Type: Sport
FA: Bob D'Antonio and Darryl Roth, 1987
Page Views: 11,272 total · 53/month
Shared By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 19, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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The best route of its grade at The Gym? Probably.

Hike up the trail and stop. The stunning arete right before your eyes is The Gym Arete. The line has a direct start at 5.12c that I have toproped on several occasions. This seems really fingery and gets quite powerful in the entry moves that are very steep. Alternatively, step into the corner and pick out a short, diagonal variation for "only" 5.12b. This seems a lot more user-friendly and gains the arete on a very natural, curving line.

Overall, the route is very continuous. Climbing is unusual for the Shelf, being on edges and square cuts until quite high on the route when a rogue pocket or two will start to emerge. This is positively a great line, and I wish my notes referenced the FA team. I have some guesses but nothing concrete. Jump on it!


Eight to ten draws and a rope.


Cool climb but not really an arete mor like a rounded face.... Sep 21, 2001
Peter Beal
Boulder Colorado
Peter Beal   Boulder Colorado
Hasn't this always been called 12a? Oct 4, 2001
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
Wow! Thanks Bob D'Antonio. As a founding father of the Shelf, I was guessing that this was your route. How did it ever come to pass that all the FA data were neglected in Mark Van Horn's book? I was under the impression, perhaps wrong, that you had worked together on several routes. Oct 16, 2001
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO

I do believe that the FA data are important, and I will pick up Rico's guide. The effort spent in getting a line in, the cleaning, the rehersal, the cost, and the imagination are part of the history that I like to invoke when I'm on a good line. I can't recall all the times that I have looked up at a route simply jazzed by the imagination of a great line or marveled at what an eye it took to spy the line in the first place. It is interesting in this context that many of the European guides cite the equippers and re-equippers of a route and not the single individual who apparently snagged the first free ascent. Unless the route is right at the cutting edge, the FA information is far more informative and interesting than the FFA data. Oct 16, 2001
Glad to see old Bob and Richard patting each other on the back...also like to read about how Richard really likes to see FA info in a guide, this seems to be a common thread in his comments on routes at Shelf. Van Horn, right or wrong, left the FA info out of the book and explained why...if you do not like it you can buy the Rick T. book and read all about the crappy new routes installed in the past few years...lots of nice choss with only a few quality lines here and there. If the lack of FA info was such a tragedy, why didn't someone step up and write a new guide years ago? Too lazy? Producing a guide book is not easy work and at the very least Van Horn took a shot...more than can be said for anyone else. Oct 19, 2001
Maybe I use this moniker being aware of your perchance for unpleasantries...you are correct that you did not directly insult Van Horn's guide but, in a left handed way, you did an even better job...with lines like -_

"I never worked with Van Horn on any route in the area and rarely talked to him. He was not invovled with early FA's and I never saw him down at Shelf in the early going.To my knowledge he has never asked Richard Aschert or any other(me included)climbers who were active with the early FA's and even the newer routes at Cactus Cliff."

Reading this, I wouldn't say you are endorsing his book now are you? Also, I did not say that ALL the new routes are rubble piles, just the vast majority of the new routes. There are great, new lines that have been installed but that has not been the norm.

You ask-_

"If the routes are "worthless choss piles" explain to me why Cactus Cliff is so popular with Front Range climbers"

Maybe it is because it is nice and warm in the winter? I dig the quote but who are you quoting..it was not from my post; Never said anything about "worthless". Maybe they are mostly, read MOSTLY, middle-of-the-road climbs on less than perfect rock. Can we agree on that?

Lastly, maybe I just like crusing these msg boards, posting loads of shit and seeing who gets the most tweaked. It is not far removed from the general rehashing and bickering that is the norm. Oct 19, 2001
oh yea...the reference was to this Richard Wright character, not Richard Aschert. May as well get the right people stired up...eh? Oct 19, 2001
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
AC - are you suggesting that I should care about your comment? Oct 19, 2001
And now... back to the climbing. The direct start isn't wildly harder than the upper arete. However, I receieved excellent beta for the tricky sequence of clipping, downclimbing and traversing at the third bolt on the direct start. I'd give 12a for the arete and 12b for the straight up version. The direct is a great combination of steep pulling at the bottom and extremely technical movement above. Oct 30, 2001
I spoke too soon. The direct version is harder than I thought -- in fact it's the first climb at that grade in Shelf that I haven't been able to finish in a day. It must be solid for 5.12c, or even c/d, as the Van Horn book lists. Nov 6, 2001
Darryl Roth  
By the way, my name is Darryl Roth, NOT Darrly Roth. Please take note Bob, thanks. Apr 20, 2003
Ken Cangi
Eldorado Springs, CO
Ken Cangi   Eldorado Springs, CO
Good pitch. Jul 26, 2005
Jay Samuelson
Denver CO
Jay Samuelson   Denver CO
Great route. I couldn't find a distinct crux, although I imagine the crimp could count since it's the smallest hold on the route. I also don't think this route deserves an R rating. Sustained route that starts out on decent pockets, increases in difficulty and stays with you for a great ride to the chains. Classic. Mar 9, 2009
Zane Dordai
Salt Lake City
Zane Dordai   Salt Lake City
Spoiler alert!: Maybe I had bad beta, but I disagree with a lot of the comments about this not being very cruxy. The entry moves were all on pretty good holds ('twas a bit sequential but no hard moves) to a really tiny hold and then some sustained outro moves. The end was awesome in that there were for sure a few places where one could fall; I almost fell hiking my feet up with the anchors right in my face. Definitely one of the best Shelf and all time routes that I've done...get on it and bring your crimp strength! Dec 3, 2012
Curt MacNeill
Boulder, CO
Curt MacNeill   Boulder, CO
A fantastic route, brilliant pockets and stone. In line with most classic 12a's at Shelf. After watching dozens of people on it this year, there is definitely a crux at about mid-height. I watched many people fall at the exact same spot which is usually a good indicator. Nonetheless, a very worthy route on great stone. Despite the name, I have heard the ongoing joke for years that the route is actually not on an arete. I agree with this. The arete is slightly left and the entire line sits right of the "actual" arete and climbs a face. Gives us all a good laugh though.... Feb 16, 2015
Adam Block
Colorado Springs, CO
Adam Block   Colorado Springs, CO
Be sure to wipe off tick marks you place on your routes. It's super annoying trying to climb a new route when every single foot chip is ticked with a gym tape width of chalk. It's not only detracting from the route's appeal, it's misleading when I have to check each ticked footchip to see if it's some hidden pocket. It's outdoor climbing, get used to having to look for holds and actually remembering some beta. At the very least, wipe it off on your lower, bro. Jan 18, 2017
Sawyer Callahan
Sawyer Callahan  
Hardest 12a at Shelf? Dec 9, 2018