Type: Trad, 5 pitches Fixed Hardware (2)
FA: Layton Kor and George Hurley, 1960, FFA - John Thomas, ~1962-63
Page Views: 20,287 total · 95/month
Shared By: George Bell on Aug 7, 2001 with updates from Scott Krankkala
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Subject to Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details

Intro and Approach

This is a famous route, not often done these days because of the dreaded word - "Offwidth". The name is a play on words of the even more famous Grand Jorasse in the Alps. It protects well with some big gear and is not at all runout like some of those Yosemite monster cracks.

Find the start to the route by approaching the Roof Routes area. Park at the main lot east of the Bastille, cross the bridge in front of the Bastille. Follow the trail along the north side of the creek across the concrete pad, take the switchbacks and then a right fork. When you get to the rock, you head left, past the Roof Routes. Here, you will find a Flatiron-like slab requiring 4th class to low 5th class climbing for 200+ feet. Use a rope, if you might fall. Ascend this to the top of this slab. Keep in mind you will not be returning to this spot after the descent.


P1. This route starts from the top of the lower ramp, the same place as Ruper. Climb the obvious crack up and gently trend right until you reach a crack with two pins that parallels the large, sloping Rover dihedral, 5.9+.

P2. This is an easy pitch (5.4) which follows a ramp and wide crack leftward to the base of the dreaded, right-facing corner of the Grand Giraffe (which breaches the roof left of Art's Spar).

P3. This is the crux, and the difficulties start immediately. The first moves are protected by an ancient piton. At the start, you can chimney the crack with your back against the left wall, but soon the footholds on the right disappear. If you are a weenie like me, place a big Camalot above you at this point, which gives you a toprope for the crux. Struggle up through the crux and place your other big piece.

Although the upper part of this crack looks intimidating, I found the crux to be the first 15'. Near the top you have to climb the main part of the overhang, but there is good pro and holds here. Belay at the Upper Ramp.

From here, the route continues above the Upper Ramp via two more fun pitches (5.7, but mildly runout). Cross the upper ramp to the upper end of a huge cave, 4th class (lower end is the start of upper Ruper and Alice in Bucketland). Downclimb the ramp towards the left corner of a large cave.

P4. Climb up alongside the shallow, right-facing corner, then make your way to towards a pink alcove with a single bolt.

P5. The final pitch angles up and left, crossing a roofline at its left edge then continues up and right to the saddle between T1 and T2.


Standard rack to 3", plus some big gear will make this route comfy, say a #4.5 and a #5 Camalot.


From the top of the final pitch, travel uphill (climber's left), and downclimb a large gully to the bolts for Chockstone Chimney located on the southern wall. After this rappel, continue up the large slab with a small tree. Look over the edge for two bolts which will require a short downclimb to reach. 2 rappels will take you to the base of Vertigo. Travel back uphill until you find a place to descend into the Redgarden drainage.


Jamie Logan: "in 1968, the Grand Giraffe was rated 5.8, and I climbed it with Pat Ament and Royal Robbins. Royal announced that we were going to take no pitons and use only chockstones that he had brought back from England. This was to be the first time nuts were used in Colorado. After thinking over the fixed pins already in place, I thought it would be OK and joined them. We never protected the 5.8 offwidth at that time, and it turned out to be Royal's lead. He stopped in the middle of the crux, turned around and looked down at us, and said " this is the hardest 5.8 I have ever done." He then turned back around and finished with no problem. I believe the gear we had were mostly Pecks and Moacs as stoppers and hexes were far in the future."
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I should point out that the first pitch as I describe it is often split into two pitches (this is the way Rossiter describes it).

Eldo hard men will also lead this route with nothing bigger than a #3 Camalot. If you are solid at this grade and willing to run it out a bit you really don't have to bring any large gear. Aug 8, 2001
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
Starting with Slimy Spoon to the Lower Ramp and then the Grand Giraffe to the Upper then Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors makes for a great yet moderate link up with a huge variety of climbing from juggy face to fingers to offwidth. Nov 19, 2001
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
I think a #3 Camalot is plenty for the crux of this route, the pin offers good pro and then there is a good spot for the #3 about six or seven feet above. If I had brought a #4, I don't think I would have even used it and I suck at offwidth... Jan 13, 2002
Bryson Slothower
Portland, OR
Bryson Slothower   Portland, OR
I think I'm comfortable doing this pitch without any offwidth gear because I place a #3 Ballnut where you exit the crack and move onto the face. I've fallen out of the crux a few times (onto the pin) and still don't ever take a #4 Camalot when I do this route knowing full well that I will probably fall off of it again. It is all a matter of person comfort level. A #4 or #4.5 would definitely make it feel safer, I wonder what Layton Kor used on the FA in 1960????? Jun 22, 2002
The smallest Alien (.33) will also fit perfectly in the crack at the roof in lieu of the #3 Ballnut listed in a previous comment. Otherwise, it is nice to have a #4 and #4.5 Camalot. Feb 1, 2003
I would not head up to onsight this pitch without a #5 Camalot unless you are very comfortable in offwidths. It is conceivable that once you know the moves, rests, etc. you could do it comfortably without it, but (for me anyway) it is a daunting and awkward climb and having the #5 to essentially keep you on TR is reassuring. The pin comes just before the crux OW moves, and does seem solid. The #4 goes in a little below it, just in case. A few moves/grunts into the crux you can get the #5 in over your head and bump it along with you all the way to the bulge 20' above. If you are tall like me, you can also get a #4.5 deep in the crack a few feet above the pin, as you move into the crux. All told, singles of the #4, #4.5, and #5 make this pitch as comfortable as OW can be.

This route is fantastic and should not be avoided because of the OW. The lower pitches are great, the exposure is thrilling, and the OW is not that bad (I actually really enjoyed it). Apr 21, 2003
I recommend placing some gear right away, then run it out of you like. Or, place a big cam, whatever. Just don't trust that pin, it is old and awkwardly driven. No telling how good it is. Beautiful route. Have Fun! May 12, 2003
Bring one #4.5 Camalot, or like size. You don't need anything else other than a #4.5 for the crux to back up the pin. Nothing bigger than a Tech Friend #3.5 or Camalot #3 is needed for the other pitches. Double TCUs and stoppers are ideal. Be wary of the expando flake below the first pins on pitch 2. This is a seriously huge chunk of rock fixing to go -- tread lightly through this section! Jun 27, 2003
Scott Conner
Lyons, CO
Scott Conner   Lyons, CO
Great route. I thought the best pitch was actually the 5.9 left angling crack pitch (that breaks off from the Rover dihedral), though it's all excellent. The upper pitches are fun and also make a good alternative to upper-Ruper if crowded.

The crux was desperate for me and I was glad to have a #4 and #4.5. No Grand Giraffe onsight for me... Dang-it! Jul 16, 2003
David Conlin
David Conlin  
We did Grand Giraffe's first three pitches to Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors. This combo makes for a stellar day.

P1. 5.9 - There is a parallel crack just to the left of the upper part of this crack. I stayed in the crack on the right, but using the other crack might make it a bit easier. I really enjoyed this pitch.

P2. 5.6 (5.4 according to Rossiter) - this must've been the toughest 5.4 I've ever done. More like 5.6.

P3. 5.10a - my partner, Mike Flanagan, led this with a #3 & #3.5 Camalot. He fit the #3.5 below the pin for a decent (although not ideal) placement. He used the #3 higher in the constriction. It did not walk (though could have). Look for high footholds out on the right face as you move through the crux. At the roof, a blue Alien fits decently.

P4. 5.8s - Body Tremors.

P5. 5.10a - Smoke & Mirrors. May 23, 2004
David Conlin
David Conlin  
PS: This is a good choice in the morning in the summer. We were in the shade nearly the whole day. May 23, 2004
Not bad, but not my favorite Eldo route. Even though I am a Vedauwoo offwidth fan I would recommend saving this one for later. If you want the beta on pro, the above comments are terrific! Jun 12, 2004
L. Hamilton
L. Hamilton  
The 1970s gear beta for the crux pitch, back when this was a classic 5.8, was to trust the pin (and don't fall) for the first crux, then bring along one #10 hex for the upper part -- where it slotted in place "like a key in a lock." No worries about that walking out. Nov 20, 2004
Has anyone used BigBro's to protect the OW crack? If so, what size? I am guessing they may get in the way while climbing, or the crack might flare too much. They would be easier to carry than large cams.

Apr 18, 2005
In 1968, the Grand Giraffe was rated 5.8, and I climbed it with Pat Ament and Royal Robbins. Royal announced that we were going to take no pitons and use only chockstones that he had brought back from England. This was to be the first time nuts were used in Colorado. After thinking over the fixed pins already in place, I thought it would be OK and joined them. We never protected the 5.8 offwidth at that time, and it turned out to be Royal's lead. He stopped in the middle of the crux, turned around and looked down at us, and said " this is the hardest 5.8 I have ever done." He then turned back around and finished with no problem. I believe the gear we had were mostly Pecks and Moacs as stoppers, and hexes were far in the future. Jul 20, 2005
In reply to the coward. Yes you can use a bigbro, I think it was the blue, but it may have been green. I didn't lead it, or cleanly second it, (it is "harder than Pete") but in desperation and humiliation, I grabbed the big bro and used it like a big old ladder handle. It worked well for then, and now that I am a little better I will say that it is actually good to use a big bro if you are going to bring someone that isn't good with offwidth. What the leader of my party did was had a big bro, and then the old number 5 BD cam, and bumped them up so he didn't have to carry too many pieces. It worked well, and you can protect the whole OW with 2 pieces if you bump them. Aug 22, 2005
Did this the other day and thought it was great. I approached this thinking that the OW was going to a desperate grunt, but found it to be quite good. One thing to keep in mind with the GG is that the crux is very short. Overall, a stellar climb and well worth doing. I would recommend a #4.5 Camalot instead of a #5 and a #3 works well five feet or so below the roof. As for it not being popular (as described in the intro), I started this at 11:30 am and was the third group on it. Sep 26, 2005
Shane Zentner
Shane Zentner   Colorado
I would bring more than a #3 Camalot for the crux pitch if you're a 5.10 leader such as myself. I backed up the piton with a #4 Camalot (old one) which was a hindrance because I had trouble squeezing into the 'crack'. I managed, though, probably because of my guttoral screams while getting through the crux. May 15, 2006
Mike fenice
Boulder, CO
Mike fenice   Boulder, CO
Anyone that just brings a #3 Camalot is on the wrong route or crazy! After you clip the pin you can place a #5 Camalot that works well but a bit tipped-out. You can walk this up the entire route to the top. A big green Friend would also work well here. May 30, 2006
Don't overlook upper Grand Giraffe above the Upper Ramp. The climbing is much easier but very fun, and the routefinding is complicated with funky gear. The rock is solid although covered with lichen. Also, on the last pitch it is really nice to climb up and right out of the belay in a dihedral that is much harder looking than it is, instead of up and left according to the route description. Above is one of the nicest easy pitches on hueco jugs imaginable. Sep 4, 2006
Ian Wolfe
Fayetteville, NC
Ian Wolfe   Fayetteville, NC
I felt the 5.9 pitch was harder than the offwidth pitch. The offwidth looks intimidating from below, but it is really only hard for the first couple feet off the belay. I was expecting something longer and more sustained. Oct 16, 2006
Was able to link the first two pitches described here (First three guidebook pitches) into one, stopping just shy of the normal belay ledge. This was with a 70 m rope, which is long enough to make it to the regular belay (a 60 m might work?). Plenty of runners help, although I ended up with a fair amount of rope drag on easier climbing. Mar 23, 2007
Meredith DB
Boulder, CO
Meredith DB   Boulder, CO
Great route, and easier than I was expecting. I did much more chimneying than using pure offwidth technique.

Gear beta: a green Big Bro fits well in the wide section. Nov 10, 2007
Brian Weinstein
Brian Weinstein  
Thanks for sharing some important history about this route. That is part of what makes this site so unique. It's essential to know this kind of history to grasp the roots and spirit of climbing. Feb 25, 2008
Santa Monica, Ca.
YDPL8S   Santa Monica, Ca.
This was one of my first 5.9s (in the 70s), boy did I feel like a hack, OW kicked my ass. At the time it felt like my first Eldo adventure. Feb 28, 2008
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
A #3 Big Bro will protect the crux and a #2 Big Bro will protect the moves through the bulge. The best metal courage would be a #6 FR or C4.

This is a spectacular wide line, which is really all you knee to know about the crux moves. Mar 2, 2008
Eric Goltz
Boulder, CO
Eric Goltz   Boulder, CO
I brought only a #4 for the OW, and I still had it on my harness when I finished the pitch! You're better off bringing a #6 cam and walking that up; since a #4 Camalot doesn't fit anywhere above the (good) pin. Great route! Oct 20, 2008
Sergio P
Idaho Springs, CO
Sergio P   Idaho Springs, CO
An old style #5 Camalot works great, and a C4 #5 works ok. Apr 12, 2009
The absolute best pro is the old Chouinard 6" tube chock. The taper matches the crack exactly. Apr 12, 2009
You can get good C3/Alien placements out left at the little roof at the end of the OW pitch. May 1, 2009
Mike McKinnon
Golden, CO
Mike McKinnon   Golden, CO
Went up to do this route on the 3rd. Anyone who says you don't need a 5 or 6 for that matter is basically free soloing the whole off-width. I went up with 2 4s and could not find spots for them and was looking at free soloing the whole off-width. I declined and went and cruised Art's Spar which in retrospect is a lot better climb anyways.

I will go back up there but not without a #5. Jul 6, 2009
Theo Colameco
Theo Colameco   Boulder,Co.
Yeah, I am not a good climber but a happy and grateful climber! I was soo happy to be off to climb GG!! The offwidth section I followed!! [Like most pitches I climb!!] This was verry hard and I'm worse on sport 10s then classic 10s, I think!! The entire route was great!! The offwidth does demand respect!! Unless 5.12 face is a good redpoint for you!! Still a worthy and legendary route!! Thank you climbing Patriarch Jim Logan for your comments!!! They inspired me to say this precautionary tale! Aspiring Eldo 5.10 leaders this is 5.10!! Sep 10, 2009
One of the sweetest link-ups I've done to date: Grand Giraffe to Italian Arete to Smoke and Mirrors. Just plain AWESOME. Nov 27, 2010
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
Did the route a couple of days ago and here's what I think:

Combine first two pitches, kinda awkward but not the crux of the route for me.

I only ended using one #5 on the width pitch, you can just keep bumping it up and be fine. Walk far enough back and belay off the tree. So bring a #5 and a long sling and go!

Nice to finish with Italian Arete. May 3, 2012
That offwidth pitch is tough! I brought a number 5 C4, and I wish that I had brought two. I placed one at the low crux, and then I had to climb back down and get it so that I could use it again to place it for the upper crux. The upper crux is definitely easier, but it's fairly run out above a good #3 Camalot that I placed way back in the crack. There is a fixed knifeblade to protect the lower crux and a yellow Alien in an expanding flake that kinda protects the upper crux, but I was happy to have the #5 C4 to back up these dubious pieces. I can see how people can do this pitch with only #3s, but I would recommend two large cams unless you're feeling especially lucky. Apr 7, 2013
Rodger Raubach
  5.10a PG13
Rodger Raubach  
  5.10a PG13
The FFA was done by John Thomas (physics student at UW in Laramie.), sometime around 1962-63. I was still in the Army when it was done. When I climbed it ~ 1966, it still had an awesome reputation for being the ultimate "hard man" climb in Eldorado Canyon. Apr 18, 2013
419   Sacramento
You may be able to booty a cam (clean up litter) if you drag a coat hanger up to the offwidth crux. There appears to be a hand-sized Friend laying uncammed in the back of the 5-6 inch crack. It's probably 4 feet beyond arm's reach. Mar 14, 2014
Sagar Gondalia
Sagar Gondalia   Golden
The cam has been cleaned. It was an old, rigid stem #2.5 Friend. Jun 9, 2014
Mark Oveson
Louisville, Colorado
Mark Oveson   Louisville, Colorado
P1 is 5.9 for more than a short section. Felt pretty sustained to me, with at least two and maybe three distinct 5.9 cruxes.

P3 is...hard.

P4 and P5 can be run together in a very long pitch. If you are comfortable simulclimbing a bit, it works with a 60 meter rope. We stayed left and ascended a chimney-like feature with a few old funky pitons. This is a wonderful pitch! A bucket-fest dessert after eating your offwidth veggies. Jul 24, 2014
Boulder, CO
pfwein   Boulder, CO
My gear/climbing beta for OW: #5 C4, pin (i.e, pin below crux, not lower pin right above or part of belay anchor), bump #5 above pin, do crux move and climb a ways, insert #6, bump #6 a time or two to final position at roof. Can supplement with blue and yellow Metolius Mastercam sizes in flake below the roof. Apparently there is red Alien size to L of roof, but I didn't see it. Oct 6, 2014
over here
goingUp   over here
Not the most experienced or confident offwidth climber, so I took a #4, #5, and #6 (Camalots), the #4 I placed instead of clipping the old pin, shuffled up a bit, placed the #6, then 3 feet higher placed the #5 in the back of the crack, and back cleaned the #6 (thinking I might need it again), I placed it another few feet above the 5 just because....
This sewed up the offwidth. If I were to go back, I would just take the #4 and the #5, or the #4 and the #6 (just below the bulge). Either protects very, very, very well.
Balls of steel to climb this on old school, passive pro! May 16, 2015
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
Larry Hamilton's gear beta works well. Led this last year with a #10 hex and a couple quickdraws. I can't imagine a #3 C4 fitting better than the hex. I may have used a grey TCU at the top as a directional to keep the rope out of the crack. Feb 1, 2016
B. Smith
Denver, CO
B. Smith   Denver, CO
I got my ass kicked on the off-width. I linked pitches 1-2 which was a ton of fun!

There is a fixed piece of gear on pitch 1, so I think I only placed 2 of my own cams. Pitch 2 was a little tricky, and I found myself wandering between two crack systems to stay well-protected. These two pitches were so much fun and set me up to believe I was going to cruise the whole route.

My friend led pitch 3, and I was set up at the base of the off-width. Getting through the first 10-15 feet was the hardest for me. I clipped the shitty pin and placed a #5 far back in the crack to back it up, then decided to try to get the #5 back and got all jammed up. I was trying to smear feet on the face, and I have horrible off-width technique. I ended up taking twice before asking my partner if he wanted to give it a go.

In the end, my partner finished up the pitch, and I pulled on gear and limped my way to the top. I was discouraged, and we ended up going left at the top of the ramp and rapping. I have climbed a bunch of 5.10-5.11 pitches in Eldo and this one shut me down the hardest.

As soon as I was on the ground, I knew I would be back with a little more skill and technique.

Don't be discouraged. It is safe (definitely with a #5), but be ready for some full on fun! Feb 12, 2016
Todd Ra
Todd Ra   Golden
Finally got on this a couple weeks ago. Pretty sweet.

Honestly, if you climb OWs, this is probably a 8+/9-. It was significantly easier than I expected. Hammer (8+) is quite a bit harder than this guy, I think.

Note on gear: I led this with 1 #4. I brought up a 2nd one, but you can't place it anywhere above the crux. A #5 is definitely necessary if you want pro higher up (I kind of wish I had one). If you're solid on OW, the single #4 is probably enough if you don't mind running it out through some easier stuff. Mar 21, 2016
Kat A
Boulder, CO
Kat A   Boulder, CO
60' pitch per guidebook; we placed 3 pieces of pro - old pin, #5 and #6 C4 Camalot. The small gear on the face is higher up and on the left, past the crux and the second hard section - might not be obvious on lead. Mar 19, 2017
Dennis Collinson
San Francisco, California
Dennis Collinson   San Francisco, California
Gear sandbag alert: I wish I had brought 2 5s + 6s with me, dealing with back cleaning and bumping was difficult, because they had to be placed way in the back. Big ups to anyone who did this back in the day without big gear, but holy shit that was scary, and I wish I brought more with me. A lot of the placements were in between a modern BD 5/6. There's apparently a fixed pin I missed in the crux, which would maybe make me want to have less gear, but I'm still gonna double up next time I do it. Dec 10, 2017
Having a #5 and #6 C4 was nice. Dec 15, 2017
Owen Murphy
Fort Collins, CO
Owen Murphy   Fort Collins, CO
Was able to comfortably climb the o/w pitch walking a single #5 no problem. A #4 wasn't necessary, because the current pin in there is bombproof. It's over quickly, just keep moving.... Feb 1, 2018
Climbed The Giraffe yesterday. Rapped down feeling happy and victorious until I returned to the base of the climb. Some terrible human being stole my Osprey pack that had 3 cams in it. Have been climbing Eldo for a while and have never experienced cruelty of this nature. Climbers, beware! Mar 12, 2018
Danny Gilbert
Boulder, CO
Danny Gilbert   Boulder, CO
Jamie Logan's comment from 2005 is the raddest comment I've seen on MP. Stuff like that should be enshrined in the route description. Aug 22, 2018
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Thanks for the suggestion, Danny. I have enshrined it! Aug 22, 2018
Ryan Beard
Parker, Colorado
Ryan Beard   Parker, Colorado
Great route. The flakes on P1 below the pins are a little suspect. I’d be careful yarding on those. Nov 22, 2018