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Routes in Sphinx Rock

Black Crack T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Cheops S 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Crunch, The T,TR V0- 4-
Exit Stage Right T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Joint Venture T,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Lickety Split S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Locksmith aka Dihedral Route T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Return to Forever T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Slug AKA Summit Route 1960, The T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
So Honed Yet So Stoned S 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Sphinx Crack T 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Talus Food Crack T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Thinner T A3
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Type: Trad, 2 pitches
FA: Dave Bell, Chris Bell, Byron Nelson, 1982
Page Views: 1,880 total · 9/month
Shared By: Joe Keyser on Jul 16, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

14 Opinions

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Access Issue: Closed: Private Property - Sphinx Rock is on private property Details


This nice climb is on Sphinx Rock. It is one (free) route to the left of Sphinx Crack, in the big dihedral splitting the crag. It follows the dihedral from the base of the crag up to the ledge where Sphinx Crack starts. After this belay, the route continues up the dihedral to the top. Sphinx Crack is the obvious 5.13 finger won't miss it if you're at the right crag!

Pitch one starts with a 5.8 offwidth crack for about 20-30 feet. This section can become somewhat of a grunt fest depending on how you go at it. About the only pro in this section would be the #3 Big Bro, or MAYBE a #5 cam, but, I doubt it... After this section, you cruise more easily up the rest of the chimney at about 5.7. Belay at the large ledge.

Pitch two. Just left of Sphinx Crack, climb the dihedral. It starts as a fist/wide hands crack, then steepens up into a finger crack/corner. This part takes good gear (nuts, and small cams), and is pretty steep, but really fun. The crux is at the very end where the finger crack curves left to the belay. The best way I've found to do this is with this weird sort of two finger lay back with the right hand, while smearing up and around with the left foot. This is done with decent gear (a small cam works good, I think about the black Metolius) not too far below.

Walk off easily, around and to the climber's right.


The first (5.8 chimney) pitch will take a #3 Big Bro in the first 30 feet which is also the crux of the first pitch. Take a standard rack with maybe an emphasis on small and medium cams for the second pitch.


Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Frankly, I thought the route was hard at its grade. You can sew it up, but if you are not used to S. Platte rock, get ready for a hard ride. Aug 10, 2001
Joe Keyser
Scottsdale, AZ
Joe Keyser   Scottsdale, AZ
The route is probably tough for the grade if you're not used to crack climbing, or South Platte rock. I climbed it again recently, and personally, I have a lot harder/scarier time on most Eldo 5.9s than I do on this route (and similar S Platte cracks). But, this is one of my favorites. So, I guess it depends on what you are used to.... Nov 16, 2001
The grade felt right to me and I'm not very used to S.Platte. It's not the hardest .9 I've done down there either. I think the first pitch is better to be avoided by a fun slanting crack on the face to the right to a slab with bolts then to the ledge at the base of the dihedral. .10, 90 feet or so. Good last pitch, funky anchor on top. Dec 13, 2001
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
All things above have been refelcted upon... In any case, I hold the opinion that it's hard for its grade and "if you are not used to the S. Platte..." expect a hard ride. I did some 7 slab there with a 50' to the first both that sure made me move slowly. So, it depends on the climber. I'm a chicken on slopers anyway.

I have a harder time on 9s at Lumpy and the S. Platte, but climb X rated routes and free-solo at that grade in Eldo. I'm used to Eldo, that's all- I've climbed over a dozen years of sandstone, but my first consistent granite exposure was in 1996. Dec 14, 2001
Shane Zentner
Shane Zentner   Colorado
The second pitch is a nice hand/finger jam. I found the route to be hard for the grade, but that's just my OPINION. Either way, Locksmith is a worthy climb in an awesome area. Oct 7, 2002
The crux of the first pitch is a couple of moves just off the ground. I protected the first move with a 2.5 inch cam in the slanting crack to the right of the chimney. I then got a #5 Camalot in the chimney a little higher. It's a cruise after that. About half way up I chose the hand crack/ lay back rather than continuing up the chimney, seemed more direct to the belay ledge. The second pitch is rated 10- in the Colorado guide, seems a more appropriate grade in my opinion. Very fun overall. Oct 21, 2002
Right at the crux there's usually a bird's nest inside of the crack, so be aware of that. When I climbed it, the damn thing bit me on the finger and I almost lost it. Apr 28, 2003
Fun, fun, fun!!! The top of the second pitch is pretty stiff but you can sew it up with nuts and Aliens. I got a #3 Camalot into the back to the chimney on the first pitch where it narrows down, a #3.5 or #4 might work better though. The whole thing is easily done in a single 90 foot pitch. Enjoy! Jun 30, 2003
Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy  
I only climbed the second pitch of this one. It is a great line. 3-stars if it was longer. I think this one deserves a 5.10a. Jun 7, 2004
Stefanie Van Wychen
Denver, CO
Stefanie Van Wychen   Denver, CO
I thought this was a fair 5.10a route. The first pitch was a little funky to start, and is generally not very well protected for the first 25 feet or so. The second pitch is what granite crack climbing is all about and is well protected. Dec 14, 2006
Kit Suddreth
Kit Suddreth  
The first ascent was Dave Bell, his brother Chris Bell and Byron Nelson in the beginning of May 1982. I am quite sure, The 2nd ascent was Pete and Carly Hubbel, my partner (Brian Hurt), and I 3rd up, all over the course of those 2 weekends in May '82. Sep 8, 2017
Kit Suddreth
Kit Suddreth  
This route was always a favorite...especially after I was kinda sandbagged into it by David. It is appropriately named Locksmith as it has some very sequential jams and locks in it, solid 5.9 and a typical arching crack for Foxton ... ooops, I guess I should say the S. Platte nowadays. It eats stoppers and nuts very nicely, larger wires and nuts #4 - #11 was always my rack for it. Sep 8, 2017

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