that I’m now aiding up this pitch and not climbing anymore, I’m losing enthusiasm. At the top of this pitch is a nice huge ledge on the East side of the route with more loose rock. As per usual on every pitch on this climb, watch what you’re doing and where the rope is to avoid launching rocks on your trusty belayer.

By this time it was 1700, the weather was looking grim again and we had enough. I found a retreat spot around the corner with some slings and rap rings and we decided to call it a day. I am usually obsessed with reaching the summit on my climbs and always do no matter how long it takes, but on this route…I just didn’t care anymore. I was ready to retreat and get off this thing. The view…spectacular! Also, the only reason this route sees traffic as I mentioned before. The rappel descriptions described by James Beissel are right on the money! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! You do need two ropes to rappel the route and they must be 60 meter ropes. One piece of information: the slings you see in the distance to the right of Petit Grepon are not the slings around the horn you’re looking for. The slings around that horn are directly below the second terrace and are pretty camouflaged. They are round slings as opposed to flat slings and you won’t see the bolted anchors below them until you are right at the slings. Basically, rappel directly down the Petit Grepon where the rope naturally falls on rappel 4 of Mr. Beissel’s excellent description.

Retreat info:
Bring two 60 meter ropes! I so want twin ropes now. Since we bailed at the grassy belay spot right when the route turns to the East side of the spire, I only have retreat info from this point. BRING A HEADLAMP AND RAIN JACKET! The weather comes in from the other side of the spire that you can’t see so it can be on top of you instantly. I hope this retreat info is useful to anyone this happens to. Be prepared. There is a rappel station, that is not part of Mr. Beissel’s description, on the top of the crux pitch. It is to the right around the corner. You can’t see it until you look around the corner on the far right side of this ledge. There are a bunch of slings, a couple rap rings, and a medium nut as the anchor. It looked fairly solid, but I don’t know how long it would last. Use caution and check that the rock is solid before trusting it. Push-come-to-shove…I would have left gear if necessary. I always bring some slings and rap rings on these type of routes just in case. Use good judgment here. Rap down about 20 – 30 meters to a grassy ledge (still on the East side of the route). You can use one rope for this rappel, but you will need two for the rest. The rappel anchors for rappel 4 of Mr. Beissel’s description are to left of this grassy ledge. Finish the retreat per his description from those anchors (3 more rappels from here).
To retreat from the second terrace, VERY CAREFULLY, down climb to the horn with the slings around it. In fact, I would be on a rope and down climb to it and then have my belayer clean up the anchor and belay them down to me. The rappel anchors are just below the horn. Finish the last two rappels as described by Mr. Beissel.

If you must climb this route, then do the rappels for the descent. It’s really the way to go. It brings you back to your packs and shoes and gets you out of there quickly. You should allow a good hour to hour and a half for all the rappels from the top. Both my wife and I had small daypacks with lunch, water, and rain gear on the route and that was plenty. Make sure you have a good 2 liters of water for the climb. Here’s another tip: you can refill your water from one of the waterfalls up at Sky pond. There’s the obvious one you climb up to get to F-U pond and there’s another on the left side of Sky Pond. We didn’t do that because we didn’t know but I would think it would be safe to drink. There’s no animals up there to contaminate the water and it looks pretty pure. Do your homework on this first and maybe bring a purifier tablet or something in case, but that would save you a lot of water weight. We each carried in 4L of water and used it up by the time we got back to our car.

We were lucky enough that the party above us were on the East side of the route and almost to the summit when we started. This is not a route to do with people above you since you can easily get seriously injured or killed by loose rock above. Personally, I would avoid this route and find something else to climb. It simply isn’t worth the risk and the climbing is really poor. Now I know I didn’t finish the route and it’s possible the best climbing was still to be had, and if that’s the case…still not worth it. You have to climb about 5-6 pitches of everything I just described to finally get to it and then there’s not that much of good climbing by that point.

The hike out can be done in 2 hours if you’re moving really good. I had my beer legs on so I was cruisin’ pretty good. It took us just under 2 hours to get to the car after down climbing the waterfall. Make sure you have new batteries in your headlamp and if you can avoid going down that waterfall at night…then do so! The trail between the parking lot and the waterfall is obvious, sign posted, and very well maintained. On the way in, just follow the signs for the Loch and Sky Pond and on the way out do the reverse for Glacier Basin trailhead. Keep an eye out for bears. We didn’t see any but obviously they’re there. The misquotes weren’t too bad but you may want to cover up or put repellent on for the hike. To do this climb as a day climb be on the trail no later than 0500, or 0300-0430 ideally. Expect to not be the only ones there, even on a weekday. I can’t understand why other then the scenery of the route, but oh well. Be extra careful regarding loose rock and don’t even think of climbing without a helmet. Bring rain gear and be ready for cool weather. You won’t need a down jacket but you may want a light long-sleeve and fleece vest top to climb in. Wear good hiking boots, preferably waterproof, on the hike in and comfortable trad shoes for the climb. Leave the big hexes behind and bring a rack with plenty of nuts, runners, long slings, and cams (single to doubles of micros and smalls, a couple #2s, a #3, and a #4 Camalot). Bring a few long slings and rap rings in case you need to replace any or retreat.

This was my first trip to the Rockies and despite my experience with this route, it definitely will not be my last. There must be better routes there and I’ll find one next time. The hiking there is great and there’s hikes for everyone. We did a little hike up to Emerald Lake the next day and that was nice. Boy is hiking different when you don’t have a full pack! I hope this review is helpful to anyone considering climbing this route. I know other reviews and the beta found on the internet helped me. Hopefully this one does the same for you. Aug 4, 2008
Denver, CO
jbarnum   Denver, CO
Climbed it today. Fun route, great scenery, could not ask for more in the alpine setting. Do your homework, get a map, know where you are going, maybe carry a route description. However the virtual paved highway to Sky Pond should prove to be helpful. After climbing the waterfall in the dark, stay close to the lakes until underneath Petit. A trail should be there, at the very least this should save you some trouble. Route is pretty clean, as solid as an alpine climb will get. Clean route, little loose rock. Hallett has the loose rock.

There are many variations to the start, the climbing begins in the big obvious center chimney, which most likely can be reached without roping up.

Maybe a move and a half of 5.9 at the well protected crux. The rap can be done in 5 rappels. Skipping the 'Metolius" rap and go direct on the second rappel to the obvious big ledge to traverse out to the anchors 'over the void'. This was not tried intentionally, but rather by accident. Not knowing where we were going. Be sure and tie and knot in the ends and you will make the large ledge comfortably, with a little rope left if using a 60 meter 9.8.---Thanks for the rap descriptions, worked out great.

If the mountains win, do not complain, but rather reflect on the fact the challenge exists, and we live to fight another day. Shit canning a climb, not completed, casts a bad light for those who may choose to pursue it. Sep 3, 2008
Wow, now the Petit is no good?

My memory must have betrayed since I did this climb a few years ago- my first in RMNP. I remember being pretty out of shape and getting up there in about 2 hours- on an obvious and easy trail the entire way. I don't remember a scrap of loose rock that was of consequence to the climbing. I don't remember much harder than straightforward 5.5-5.6 except for the well-protected and very clean 5.8 minus crux. It was still early in the day, so we casually sauntered on up to the outrageous summit on the best jugs my hands could hope to touch. We plucked two cams and a few nuts as we went. One cam was just sitting on the summit awaiting our arrival. My girlfriend (who had just started climbing) still calls the Petit her favorite climb.

I think if I got in over my head on one of the easiest and most popular trade routes in Colorado and failed to make the summit, I bet I would remember it as Shawn does. However, there is a reason for its popularity. It is a great outing that is well worth the hike. Oct 7, 2008
Denver, CO
jbarnum   Denver, CO
5.8 X---wow.

Please disregard ShawnB as an anomaly. This is a sweet climb and worth the time. The rap route makes it even sweeter. Please do not be swayed by a lengthy description of negativity. Get out there and climb this thing. Dec 31, 2008
Perhaps you should stick to bouldering. Dec 31, 2008
Scott Matz
Loveland, CO
Scott Matz   Loveland, CO
Yo Shawn, open your eyes, this rock is definitely all there. if you haven't done much alpine, most of it's like this, so be prepared for anything. Jan 23, 2009
Lynn S
Lynn S  
Just back from completing this with my 16 year old son, what a treat. I had done the route multiple times back in the '90s, but a first trip up for Tobin.

Rap route is nice for getting down quickly. Vermin will eat your stuff at the base, beware. "Crux" pitch has 4 or 5 fixed cams, makes for quick clip and go pitch:)

I am amazed that people can complain, see comments above, about this route. It is a fun, moderate route; great setting, good alpine rock and phenomenal summit. Jun 28, 2009
W. Spaller  
If you are lucky enough to have a perfect weather day, start this climb around 10 or 11 and you will have no trouble with the crowds. Plus, you don't have to wake up early. Jul 18, 2009
Lawrenceville, GA
Asymptote   Lawrenceville, GA
Climbed on 7/22. Starting this route late any day this week was iffy for rain. Climbed up talus to an awesome bivy ledge the night before. Rained about 15min then perfect stary night. Started climbing just after 6 and reached the summit by 9:50. Back at Glacier Gorge parking by 1. Very crowded trail. We were the only ones on the route. Awesome climb!
ShawnB - buy a map and learn how to use it. The FU lake is mirror lake. Jul 25, 2009
Nick Fury
Boulder, Colorado
Nick Fury   Boulder, Colorado
This is an awesome climb. We got lucky and found an incredible bivy pretty much completely rain proof under what would've been a sweet boulder problem, as we got to Sky Pond in the dark, it was level and had a nice bed of comfy dirt with no rocks. We woke up at 4 am and started climbing around 5, which proved to be the deciding factor for the summit as the party behind us had to rappel from the 6th pitch because of threatening rain clouds. We left our boots about 200 feet to the right of the starting pitch where the rappel ends which saved us time at the end. I would recommend simul-climbing the first pitch to the grassy ledge, because however straight-forward it is there are still some spots where inexperienced or sleepy climbers may have trouble. I would also recommend being able to lead at least 5.10 sport to be able to complete this climb because of the endurance involved in hauling up all that gear 900 or so feet vertical. Also don't underestimate the time it takes to get down, the climb took us, with some nice rests on the bigger ledges, around 11 hours up and down. It can definitely be done a lot quicker. You can go pretty much any which way on the route as long as you maintain a general sense of overall route direction. And gloves for hauling balls down those rappels is sweet.

The hike in took us two hours, and an hour and a half back. Bring a water purifier of sorts or a small stove because the water tastes great.

The crux is short and sweet, but committing, with all the moves there, just keep going.

One more thing, a backcountry bivy permit is required with a total of 6 spaces available, it costs 20 bucks.


Nicholas Fury Sep 10, 2009
Other Beta to help first-timers:

Once you are up the waterfall - Sky Pond is the SECOND pond. As noted above the first pond gets some people in trouble. Hike time from waterfall ~ 45 min to 1 hour.

The Petit Grepon is in the last group of pillar rock formations - Petit is 2nd from last tower (climber’s left as you look at the rock formations - west end of Sky Pond).

P6 and P7 are hardest for most 1st timers to navigate and tend to back things up. If you are looking to do easiest route stay 30 feet right of arete. On P7 don't get sucked into the right facing dihedral 30 feet up and 15 feet right of belay. Start by climbing a little right of belay and then head back left (avoiding the dihedral) to crack system above belay.

If you are a strong climber and want more exposure - definitely try the 5.9 arete variation. Much more exciting than regular route. Can pass really slow parties on this if you're fast. Just be courteous if you aren't as fast as you had hoped. :)

Additional Rappel descent info embedded below:

DESCENT:- All of the rap stations are bolted. If you are rapping off anything besides bolt you are screwing up. - You will need two 60m ropes - All of the raps are double rope rappels. - Do not try to rap into the gully!!! - You should not have to downclimb at all.

1. Rap from a Fixe anchor at the (climber's) right end of the summit. ~160 ft. *(Look 5 to 10 feet climber’s LEFT as you rappel for the R2 station).

2. Rap from two Fixe ring anchors just past the terrace to a pair of Metolius rap bolts. ~160 *(more like ~ 110 to 130 ft?). *(During 2nd RAP - be heading to climber’s LEFT about 30 feet).

- Finding R3 anchor seemed to be the hardest for 1 timers.
- Station is on same belay ledge system as Top of P5 Belay ~ 50 to 60 feet to climber’s RIGHT from top P5 BELAY.
- When you are on the pizza pan belay at top of P6 you can see the dirt patch and small southeast rock face (but unless you have eagle eyes - not the hangers).
- Looking down from pizza pan belay - follow the grass ledge system that you belay from at top P5 to CLIMBER’s RIGHT.
- Follow grass up and over the rock formation on the ledge and then down to the last dirt patch (~ 2 X 4 ft) on ledge system.
- R3 Anchor is at eye level on small southeast rock face when standing on dirt patch.

3. Rap from the fatty Metolius bolts to the big grassy ledge *(this grassy ledge is BELOW the belay ledge at top of pitch 5). ~160 ft *(more like 90 to 110 ft?). The next set of bolts are about 30 - 50' to climber’s left at eye level, above a chimney of sorts.

  • (It was noted that if you have double 60 meter ropes you can skip R2 and go directly to last ledge. This is true; however, if you get your rope stuck it will be an epic. Highly recommend that you don’t skip R2 or you pray as you pull as there are a lot of features and rope twist issues to snag your rope). 

4. Rap from the anchor over the void (homemade hanger + modern Fixe ring bolt). Pass up the grassy ledge (Second Terrace) at about 160ft. and aim for the big horn about 20' below you. There's probably slings around the horn. They'll help you spot the station, but you will actually be rapping from bolts below the horn. ~180' ft.

5. A 200' rap to a big grassy ledge (First Terrace). The next bolts will be about 50' climber's right.

6. Another 200' rap to the ground off two Fixe ring bolts.

  • A few of the raps (R2 and R4?) put a lot of twists in your rope as the rap rings run parallel with rock instead of perpendicular. It would be great if some generous soul would bring some quick links to add to these stations to reduce rope management issues. I would have, but didn’t know until I was there. If someone does, post your generosity here so others don't haul up extra gear. And, then we...and our ropes...can also thank you for your gift. :)

Also, if anyone found a pair of Montbell down pants - let me know!

Have fun!
Sarah Jul 1, 2010
Alex Burton
Colorado Springs, CO
Alex Burton   Colorado Springs, CO

First time on the Petit on Tuesday. What a beautiful climb! Realizing I probably got off route on the 7th pitch. If you click on and expand the above picture, you'll see the blue line which we climbed and the yellow is the line that someone else posted in a beta photo as the standard route. The blue line took us up about a 20 foot finger/hand crack (visible in the photo) that definitely climbed harder than 5.7/5.8 (5.9 maybe?). Anyone else done it that way? Jul 15, 2010
Golden, CO
Josh   Golden, CO
Gigantic booty alert! Last Friday (July 31, 2010), my partner and I got within 20 feet of the final ridge (100 feet of the summit) and had to rap off in a hurry (lightning hail storm). Alas, we knew it was entirely possible, but it looked like we could eek it out right up until the end-- the clouds were slow to build, and none seemed distinctly threatening. It was all ok until it wasn't, and then it was time to get lower in a hurry. As a result, we left an anchor of good gear on a small ledge near the top of pitch 7 (note: it is possible, as we discovered with some relief, to rap diagonally over to the bolt anchors at rap station #2 from the top of P. 7-- when you get to it, just walk along the ledge behind the large separated tombstone in the middle of the face; the bolt station is just beyond it on the end of the ledge; of course, this requires building an anchor on P.7 and therefore possibly leaving gear, as we did).

So, whoever gets to the top of pitch 7 next gets a sweet haul of three cams (two #3 Camalots and a size zero TCU) plus some wiregates and a cordellete. I know, I know, but we were NOT going to spend time just then fidgeting our cheapest leaver nuts into place and getting the anchor just so. I much preferred throwing away $200 of gear than throwing away my life....

Huh, since I'm just getting around to posting this on Monday, surely one of you has already collected your prize already. All pieces are in fine shape, so enjoy. If you wanted to share any of it back with its original and now humbled owners, I wouldn't say no.... Aug 3, 2010
I also ended up doing the blue line as shown by Alex. I even went back down when I thought I was off route and just could never find the route in yellow, just a blank wall.

Josh: Found one of your cams, but couldn't get it out. Oct 1, 2010
A very fun climb! One thing...there were some very loose, large rocks/small boulders right before you top out on the climb. This sort of concerned me, so right as I topped out John Bicknell took a photo of me. I look really goofy. It is because I had just pulled a large boulder that moved and then topped out. I started wondering if the entire thing could just crumble down beneath our feet. I will post the photo, but I have no idea what I was thinking at the time! Climbed in early August, 2006 with John Bicknell. Oct 26, 2010
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett   Michigan
Does anyone know what the potential downclimbing descent from the summit would be like?

I'm thinking the easiest way would be to downclimb the first rappel, and then continue to the Sharkstooth notch and down into the Andrew's Glacier side. If anyone has done this, how'd it go? Jun 4, 2011
Here's what you need to know: I brought a number three and it stayed on my harness. The climb is granite. Now go have an adventure. Jun 26, 2011
Ross Hokett
Fayetteville, AR
Ross Hokett   Fayetteville, AR
Awesome route with a steller 5.8 crack pitch. The view and exposure can't be beat. The weather threatened to rain near the top adding to the adventure. The upper pitches have some exposed face climbing but just enough to keep things exciting. I had followed this route before, but leading the whole thing this time was a hell of an adventure. Climbed the route late August this summer. Sep 14, 2011
Simon Thompson
New Paltz, NY
Simon Thompson   New Paltz, NY
Ignore the negative comments. There is definitely some loose rock at belays and near the summit, but they can be avoided with the usual alpine care. Approach is pretty quick (for an alpine climb). The climbing is a tad bit run out above the belay on the crux pitch but only for 10ft or so. The crux felt a little hard for 5.8, but I could have been missing something (maybe oxygen?) Thanks to the bolts and the spot-on description above, the descent is very straightforward and hassle free. Great route! Jun 18, 2012
Michael Butts
Boulder, Co
  5.7 R
Michael Butts   Boulder, Co
  5.7 R
Pretty fun route. Long but easy approach. I have not been up to the Cathedral spires cirque before yesterday. After leaving Loch Vale, you will come to another alpine lake [Lake of Glass] before Sky Pond. Stay on the trail to Sky Pond. I thought that this first lake was sky pond and wasted some time trying to figure out how to get to the start of the climb. Stay on the trail to the next lake, Sky Pond. The start is easy to find. Many options to get up the talus slope. Not much for cairns, however. The climbing is straightforward and pretty obvious. The crux is short but sweet. For the descent, two ropes is highly recommended. The raps described above are super obvious except for finding the fifth rap station is hiding underneath a horn on a grassy ledge. A fun alpine climb! Jul 3, 2012
With a 70m, we linked P2+3, and P4+5 with no rope drag. P5 has two fixed #1 Friends in the crack, and there's fixed gear throughout. Got off-route on P6 and ended up on the arete in the steep, 5.9, finger crack corner, which we backed off and found the correct route farther north (right). The Pizza Pan belay is really more of a pizza slice, and EXPOSED. We weren't sure if that was the correct belay and wasted some time hunting around. It has a piton, is directly on the arete, and 30ft above it are some very cool, big, quartz crystals.

The bolted rap descent is easy to figure out. As you rap, just keep angling left (south) towards the route you climbed. Last rap dropped us 20ft below and 100ft east of the base of the first pitch. Sep 24, 2012
Ben Brotelho
Albany, NY
Ben Brotelho   Albany, NY
Gannon: I was also wondering why it is known as the Pizza Pan belay...it is more like a slice. Wild belay! Sep 27, 2012
Matt Lemke
Bellingham, WA
Matt Lemke   Bellingham, WA
Climbed this route a couple days ago (June 10, 2013). Weekdays are the way to go. We had the entire cirque and the tower to ourselves. Hiked in the evening before and bivied at Sky Pond. Sunrise on the tower was breathtaking.

Some notes on the climb...pitch 1 can be done many, many ways. Find your own way to the giant, grassy ledge (first terrace). Pitch 2 goes up the gigantic chimney...I found it best to exit the chimney and belay right at the base of the left-leaning crack. There was a fixed cam here. Pitches 3-4 were fun, simple pitches. At the top of pitch 4, you cut right on a 2 foot ledge to a couple fixed pitons marking the start of the crux pitch.

Pitch 5 (crux) climbs the finger crack right above which I thought was an 8+ and heads right around the small roof then continues up another finger crack to another huge ledge. I never saw any fixed cams on this crux pitch, so perhaps I was off route... whatever I did was fun though.

Pitch 6 takes you to the Pizza Pan belay...don't cut left to the crest of the arete too soon. You will know the spot when you see it...it's exposed and tiny and only room for 1 person. There is also 1 piton here.

Pitch 7 was my favorite pitch of the climb. With a 70m rope, you can easily climb all the way to the ridge above. Pitch 8 is short...traverses a short distance on the ridge then climbs easy cracks to the right up to the summit.

The descent can be done in 5 raps with 2 60s. We had a 70 and 2 30m cords tied together as a pull cord which worked well using a biner block. The so called "fatty Metolius bolts" described above I never found but reached the big grassy ledge in 2 raps. Walked to climber's left on the ledge to find the third anchor one of the bolts being homemade (as described above). Raps 3-5 are simple. Watch your rope on every rappel. I have a buddy who got his rope stuck on the rap off the big ledge atop rap 3, had to cut it and rappel off cams lower down.

The rock on this route is good for the most part. The talus slope on the approach is not that loose, and the area isn't that confusing. I had a tiny photo of Petit Grepon and a memorized map as my only approach beta and found it easily. Jun 12, 2013
Scot Hastings
Las Vegas
Scot Hastings   Las Vegas
Did this yesterday. Awesome climb. A few loose pieces of rock here and there but easily discovered and avoided. As to the negative comments, alpine climbing isn't for everyone.

Climbgal's descent description is spot on. In terms of rope length, it is entirely possible to string R2 and R3 together (assuming 2 60m ropes). However, there is a real risk of stuck ropes on the pull. We did this and had to send someone back up to the R3 rappel station to get our rope unstuck. Fortunately we had 2 real ropes (party of 3), so we were able to give the rope-rescuer a belay. IMO, climbing this with just a single and tagline is taking a serious risk.

There are truly an infinite number of ways to get from Sky Pond to the base of the climb. They all suck to varying degrees. I recommend seeking out the biggest rocks you can find. The little stuff is insanely loose. Jul 28, 2013
Alex Vidal
Boulder, CO
Alex Vidal   Boulder, CO
Worth all the hype. Every pitch is good, especially up high. Hard to imagine better climbing, position, and exposure at such a moderate grade. Jul 1, 2014
Evan Martin
Laramie, WY
Evan Martin   Laramie, WY
We climbed the south face on 7/5/14. A couple things that might be helpful:

- The anchor at the end of pitch 4 (at the right end of a small roof), has 2 fixed pins, in addition to an excellent 0.3 which can be used to back them up.

- At the beginning of pitch 5, if you decide to go straight up at 5.9, there is a perfect placement for either a Black Diamond 0.2 x4 or the corresponding Black Diamond C3 size. It seems to me that going straight up is a good option if you climb hard enough, as the 5.8 traverse to the right looked more runout and less protectable.

- Be careful of getting off route before reaching the Pizza Pan Belay. We were too far left before the Pizza Pan and ended up having to do some not so well-protected face climbing. I'm not sure why they call it the 'Pizza Pan' Belay… look for a ledge with excellent exposure to the west and east. It is on the arete/corner of the tower before you reach the traverse along the ridge below the summit.

- We were unable to find the 'fatty Metolius bolts' for rap #3. Thankfully, raps #2 and #3 can be combined with a 60 meter rope, just barely reaching the grassy ledge described here. Be SURE to tie knots in the end of your rope if you intend to combine these rappels, as the rope just barely reaches the grassy ledge at the bottom of rap #3. Jul 7, 2014
Eric Klammer
Boulder, CO
Eric Klammer   Boulder, CO
Thought this climb deserved every one of it's four stars. Yes, the initial pitches aren't exposed or as steep as the final ones, but they are still super fun and a great way to slowly ramp up the difficulty (I like my alpine climbs to feel alpine though...). The final pitches hold great rock at a near vertical angle with awesome exposure and fun little runouts, does it get any better than that?

Overall, this was a great moderate climb with an easy approach and easier descent. My partner and I both agreed that it felt more like a day of cragging than a day in the alpine. We did it in 7 full pitches with a bit of simuling and had the tower to ourselves, another great day in The Park (go on a Monday!). Jul 7, 2014
Nick Seaman
Denver, CO
Nick Seaman   Denver, CO
You: Climbin' the South Face of the Petit on 9/1.
Me: Climbin' the Saber.

I have some pics of you guys from a pretty sweet vantage! Hit me up if'n you want them.

nseaman77@gmail Sep 2, 2014
Floyd Hayes
Floyd Hayes  
Regarding the cruxes, I thought there were two short 5.8 sections on pitch 5 and one short 5.8 section at the start of pitch 7, all solid and very well-protected. Fabulous climb! It was easy avoiding loose rock. Aug 23, 2015
Andy Nelson
Fort Collins, Colorado
Andy Nelson   Fort Collins, Colorado
Great route! Very easy to simul-climb to the chockstone belay to start P3. The crux pitch was sweet. Pizza Pan belay is easy to spot from the top of the crux pitch, just look up and slightly left for the white crystals that hang above the belay. Highly recommend an extended rappel setup with third hand for the raps + belay gloves, this increases efficiency and safety. We used two 8.1 Trango Amphibian ropes for the climb. We did this on a bluebird July Saturday with only one other party - so don't get too spooked by the idea of crowds, but have a Plan B. Jul 16, 2016
Home is where you park it
Reedrombo   Home is where you park it
Hey, girl named Marisa on the south face on Sept. 10, I was on the Southwest Corner, and we snapped photos of each other halfway up but never linked up afterwards. You should message me so we can swap photos. Thanks! Sep 11, 2016
Jere   Washington
If anyone is looking for more info on this already very informed route check out this trip report. South Face of the Petit Grepon. Nov 21, 2016
Scott E
Scott E  
Did the 5.9 variation to the 5th pitch. Avoided the unprotected slab and was an awesome pitch with pretty good gear. Jun 29, 2017
Andy W
Fort Collins, CO
Andy W   Fort Collins, CO
We were on this yesterday and I forgot to clean a brassie with a green alpine draw on it below and off to the right of the Pizza Pan Ledge (slightly off route in a 5.9ish, thin corner, placed to the right of that). If anyone comes up with it, I would love to trade it back for some beer!

Only two other parties on the Petit, amazing weather all day. We made it into 4 pitches with 70m ropes by simuling P1-3 and linking 4-5, 6-part of 7, rest of 7-8. I agree that the 5.9 variation was great and helped rope drap with the linking. All the rap anchors are in good shape. Jun 9, 2018
Dillon Blanksma
Golden, CO
Dillon Blanksma   Golden, CO
I won't say too much that hasn't already been said. Climbgal's rap description is on point: Ctrl+F "Climbgal" to find it easily in the comment thread. I didn't have a single hiccup in finding any of the rap anchors after thoroughly memorizing this rap description. As already mentioned, expect company. Cross your fingers on many of the upper rappel rope pulls: ours got stuck twice, and we didn't try to combine any rappels... sometimes having others rappel after you is a great thing to free your rope! Jun 11, 2018
Andrew Marsh
Andrew Marsh   Denver
Stellar climb throughout, partner led the 5.9 variation, which took a spicy but fun start to pitch 5. We had to bail at the Pizza Pan belay, as it started to rain. Rope only got stuck once and only one other party on the route, pretty good for a Friday. Rap anchors were solid, though putting your rope though the chains at R4 is airy but cool. Jun 18, 2018
Matt Swartz
Camper van on the road.
Matt Swartz   Camper van on the road.
Such a stellar route! Just a tiny bit spicy on a few of the upper pitches with a couple of runouts on easy terrain. Really enjoyed pitches 3, 5, 7, and 8. Pitch 6 was a little tricky (for me - pro/route finding). Managed to do the climb in 8 hours (we were a party of 3). Be careful of rope catching horns, blocks, and ledges on rappel #2 (our rope got stuck for a little bit, but we managed to free it). Aug 3, 2018
Seth Finkelstein
Denver, CO
Seth Finkelstein   Denver, CO
Just a note regarding rappels - I attempted to link rappels two and three per comments made by other climbers. A 60m rope did not reach (luckily we had a 60m and a 70m and with some shenanigans were able to make it). A 60m left us about 10-15 feet above the ledge. One can stop on a higher ledge and downclimb some pretty chossy rock (also difficult to pull the rope in this case), quite dangerous in my opinion. Also, rappel 5 barely makes it to the ledge with a 60m rope - be very careful. We had to let the rope through the rap device just when touching the ground. Perhaps my 60m static rappel cord is short, but I never had an issue in the past - someone else can weigh in.

Notes on the climbing - we scrambled to the start of pitch 2, which seemed fine if comfortable. Pitches 2 and 3 link pretty well with a 70m, just don't place gear too deep in the chimney in order to lighten drag. Better yet - scramble the first part of the chimney to the second chimney 20 feet higher, which would make linking easier. Also, not sure if we were actually on the Pizza Pan belay, but from the obvious exposed belay ledge after pitch 6 (fixed red Metolius cam there), the summit is only about 40m, so it makes sense to link pitches 7 and 8. The east face 'headwall' can easily be done in two pitches to the summit.

If comfortable at the grade, I think a very light rack would suffice. Can def make do without a #3, micro cams, or nuts - finger sizes seemed most useful. Aug 30, 2018