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North Ridge

5.7, Trad, 2 pitches,  Avg: 3.5 from 372 votes
FA: U.S. Army climbers, 1950s, FFA: Harvey Carter, 1950
Colorado > Colorado Springs > Garden of the Gods > Montezuma Tower
Access Issue: 2017 Seasonal Closures - Partial Closure Lifting Details


Super classic. This is one of the best 5.7 climbs in Colorado aNd ascends the narrow North ridge of Montezuma's Tower, offering up good moves on reasonably solid conglomerate sandstone, tremendous exposure and short cruxes. Usually it is done in two pitches, although it is possible to do it in one pitch with a 60m rope. Keep in mind that you still will need two ropes for the rap off.

Begin at the base of the North ridge, climbing unprotected but moderate rock to the first of three giant eyebolts (5.7). Run it out up the ridge (5.4), threading a pothole along the way if you feel uncomfortable, until reaching a small ledge which, in 1999, had a 3-pin belay. One of the pins could be pulled out by hand but due to its orientation, provided good protection.

Pitch two is a short one, moving past a short vertical section (5.7) to the summit and a 3-pin belay.

Rap off to the West with two ropes (or one 70m rope)


A few QDs, a very small selection of cams and stoppers, and a long sling to thread a pothole.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Someone about to defecate on Montezuma's North Ridge.
[Hide Photo] Someone about to defecate on Montezuma's North Ridge.
The wife on the north ridge.
[Hide Photo] The wife on the north ridge.
As seen July, 2006.
[Hide Photo] As seen July, 2006.
Mike Sandoval leading the North ridge on Montezuma tower after threading the pot hole.
[Hide Photo] Mike Sandoval leading the North ridge on Montezuma tower after threading the pot hole.
Mike Tozzi leading the ridge - Fall 2013.
[Hide Photo] Mike Tozzi leading the ridge - Fall 2013.
Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower (photo: Dan Russell)
[Hide Photo] Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower (photo: Dan Russell)
North Ridge, Montezuma's Tower.
[Hide Photo] North Ridge, Montezuma's Tower.
Montezuma's spectacular North Ridge.
[Hide Photo] Montezuma's spectacular North Ridge.
Brian Mead belaying Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower.

Photo: Dan Russell.
[Hide Photo] Brian Mead belaying Jeff Russell on the North Ridge of Montezuma Tower. Photo: Dan Russell.
Looking down Montezuma's Tower, Garden of The Gods.<br>
Photo by Clayton MacBride, 2014.
[Hide Photo] Looking down Montezuma's Tower, Garden of The Gods. Photo by Clayton MacBride, 2014.
Fischer on top with all his glory.
[Hide Photo] Fischer on top with all his glory.
Another view of this great piece of rock.  Climbers are Dane Casterson and Tyler Enna.
[Hide Photo] Another view of this great piece of rock. Climbers are Dane Casterson and Tyler Enna.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Darin Lang
[Hide Comment] Additional beta from yet another ascent of this fine climb on 9/3, which refreshed my recollection. There is one giant eyebolt after the initial crux moves, then a bolt with a hanger. Thread the pothole and clip another pin before the belay ledge. A pink tricam or #3 hex makes the runout to the ledge reasonable. The belay now has a giant eyebolt and only one fixed pin. One more eyebolt on the short vertical section, and then to the top. A #2 Camalot/#3 Friend can be placed between the last bolt and the summit. Two giant eyebolts on the summit for the rap. I_ve done this climb 5 or 6 times now, and it still gets the juices flowing. Superb. Sep 4, 2001
[Hide Comment] The large boulder on the second move off the ground (right about where the climber is standing in the attached photo) is really moving now. Last year it was a little loose, and when I went up the route today it was all over the place. It felt like something I would not like to pull out on and have land on me or my belayer. So use caution getting to the first eyebolt as the rock is a big sucker. Apr 9, 2002
[Hide Comment] Just a note: we just attempted to do this route in 1 pitch. Turns out LENGTH isn't a problem with a 60m rope, but the rope drag on what is normally pitch 2 is just too gnarly to mess with (especially on a route where balance is such a huge part of things). Do it in 2. Apr 9, 2002
[Hide Comment] Despite Darin's questionable judgment, he got this route about right. In my limited experience outside this is one of the coolest routes I have ever done. I can't add much to Darin's beta, but I can address the rope drag. I found that a couple of good, long runners can help this a bit. I was able to do it all in one pitch. A great climb with plenty of exposure, both to the ground and to the tourists ambling about. Aug 30, 2002
[Hide Comment] Wow, what a great route! Cruising up this with both feet exposed to air is a real fun rush. Agree with the Beta about carrying a couple cams, and threading the one pothole. With just that minimal gear and the clips to bolts, a reasonably well protected route. I think there are only two-three 5.7 moves, this is a mental climb if anything. Great fun! Oct 19, 2002
[Hide Comment] Not to belabour the point, but that loose block is really loose. And it's the block on the left, not the block on the right (where the climber is standing in the photo), which looks like it might be loose, but isn't. Great route, have fun. Jan 12, 2003
[Hide Comment] Not to take anything away from a mega-classic route, but this line really should be added to the blacklist. I climbed it again last night and was amazed at how much modification the first pitch has undergone. The middle of the first pitch, especially, has gone from what might have been 5.7 or 5.8 smearing to a 5.3 staircase of cut holds.There's nothing that can be done about it now, of course, but since this website can be used as a powerful communication tool within the climbing community, routes like the North Ridge of Montezuma's Tower should be used to exemplify what not to do to our rocks.That said, I fully intend to continue climbing and enjoying this unique route.

And watch the hell out for that loose block at the start. That thing moves in a stiff breeze.... May 8, 2003
David Danforth
[Hide Comment] Yeah. last comment....i agree that the middle section is kinda like a ladder of rock and easy climbing. MOntezuma has been one of my favorite mod. routes in the Garden; ive done the route many times for a long time now, and as long as ive been climbing there, it has always been the same thing. So, my question for you, Chris, (or anyone) is if this section of the ridge was at anypoint of .7 or .8 rating to begin with? May 8, 2003
[Hide Comment] Let's not get carried away with criticism. This route shouldn't be blacklisted for the same reason Otto's route on Indy shouldn't be blacklisted. The modifications are very old - historic even. If you've done much at all in the Garden you've noticed these carved out pods in many places - the Practice Slab approach and Silver Spoon gully descent come to mind.

Don't get me wrong. It's not wonderful that they were created. But they aren't being created anymore and need to be viewed with a little historical perspective. May 8, 2003
[Hide Comment] Re: route modification...

I don't believe those dishes you're refering to were done intentionally. I think it's just the traffic on a popular soft sandstone route. Otto's Route is a different story. One would think the art of climbing had evolved since then but apparently not (see: S St Vrain, Boulder Canyon, Clear Creek Canyon, etc). May 11, 2003
[Hide Comment] Along the lines of what Dan had to say, view this route with a historic perspective. If you look at the FA info/background of the North Ridge you will see that the first DOCUMENTED ascents were by military personnel getting practice in. It is rumored that they chopped steps in. Oh well, it is part of the history of the route. So, it is the difference between what may be a 5.9ish route or a 5.7. Oh well, it is done and irreplaceable. The bottom line is that this is a great moderate (possibly in part to the route characteristics), possibly one of the best in the front range when you take everything into account. Just my two cents. . . Jun 9, 2003
[Hide Comment] I was thinking about this some more the other night. The steps were not chopped in to to make the route possible. That is, this was not someone's project that they were working on forever and just couldn't get so, they decided to make it easier (possibly similar to something like the alleged chipping on Kryptonite?). The "steps" were put in for easy access, they are part of the route and should not take away from this climb. Just another thought that I had. Jun 14, 2003
[Hide Comment] There are new = recent chopped steps up this fine route. Sections requiring smear moves just weeks ago now have a sequence of steps that are not the ancient/military ones referred to. I am disappointed to see this happen on the route, which I did with a party again today. Why is this happening?? Also, note that the left block on bottom is indeed loose, right start on right block is solid, and there is an overkill (probably about twelve) of chopped steps to access the leveraged move that are new and don't even add to the solution of moves off deck. Bummer. Oct 12, 2003
[Hide Comment] More chopped steps....JUST what the garden needs. Lets just hang a ladder from the top while we're at it. If you ever see anyone in the gardern carrying an alpenstock, please impale them on it. Mar 30, 2004
Matt Chan
[Hide Comment] Be prepared for some real runouts on easy terrain if you don't thread the pothole and use a few of pieces of gear (a #13 BD stopper, pink tricam, and a #2 Camalot). Granted this is easy climbing to the top of the ridge, but the gear will make you feel a tad more secure. Also, be very cautious around the loose rock on the left just off the deck. Apr 1, 2004
Gabe Anderson
[Hide Comment] Climbed Montezuma's north ridge yesterday....It was great fun. I felt that the crux of the first pitch was definitely within the first 20-25 feet. Not hard, just unprotected. Surprisingly to me, I got quite a bit of gear in. A #13 stopper, light blue tricam, along with .75 camalot, and a #4 flexcam supplemented the eyebolts and thread all on the first pitch. I'm sure a better climber than I wouldn't need all that gear. Overall very fun route....but made more interesting by a stiff breeze.You can easily rappel with a 60 m rope from the first belay ledge to the west. May 17, 2004
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] One of the best (7) climbs in the state? I beg to differ.This route left me wanting. A far cry from most (7) climbs in Eldo for instance. A decent warmup to others in the area perhaps, but too short and not sweet enough... Jul 11, 2004
[Hide Comment] Did this one yesterday. Fun climb. Felt very exposed with balancy moves for a 5.7, not a lot of hand holds, more of a trust your feet route. I was sad to see that this route has clearly been altered in a most profound way! There are many "steps" that have been carved into the rock. This route should be in the "chipped" section on this website as there can be no question this route was altered to make it easier. The steps are less than 6 inches apart and some are newer than others! Apr 17, 2006
Jimn Seiler
North Platte, NE
[Hide Comment] Regardless of the steps I found this to be a stellar route. As far as the previous comments about Eldo having better 5.7s, all I can say is it's two different worlds. It's like asking which city you like better, New York or Seattle? It just depends on what you want. Jun 24, 2007
Sara Weimar
Del Rio, TX
[Hide Comment] That loose block a few feet off the ground is definitely not part of the route anymore. I don't know if a climber or the weather we've been having lately that knocked it off, but it makes the start just a bit harder. Aug 14, 2007
[Hide Comment] This raps with one 70m, just barely. Sep 17, 2007
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
[Hide Comment] Climbed this route this morning. Awesome exposure/climb. At the top me and my partner couldn't find a definite rappel anchor....Just two bolts and chains. No Rap rings or carabiners located on the end of the chains. We ended up simply creating our own system with a rap ring and sling. If someone gets up there and knows how to rap it without our junk and ends up with an extra ring, I guess it's just good climbing karma for us..... Don't know how long that sling will last with UV exposure. Be cautious. Jul 3, 2008

[Hide Comment] We rapped off MT 3 weeks ago with no issues. I either put my rope through two eyebolts or two bolted hangers and had no problems pulling the rope. I'm pretty sure I didn't use the chains although I have elsewhere in the Garden. Jul 4, 2008
whitefish mt
[Hide Comment] Brendan and I did this route today and we both thought it was a beautiful line that challenges the sport climber in me. As for "chopped" steps. I think that it's sad to think that people are out there defacing rock to make things easier but I also believe that there are a lot of kids and teens playing in those areas and it may not be the act of a rock climber. Garden of the Gods is an amazing place and this is a beautiful climb. Sep 8, 2008
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] Pretty easy climb, but one fall and you're probably flying through the air on one side of the arrete or other with your rope searing against the soft sandstone. I think the exposure increases the grade on this climb. Oct 2, 2008
Matt McMurray
Castle Rock, CO
  5.7 R
[Hide Comment] Done in one pitch. Lots of rope drag if you belay from the top chain anchors, even with double length runners from the preceding pro. Great exposure, but I wouldn't call it classic.... Jan 20, 2009
Scott Matz
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] Bad day on the tower. On Saturday I was belaying from top, and seen a guy fall 50 feet off Red and White Spires landing straight on his back in the sidewalk. I heard him hit the ground from the tower, and the ambulance was there in about ten minutes. Not a good sight before the long rappel to the bottom. Feb 9, 2009
Sam S
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed today, such a fun route. A little bit of beta though:

This climb can be safely done with nothing but a set of tcu's, a #2 C4, a long sling and some draws (along with two ropes and something for the anchors). It is a bit runout in spots but that is half the fun!

This is an absolute classic and would recommend it to anyone, so airy. Aug 2, 2009
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
[Hide Comment] I found this to be a romp after climbing the 5.6 route on the south ridge of white spire. I think it took me less time to lead it too. Lead as one pitch with about 4 cordalettes and quite a few long runners and a #4 for up top. NO bad rope drag at all. Super fun regardless of the chopped steps. Mar 10, 2010
[Hide Comment] I would agree that this is both a classic and should not have bad rope drag. I threw in a couple of pieces, and while I could have done the climb without them, the placements I got were good and would have reduced falls significantly. No need to bring the whole rack though, it is mostly a sport climb. Mar 18, 2010
Taylor Tolle
[Hide Comment] I found to eliminate rope drag all together on this route just throw a 70m off to the East (right side of the climb) and free solo it. I have been doing this for a month or so whenever I can't get a belay partner, the climb is super easy and I have never had a problem with it.... If you really want a adrenaline pumper, repeat the same process only at Westpoint Crack, just forget the rope and walk off the back side. The sketchiest point is the second move on the 3rd pitch, other than that it's a great time. Jun 3, 2010
Colorado Springs
[Hide Comment] Ugly chopped bolts at the 2nd piece of fixed pro.

Since I climbed this last in October, someone has re-bolted this thing and chopped it a couple of times. There is a brand new bolt and hanger and 3 ugly chopped bolts on this classic route. This is sad to see, and I can only hope that it is a work in progress before the chopped bolts are pulled out and the rock is patched. Sad thing is that there is a chance for a cam just a few feet under this clip, and it isn't even really necessary. Jan 24, 2011
[Hide Comment] Mountainmicah83- hate to inform ya that the majority of the footholds you used were chopped in with an axe many years ago. Yeah, some of the chopped stuff is BAD, but convenience anchors were added for the, "Climbing is for everyone" crowd. Jan 29, 2011
Mike Nevko
Currently Charlotte
[Hide Comment] We used a 70m and 60m rope together. You could do the rappel with a single 70m. Jan 6, 2013
Aaron W
  5.7+ PG13
[Hide Comment] Getting to the first bolt seems like the most dangerous part to me. Except for the traverse which is extremely easy, most of the route is well-protected. May 25, 2013
Dom R
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Super fun and airy, pretty soft compared to most 5.7s I've done, but that's an East Coast climber thing to say, I guess. Didn't bring any gear, just used the bolts and the pothole, definitely run-out, but that's the fun in this climb. My friends all said to climb the chimney-like feature to the top (basically follow the spine the whole way), but after doing the initial move onto the vertical outside of the chimney, I stepped over onto the face and climbed the rails to the 'biggest rap anchor I've ever seen' on the top. This made for an awesome exposed finis,h and I highly recommend it, not hard at all. In the words of one of my climbing partners, "I've done this route a hundred times, during the day, at night, and I've free soloed it to get a stuck rope, and it still makes me nervous every single time I climb it." It's that good. Sep 30, 2014
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] A Colorado Classic route for the grade. A single 70m will get you up and down. Jan 31, 2016
Caleb Schwarz
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] One 70m rope will get you up in one, very run out, sport pitch to the top. Placing pro really doesn't make it much less run out. From the top, the 70m will get you to the bottom but with only 3-4 feet to spare on either end of the rope. Use caution. Mar 11, 2016
Mike Soda
[Hide Comment] This route is definitely an awesome classic. It can be climbed in a single pitch, probably even with a gym 40m, but it needs a 70m+ or two ropes to rap. Two gym 40s would work too.

This route may have been chopped in 20+ years ago, but the sandstone has been weatherized and worn since then. The chopped in hand and foot holds are now smoothed, round, slopey holds. They're still obvious and decent, but expect a lot of slopers and a lot balancing on friction.

Still an epic route, that I would repeat any time, and if you are a little nervous about it being runout, you can place everything from a 0.4 (and smaller) to a 1 on the first pitch. The second pitch is much easier, shorter, and more secure. May 15, 2016
Alexander K
The road
[Hide Comment] If you show up with only a 60m rope, you can still get down from the route by tying a 7m cordalette to your rope. Pass the knot or have your partner tie the ends to their harness, and rap a single line. Climbing it in a single 60m pitch is not a problem. Just place gear in the two rope eating cracks to minimize drag.

Also expect applause from the tourists when you make it safely back to the ground, even though they are clueless as to your inventive rappel shenanigans. May 16, 2016
Ben D.
  5.6 PG13
[Hide Comment] I was a little underwhelmed considering this is supposed to be one of the best 5.7s in the state. Still, a fun route and worth doing if you're in the area, looking for exposure, and don't mind the crowds.

The climbing itself felt a little soft for the grade, even in the cruxes, and is probably closer to 5.6. That being said, probably not a good choice for leaders just starting out at the 5.7 grade due to the balancy and runout nature of this climb.

If you climb this as a sport route, it's definitely PG-13 given the potential for injury if you do come off in any of the runout sections, particularly before hitting the first bolt.

As others have stated, a 70m rope will get you down in one rap. May 23, 2016
[Hide Comment] Climbed the first pitch using only the fixed gear and the slung hole. It did not seem too runout at any given time, and I am not disposed to be a confident climber. One of the most fun leads on a moderate route that I have done. If you are confident leading 5.7, you can probably do this without placing any gear beyond the sling. Keep in mind, I get nervous leading 5.8, so this is really not a difficult proposition for a 5.7 leader. Jul 8, 2017
Ben Iverson
Littleton, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Amazing route, it would be nice if someone could put chains at the top of the first pitch so people could rap down if they don't have 2 ropes for the top pitch. Jul 13, 2017
[Hide Comment] Just did this excellent route today. It's so iconic and has a great history, a must do for GoG, I would agree. All the gear looked super solid, the anchors were in great condition. The second pitch was tiny but brilliant, and the view from the bellybutton of the park was grand. I used a cam (and girth hitched a handle) along the way on P1. P2 was very fun, and I protected a big high step move w/ a blue TCU and a red Omega Pacific link cam. A 70m rope was perfect for the rap off the 3 bomber chain anchors. Aug 14, 2018
Cole Schnacker
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed 10/1/2018. Easily a sport route, and I honestly might recommend doing it sport. If you do, sport protection is quite sparse, but the climb is not very difficult, so it's just part of the fun. I felt like the climb was more like a 5.5-5.6, stairs are pretty much carved all the way up. I used 7 quickdraws (I think) and a sling for the pothole about 1/3 up the first pitch. Definitely could be done in a single pitch with a 70m, but the rope drag would be a big problem, so I don't recommend it. Easy rappel with a 70m rope off the side. Fun exposure and good view at the top! Oct 1, 2018