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Routes in The Whale's Tail

Ahab T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Amputee Love T 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Buffoon T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R
C'est What? S 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Clementine T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Dihedral One T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c V2 5+ R
Dihedral Two T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
East Slabs T 5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c
Fight Gone Bad T 5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b R
Finger Crack T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13
Free Speech S 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Gumbo T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Gut Feeling T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Horangutan T 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13
Jack The Ripper T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a X
Jim Crack T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Kid's Climb T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Left Arete T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
M aka The Divine Ms. M T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Martindale T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Monument, The S 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
NED (Nothing Except Dynamics) T 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13
New Cambria T,TR 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
No Problem T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Northeast Arete T 4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b
Second Coming S,TR 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c X
Spoof T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Spoof Roof T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
West Crack T,TR 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
West Dihedral T,TR 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
West Face [Whale's Tail] T,TR 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b X
Yorkshire Ripper, The T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R
Type: Trad, 2 pitches
FA: Layton Kor and Ben Chidlaw, 1959
Page Views: 3,885 total · 19/month
Shared By: Jeremy Gilbert on Mar 4, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This route begins low on the SW side of the formation, up and left around the cave and bouldering at the base. Locate a left-facing corner, climb up about 15 ft. and traverse right (the hardest part to protect), and over the bulge. Stick to the left, unless you like bushwacking, and climb an easy face that leads to an easy crack (some loose rocks) which will take you to the false summit. A 60m trad. rope allowed us to complete in one pitch. Descend from cable at the top of the West Dihedral (10 ft. to the NE).


Standard rack.


Adam Isaacs
Boulder, CO
Adam Isaacs   Boulder, CO
I rope soloed the second pitch, and it was super airy and quite mental if ya aren't used to Eldo wind throwing you around over exposure. Fun and easy, otherwise with great gear and jugs.

It's annoying to move anchors over to rap station when solo, though. I suggest just unpluggin' your anchor and 4th classin' it to the rap chains to avoid the hassle of a sideways clean, or just make friends to belay you. Nov 1, 2017
Great, fun climb. There is a large boulder that has a small gap at the bottom of it just before the traverse to the left, it would give you a nice swing if you fell but would keep you from decking. Mar 7, 2016
Dan Evans
Phoenix, AZ
  5.5 PG13
Dan Evans   Phoenix, AZ
  5.5 PG13
The crux was on pitch 1 during the traverse to the bulge. Hard to protect, slightly delicate, but not difficult. While rated 5.5 (definitely NOT 5.4 as previous posters suggested), I don't know if I would recommend this is as a beginner lead as it requires experience finding/placing gear (P2 protects well with large pieces #3-#4 range) as well as knowing how to properly sling each piece. That been said, I thoroughly enjoyed both pitches of the climb, each pitch offering a lot of different variety. Pitch 2 was by far the best with the added exposure. If you are a confident leader, you will have no issues with this climb. Bomber hands & feet the whole way up with awesome exposure. Bring doubles of #1 - #3 Camalots and a #4 if you want to sew it up. I had singles of #1 - 3 and ran it out more than I probably should've.

Overall, fantastic climb. Where else do you get to pull an overhanging 5.5 roof? Despite the bushes on pitch 1 (just go left to avoid them), I give this a solid 3 stars for everything you would ever want on a 5.5 climb. Just be solid at the grade if you are going to lead it.

Descent: once you top out, traverse climber's left 20 ft to rappel anchors above West Crack (there is no "cable" as mentioned in the description above West Dihedral anymore?). Climbing to get there is easy class 5 on large holds and good feet but a little exposed with a vertical drop off 10 ft below. A fall here would surely kill you (160 ft down), so not recommended for the faint of heart. Climb up over the large boulder and up 10 ft to the horizontal "pods", and traverse left to the bolted anchor. You can rap this with a 60m rope.

P2 anchor: unless you are carrying (3) #4 Camalots, I didn't see a whole lot of safe options for an anchor at the top. If you belay too far back, you won't be able to hear your second through the wind and run the risk of the crack eating your rope. I ended up slinging a fairly large chickenhead 2 ft in diameter (fairly bomber in my opinion) that was to the climber's right once you crest the summit. Anchored myself to the chickenhead with a cordelette and belayed off my harness propping my legs up on the backside face for added security. Oct 2, 2015
I lead this climb today. Having just led 8 starred 5.5s in the Gunks, I can attest to the validity of a 5.5 grade for both pitches of this route. I don't think the "easy" crack up the exposed, 2-foot wide spine involves anything less than a 5.4 or 5.5 set of moves. To protect the traverse (very exciting, very 5.5) on the first pitch, bring a black tri-cam--I was sadly lacking mine today and bemoaning the fact to my second! Aug 22, 2014
Chris Zeller
Boulder, CO
Chris Zeller   Boulder, CO
This is a classic at this grade. Very steep for a 5.5 but the holds are all there keeping a legit 5.5. That's what makes a route fun IMHO, a steep climb with exposure that really makes you feel like you're climbing even if its only 5.5.

I agree with the previous poster. The traverse right at the base leaves a big gap in the pro on some of the hardest moves low down. So be confident and move quickly before you can get a piece in just before you turn the corner. May 7, 2009
Adam Ingram
Golden, CO
Adam Ingram   Golden, CO
Soloed this route 2 times now, and the upper pitch seemed a little sketch. In that big 5.0 rated crack the whole left side sounds and feels hollow. That thing is come'n down sooner than later in my opinion. Really fun climb, but probably won't get on it much ever again, the second pitch that is. Definitely all about the first pitch. Apr 11, 2008
Clint Locks
Clint Locks   Boulder
If you're short on time, both pitches can be linked with a 60 meter rope...barely. But, of course, this means long slings on everything, or the rope drag will suck. Mar 17, 2007
I did this route this morning and I'd do it again. The traverse on the first pitch is spicy. For me, it was s/vs--the feet aren't obvious, I didn't see many protection placements and was afraid I'd hit the ground, and the handholds had little flakes of rock coming off.

Then, some fun exposed moves on giant handholds. After that, had to do a bit of gardening to the ledge.

But the second pitch was fantastic--pro when you wanted it, a lot of exposure and easy climbing.

Overall, I'd say it's 5.5. Certainly felt harder than Breezy or the West Dihedral. Aug 30, 2005
Paul Weiss
Paul Weiss  
Just my opinion. 5.4 - if you don't mind exposure. 5.5- if you dislike exposure Nov 1, 2004
On 7/17 we did this climb. Just before the end of the 2nd pitch, the "cooler" size boulder mentioned in a previous comments was accidently kicked off and only by the grace of God did it miss me (I was belaying on the ledge). A hairy moment for sure but still a nice 2 pitch climb. Anyone know why the differing rates b/t the 2 books mentioned previously? Jul 21, 2004
Larry Shaw
Larry Shaw  
Did the second pitch from the main belay of my favorite climbs in Eldo, easy climbing with great position. Jul 5, 2004
Ron Olsen
Boulder, CO
Ron Olsen   Boulder, CO
A fun, airy climb that does not deserve a bomb rating. Jun 17, 2003
I thought the traverse and bulge on P1 made it a fun pitch. Very solid pro is available but not obvious before the bulge. P2 is interesting and a little airy. Good climb overall. Jun 16, 2003
My husband and I did this climb today and quite liked it. Be aware that although this climb is indicated as a good first lead at the grade, the traverse over the bulge on the first pitch is pretty hard to protect and not something that seems great for a nervous or beginning leader. We climbed it as two pitches, with the second pitch starting from the ledge on the arete and continuing up the large obvious crack on the fin- the Falcon guide to Eldorado indicates this as 5.0 but Serious Play calls it 5.4, the climbing is not very hard at all, but it's not for the exposure-averse since you're basically climbing along the top of the Whale's [Tail] fin. However if exposure doesn't bother you, it's a fantastic climb. Be extremely careful of loose rock at the belay ledge for the second pitch, as we almost knocked a cooler-sized boulder off by standing on it. If there is a party on West Dihedral, it's an easy traverse over to the anchor above the 5.2 crack to rappel, a 70m rope gets you to the ground. Have fun! Mar 14, 2003
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Actually, the 2nd pitch (5.3) can be a nice alternative to the West Crack 5.2, West Dihedral 5.4, West Face 5.6, if you are up on this ledge. This pitch should not get a "bomb" rating, although the 1st pitch merits such a fate. Mar 21, 2002

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