Type: Trad
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Shared By: Joe Keyser on Jul 21, 2001
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Aeon Aki

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Dirt roads reopened as of June 2014 Details


This was described in the guide book as a classic route...deservedly so IMO! The approach to the base of the crack is hidden. Essentially, there is a huge pile of boulders and flakes around the base of the climb. So, if you walk up in front of this, and take a tunnel into a cave on the left, you end up in a cave with a hole coming out that would get you there. Instead of coming out of that hole, go all the way to the VERY back of the cave, look down to the right, and you will find a hidden easy chimney that puts you right at the base.

In any case, get to the bottom of the nice looking crack (one crack to the right from a huge chimney, Baldwin's Chimney, 5.4, that splits the whole face, and ends up at a chockstone on the left). The first half of the pitch is wide for about 50 feet. Wedge yourself into the thing, and heel toe your way up. I had my left side in, so, maybe rack up mostly on the right. After about halfway, the crack becomes an excellent, and steep handcrack until it peters out, and ends on a flat section. From the flat section, you go left to belay at the chockstone. You will have to jump over Baldwin's Chimney to get to the chockstone. Or, if nobody is watching, just downclimb, and cruise over to it...:) The belay at the chockstone can be made with slings, and/or your lead rope. And you could back it up with a large cam, but, with the same 100 million ton boulder.

To get off the route, you continue up the Parabolic Slab, (5.2). I'm reasonably sure you could also do this in the same pitch as Mother #1, and skip the chockstone belay. Either way, this continues up, and slightly right from the end of the Mother #1 crack for about 30 feet. It's a low-angled slab with crystals. No pro, but, no worries (maybe a little interesting in the rain). You can do a really fun, overhanging rappel off the back side of the slab (this is the same rappel that is shown on the back of the guidebook). This rappel takes you to a walk off that continues by sort of spiraling back down the crag clockwise.

You can also rap off the top of Father #1 which is the 5.11 finger crack to the right on Mother #1.

After we did this route, a geology student informed us that the rock is well over 2 billion years old, and some of the oldest rock they know of...pretty cool beta anyways!


This is a fairly long (maybe 110 feet??), fairly wide crack that ends up as a hand crack. I don't think I placed a single stopper, but a couple mid-big cams will do the job. It was nice to have at least a #4 cam. Bring long pants and tape gloves!!!

Per matt severini: there are now anchors directly on top of the crack that were placed in 2014.
I agree with Joe, and add the following:

- Yes, you can climb to the anchors on the top of the Parabolic Slab. I think this is the nicer finish. It can be done with a 50m rope. Just remember a solid directional in the top of the crack before you break up and right.

- The rappel off of the back of the Parabolic Slab can be done with a single, 50m rope.

- The offwidth section is not terribly difficult, but it's long enough that a handful of big pieces are comforting. Nothing big above the obvious horizontal, so don't bother to save anything beyond a #3 Camalot.

- The rack-right comment is dead on for the offwidth, but I found it most comfortable to turn around at the horizontal and climb the upper crack right-side-in (rack on left). Aug 31, 2001
Finally!! Proof that off-widths can be enjoyable!!!! May 31, 2002
Theo Barker
Formerly Loveland, CO
Theo Barker   Formerly Loveland, CO
The book says that this starts with 5.4 and steadily progresses to 5.7. I know my offwidth technique needs some work, but we agreed that the bottom is definitely harder than the handcrack top. You'll need #3 or #4 Bro's or #5 Camalot to protect the lower 1/2 of the route. We climbed Baldwin's Chimney and toproped Mother #1 from the Chockstone in the top of Baldwin's since our biggest pieces were #11 Hex and #4 Camalot. We put a directional at the top of Mother #1using a #2 Camalot. The rating is a little stiff IMO. I cranked out Hiatus on the Left Book on Lumpy much easier than this Mother ;-) Aug 5, 2002
Another alternative: set up your own anchor at the top of this crack. The pro is all there, and that way you can keep the rope straight. When your follower comes up, have him go past you and then hard Right to another set of rap anchors. Then you can both lower off back to the start. Easy and fast. Sep 2, 2002
You actually don't *need* to have anything bigger than say a #4 friend for this, although it's much easier to protect the bottom section if you do. Jul 14, 2003
jay baichi  
I led this with only a couple of 3 inch cams, a 3.5 and smaller pieces. I ran out of big gear and had to "be creative." Take a 4" or 5" for the bottom. Also, this crack is way difficult if your not used to offwidths. I've learned that the decimal system doesn't mean much here. It is easy to get over your head. I've led 9+ in South Platte that felt more comfortable. Jun 10, 2005
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
Jason Kaplan   Glenwood ,Co
Just did this route last weekend, racing the sun it was an epic of monsterous [proportions]. I got my rope stuck in the crack and ended up leaving it with all of my gear there over night, I almost cut my rope out the next morning after a few [frustrated] attempts to [retrieve] it. It got looped around another stuck cut out section of rope and locked in the crack pulling upward like a stopper. What a mess, but before I got to hacking I reversed the puzzle and pulled my rope free. I was just being a moron, but be careful because this crack can eat your rope.

With that being said I thought the rating was a little stiff for a 5.7 but I guess my technique lacked as I suffered , pulled gear and bleed up this course mother of a crack. I have led up to 5.9 trad and I thought this was the hardest and scariest 5.7 trad route I have done to date.

Even a small fall seemed to [remind] me of cheese in a grater. Just a little beta that would have helped me , get a piece and go, it only get's worse up [until] the top out (hand/ fists). I found it useful to get my right side in after the groove, but then again I grabbed gear once through that section.

I can see why it's a classic and mother #1 if you are ready for an ego bruising throw yourself at this. Oct 3, 2005
jay baichi  
Jason, I'm glad someone else thought this was as tough as I did. I agree, mother was the hardest 7's I've ever done. Jan 8, 2006
Just for clarification: The Parabolic Slab is actually formerly known as The Potato Chip, for obvious reasons. Why this was renamed The Parabolic Slab I do not know. May 9, 2006
Sagar Gondalia
Sagar Gondalia   Golden
Or if you walk 10 feet to the north of the ledge at the base of the potato chip you can rap to the ground using the chains presumably setup to toprope Flying Buttress. Jun 19, 2007
Phil Persson
Denver, Colorado
Phil Persson   Denver, Colorado
Hell. Apr 20, 2009
colin tuck
colin tuck   Moab
With just a little bit of offwidth technique, this is an awesome, sustained 5.7+. Bring one #5, one #4, two threes and then hand size Camalots. Belaying from the top of the parabolic slab is definitely the way to go. May 9, 2009
Nick Fury
Boulder, Colorado
Nick Fury   Boulder, Colorado
Easiest way to get back to your gear after ascent is to rappel off the rings about 20 yards to the right of the top out. 60m got me right to the bottom. Mother #1 was awesome. I hokey pokied with my left hand in. Definitely a humbling 5.7+. Jul 13, 2009
Top Rope Hero
Was Estes Park, now homeless
Top Rope Hero   Was Estes Park, now homeless
OK...you rack-on-the-right guys are whack and have my admiration. Do what?!?

I racked left and faced left the entire way. Happy to have a #4 and a #5, both of which got pushed up the struggle.

Good times, though. A fabulous first OW for anyone new to Vedauwoo.

And? Let's be serious, fellas. Belay from the chockstones on the left? Do we have magic, no-friction ropes, then? The tip-top of the crack makes a fine anchor (save your #2s or black Aliens) and the second can leap frog with the leader up to the flat section.

And while we're at it, I know this is the big "V" and all and we're supposed to swallow all the hard-man sandbags like we're Marlborough Man tough. But anywhere else in this universe, this would be a 5.8. The Wind Ridge (Eldo), Kor's Flake (Lumpy), Bastille Crack (France...er...where?) all are fine, fine 7s. All, too, are banana splits in comparison.

This thing doesn't even compare locally. Go waltz up Edward's Crack (Walt's Wall) in your approach shoes (easily done) and tell me it's the same grade as Mother. Nooooooot. (And no, I don't buy into "+" and "-" ratings for 5.7s.

Five. Point. Eight. Jul 27, 2009
Laramie, WY
Petsfed   Laramie, WY
I hate this fight, but I have to put in the caveats that explain the grades:

First, offwidth requires a different understanding of grades. If you consider Easy Jam to be 5.4, everything else makes sense.

Second, these grades assume zero issues with gear. Hideaway Chimney notably vacillates between 5.5 and 5.7 depending on if you are leading or toproping/soloing.

Third, Edward's is NOT benchmark 5.7 at Vedauwoo. There are one, or maybe two moves of 5.7, and the rest is 5.6. Lower Slot Left, Slit (or whatever the good sister of the Three Sisters is), or the first pitch of Nexus/Moor Crossing are all benchmark 5.7 crack climbs at Vedauwoo. Compared to say Lower Slot Right, or Captain Nemo (first pitch) or Straight and Narrow, Mother #1 is clearly easier. Thus, 5.7+ or (if you're feeling generous) 5.8-. If you object to the way things are graded, I encourage you to climb every single sub-5.10 route at Vedauwoo so as to develop a better hierarchy. Jul 27, 2009

Takes a while to get dialed into the subtle intricacies of Woo climbing also. Like Brian says, after you have done a lot of them, it makes sense and kind of falls into place better. Not including the 11b offwidths for some reason.... Jul 27, 2009
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
My second route in Vedauwoo, after warming up on Baldwin's Chimney. Way humbling. My friend and I took a trip here to work on our OW technique, and jumping straight onto this first thing is like learning to swim by jumping off a ship in the middle of a storm. That being said, it was great fun, and after trying some 5.8s in the area on subsequent days I think that the rating is correct.

Parabolic slab is a nice way to finish, and lets you do the cool rappel. We did it with our 60m rope and had plenty to spare.

I was also definitely happy to have up to a #5 cam for pro. Jul 27, 2009
Just wanted to say that, even with a good working knowledge of offwidths, even with all the technique you could ever want or need, even with a familiarity with the type of climbing represented at Vedauwoo, many climbs here are just plain sandbagged. That especially goes for the offwidths, though that is nothing unique to Vedauwoo. Many offwidths here have even been upgraded, and they are still sandbags. Might as well call them what they are. Jul 29, 2009
Greg Speer
Fort Collins, CO
Greg Speer   Fort Collins, CO
My first Vedauwoo off-width. I followed Rob who provided a great tutorial as he led. Without that I would probably still be on the route. Turned out I actually enjoyed it although I did work my ass off. I was pleasantly surprised to find that arm bars, chicken wings plus heel-toes actually work. Ditto on left side in. Aug 28, 2009
Brandon Glanton
Estes Park, CO
Brandon Glanton   Estes Park, CO
The definition of a BURL-FEST. Feels more like 5.10. Given the fact that it's off width (awful width) makes for an accurate grade of 5.7+ Strenuous climbing with really good gear. Recommended for a first lead/ exposure to Vedauwoo climbing style. Aug 20, 2010
Ben Brosmire
Ben Brosmire  
This classic is a true initiation to OW. I used every technique I could think of and then some! I racked right and felt pretty good going left side in for the bottom to just above the first horizontal crack. Things got messy with very little to work with for the right foot shortly after that. Really had to trust my arm bars & knee jams and not care that I lost a pound of flesh. I liked the #3 C4s on this the best and found a great placement for a #1 Friend right at the crux. There was a move or two that seemed to push the 5.8 boundary, but I'd say 5.7+ is accurate. I felt the sustained nature makes it seem tougher than it is (hence the +), but I found spots to breathe when I needed it. I'm of the opinion that I've been spoiled by cushy, inflated ratings at other areas, and a 5.7 like Mother #1 is closer to the standard.

A couple of rap tidbits:

1 - If you rap off the anchors above The Postman, a 60m rope doesn't quite touch the ground but is sufficient. Short scramble to your pack.

2 - The rap station on the other side of Baldwin's Chimney above Whipping Boy is a dubious bolt-washer setup with some manky slings (as of Sep., 2010) rspecially with a bit of free rappel thrown in. I'm still here typing, so I guess it worked. Drops you right beside your pack. Sep 18, 2010
Cam Reade  
No draws needed. (2) #5 @ the bottom, (3) #4s in the middle, (3) #3 at the top. Belay off bolts on top of the Potato Chip. Lower down to rap bolts 30' below at base of slab. 60m rope just touches the ground. Sep 27, 2010
Farmington, NC
Carolina   Farmington, NC
If you're new to the Woo, you got to get your A$$ on this one! Bring a large cam and walk it up with you. The whole climb can be done with a #5 and a #6. Nov 8, 2010
Scared on Toprope
fort collins co
Scared on Toprope   fort collins co
Climbed this cuz it looked rad. Got a sick hex in before the horizontal. Who cares what the grade is? O_o May 14, 2011
Did what we thought was the "easy chimney" approach (could be!); in any event, it's become some sort of piss vault. I feel dirty after rubbing my body on the latrine walls. Smells rank in there. Sep 2, 2013
Laramie, WY
cstebbins024   Laramie, WY
There is now an anchor at the top of Mother #1. Frequently there were traffic jams at the anchors atop the Parabolic Slab (Potato Chip). Additionally, if you do the Potato Chip rappel, there was once a nest of webbing that many used to reach the bottom on the south/southeast side of the Nautilus. The nest of webbing as been replaced with super secure 1/2 bolts. Same area as the webbing, just look around by your feet. Jun 16, 2014
Hiro Protagonist
Hiro Protagonist   Colorado
Led this today, brought a single #5, double #1, 2, 3, 4. Pretty easy to use all that gear. I used a 0.75 at the top just as protection against stupidity - easy to runout the low angle, handcrack top. No slings or nuts needed. If you are confident at offwidth, I'm sure you don't need much gear, but for the rest of us....

If you have it, double #5 or a 5+6 could be used to protect the lower half. #6 later than the #5, when the offwidth really gets bad. Personally, I pushed the #5 along for a quite a way but did put in a #3 at some point just to backup a failure of the #5 (or a failure of my pushing).

Anchor is almost directly above the main crack, twin bolts in a European chain configuration. A fine belay spot to relax while bringing up your second. If you belay from here, you'll need to traverse the Parabolic Slab to whichever anchor you want to rap off of.

By the way, definitely start in the cave, it adds to the ridiculousness. I climbed with long pants, t-shirt, and no tape gloves. It worked out fine, YMMV. :)

As for the grade, it's offwidth, it is a workout. It's small enough to wedge part of you body in to keep yourself from falling out but big enough to be annoying and small enough that it can be protected with cams. So whatever grade that is.

HIGH TOP shoes or protected ankles highly recommended!!!

BETA - once you reach the narrow section at the top, you can drop the awkward wiggle, face directly into the crack, and walk up it like you would at the Creek. Jul 14, 2014
Laramie, WY
cstebbins024   Laramie, WY
The new anchor is totally safe for rappelling according to Fixe. Aug 28, 2014
Russ Keane
Asheville, NC
Russ Keane   Asheville, NC
This climb is so freaking hard. The crack is really rounded in its off-widthiness. It's also steep. You can't really push off on the sides like you can with many of the other cracks. Difficult technique. 5.8 by any reasonable climbing standard. Sep 25, 2016
Keith W
Keith W  
After having TR'd this a few years ago and then coming back this weekend to give it another go, I think the grade is fair. Offwidth is hard, and you just need to hone your skills. After finding my offwidth groove a little more, this definitely goes at a solid 5.7. Overall just a great route. I know you probably don't really need it, but I was happy to have a #6 and 2x #5s. I also took 3 #4s and a few #3s, and that sewed it up after bumping the 5s and 6. Aug 28, 2017
crackatoa Spiesbach
crackatoa Spiesbach   Boulder,Co
The thing that makes this feel super hard is that the crack flares so dramatically. It goes form like hand crack to a chimney size in 3 feet. Work the heel toes and keep grinding up. I'm proud of this one, even if it is only 5.7, but in my opinion this thing is as hard as Mainstreet, if not harder, and they grade that 10a. This felt more sustained that that. I am not saying this is overgraded, but now I think Mainstreet is undergraded. Apr 30, 2018
matt severini
Salt Lake City, UT
matt severini   Salt Lake City, UT
This was an amazing route. So much fun. If you are thinking about this, you should absolutely get on this thing.

Note to admins: I almost didn't get on this because of the description about the anchors (it was late in the day, and my partner was shot). Could we change the description to reflect the anchors directly on top of the crack that were placed in 2014? Oct 14, 2018