Type: Sport
FA: Stewart Green, Steve Westbay, and Kurt Rasmussen, 1972
Page Views: 6,536 total · 30/month
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Apr 13, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: 2017 Seasonal Closures - Partial Closure Lifting Details


The Drug Wall is the smooth slab capped by a roof to the left of a gully on South Gateway Rock directly across from North Gateway Rock. Silver Spooon climbs past a few bolts and drilled angles up the slab and then traverses underneath the roof to the gully. This felt pretty hard for 5.5 slab (I thought it was harder than the Finger Ramp 5.7), and the landing is bad if you fall before the first bolt, but after that it protects pretty well. Easy sandstone slab climbing doesn't get much better than this.


Drilled angles and bolts protect this adequately, fixed anchors in the gully to rap.

Addendum: bring long, long slings if you want to toprope this.


I have actually always considered this climb to be at least 5.6. The tricky part of this climb is the distance between protection and about halfway up you have to make a slabby/mantle move, is that possible? Sure felt like something like that to me. Follow the dihedral to the top. If you are going to set this climb up for some beginners to top rope, you better bring some slings, because the bolt anchors are around the corner in the gully. Nov 15, 2001
My (and several people I know) first Garden of the Gods lead. Personally, I don't find it to be nearly as hairy as some say. (If you ask me, it's a 5.5.) The line is a fairly obvious connect-the-dots up the bolt line (don't worry if you can't see the anchors while climbing, they're right around the corner in the face of the gully to the right (west) of the route - right where the roof hits the gully. There is one fixed pin the in middle of the face that makes the upper roof, and if you're feeling dicey in between bolts in this section, a quickdraw with a long sling can make use of this pin. The only other beta I can give is this: belay your second from the pins and rap down the gully on the right - the rope drag created by the pins being around the corner would make this a truly sucky TR. Mar 6, 2002
I think confusion over the grade has to do with how comfortable you are with slabby, balancy climbing. I learned on this stuff, so it feels pretty normal to me, but people used to higher angle rock (with holds!) can find it creepy. One note on this climb... no need to rap. There's a ladder of chopped steps coming down from the gully, to the right (climber's right) of the start. I've taken beginners on this route, and no one felt like they needed a rope to scamper down this. Paul R (coward but not anonymous) May 10, 2002
Amos Patrick
Estes Park
Amos Patrick   Estes Park
I always thought the rating was about right (considering it is the Garden of the Gods!). Just keep in mind that it is slab. There are some moves where you don't have anything to hang on to with your hands, which is a little concerning if you don't have much faith in your feet. Once you get to the top, it is fun to set up a TR (bring some webbing) climb the slab directly up to the anchors. I believe it is rated 5.10, but am not 100% sure. May 28, 2002
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
I climb slabs better than I climb anything else, and this still felt hard for 5.5. Funny how many differing opinions there are out there on this climb - maybe lots of us first lead this with a hangover or something. May 28, 2002
Bring some long slings if you're gonna top-rope it. The anchors are behind a lip. Be careful leading this one. I've known a few people who have gotten seriously injured on this, including my mom who broke her foot, had to have surgery, and was on crutches for almost six months. Jun 4, 2002
I didn't lead this one, but my buddy Casey Vavrina did. It was his first lead of any kind and he did a nice job. I found it to be run out to the first bolt and kind of tricky getting to the headwall. It was simply different from the other stuff we had been doing. Bottom line, a fun lead and a good slab to practice on. Aug 30, 2002
The ongoing 5.5 versus 5.6 discussion might consider the current wear and tear on the route. Namely, the slab moves on the superhighway are more "polished" than days gone by. Perhaps another winter will repair/modify the route. Mostly 5.5 low-angle, the polished moves feel more 5.6. Finesse, balance, less grippy in areas = 5.6 IMHO. Sep 22, 2002
I love this route. It's short, sweet and fun. I used to solo this nearly every afternoon for entertainment during long runs through the park. Once bet a guy I could solo it in roller skates...easy $20! ( it's surprising how sticky the toe bumpers are on those old '70s roller skates!). I'd say it's 5.5. Someone mentioned the direct face. I remember it as being about 5.10a. Never had the nerve to solo it, but it makes a great little top rope problem. The descent down the gully is easy unroped. For an extra treat, try starting on Cocaine...climb up until you can head up and right around the corner to join Silver Spoon just after it starts up after the leftward traverse...Acid Trip 5.9..first ascent by an old friend of mine, Scott Allen, in 1978. Oct 13, 2002
My 2 cents about the direct line: I'd say it's pushing 10a, or perhaps even harder if you stay out of the shallow cracks about 2/3 of the way up on the right. (I'd put it on par with Finger Direct - both in style and difficulty). Definitely worth trying while you have the TR set up - especially since it's one of those rare jems that allow for a hard TR off of a relatively easy lead. Nov 21, 2002
David Danforth
David Danforth   California/Colorado
This was my first lead too, and I'd say it floats between a 5.5 and a 5.6. The runout at the beginning isn't very bad, because there are some nice holds to get you there. And, I agree about the mantle move that's just before you cut right to head under the "overhang." Bring webbing too for the anchors that are around the corner. All in all, it's a great route for the grade. Dec 22, 2002
Climbed this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and felt that it was a bit harder than 5.5. My wife was second and she thought it was pretty easy. The pro is sufficient, but the hardest moves seemed to be just before reaching the next bolt. Perhaps that's the source of the rating ambiguity. If you're short like me, consider extending the belay down the gully a bit or sitting/hanging on the little ridge -- at least you'll have something to look at other than the waving tourists. Mar 25, 2003
It's definitely 5.5 - but only if you're used to climbing sandly slabs in the Garden. Otherwise, it may feel harder. I've done it no-handed. I don't say that to brag or anything but to point out that it's all in your footwork. Many people don't trust the Garden when it comes to smears. If you trust your feet completely, it's a walk with very little pulling. Definitely a fun one.

Also, definitely extend the anchor, or belay from the top or something. There are big ruts where the ropes have carved into the soft sandstone. We can avoid this by thinking ahead. Mar 26, 2003
When I did the first known ascent (you can never be sure in the Garden!) of this route and hand-drilled it on the lead in 1972, it was solid 5.9 friction climbing under the big roof. Very dicey and thin smearing, especially in EBs. Over the ensuing years it has gotten a lot of use and abuse, and now it checks in at 5.5. That's what I rate it still. That's what I rated it in my book "Rock Climbing Colorado." The mantle move is easier than it was 10 years ago, but it's still 5.5. I also replaced the first 2 drilled angles with beefy 8-inch long x 5.8-inch thick sleeve bolts a few years back for safety sake. Also I agree with Dan's assessment above concerning the anchors in the gully--this is not a good route to top-rope on with the current anchor placement. The grooves from pulling ropes at the belay stationis unsightly and uncalled for. I might reorient the anchors high on the opposite wall to ease this damage. I also advise folks to rappel down the gully rather than the face to avoid further damage to the slab edge. Apr 28, 2003
David Danforth
David Danforth   California/Colorado
Moving the anchors is a good idea. However, I think it might be better to tuck them away in the corner of the slab as opposed to the other side of the gully (given that I understood the comment right). Being around the corner, they would be kind of hard to access and off the route, some. If they were on the slab that the route is actually on, I think it would make it easier. Then, you wouldn't have to worry about rap scars in the rock because you could just rap down the face. My 2 cents.-cheers- Apr 29, 2003
But then you wouldn't actually get to finish the route, which involves mantelling over the top of the slab. Might as well enable the whole thing, eh? Apr 30, 2003
David Danforth
David Danforth   California/Colorado
Good Point. You Win. Apr 30, 2003
About 25' to the first bolt. Nice climbing but felt like a 5.6 to me. I used a 24' corelette to toprope and it just made it around the corner. We toproped the direct face route and it felt like a 5.8 using the crack 2/3 the way up. Jun 28, 2003
I would definitely rate this climb at a 5.5. Both my friend Jim and I climbed this route barefoot the other day. There are plenty of hand holds available if you know where to look for them. This is one of my more favorite places to bring beginners in the Garden. Aug 22, 2003
We will just come to a consensus and say 5 FUN and leave it open for everyone that wants to learn and just enjoy a nice day out. The grades don't really mean that much anyways. Oct 6, 2007
One of the Classics.... Nov 17, 2007
  5.5 PG13
  5.5 PG13
A fun route, but you have to trust your feet. It is easier and better for the rock to rap straight down the gully. I also recommend belaying on the arete and not in the gully, too, as this also helps to protect the rock. Sep 19, 2008
FT Carson
Nelson   FT Carson
If you don't clip the chains, you can climb out the steep section onto a ridge that takes you to the belay ledge for 99% Pure. It's like a 5.7R but makes for a easy top rope on 99% Pure, since you are not supposed to solo the gully to the right. Apr 5, 2009
Patrick Yarbrough
Colorado Springs, CO
Patrick Yarbrough   Colorado Springs, CO
What the fuck is going on with this route? I fucking get it, "trust your fucking feet", yeah, whatever. There are 5.10 routes that are just as smeary, just as runout, just as reliant on footwork in Red Rock Canyon as this simple 5.5 in GOTG. Did some holds break? Is it just sandbagged? What am I missing? I have plenty of experience on classic CoSpgs sandstone, but this sure as hell ain't no 5.5. Apr 6, 2016
Jared LaVacque
Anchorage/Grand Junction
Jared LaVacque   Anchorage/Grand Junction  
This line is 9a. If you can climb 9a and argue with my resume, call me out.

But, on an aside. This awesome rig was sketchier for me to climb, though great by all Garden standards, even after I was flashing consistently in the .12 grade in the 90s and redpointing .13/.14.

The lines in the Garden and the lines anywhere in the U.S. capped at .10, way prior to most of the comment making folks were born...and maybe your parents.

Old school 5.5-5.11 will kick your ass, get over it. Jun 19, 2016
Graham Montgomery
Colorado Springs, CO
Graham Montgomery   Colorado Springs, CO
The bolt line is very much 5.5 climbing besides maybe one 5.6 smeary move. The first bolt is a little high ball, but it's 5.4 to that point, and the bolts beyond that that are spaced so that there is 0 chance of decking, and each clip has a solid stance. I agree it's 5.5 especially if you consider Cowboy Boot Crack 5.6. Jul 5, 2017