Type: Trad, 100 ft Fixed Hardware (1)
FA: FFA: Jim Erickson and Mike Hartrich, 1973
Page Views: 3,380 total · 16/month
Shared By: Tony B on Aug 2, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


The route is the dihedral to the center of the diamond-shaped roof of the Whale's Tail, just left of C'est What? The route traverses out right under the roof to finish up on top, which is super steep and exciting. In term of LEADING routes, this is my most frequented route in Eldo. I've done it about a dozen times and I still enjoy it at the end of a day when not much time is left. Plus, it never has a queue! One must be SOLID at the grade.


The pro is sparse and somewhat poor. There is a dangerous runout to just below the roof (to a stopper, 2.5" cam, and a fixed pin), and then only so-so pro at the corner below the roof or beyond. The roof is "big" crimpers for fingers and poor feet. If one falls from the roof and the gear holds, they will likely get a solid pounding in the dihedral. If the gear does not hold... ???


Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
I'd reiterate what Tony says about the runout up to the roof--rated 5.8+ s in Rossiter, but really there is potential for a very serious injury, with a horrible landing. The gear is practically non-existent--don't get lured into it thinking you'll find a decent RP in a move or two. Aug 2, 2001
The gear IS thin getting to the roof/traverse, but its not all that bad considering the small cams that are available nowadays, and the climbing is straightforward 7 with a move or two of 8. Here is the gear, (all of which I feel was good) that I got in before reaching the fixed pin located about 12 feet before the roof/traverse starts:

Grey Wild Country Zero cam, Yellow Wild Country Zero cam, two RPs (not terribly small either), Red Black Diamond Camalot.

(Sorry for the color description rather than number. I have no idea what numbers my gear corresponds to).

And then of course you can clip the pin. Actually, I girth hitched the pin's eyebolt with a long sling. This is pretty much always what I do to Eldo pins, assuming I have the strength to take the extra time to thread the sling rather than just clip the pin. Less metal-on-metal contact is a good thing I think. Does anyone else do this? I digress... Move up to the start of the traverse where you'll have good holds and a rest before getting to the business.

At the start of the traverse I got in a nut and a blue Metolius TCU. Make a few moves out right where you can drop in a medium sized nut. Another move or two on positive hands and thin feet lets you reach a great hold from which to place a good nut. A few more moves and you are at the top. I placed a blue Camalot here for the second.

The climbing is fun, and though the initial slab does warrant an S rating, with the cams available these days its not too bad. Granted, I did not have any intentions on falling on a tiny cam held together by piano wires, but its nice to see that eye candy in the rock.

The traverse has great hand holds but thin feet,. Like many Eldo cruxes, just keep moving and you'll get a good rest soon.

JGH Sep 12, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
5 Pcs of gear in 70 feet, two of which are not rated nor, according to your comment, trusted by you to hold a fall and you wouldn't give the pitch at least an S??? To each his own I guess. Sep 14, 2003
Tony, I do think it warrants an S, but its less severe than if I had led this 5 or 10 years ago before such small cams were around. The tiny cams were good, but I don't like falling in general, much less onto the smallest pieces on my rack. The original comment that one must be solid at this grade is good advice.JGH Sep 16, 2003
Scott Conner
Lyons, CO
Scott Conner   Lyons, CO
If gear does not hold...???

Broken wrist. Nov 7, 2004
Clint Locks
Clint Locks   Boulder
I've been intrigued by both Jack the Ripper and C'est What? for years, but was always scared off due to the sparse pro. However, it doesn't have to be that way. After an exploratory search today, I found it's relatively simple to set up a toprope anchor by climbing just a bit higher (10 feet, on easy 5.0 rock) above the cable anchor for West Crack. So, after it was all said and done, I still don't think I would lead them, but we had a blast...and I didn't break my wrist...(which would've really pissed off my wife). Mar 17, 2007
Steven Lucarelli
Moab, UT
  5.9+ X
Steven Lucarelli   Moab, UT
  5.9+ X
If you're considering leading this, expect to not have any gear or at least any that would hold a fall for the first 40' or so. After that, you can probably get 2 or 3 good pieces, but the rest are marginal. You better be solid and should probably be able to lead 5.10. Mar 22, 2007
Mike Robinson
Grand Junction, CO
  5.9 X
Mike Robinson   Grand Junction, CO
  5.9 X
True, no gear the first 40-50 feet, 8-8+ but the moves are all solid, after that I felt the gear was more then enough to protect the rest of the climb, I used a #2 Lowe Ball at the start of the roof and a #5 stopper a move or two up from there (3/4 of the way up the roof), you can then pull out of the roof safely, even if you where to fall, the gear would definitely hold. If you fall at the start, the first 40 feet, it's over. Apr 22, 2007
Led this today. I was able to get what I thought was a very solid #4RP about waist height just prior to making the initial committing move into the shallow, R-facing dihedral, then a #3? Peanut in an initially blind placement a few feet higher (still before I made the initial move).

The interesting part about the RP placement is that I didn't see it until after I had been up and down a few times placing gear higher, and trying to get marginal gear lower - it's oddly easy to miss, but obvious once you see it (look closely from the ground - it's a slot in the corner right by the 2" triangular foothold on the little arete).

I then got the Yellow Zero placement JGH mentioned maybe 8 ft higher, and a bomber #1 tricam and 0.75 Camalot (with a double-length sling) prior to traversing out onto the slab below the pin. Then sunk a #2 Camalot and #7? stopper below the pin (with a double-length sling) clipped the pin and moved up into the corner.

I was then able to get a #4 DMM stopper (horizontally behind the first jug as you start the traverse), a #5 DMM (stretching up with feet on the 1.5" ledge) above the next jug, and a #3? DMM a few feet right of that (really hard to hang on here). I pumped out trying to figure out this gear and hung once on the #5 (much to the chagrin of my second). With this gear, I never felt seriously at risk the entire time. Very fun climb.

I thought the middle section of the roof-traverse was harder than 9+, but maybe that was due to hanging out figuring out this gear. I'm not real strong either, and the traverse seemed very strenuous. Oct 4, 2007
Mic Fairchild
Mic Fairchild   Boulder
The start of the climb, while only 5.8, is completely run-out and not entirely obvious. The crux may very well be at the old piton in the corner below the roof. There was once a pin at the beginning of the traverse in the roof; it fell out about 10 years ago, making the locks a little insecure. Overall, an honest rating must include an "R" (or "S" or whatever is in vogue for 'runout' these days). Mar 17, 2008
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
5.9+ X
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
5.9+ X
One of the oddities in the database is that if you don't add a comment or you weren't the original submitter, you will only get the difficulty rating listed next to your name without the danger rating included. This is an X-rated or VS-rated climb. Consider yourself soloing until the roof. Mar 18, 2008
David Champion
Centennial, CO
5.9+ X
David Champion   Centennial, CO
5.9+ X
I agree with Leo. If this route doesn't get an X rating then I don't know what does. Last I checked the definition of an X-rated climb is one on which a fall risks severe injury or death. The first 40' of JTR clearly meets that definition.

I carefully downclimbed this thing from the lower crux after having placed two VERY marginal RPs (because I was too afraid to body-weight the RP for a lower). I can't imagine where previous posters were getting in cams--I certainly don't have any that small on my rack and even if I did, I wouldn't trust them to body weight let alone a fall. The crux was relatively easy (I TR'd the thing later), but I wasn't willing to risk my life committing to it on lead.

Otherwise, fun climb (on TR). May 21, 2008
Boulder, CO
  5.9 R
RalphE   Boulder, CO
  5.9 R
It only deserves an "R", nothing more. Don't inflate the "X" rating, or it'll do you no good in the future.

The first section is comprised on completely obvious climbing on positive holds that is substantially easier than the crux rating. And I'm pretty much a slacker these days. Plus I found a reliable microcam placement in that first section. A bomber #3 or #4 rock along the traverse, added with a slung horn and a #1 Alien makes the whole thing quite manageable. Anything more reminisces of a B-grade movie. Aug 15, 2008
Steven Lucarelli
Moab, UT
  5.9+ X
Steven Lucarelli   Moab, UT
  5.9+ X
Since when does "obvious climbing" and "positive holds" negate the X rating? The X rating is based on possible consequences if you fall and if you for some reason blew it on the first part of this route, then you're going to get jacked up for sure. Feb 2, 2009
Add four bolts so everyone can do it without regard to the heritage that it was put up.... May 31, 2009
Jason Antin
Golden, CO
Jason Antin   Golden, CO
A very intriguing route! I've yet to climb this, but from the ground it appears as it there is a shiny bolt hanger...has a bolt been added to protect this climb?

J Apr 25, 2011
Mark Roth
  5.9+ R
Mark Roth   Boulder
  5.9+ R
There is No bolt. You probably see one of the bolts from this route... C'est What? Apr 27, 2011