Type: Trad, 4 pitches
FA: Steve Wunsch, Jim Erickson, Art Higbee, 1973
Page Views: 6,462 total · 30/month
Shared By: Richard M. Wright on Jul 11, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Subject to Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
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Art's Spar connects the Lower Ramp to the Upper Ramp to the left of Ruper and via several means. As a variation to the Grand Giraffe, Art's Spar makes a largely fun link up that catches the roof that was actually dodged by the Grand Giraffe. I will add a story to this description because it must rank as one of the all time classic epics that should have ended in disaster, but instead saved the life of it's chief protagonist.

Begin Art's Spar at the top of the Lower Ramp as you would for Ruper. Following the Grand Giraffe, a pitch of 5.8 followed by a pitch of 5.4 takes you to the belay below the roof; stay in the 5.9 corner for the Giraffe or cut right and over the roof for Art's Spar. On the Upper Ramp, one has any of numerous choices to finish the headwall and catch the East Slabs. And this is a great route.

Now, I may burn in hell for telling this story, but it is too good not to tell. Fifteen years ago in September I did Art's Spar with a super athlete/climber who I will call DK to preserve my own hide. DK, as most masculine hunks, had hugely more balls than brains, although he did survive this epic so he must have had some sense of self-preservation - or luck.

We hit the Lower Ramp with just over one hour of sunlight remaining, and waltzed up the first two pitches to the Grand Giraffe belay below the roof at Art's Spar at approximately sunset. DK led the roof in classic, flawless style, but this took 45 minutes, which amounted to 45 min after the sun had set - dark in other words. Thinking of the exit off the Upper Ramp, the East Slabs, and the enclosing darkness, I suggested to DK that he rap back down to my belay from which we would descend via raps to the Lower Ramp and then rap this to the West. Agreed, he set up a rap and started down. Now, bear in mind that the roof is 300 ft off the deck. About 6 or 7 ft from the lip, DK stalled out and stopped his rappel. I inquired as his status and the progress of his rappel, to which I received a series of garbled grunts in response. After close to 10 minutes, perched above the Art's Spar roof, DK emitted a single sharp curse, SHIT!! In the silence that ensued, I heard the three notes that have burned themselves into my memory, perhaps forever: "PING!! Ping! ping...." "DK", I inquired with feigned calm ,"what was that?" .... "I just dropped my figure 8", he responded. In other words, while rappelling with the figure 8, DK managed to drop the very same device with which he was rappelling. Nifty.

At that time I was wagering to myself at close to 5% chance of DK living through this evolving epic, perhaps a bit less, but since it was DK I would go with 5%. However, with a little school boy hand-over-hand rope climbing, DK did manage to get close enough to the belay for me to get a rope wrapped around his legs, then his waist, and get him back to the belay to continue our pleasant outing, which we did, under the cover of darkness. This was the last day that DK climbed. He even survived to marry the most beautiful woman in the universe; now both are happy.


Bring a full rack and a standard 50 or 60 m rope. Plan on descending via the East slabs, unless you want to hassle with the raps off T1 (a bad idea).
Ah, such is the nature and challenge of the overhang...a sequence not quickly mastered leads to the rapid diminishment of strength on grades one would normally float.

The Spar is certainly 5.10...even in these sorry days of grade inflation. It's only 3 hand moves to the jug once you sort out the sucker holds from the good. Aug 23, 2001
[Rossiter's 2000 guidebook] calls this route 10d/11a and says that a block recently fell out making it more difficult. Jun 27, 2002
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
See comments under Superspar. Mar 21, 2004
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
The route is really fun when approached via SuperSpar or the alternate pitch of "Ruper to Grand Giraffe" (see this site). I did it in autumn of 1995 and then again today and personally do not think that, within those dates, any "broken hold" has changed the difficulty of the climb; it has always been a little harder than most of the Eldo 5.10 standard bearers. Maybe 5.11a? People with big paws might find the last big jam more secure and downgrade accordingly. I for one have small hands & find it to be a little rattly.
I've always clipped the fixed gear in the Vertigo roof and ran up it, but this one gives me pause. May 31, 2004
Jim Erickson
Jim Erickson  
Some Pre-Cambrian history: Nobody really knows the story of the name of this route except the three of us. Climbers have always assumed that it was named for the crux roof, but that is not true. When we first did this climb, we started up the 5.8 dihedral of Grand Giraffe for 20 feet, then angled left via some run-out face climbing. Art led this pitch, and about halfway up put a long sling around a horn. Art was from Steamboat Spgs, and had quite a Western Drawl, yelling down "I'll just wrap this sling around this spar here" (he was trying to say spire). Steve and I giggled about this as he led the rest of the run-out pitch, and decided to name the route Art's Spar. I immediately remember that in North Boulder at that time, there was a sleazy "Gentlemen's Club" called Art's Bar and Grill, so I thought we should call it Arts Spar and Grill, but the simpler name stuck. About the grade: Art led the first pitch and I led the short 5.9 lieback to the roof, so Steve got to lead the roof. It took him two or three tries to work out the moves, but Art and I followed without falling, so we all felt it was an easy 5.10 like Superslab, Northwest Corner, or T-2 but not a solid 5.10 like Guenese or Naked Edge or Vertigo. When I was regrading climbs for "Rocky Heights" in 1976, all these routes got upgraded of course, and I graded Arts Spar 5.10d, but I feel that 11a/b or 11b is probably more appropriate today. I have no idea where the 10c grade came from. It's harder than that, in my opinion.

Jim Erickson Sep 30, 2005
Ken Cangi
Eldorado Springs, CO
Ken Cangi   Eldorado Springs, CO
This was one of the first routes that I did in Eldo, and it is among my favorites. I can't imagine it ever being considered 5.11. I did it in the early nineties, so I don't know if the hold was broken by then, but it felt like mid-range 5.10 to me. I have done many of the 5.11 Eldo classics, and this route seems nowhere as hard.

I have free soloed Tagger at least fifty times, and it always seemed harder than this roof. Maybe it is a hand size and height thing for some people. At any rate, it is fun route with an exciting position, and I would recommend it to any solid 5.10 climber. Oct 1, 2005
Jeff G.
Jeff G.   Lyons
I've always thought this route was hard for 5.10. And now I have confirmation from Jim Erickson himself!! May 17, 2006
Brian Weinstein
Brian Weinstein  
Finally got on this today and thought that it was harder then the Vertigo Roof. I agree with Tony...the bigger the mitts the easier it'll be. Thanks for sharing your story Jim! Mar 20, 2008
Ross Swanson
Pinewood Springs
Ross Swanson   Pinewood Springs
A #3.5 Camalot may fit nicely without robbing the left when a #3 is used. Mar 7, 2011
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Off the top of my head:
10c roof routes: Grandmother's, Tagger, Whiplash, Electric Aunt Jemima, Sooberb, Muscle and Hate.
10d roof routes: Psychosis direct finish, Vertigo finish, Stay Hungry, Trident.

I know ratings are style and size dependent, but as a reasonable accomplished crack climber, this one is still harder than any of those.

If you like roof climbing but this one swats you down, don't feel bad. Give it another go, and put the above on your tick list for other fun things to try.

Speaking of which, some other roof/crack routes in at 11a: Tombstone, Neon Lights, Bat's Ass Dihedral (though the crux is not the roof), Le Toit, On-Slot, Diving Board.
Also 11b: Bacon and Ergs, Wingshot.

I guess that's what I can think of for now. Eldo is not a huge roof-crack Mecca. May 8, 2011
Rob and I cruised Vertigo Direct Finish back in 1984ish, then I at least got completely shut down by this climb. Hero to zero. Jun 3, 2013