Type: Trad
FA: Layton Kor and Pat Ament, 1963
Page Views: 1,260 total · 6/month
Shared By: George Bell on Aug 6, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: Closures Details


This is a scary route with a (formerly) dangerous belay stance. With two good bolts at the belay (thanks, Bruce), I'd now give it 2 stars and an S rating.

This climb climbs just left of the north prow of Overhang Rock. From the boulders at the base, head left and then up about 5-10 feet left of an arete, passing a small tree. Now head up more difficult rock (5.10a) with somewhat sparse pro, eventually climbing the arete itself.

You will now arrive at a 6" wide shelf which used to be the home of a single rusty bolt and numerous terrified belayers. Now home to two excellent bolts and much happier belayers.

The unprotected crux now rises above. Traverse left 6' or so from the ledge and head up an area of shattered rock. This section is 5.10, and there is no pro until you reach a crack under an overhang, about 15' up. Lieback this crack, move left, and continue more easily up and right to the top of the face.

Now walk on up the ridge to the top, and rappel 60 feet to the notch between the main summit and the south summit. Rap east to the ground.


Standard rack, plus RPs.


Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
Thanks to George for the warning. Calling the Rogue's Arete a "classic" borrows from some of the early descriptions of the route. As I recall, Jim Erickson referred to RA as run-out, terrifically under-stating the seriousness of this undertaking. Looking the climb over from the ground doesn't give much evidence of pro for a long way off the deck, and that has always dampened my enthusiasm. Fixing the old gear makes great sense, if we can do it, because the line itself is definitely a classic. Aug 7, 2001
I did this climb with George and I agree that it is quite exciting. On the first pitch there is gear, but you are definitely doing 10a moves maybe 15-20 feet above gear. You have to work to get the gear as well. Clearly this is casual for some climbers. Not for me.

The belay is definitely shakey. I hadn't thought of stringing these two pitches because of the desire for a mental rest, but in retrospect that might be the safest approach. I'm not sure if a 60-meter rope would reach.

The crux moves seem a bit harder than 10a, but maybe it was the fear... The position is indeed great and the climbing is interesting, but not one I'll repeat often. May 16, 2002
I have done this route numerous times, both as a leader and follower. The first time I did it the 1/4" bolt was already a dozen years old and plenty funky. Clipping it seemed more like a formality than a safety issue. The last time I did Rogue's Arete the bolt was well past twenty-five (maybe even thirty) and still supporting its own weight. However, neither I nor anyone with whom I did this climb ever entertained the idea of belaying at the bolt.

Common sense is often a good substitute for a bolt kit.

Belaying well below the bolt allows the leader to place some decent protection before clipping the bolt. If the leader falls at or near the crux (and rotten rock), a fall would not be directly on the belayer and belay failure would be a remote, if not non-existent, possibility. The fall itself could be spectacular (especially if the bolt were to fail) and while posing no threat to the belay anchors, heart failure would be a definite possibility (for either leader or belayer). Gear placed after the bolt to protect the crux and rotten section is a mixed blessing. It's not all that inspiring and unless it has long slings attached (dramatically reducing its attractiveness, if not its ultimate utility), the ensuing rope drag could make a fall more likely. When the difficulty eases, the rock improves and it's possible to get in good protection.All-in-all a climb with character, which should be led by climbers who are comfortable at this level of difficulty. Oct 26, 2002
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Interesting comments, It sounds like you may have climbed this route more than anyone. It probably is safest to belay below the bolt as you suggest, although I don't remember that great a spot.Most climbers would certainly expect to belay at the bolt, given that Kor did and also Rossiter's Flatiron guide indicates so. It did not seem very easy to downclimb from the bolt once you get there, so I hope everyone reads these comments and belays before they get too high. Oct 28, 2002
The first pitch must have gotten easier - perhaps due to large loose lumps moving aside to allow you to ramble more-or-less up the arete. The suggestion to link the 2nd and 3rd pitches worked well today. From a belay just right of the tree near the arete I was able to make it to the top with double 50 meter ropes, with rope to spare. The bolt was the best-looking 40 year old quarter-incher that I've ever seen so I clipped it with a 'fall-arrester' and backed it up with a good small cam at the ledge. A belay here would be frightening.

This is a beautiful route that will improve when some of the remaining loose bits have fallen off. Double ropes have several advantages here: you have a back-up if one gets chopped, there was no rope drag, and descending/swaining is easier. Good Luck! Aug 11, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.10 R
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.10 R
The route can be climbed by going up directly off of the "belay bolt" and continuing straight up. this is the most attractive and natural line, but a few words of caution:1) If you belayed on the ledge and bolt, you could take a fall and on your belayer, snapping him in half. This route may be best done as a single pitch if done this way, all comments on protection quality aside.2) This may be harder than the 5.10a advertised if done this way.

All in all, this is the best trash I have climbed in the Flatirons. The position and moves are cool and the required fortitude somewhat high. There are many places on this climb where there are loose sections and blocks that would raise howls of protest about safety and be considered 'death blocks' on most other classic lines, but in this case, they are so numerous as to almost be un-notable and a simple part of the character of the route. Tread lightly, tread smartly, remember that some 'bad' gear is worse than no gear at all if you pull one of these off on yourself or belayer.

Wearing a helmet would be of dubious value in terms of added safety- I'm not laking about golfball sized rocks, I'm talking about toasters and tv sets. Oct 4, 2005
In late September, I applied to the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) for a permit to replace the 1/4" belay bolt on Rogue's Arete. The critical question was whether to replace just the single bolt or to replace that one bolt and add a second to ensure a safe belay.

The OSMP contacted the Flatiron Climbing Council's(FCC) Fixed Hardware Review Committee (FHRC) which offered an array of points to consider and an opinion to help answer to the question. Terry Murphy, the FHRC chair, and I agreed that it was critical to determine whether this was the original belay for the FA and not just something that had happened over time. So, we looked at a number of different sources for that information.

Richard Rossiter's guidebooks indicated to belay at the 1/4" bolt. Climbingboulder.com also indicated this. However, the Jim Erickson "Rocky Heights" book was unclear if this was indeed a belay. "High Over Boulder" by Pat Ament, who also happened to be on the FA party with Kor, notes to belay at the bolt.

Terry also sent an E-mail asking for comments from his fellow members on the FCC/FHRC. Also, I called up Pat Ament on several occasions to ask him his feelings about the situation.

Pat remembered that when Kor was leading he broke a knob, took a fall and landed in tree below Pat's belay. In typical Kor fashion, he stormed back up the pitch, got to a good-sized ledge and drilled a 1/4" bolt for a belay and brought Pat up. Pat recounted that Kor had taken a big fall a few weeks earlier on the Bastille Crack when a hold broke and was still a bit rattled. Pat reckons that's why he drilled a bolt and brought Pat up to belay him more closely.

I asked Pat how he felt about upgrading the belay and he agreed that replacing the single bolt was good. I then asked him about adding a second bolt and he responded that he thought that there was a piton in a crack near the bolt that was the second anchor during the FA.

After thinking about it for a day or so, I called him back and asked him what if we couldn't find a place to put a pin would he still favor not putting in a second bolt. He remarked that having giving it further thought, himself, he didn't really remember there being a spot to place a pin. One alternative he suggested was that maybe it was possible to actually belay below the bolt with good gear and just use the bolt for protection. Finally, if both of those options were not viable, a second bolt was a possible alternative.

So, we went up on the climb on with a three options in priority order:

1) find a place to put a piton near the bolt so it would be an effective 2nd belay anchor.

2) find an alternative belay below the existing 1/4" bolt that would allow the bolt to be used for protection only.

3) add a second bolt at the belay.

As both my partner, leading the climb, and me, seconding the climb, headed up the route, we looked for a reasonable place to belay below the bolt. About the only OK place was just above a small tree but, this tree is only 30' up from the start of the climb and it is another 50 feet to the ledge with the bolt and about another 100 feet to the top from there. So, that would make a 30' pitch and a 150' pitch. Not a really a viable option in our opinion.

When we reached the ledge where the bolt was we were unable to find a place to put a decent pin to back up the bolt. We were able to get a 1/2"-3/4" 4-cam unit in a small, bottoming pod at the base of the ledge which looked OK for an upward pull but not a downward one. We did not find this option acceptable either.

So, with option #1 (pin) and #2 (lower belay) out, we replaced the existing quarter inch bolt with a 1/2" x 3.5" Rawl 5-piece bolt and added a second bolt (3/8" x 3.5" Rawl 5-piece Stainless Steel).

I hope in reading this, it is clear that we have done sufficient, if not more than sufficient, due diligence to determine what is the correct solution to this situation. We have worked with the existing sources of information (guide books, web sites) and the FA party to obtain as much accurate information as possible. We have worked with the FCC/FHRC to obtain their valuable input and with the OSMP to obtain the correct permit.

Thanks to Tony Bubb for leading this climb.

See the photo below of Kor's original belay bolt. Oct 9, 2005
About Kor's original, 1963 belay bolt, after having replaced over 300 bolts, I can say that this bolt was a ticking time bomb.

First off, as you can see from the photo with a dime added for scale, the 1/4" bolt was less than 1" (about 7/8" to be more precise) into the rock.

Secondly, this is a compression bolt which uses the compression of two side of the shaft to hold it into the hole (pullout strength). Unfortunately, Flatirons sandstone is pretty soft and a bolt such as this does not compress when it is pounded into the hole. The split shaft just groove themselves into the soft rock the result being that there is very little compression and hence low pullout strength.

Lastly, the Longeware hanger is one of the worst designs in bolt hangers because when the hanger is loaded it produces an outward force on the bolt (pullout force) rather than a lateral force (shear strength).

So, you have a bolt that is 7/8" in the rock with very poor pullout strength with a hanger which generates a large pullout force when loaded. Oct 10, 2005
Brian Milhaupt
Golden, CO
  5.10a R
Brian Milhaupt   Golden, CO
  5.10a R
Bruce, thanks for the safe anchor and the effort and consideration you put into placing it. Apr 16, 2008