Type: Trad, Alpine, Grade II
FA: [Steve Mestdagh & Chris Haalend, Summer '85]
Page Views: 9,785 total · 46/month
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Sep 6, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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From the trailhead described (known as the McCullough Gulch Trailhead), hike for a mile to a small lake. The route is directly above the south end of the lake.

Climb a clean but hard to protect 5.4 slab until it turns into a loose rock pile. Scramble up the rock pile to the base of a steeper wall leading to the upper ridge, and climb a short 5.3 pitch to a grassy bench on the ridge crest. Walk a few hundred feet along the grassy bench on the left side of the ridge to the base of a steep gully. Climb a long hard to protect 5.4 slab in the gully and set a belay wherever possible. One more pitch leads to easy but loose rock.

Scramble up easy 3rd and 4th class rock to the start of a menacing looking chimney. One pitch that felt like 5.6 to me climbs inside the chimney with bomber gear in interesting horizontals. Once on top of the chimney, the rest of the orute is an easy 3rd class scramble to the east slopes trail, and then follow the hordes to the summit.

Descent: Descend the east slopes trail. We bushwhacked down through trees and steep scree to get back to the McCullough Gulch trailhead, but this was incredibly unpleasant. A better option is to just take the normal route down and walk or hitch along the road back to your car.

Route finding on this can be a little difficult, and an easier way is almost certainly possible (though some summit register entries complained about the 5.6 chimney also). It is great fun to be totally alone on a technical route, and top out in the middle of hordes of tourists.


A light rack is fine-a set of stoppers, a few tricams and hexes, and maybe a few cams. Protection is pretty sparse, and belay anchors can be less then bomber.


Cool addition! This is a relatively easy adventure route and a good way to get a technical ascent of another 14er.

At the start of the route there is a smooth wall on the right that looked hard, then a broken buttress just to the left of that, and then another buttress farther left and maybe down a bit. We took the middle buttress, which topped out in talus about 1.5 pitches up. I ripped a handhold on the first pitch, fell, and caught myself on a clump of grass - so obviously be very paranoid about loose rock.

After getting up a little higher, we decided that the start farther to the left looked a lot better than what we had just climbed, and possibly fit Roach's description better.

We never found any 5.6 chimney, but we did find a 5.4ish stemming dihedral that was really nice, just a little too short. Then we got hammered by a blizzard (mid July), and abandoned the ridge for loose scree gullies, and eventually made the summit in a near-whiteout.

We too cut cross country back to the trailhead, but didn't think it was too bad, just a little tedious sometimes. A GPS and a topo map would make this shortcut trivial, and probably more fun. Sep 6, 2001
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
I think we took the clean buttress you were talking about-there was about 100 feet of very nice clean slab before it turned into choss.

The chimney and the dihedral may be the same thing-I thought it felt like 5.6, but I was altitude sick and wearing a pack so that could definitely have shaped my opinion. I think we deinfitely took a different way down though-we suffered slogging down really steep loose scree and prickly plants. Sep 6, 2001
Julian Smith
Colorado Springs, CO
Julian Smith   Colorado Springs, CO
Hey now. Everybody seems to have done a pretty good job with the route description. But here's my two cents worth anyway. Based on everyone's description, the route seems to start from a small col located at the southeast end of the above mentioned lake. The lake appears to run west to east, with the outlet on the east end. I started up talus lopes early, and reached the col from the east side. Only then did I see the lake. I [figure] it actually saved quite a bit of time and wasn't too gnarly (disclaimer - I love climbing Canadian Rockies limestone). There was a very clean, but steep slab of rock on the right with a buttress on the left as described above. I climbed up the gully on the right hand side of the stuff in-between the slab and the buttress. Perhaps a rope length up the gully, there was a rap station. This was the only sign of any fixed anchors on the route. Overall the route is very loose, but enjoyable and worth the climb. I agree with the above statement about ignoring the route description and just picking out the best line. I never saw any of the features mentioned above (5.4 stem, 5.6 chimney), beyond the first pitch. Bushwacking to the car is defineately the way to go. The east ridge trail appears to go north for a little ways on the descent. This is after the super huge cairns. Stay on the trail until it swings back south. Leave the trail and follow the terrain on a downhill traverse to the east. Keep a sharp eye out for the best path down. With judicious route finding, you can stay on humps of grass most of the way. There is a short cliff just above the road. A down climb through a gully is in the center. This put me out on the road about 200 meters east of the gate. Cheers. Sep 23, 2001
Glad to see routes like this in here, didn't know they were posted! I have been on this twice (well sort of) with some interesting experiences.

The first time we started about where indicated but ended up left a bit in a system of strange brown rock (that was not very good). We were late anyway, so we climbed up a ways then bailed. Climbing was much harder and steeper than expected on the route, and some very questionable rock (good indicator of being off-route). Partly could be that we were climbing in boots, but it was a while back so I'm not sure now. Don't remember exactly what we did to get down, though I know we didn't summit.

The 2nd time we decided to climb it in January, but it was a nice day so it seemed alright. Unfortunately there was some verglas on the slab. Put on crampons and found the slab very unpleasant, traversed right, got some "good" frozen-plant foot holds, found the chimney and dihedrals mentioned in above comments.

After a couple of pitches, we headed up and LEFT, across a ledge/slab system. Came to a crack near the left edge of the arete, which had at least one and maybe two fixed pins. This was on pitch 4. Crack probably fairly easy if not wearing boots and crampons. We stayed on the edge of the arete as it levelled off to the right and joined the remaining jumbled (4th class?) line to the summit. Was too late in the short day to make the summit especially with routefinding, so we walked off down the "back" (south?) side of the Inwood Arete formation.

We did 5 or 6 long pitches total (route lengthened by our zig-zag to get onto the actual arete).

Side note: There is a fun mostly-snow couloir a little ways to climber's right of this route. It further right than the giant clean detached block that leans against the mountain. May 29, 2002
The rock quality is extremely poor on this route. Some pitches (with a 60 m rope) have no protection and no place to set an anchor, so be comfortable soloing on rotten rock. I wouldn't climb it directly under another party--rock fall is almost a certainty. Jul 22, 2002
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
The last poster must have been off route. There is some loose rock on this route, but I always got decent belays and mostly got decent gear. This route is not like climbing in RMNP, but neither is it like climbing in the Fisher Towers. Jul 22, 2002
Steve Mestdagh
Boulder, CO
Steve Mestdagh   Boulder, CO
First ascent: Steve Mestdagh & Chris Haalend, Summer '85. This climb was named in memory of Julie Inwood (of the Boulder Parmakian family). Julie was my girlfriend at the time of her death in Peru earlier that year. Aug 13, 2002
Shawn Shannon
Everett, WA
Shawn Shannon   Everett, WA
I attempted this last weekend and retreated because we thought we were moving to slowly and started too late to avoid afternoon storms (which never came, and led us down a very dangerous retreat which I'll warn everyone about when I get back). We're going again this weekend and I was hoping to get some beta on the upper part of the route. We headed up the slabs (avoid the brown rock!) and followed the ridge/arete almost to the two big towers. Roach's description doesn't mention these and I was wondering the best way to deal with them. Do I go through the middle of the notch, do I go to the side of the one on the left? I never real close but we couldn't come up with a happy plan of attack and I was hoping to have more info before I get there. Thanks in advance for your help. Jul 11, 2003
Legs Magillicutty   Durango
Michael Ellison and I set out to climb Inwood. I think we may have been on 1 or 2 pitches of the actual route itself. The route we were on, we are claiming the FA and naming it The Twilight Zone Arete. So many oddities occured during our climb. If you like choss, enjoy dropping rocks on your partner, having rocks dropped on you, having hand and footholds crumble to the touch, enjoy the company of pikas whilst they chew on your rope, scream with delight at the thought of bats occupying the few descent holds and then flying out at your face, mountain goats with attitudes at altitude and enjoy the fear of thinking that the face you're climbing will at any time crumble into the abyss, e-mail us and we'll give you the secret beta of this new found pile of choss. *

Nonetheless, whatever we did, we made it to the summit and we hiked out under a full moon laughing most of the way back to the car.

A great alpineering experience.

  • Disclaimer. Because people are sensitive to FAs, note that I have a twisted sense of humor an I am kidding. BUT I KNOW WE GOT THE FA CUZ NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD WANT TO CLIMB THIS ROTTEN ROUTE!!! AND WE'RE CLAIMING THE FA CUZ IF ANYONE DID CLIMB IT AND NAME IT THEY WOULD NEVER ADMIT IT!!! end disclaimer.
Aug 30, 2004
(Name withheld) took a leader fall off the first pitch of Inwood Arete on Quandary Peak last Sunday, resulting in about a 25-foot grounder and two badly broken legs. (Name withheld) recalls a handhold breaking off in his right hand, precipitating a fall which caused an otherwise well-placed nut to shatter the crack in which it was placed when weighted. This unfortunate chain of events is not surprising when you read the route description for Inwood Arete, which describes the first pitch as hard to protect and full of loose rock.

The good news is (Name withheld) is alive. What's more, he is in excellent spirits following his accident and two surgeries. Aug 19, 2005
Jason Wine
Denver, Co
  5.4 PG13
Jason Wine   Denver, Co
  5.4 PG13
Made my second attempt on this route today and again I was turned back by weather. For the first pitch, there is an obvious crack right up the middle of the slab on the far left that I have taken in both attempts. It seems longer, but the climbing is really solid and it protects well. Great belays also. We followed this line up to the top of the sharp ridge where the weather was starting to roll in. Fortunately, it is possible to bail off the East side of this ridge. One rappel and some downclimbing gets you to Terra Firma. Aug 21, 2005
For an alpine route, this is a waste of time. It is certainly better than the cattle route up the East ridge but, come on, if you're going to do an alpine route it should be fun, and a challenge-- bag this 14er by the much more fun Cristo's Couloir on the South side.

My buddy and I did this easy route last summer and found nothing of interest about it-- the views aren't great and the climbing certainly isn't: the slab at the beginning is ok but run-out (rope is useless), which leads to no good anchors; the chimney is super loose choss, and the rest of the route is 4th and 3rd class (choss or loose scree). A rope provides almost no protection, either because there aren't gear placements or the rock is too loose to hold a cam or nut.

Either be comfortable soloing 5.4 or don't do it. The only highlight of this ascent is on the descent of the East ridge route and getting wide-eyed questions like "do you need that (pointing to the rope and rack) to get to the top?" from all the hypoxic Oklahomans and Missourians. Jan 24, 2006
Boulder, CO
Lordsokol   Boulder, CO
Well although I agree with Andrew (above) about the fun of descending the East Ridge and scaring the tourists, I disagree about the quality of the route. Go here for some cool pics of my Winter Ascent:


The route was quite enjoyable in the Summer and Winter added a level of difficulty that made it (almost) a high quality Winter Alpine Route. I do agree that it is best done as a solo climb, not much to accept pro. The immediate area has an abundance of smooth granite faces and seams. Look here in the very near future for photos and descriptions of a few new lines that my partner and I have been working on. Apr 14, 2006
Andy Leach
Denver, CO
Andy Leach   Denver, CO
Normally I don't give much heed to people that badmouth alpine routes as loose and dirty etc. I figure they're just sport climbers not used to the alpine environs. However, in this case I agree - Inwood Arete is a pretty nasty route. I won't be back. We did the direct 5.7+ start. It was wet and dirty. We also found what could be the dihedral/chimney people are talking about. The dihedral we found was easy but the roof at the top was a bit challenging - 5.7 maybe? It was also wet and dirty. Anyway, each of those sections made up about half a pitch each - the rest was 3rd/4th class with a lone 5th class move thrown in here and there. My advice would be to choose the path of least resistance and leave the rope, rack, and climbing shoes at home.

You can find some photos and full blown trip report on my web site: andyintherockies.com/trip/9… Aug 21, 2007
Did this route about three weeks ago with two friends and we all thought it was a "CLASSIC" alpine ridge. The 5.7 direct start is easy for its grade, and if you aren't just a punter who only clips bolts in a gym, placing pro is a snap. We didn't experience any unsafe run-outs. The positions on the ridge are pretty classic. We stayed on the crest of the ridge the entire way and got sweeping vistas along the route. Going to either side of the ridge does provide less than desireable quality rock but staying ON the ridge itself offers up solid rock and fun scrambling. After the direct start, the climbing is mostly 4th class but there are some good 5th class moments. A light rock rack with a handful of Stoppers and three-four cams but take lots of slings including some doubles.......Easy access and descent. Aug 21, 2007
Adam Schatz
Broomfield, CO
Adam Schatz   Broomfield, CO
I agree with Andy. We stayed on the ridge as much as possible, except we didn't climb the actual towers which didn't look like they were worth the trouble.

Interesting to note .... when we got to the top of the direct start, I noticed a bolted anchor with chain and a bolt about 10 feet or so below, presumably to protect the last 20 feet of the pitch which was totally wet. It was about 20 feet away from our belay but it looked fairly new. I thought this was a weird place to find fixed pro. Sep 10, 2007
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
Well now...there certainly are some opinions on this route. You can avoid most of the scree by staying on top of the arete, and the climbing there is fun if not especially challenging. The dirty, wet direct starts, and the poorly-protected 5.4 slab, can be avoided by staying left and scrambling up the arete also. The exit move from the 5.4 dihedral is not hard if you're reasonably comfortable doing easy 5th in boots.

Overall I thought the route reminded me of Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon, though not as sustained and not quite as fun. If you like alpine scrambles, this is a good one...if you're looking to do gymnastic 5.10 on perfect rock, you should look elsewhere. Aug 25, 2008
Chris Plesko
Westminster, CO
Chris Plesko   Westminster, CO
This is a fun route though not a classic. The rock is plenty solid enough if you stick to the arete, and there are solid belays. Yes, you need to use your alpine protection evaluation skills, but the rock eats gear of all sizes. We took a moderate size single rack and never were at a loss for gear. The climbing is a choose your own adventure thing, and you can really make it as easy as you want. We did the direct start which is soft for 5.7 and protects fine, you just might have to clean a little moss from the cracks. Some of the technical climbing is discontinuous, and we moved the belay a couple times so that we each got fun rock pitches. All in all, we belayed 5 pitches trying to stay on the arete as much as possible and going over the towers. When the climbing looks easier, just unrope and scramble to the ridge and then the summit.

On the way down, we followed the east ridge trail most of the way down, and just before a bench we started contouring north and gradually down. Game trails are available most of the time and it's easy XC travel. When you see a clearing in the forest, there will be another talus field. Follow this down on the right side, and then find more game trails staying to the right of an old mine. Head down and left, and you will shortly pop out on the road near your car. Jul 12, 2010
Ward, CO
MattRedford   Ward, CO
We did this route last Sunday, and while it was very pretty, there was very little climbing to be had. We had intended to do the 5.7 crack, but it didn't look very fun. We started to check out the others in the area, and thought the leftmost looked to be the best of them all, so we got on it. It wasn't too hard (5.7 also maybe?), and to our surprise, when the seam ended, there were two safe looking bolts through a slabby section. I think the slab portion was possibly mid-10, but my judgment may not be so great - could hardly feel my fingers, there was a ton of lichen and my slab experience is very minimal.
That was the only portion we roped up for.
It was a fun day out, but I think it's a good idea to go at it with the attitude of having fun wandering about in the mountains, not as a climbing outing. Sep 18, 2011
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Yes, this route has choss, but I don't think it's that sketchy if you've got alpine (or even Eldo) experience with routefinding. Fun, short alpine outing if you're in the area. I personally wouldn't want to haul a rope up it, since it's mostly class 2-4. Agree the direct start is more like 5.6. Aug 9, 2012
Jay Bach
Denver, CO
Jay Bach   Denver, CO
I climbed this today. It makes a nice winterish alpine solo. Lots of styrofoam snow and sopping wet, easy, mixed climbing. I was hoping the choss would be frozen together, but no luck. May 25, 2015
Boulder, CO
Branty   Boulder, CO
We found this route difficult to follow. The 5.8 direct start felt much easier (5.5-5.6) and was the only part of the climb we needed to rope up for. That being said, I'm sure we were far off-route. Bring pictures of the arete from far away to make sure you're on the right one and it won't cliff-out. Besides route-finding difficulties, being on this side of Quandary was fantastic! We didn't see another person until meeting up with the trail on top, where there were hundreds of hikers. Aug 4, 2016