Type: Trad, 5 pitches, Grade II
FA: FA:Stan Shepard and Don Davis, 1961. FFA: Royal Robbins and Pat Ament, 1964.
Page Views: 21,680 total · 100/month
Shared By: Charles Vernon on Apr 24, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details


This is one of the very best climbs around Boulder, and a great testpiece for the very solid 5.10 leader (which I, apparently, am not!). It starts just west of the SE corner of Castle rock - just left of Country Club Crack.

The first pitch (right off the road) is identified by a pointy boulder with a bolt above it and a ledge above that. From there, the route moves left and follows an obvious, large, zig-zag right facing dihedral.

P1: mantle onto the ledge above the pointy boulder (clipping a bolt on the ledge--make sure you don't blow the clip). This felt hard for 5.11a. Belay from a 2-bolt anchor about 10 feet left.

P2: ascend a bulging corner with a flared crack, above the belay, thuggish 5.10d. It has excellent protection which is very awkward to place.

P3: ascend the very short, overhanging corner by 5.10 jamming or liebacking, but be careful of some loose flakes up high in the wide crack, which appear at first glance to offer good placements for medium Friends. A #4 Camalot gives good pro; a #5 would sew it up. This pitch is about 40 feet.

P4: climb the slabby corner which is much harder than it looks (Lumpy-style), 5.10b. Belay from bolts to the left. (One can do two rappels to the ground from here, with a 60 meter rope.)

P5: climb the 5.9+ crack above the belay or the 5.8 corner to the left, reaching the summit.


The pitches are short, but you'll want to bring a full rack, and I highly recommend a #4 Camalot for pitch three.

Per Jon Oulton: there are two EXTREMELY loose death blocks at the top of pitch 5, roughly 5-10 feet left of the final anchors.
I just recently did this route got the mantle clean (on TR) for the first time. I not sure what "bucket hold" Steve is talking about, but this is how I did it. Undercling with the left hand as usual and obvious. I can then make a big reach (six feet tall) and get the crummy pinch over the roof with my right hand. Feet are very tricky at this point and you have to really pay attention so you don't slip off. Then I put my left hand on the tiny, painful crimp on the lip of the roof. I quickly switch this to mantle position and then get my left foot up on an edge BELOW the lip of the roof. Once there I press out the mantle and struggle to get my right foot over the lip.

I used to think this mantle move was harder than the Country Club Crack start, but now I think they are pretty similar in difficulty. Each one is very difficult and solid 5.11 (especially when compared to sport route ratings in this canyon) and each one involves a "trick". Tough, fun stuff.

Also, I led the third pitch with a single #3 Camalot. This might be a little bold, though I'm not known to do such things, but I think it is the easiest way to do this pitch. Lieback up to the foothold and get a jam. Place the #3 Camalot and get ready to gun for the top. Lieback the rest of the way until you can reach over the top and thankfully get a hand jam. Don't blow it up here, but if you do it this way the entire pitch will take about two minutes to lead. Jun 14, 2002
Holy sandbag! IMO, every pitch is difficult for the given ratings. Very worth doing though. Jul 15, 2002
Agreed on the sandbag thing, especially pitches 1, 3, and 4... probably just the high polish factor though. Still, if you can lead this whole route clean, then you should be able to get up Astroman. Jul 15, 2002
It is very gratifying to hear such comments, as I recently returned to this route and got crushed. I couldn't do the first pitch crux for the life of me. Then I got hammered leading the second pitch and fell off the third pitch (following, thankfully). At that point the fourth pitch felt utterly desperate. My partner, who cruised everything put the crux move and eventually got that, called the 4th pitch the hardest on the route (not counting the crux move).

I think this route is a lot harder than CCC when taken in their entirety. They have similarly hard, crux starts and while CCC has a harder crack crux and a more sustained section of climbing, it doesn't have as many very hard sections as this route.

Back to the drawing board on this one for me... Jul 15, 2002
Hey [Willie], sounds like [Charles] might not have gotten the redpoint on this one. Aug 28, 2002
This is by far the hardest route I have ever tried. The sad thing is that me and some friends from Nebraska only did the first pitch. It was blast trying it and if you can get someone to put it up on TR for you try it out. Although after flailing around it may just be easier to lead it. Aug 29, 2002
CAUTION!!! There is a wasp's nest about two-thirds of the way up pitch 4. Three or four wasps started swarming around my partner as she led it. She lowered quickly until they left her alone, and then went back and down-aided to get the gear out. The nest is right in the crack and is unavoidable, but you can rappel off from the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd belay of this route, so you can still do the first few pitches. It's probably best to just wait for the wasps to vacate in the fall.As for climbing it in summer, it can be done. This time of year the first pitch gets sun at about 9 AM, and you better be done with it by then or it becomes virtually impossible. The rest of the pitches aren't as bad on a hot day.All things considered, this is one of the better routes I've done in the canyon. Royal sure knows how to pick 'em. Aug 7, 2003
as of a couple days ago, no fuzzy little winged needles on the fourth pitch. Very good route, the fixed alien and nut most-definately helps with the second pitch. May 20, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
After a humiliating day on (and much off) Athlete's Feat, it was reassuring to read some of the comments above about people getting _crushed_ by this route. If I had read the comments this morning, I would have gone back to bed. To complete the humiliation, as we topped out, we got hit by a lightning storm and pouring rain.

I first did this route with my brother Paul and Rich Perch (a long time Grand Tetons climbing ranger and now a ranger in Canyonlands) in 1975 during a short stopover in Boulder on the way to Yosemite. Although we didn't have to wear Kroenhopher's (spelling doesn't look right), neither did we have cams and fancy nuts. Basic stoppers and hexes. But there were probably some fixed pins.

The key hold on the P1 mantle probably hadn't broken yet. Don't remember much about P2 and P3. We may have taken a few falls, but we were young and foolish and may have just went for it without much gear. I do remember P4 and how surprisingly hard it was.

Today, after a few half-hearted efforts we aided P1. Highly recommended (to aid it). I got partly up using the technique Bill Wright mentions on 6/14/02, but didn't have the motivation, and perhaps not the strength, to follow through with the mantle. What seemed most promising to me was this, not mentioned above: There is a good crimp for your right hand on the _lip_ out right. Best hold on this pitch. Left hand to the big pinch, but use it as a layback. Now that you are to the right, there are no footholds. I leaned out and walked my feet up and then threw my left foot high onto the small but positive hold on the lip to the left. Started to pull onto the foot, but couldn't quite make it.

I won't say much about pitches 2-4, other than that 2 and 3 weren't pretty. Can we say we did _Upper Athlete's Feat_?

With rain threatening I started up the easy-looking P5 9 variation. Ran into trouble with some bird shit on the _ledge_. Not too bad, but psyched me out. Wasn't sure what to do here, and ended up hand traversing left to join up with the top of the 8 variation. The 9 variation apparently continues up the left curving crack. There are also some flakes angling a bit right that look climbable. Jun 27, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
Some excerpts from the description of Athelete's Feat in the 1970 High Over Boulder guidebook by Pat Ament and Cleveland McCarty (Royal Robbins and Pat Ament did the FFA of Athlete's Feat):

...Involving some of the most severe and sustained 5th class climbing in the Boulder area, with three leads of 5.10 and two 5.9, this route incites respect in all acrobats with a lust for maximum difficulty....

[Check this out about P1! No bolts.] Climb to the top of the flake, place a piton to the left (above your head) [but below the slab!] for protection, and climb up and over a severe bulge to the bench....

The second lead is one of the most difficult 5th class pitches in the region...

The third lead (5.10) is the shortest (although it refuses to let the party rest). It was first led free in 1964 by Dave Rearick [same year as the FFA]. Layback up a severe, overhanging bong-bong crack [for you youngsters, bongs are big angle pitons], and make a difficult exit move....

The fourth lead does not ease off. Climb straight up the deceptively easy-looking corner above... Jun 27, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
And some excerpts from Jim Erickson's 1980 Rocky Heights guide:

A classic Robbins pun, a classic route, and the most continuous free climb in the country in 1964 [but perhaps not the technically hardest?]. The first pitch, which was originally more serious [see mention of piton in previous comment], now has a bolt above the bulge for protection, thanks to some idiots who didn't believe it could be climbed free. A broken hold has increased its standards a little.....History: In 1964 Royal Robbins and Pat Ament climbed the entire route free, with pitches one and two extracting some tries. Jun 27, 2004
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Fun and in your face climbing. Most of the real cruxes are short, but to me the 10b and 5.9 pitches run togehter presented the most challenge. They are consistently insecure and seem harder than their respective grades, particularly finishing up 'direct' from the last set up chains, going up on a crack to the steep flake to the right. This is one of the better routes at Castle.

After climbing this again in the cold, I think that the difficulty is very weather dependant. Cruisable in the right temps, close to impossible if too hot or cold. Jun 9, 2005
There is graffiti in black sraypaint that reads Deb I You-05' about twenty feet from the base of the crack-very ugly. the same thing is tagged across the road on the low-angled climbs... Access Fund, please scrub this stupidity off the side of this tower. Jul 6, 2005
Peter Franzen
Phoenix, AZ
Peter Franzen   Phoenix, AZ  
Fun route, but be careful when plugging in cams just off the 2nd belay. Apparently there were some loose flakes in there when I did it, and when I fell just after the bulge I pulled a solid-feeling #2 Camalot which extended the fall all the way back to the belay ledge. My partner says he saw a bunch of rock fragments fly out when the cam blew. I wasn't injured or anything, but it was the first piece of gear that I ever had pull out on me. Jan 31, 2006
Well, I have always wondered how solid that fixed Alien on P2 was. As we climbed it today, I clipped it (and backed it up--I've never really liked it) and kept going. It didn't appear to be any different than I remembered. As my partner climbed up to it, the motion of the rope as he approached was enough to cause it to fall out of the crack. Kind of scary. I'm pretty sure I fell on this cam a few years ago, and I know I've seen others fall on it.
The cam is mutilated. The cams don't even move anymore. Oct 14, 2006
From Pat Ament, writing on Supertopo:

There is a route on Boulder Canyon's Castle Rock called Athlete's Feat. The name was given by Robbins when he and I did the route all free (now rathed one pitch of 5.11 and four of 5.10, pretty stiff for 1964, no chalk, Spiders for shoes). Anyway the route had been mostly aided before but not named. The first pitch is an amazing, smooth, bulging wall. Robbins did a finger-tip undercling up and left, on vertical rock, with his fingers under a thin flake, then -- while holding with the right hand under the cling, reached up and right, above him, with his left hand, leaning backward, to get his left finger tips on a small hold at the upper lip of the bulge. The feet aren't on much. For protection he had only a scary-looking bugaboo piton hammered straight up under the thin flake. Below is a big spike of granite that might impale you if you fell. He pulls up on the left finger-tip hold and reaches above the bulge. There is mostly nothing up there but a steep smooth slab and a not-so-good hold to pinch for the right hand. To make a long story short, he does a wild, sloping mantel up onto that smooth, slanting surface, a really bold lead way above his pro, with a ground fall likely onto that spike probably if he failed. Years later I was strolling along the road, came around the corner, and saw a guy standing in aid on that section. He'd already placed a bolt and was drilling another one above that one, right where the master had carved with me such a beautiful Michelangelo of an ascent. I tried not to go crazy and simply said to the leader, "What are you doing?" He replied, "Puttng up a new route." I replied, "I hate to tell you, but that route goes all free. It has been led without protection." The answer came back to me, "Oh SURE it was, SURE it was done free." I realized I could do or say nothing, so walked away. A few days later the two climbers were spreading it all over town, "Ament was up at Castle Rock trying to tell everyone how to climb." Anyway, for a long time subsequent free climbers used those bolts for protection. I think the top bolt is still used, creating in essence a top-rope for the bold, crux move. Not many know what a brilliant lead that was back in the stone age...
Fred Flintstone Jun 15, 2007
Darko Sarenac
boulder, co
Darko Sarenac   boulder, co
What a classic climb! I wish though I had read some of the comments before embarking with my wife. I figured a bit of 11a and then a fun 5.10. It took me about 10 times to get the crux move on p.1. If it wasn't for Bob D'Antonio and a group of his friends shouting beta, I would probably still be there trying various possibilities. On p.2, the move from the layback into to the crack was hardish (a fist jam above the chalked hold in the crack worked for me). The p.3 exit was very physical. My last piece was about half way down the crack. Scary. It may be helpful to bring no. 5 Camalot, just for the peace of mind. Now to pitch 4. This was the scariest, most insecure pitch I've climbed in a while. The gear is good (small up to 0.75), but the rock is polished and the moves are sketchy. For me too, this was the hardest pitch (not counting p.1), though it would be very hard to choose the hardest move. I suppose every move is 5.10a or something. Now to my question, how were pitches 3 and 4 protected before cams? Sep 20, 2007
Nathan Maxon
Nathan Maxon   Wyoming
I was on this thing with a buddy a few years back, when I got on top he said "something bit me!" Sure enough, he had two little holes on his calf that were oozing blood. He was convinced that it was a bat and paid for the rabies series - $1200 - ouch! With all of the photo's you guys post of this climb, I'm surprised there isn't one of the hibernacula. Watch out! Jun 18, 2008
Brian Adzima
San Francisco
Brian Adzima   San Francisco
Was on CCC today, looks like the last pitch of Athlete's Feat, is now sporting a set of anchors, still some mank at the end of the third. Sep 23, 2008
Eric Goltz
Boulder, CO
Eric Goltz   Boulder, CO
Thanks to chains at the end of every pitch, you can easily get off this with one rope as of summer 2010. Sep 2, 2010
I just stumbled across this thread and thought I would add a bit of amusing history.

I climbed Athlete's Feat in the fall of 1973; at the time it still had a bit of a reputation. Years of mantling in Yosemite were helpful on the first pitch. The second pitch was scream. There was an old "sucker" piton beat into the horizontal crack. The problem was that it was beat so far into the crack that it would not accept a carabiner - any carabiner. And I tried every style I had on the rack. By the time I figured out what was going on, my arms were pretty flamed. I got some nut in and kept chugging to the belay. My partner was pretty amused. I remember that pro in the pre-cam era was a bit sketchy on the wide pitches. Jan 23, 2012
Dwight Jugornot
Arvada, Co.
Dwight Jugornot   Arvada, Co.
Few routes deliver such sustained and varied climbing at the grade. Pitch 4 was the easiest for me on account of I have reasonable balance, and pitch 1 was sorta easy (but my solution was very height-dependent). Pitch 2 and 4 were just ass kickers - because I kinda suck at picking the right pro while pumped and reaching around a semi-blind corner! Best skill for the send is gonna be efficient pro placement (and choice), 'cause the moves are sustained. What a blast! Nov 16, 2013
Gregger Man
Broomfield, CO
Gregger Man   Broomfield, CO
Replaced the 2nd bolt on P1 today by cleanly extracting the stud and installing a 1/2" x 3" SS PowerBolt and SS Fixe hanger. Feb 16, 2014
Jay Samuelson
Denver CO
Jay Samuelson   Denver CO
Thanks for your time and efforts, Gregger Man! Feb 16, 2014
mike c
mike c   golden
Hmmm. I'm surprised it's not greasier. It's not too bad when it's cooler out.... Mar 17, 2014
Jon Oulton
Boulder, CO
Jon Oulton   Boulder, CO
WARNING: As of 4/9/2016, there are two extremely loose blocks at the top of pitch 5, roughly 5-10 feet left of the final anchors. They are both about half a cubic meter large, and exceedingly prone to being cast down the 5th pitch and any climb below. They are both on route for the Athlete's Feat and look pretty solid, but they're not.

On the other hand, what an amazing climb! Pitch 1 was... strenuous. Pitches 2-4 are immaculate, and pitch 5 was fun as well. You should go do this climb! Apr 9, 2016
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
Gee... a couple of months before Rick Linkert's ascent in 1973 (see above) we "sort of" looked at this climb. Looked very hard then, and Ivan's photo makes it still look hard! Broken hold or not at the mantel, "ya gotta give credit" to anyone who climbed this before the advent of "sticky rubber". Apr 20, 2016
Pssssshhh, fuck you, guys, that mantel move isn't 11a, and you know it. Cold conditions are mandatory for the opening moves (as with CCC) otherwise you're just senselessly flogging the tips. Come to think of it, cold conditions are useful for the rest of the climb as well. You can combine the first three pitches with a tagline to rap on for a really phenomenal lead and toprope after with some directionals, great and very physical training. Sep 8, 2016
nicolas blair
Denver, CO
nicolas blair   Denver, CO
This climb is hard and awkward, at least the first 3 pitches. Yosemite-esque grading system. All anchors are bolted. All the cracks gobble up gear.

P1 - 2 clips, super tough mantel move. Not recommended right after a rain. Come to think of it, none of it should be climbed right after it rains. Maybe I should take my own advice... 11+.
P2 - Overhang crack/corner/lieback. Awkward. Hard. Throw a #4 in there, and blast up! 11-.
P3 - A slightly easier version of P2. 10d.
P4 - Fantastic. Good exposure on some jams. I beached whaled to get over the last bit. Super fun. 10c.
P5 - Sweet exposure. Watch out for that last flake, it's pretty hollow. There's definitely a death block waiting to be pulled out (it had an X on it when I climbed).

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with this climb. Everybody says it's super classic this, super classic that, but the pitches are really short and awkward. The only good pitches with cool exposure are 4-5. I'm sure many disagree with me, but hey, what are internet forums for anyway?

Descent: head north. Sep 1, 2017
Nick D'Hulster
Nick D'Hulster   California
This one is nice and classy, felt it was trying to spit me off almost all pitches. I'd like to just throw a new grade out for this badboy - 5.10d V4. The 1st pitch is really a boulder problem and 5.7 right after to the chains. Just sayin'....

Great climb no matter the grade though, and please beware of the flake towards the top of the last pitch under the summit. It will probably be fine another 5 years but one day may rip on someone's rope. Apr 12, 2018