Type: Trad, 5 pitches Fixed Hardware (1)
FA: George Hurley and Bob Culp, 1965
Page Views: 42,225 total · 196/month
Shared By: Michael Walker on Sep 2, 2001 with improvements by Gregger Man
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Gambit shines like a rough, uncut diamond. Interesting climbing gets increasingly better with each pitch, as one gains the majestic Southwest Face, finishing on the highest summit in Eldorado Canyon State Park. This is a very fun climb.

Due to the loose rocks on the belay ledges, it is NOT advisable to follow another party up Gambit - 120% vigilance is required at the belays, and most of the time you're lost in the views instead, but luckily, you should find Shirt Tail quiet; mostly due to the 45-minute hike. An early start is advisable in the summer as shade is provided all morning until the climber ventures out onto the southwest face. This face can be hot in the afternoon.

The following description breaks the climb into 5 pitches. It can be done by condensing P2 & P3, but by breaking them into two sections, the leader avoids some rope drag approaching the 5.8 roof and also enjoys at least one "normal" belay (read: slightly uncomfortable Serta-lounger-with-a-view on a carpet of pigeon shit). After all, the other three belays are roomy, comfortable, and relatively safe on good ledges. Pitches 4 and 5 combine nicely with a 60m rope.

Approach: follow the newly built (fall 2010) trail up Shirt Tail Peak until it ends at a nice, big, flat rock step.

P1. Start just to the right of the base of the Tiger Balm Arete (the blunt arete that narrows and finishes on the West of the summit) from near a large tree growing curiously "around" a bulge in the slab, following a large crack that gets thin, passing a small tree and entering a right-facing dihedral. Once at another small tree, jog up and left entering another short, right-facing dihedral. Fun liebacks gain the first big ledge. Belay by a big tree on this ledge.

P2. Follow the steep, tricky crack straight up from the ledge, mastering a slight overhang. Interesting climbing continues up steep terrain to a second overhang. Master this small roof, and set up a belay on the pigeon shelf, which actually provides a nice view of your second having fun in the crack below. If you plan to continue on (recommended), mind your rope drag with a long sling when protecting the traverse.

P3. From the pigeon shelf, traverse right and stem out across the void with a stunning move into the left-facing dihedral above. A great hand/fist crack follows, splitting the aesthetic dihedral. The crack arcs up and slightly left, ever steepening until it meets an overhang. Jam out the fun roof, and pull onto a roomy ledge with lots of loose rock. [addendum: if you place a #3 in the last ~20 section, there is a good chance that you'll lose it. Place a #2 instead or use a very long sling.]

P4. This pitch packs more punch than may be implied by the 5.7 rating it garners. This one is a classic. Improbably, you must first find a way up and right from the roomy belay, through a narrowing slot. A hanging slab with few holds and a half exposed pin forces climbers into the offwidth on the right. Clip the pin, go set up a nice #4 (I used a 3.8") in the back of the offwidth, reach back, and unclip the (mostly psychological) pin. I won't tell you the secret of the offwidth -- that's half the fun. Surmount the chockstone at the head of the slot, and you'll be standing on a ledge just below the Southwest Face. Now it's party time - step up right and out onto the face, following a right-angling, slightly overhanging hand crack over stupendous exposure with knockout jams...a real treat. Continue up the face until you see a made-to-order 2-foot ledge angling across the face. You get a choice of belays on the ledge, but the crown of the ledge, with two seats, made for airy position and a comfortable crib. You are belaying in space, the flat face dropping away below you. With a 60m rope, you can make it to the top if the drag isn't bad.

P5. Continue up the face on good cracks past blocky, seemingly sketchy rock that ends (thankfully!) right on the summit. Stay left near the top to avoid the worst of the loose rock. Bring your second up, watching to the south the busy Eldorado antics, the fascinating Flatirons to the north, or the Indian Peaks to the west; reveling in the solitude of the upper canyon.


SR up to a #4.


From the top of the climb, look north and you'll see a large tree (the largest in the area) about 100' away, and 20' below the ridge. It looks like a perfect rap tree, but you can't see the webbing from here. There is a much smaller tree about 40 feet from the summit with slings around it - it's a decoy - go farther to that big tree.

Rap ~80' to a large ledge and find the next rap tree just a little further. Another ~80' rap to another tree. From there, a 60m rope just reaches a large ledge with easy climbing to the ground. If using a 50m, you can downclimb this last bit, but watch the rope ends!


I did this route some time ago and it's truly a classic. I remember doing it in three pitches though (60m rope) and don't remember rope drag being much of a problem. The views are worth the 45-minute hike .... Sep 7, 2001
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Actually, with a 60m rope you can do the route in 2 VERY long pitches. If little gear is placed, you can reach the big tree befor the overhang in a single pitch, then the top in a second. You use EVERY foot of the rope on both pitches. A 70M rope can get you there more comfortably.
The raps are reasonable and safe if you are comfortable down-scrambling a bit here and there on 5.2 by the big trees, most particularly to the first fixed rap.

Super classic route. One of the finest 5.8s in Eldo. Sep 7, 2001
Re: that pin. If you're standing tall at 5'3" (me), reaching that pin ain't easy, but you can slot in a small stopper below it. Made me feel better. Nov 3, 2001
The start of this outstanding route is vague and nondescript. If you find yourself wondering where to go on the first-pitch slab, look up and left. A sickle-shaped finger crack on the left wall of a right-facing dihedral, about a hundred feet up and visible from the ground, is a good landmark to shoot for. Best 5.8 in the canyon. Jan 10, 2002
Wear your helmet! A wonderful climb! Spectacular views. The descent however, was harrowing (loose rock, indirect rappels, spooky class 4 stuff). We choose the first gully to the NW for descent. I strongly recommend choosing the longer walk off (option C for Shirttail) instead of the more direct options. Apr 16, 2002
As for pitch 4 (which was pitch 3 when we did it), clip the pin and leave your #4 or 3.5 camalot in the car... you would just be taking up extra gear that is heavy and not needed. Don't think of it as an off-width, but more as lieback on top of the bulge/slab and you'll be just fine.

I would also highly recommend combining what is described here as pitch 2 and 3. I didn't find it needed, nor inviting, to sit on a pile of pigeon shit. Just make sure before you leave the small roof to traverse right into the crack that you place a long sling on your last piece. Then when you're in the dihedral, put a piece of pro on the right side to "guide" the rope over.

On the rappel... trust your instincts on which tree it is with the slings. They are VERY HARD to see from above! If you find yourself going to the farthest south (left looking down) that you could downclimb, then you haven't gone north enough. There is a tree about 50 feet below the ridge in this area with red and blue slings around it, but it's the wrong tree! Just make sure you've gone at least about 100 feet north of the summit before scrambling down to the correct tree.

Amazing climb! Not hard for a 5.8, very well protected, and just plain FUN! May 10, 2002
My 2 cents since I LOVED this climb. It's super fun - do it! I unfortunately belayed at the shit station - it was nasty - I opted to stand for that one but it did provide good views and if your partner stops at the next ledge above you won't be there too long. There were some agro birds on this climb-beware of winged dive bombers and some lurking in the cracks. We took a couple doubles of hand sized pieces and they came in handy for stretching pitches. Jun 3, 2002
I can't believe (but I am glad) that the 45 min hike discourages more traffic on this route. Absolutely fantastic with no poor pitches or sections (pitch 1 even being a pretty nice warm-up). That off-width slot, although short, just looks ... well let's say uninviting. Fortunately nothing 'forces' you into it and it's quite straightforward to climb past it without any off-width technique at all. Of course if you find off-widths fun - go at it! For my part I just clipped the pin and climbed on feeling totally safe. I've clipped a lot worse pro than that in Eldo.

The raps were easy, thanks to in info on this site. However, using a single 60 m rope we only just reached the 'bottom' on the third rap. Probably not too bad a down-climb with a 50 m, but watch out. Since the third rap still left us with a little down-climb it would be tempting to do 2 double rope raps instead of 3 singles. However, with all that loose stuff I wouldn't recommend it since you probably have a good chance of getting the rope stuck or pulling rocks onto your head. Aug 16, 2002
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
Michael Walker   Loveland, CO
Jeez, all this good beta taking the mystique out of the off width! Admittedly, I thrashed around in full arm bar style until wedged 2' higher and said: "5.7? there has got to be a better way!" Figuring out that better way was such a good experience.

Typically, regardless of the apparent quality of the fixed gear at Eldo, I try and back it up where possible. In the future, I'd bring my #3.5 as suggested by Roger and not bother with the pin. Aug 16, 2002
I agree with the above suggestion for two pitches...LONG stretches of amazing climbing in a cool spot. For a fun moderate (sub 5.11) approach I suggest Rincon pitch 1 to Reveley Adams hand traverse, to bolts, up center route (10b boulder problem above bolt anchor, 8+ hand traverse left, etc), to the last pitch of rincon (bolt 20 ft. up, to thin crack, etc. excellent tour. Aug 18, 2002
Jake Wyatt
Longmont, CO
Jake Wyatt   Longmont, CO
Climbed this yesterday (FUN -- although a little loose and creaky in places), and found the walk-off to be relatively easy and straighforward. It probably didn't take much longer (and was probably safer) than doing the rappels, and had the added bonus of putting us near Cadillac Crag to finish up the day. Jan 1, 2003
To rappel west, go approximately 80 feet north and you will see a large tree with a webbing anchor down about 10 feet from the ridge. This has an exposed down climb without a ledge. Following the advice above, continue north along the ridge about 50 feet further. Looking down onto a 10 foot wide ledge you will see a tree with a webbing anchor about 10 feet down from the ridge. Using a 60 meter rope we rappeled about 85 feet to a large ledge and walked south 15 feet and down 10 feet to the next webbing anchor. Rappel and walk off. May 25, 2003
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
Couple of things...lead this today...stellar route. Recommend combining 1 & 2, 4 & 5. Top of 2 is excellent (7) overhanging stemfest/crankfest. Lots of fun there. Which takes you to the pigeon shit ledge which is not THAT bad, its small, kinda slick on lower edge, but good vantage to watch your 2nd come up. As Holly mentioned, watch for dive bombing, agro birds (swallows) here. They will come to within a few feet of your head and land in the crack above this (optional) belay station. No worries...they mean no harm. Very cool 3rd pitch, stepping way right into dihedral (left facing) and (7) climbing up to roof (8). Turning the roof left, reminded me of Chiante on West Ridge...to roomy ledge. Then move right, clip pin and layback offwidth. This short (one move) layback is not that hard...7+ max, and takes you to the upper face. I say, clip the pin, leave the #4 in the truck, as Tyler states, and move up to the upper face. Put a small cam in the corner and the fun begins. This upper face offers excellent climbing at a moderate grade with tremendous exposure. Its steep, but only (7) and has good stances for placing good pro. I back cleaned quite a bit of pro on this entire route. On the left facing dihedral pitch (P2 for me), I walked the #3 cam 4 times, finally leaving it in roof...good stances allow this the entire route. But, be confident at the grade if leading, as the exposure can be a bit sobering for those breaking into the grade. The pitches are long (when combining) and pretty sustained for the grade. A classic not to be missed, worth the long approach. 4 raps from the southeast took us to the base of the climb...fun day in Eldo. Jul 10, 2003
For pitch 2: Save at least one #2 or #3 Camalot for the long stretch of wide crack that leads to the crux of that pitch, which comes in the last 30 feet. If you don't mind the extra weight, carrying doubles of #2 and #3 on this climb will eliminate any need for backcleaning or worrying about your pro at any point. You can partially compensate by leaving the #4 Camalot at home. Sep 15, 2003
Jim Amidon  
If I could rate it 5* I would, the upper pitches are so much fun......climbed it today on a cold fall sunny day with only 4 other people on all of the Rincon area........ Oct 25, 2003
Kevin Currigan
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
If you combine pitches 2 & 3 (or any of course) be sure to manage the rope well. As you move into the crack following the airy traverse on pitch 3 there is a spike with a small cleft in it to your left. Don't let your rope pass through this. Ours did and was pinched big time. We were able to pull it through but it forced the leader to belay in the crack 15 feet below the end of the pitch due to rope drag. Dec 29, 2003
Mike McKinnon
Golden, CO
Mike McKinnon   Golden, CO
I did this route the other day. 30 minute hike tops. Stay to the left along the rock as you go up the trail between Rincon and the West ridge. This is the easiest way and safest way up this severly eroded path. We did this climb in three pitches and probably could have done it in two. It took us two to the big ledge half-way up and then one pitch all the way to the top a full 60M rope and a great pitch with awesome climbing. A lot of expsoure for a 5.8. Must do in Eldo. Jul 8, 2004
Boulder, CO
pfinnegan   Boulder, CO
Hi Larry, we must've gotten on a bit earlier, but I did notice the close proximity of one party to another at about 1PM (11/6/2004); hope it didn't detract too much from the quality of the experience. We left a 0.5 Camalot on the last pitch. If you were able to free it, and feel like returning, I would be eternally thankful (+ some nice beers as well - ptfinnegan@gmail.com).

Link pitches 2+3, 4+5 (ridiculous exposure on 4+5).

There is a ton of loose rock/debris on the rappels (2 - using the 2nd tree ~ 100 ft NW); take care. Nov 6, 2004
Jason Shatek  
Patrick, I believe you were the party ahead of Larry and I on saturday. Geez holy people on shirttale, it was downright crowded that day. I saw your camalot and thought ewww that looks like a new piece, I picked at it for a moment and then left it as I couldn't even move it. Sorry man, it stays up there for a bit longer. I don't think Larry pulled it either.

Very quality route and airy too. Definately link P2 and P3 together, don't bother with that pigeon shit ledge, it is too small and not worth stopping at. Also, I didn't even notice the "void" that it is talked about in the description starting P3. P4 0n Rewritten has much more exposure than P3 on Gambit. Nov 8, 2004
Flynn here: Here's a fun, aesthetic variation (could be Tiger Balm Arete, I'm not sure) from the top of the offwidth pitch. If you've enjoyed Rebuffat's, or the last pitch of the Yellow Spur, or if you just like serious air, this is calling your name!

Step carefully left on the rubble-strewn ledge to find a beautiful little slab just right of a V-slot. The perfect crack in the back of the slot is your belay anchor; the tree you'll see is probably a bit too far. Follow what turns out to be 5.6+ face holds kinda diagonally up and right across the slab to the arete. Turn carefully onto it, then follow the arete up into the sky. Belay at a ridiculously convenient stance just left of the arete and give the top 50' or so to your partner. Mar 16, 2005
Scott Edlin
boulder, co
Scott Edlin   boulder, co
P1 was actually a nice warmup. Nate linked P2 and P3. P4 was wild! I skipped the pin and walked a #4 until I was over the wide part. Then the face was spectacular! The belay seat on the crown of the 2' ledge was a real nice place to spend some time pulling rope. The walkoff (option C under Shirttail Peak description) was craptacular. The rappels must really suck to be worse. May 29, 2006
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
Climbed 6 Aug 06 with S. Costello...thought this was an excellent route and among the best moderates in Eldo, worth the lengthy and tiring approach. Take extra slings. We climbed per Rossiter, combining P2 and P3 as described above, doing the offwidth as a 20-foot demi-pitch, and combining the two upper pitches. There is no bad climbing on this route, although there's a lot of choss, and some scary house-of-cards stacked boulders on the last 100 feet or so. If you combine the last two pitches, be prepared to use your whole rack! It's about 180-200 feet.

Gambit is Eldo in a one-route capsule: some wild moves, a couple of roofs, plenty of loose rock, occasional sketchy pro, less-than-great anchors, good exposure, steep and sustained. Unlike most of Eldo, we were alone on the route.

Westside rappels were not too bad although a little dirty. Be careful of length on the last one, esp. if you have a 50m rope. Aug 7, 2006
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This is one of my favorite 8s in Eldo. The top of P2 (as described) is currently an unpleasant, bird crap infested place. Better to move on and combine with the next pitch, which only makes for a 110' pitch anyway.

Two confusing areas on this climb are the start, and P4 after the pin and weird offwidth move. It is possible to begin higher and farther right (under the Mountaineer's Route) and follow a rotten band left into the corner on P1. But it'sn better to begin as stated directly under the Tiger Balm Arete and climb up but slightly right into the same dihedral.

One time a friend was leading P4, and after surmounting the chockstone he started traversing left on a giant ramp (the actual route goes right here around a corner). If you do this, you will miss out on the top section of the route. However, you can climb the top of the Tiger Balm Arete, which is very easy but reminiscent of the top pitch of the Yellow Spur. Sep 18, 2006
Grand Junction
Merlin   Grand Junction
My hands down favorite 5.8 (or 5.7) in Eldo. Also my first 5.8 trad lead. This climb was fantastic. I led every pitch and found the hanging/bulging crack on the fourth to be the crux of the climb. The 5.8 pitch protected well and wasn't too tough if you work your feet.

For pitch 4 I went about 10 or so feet to the right after the offwidth/layback move and pulled up onto a ledge then climbed some crack that seemed pretty burly for a 5.7 and at first traversed left then angled off to the right. It felt tougher than a 5.7 and was the crux of the climb for me. Was that the normal route?

Also the A1 option for rappels gets you to a nice ramp that is easy to downclimb in just two rappells with a 70 meter rope. I can't wait to go climb it again. Apr 28, 2007
Casey Flynn
Boulder, CO
Casey Flynn   Boulder, CO
Michael Walker, this is the best description of a route I've found on Mountain Project. Bravo for painting a beautiful picture and getting everyone psyched to be on this climb. May 1, 2007
Luis Barandiaran
Longmont, CO
Luis Barandiaran   Longmont, CO
This is easily one of the best climbs I've done. Fantastic exposure on the last 2 pitches (rivaling the last pitch of Yellow Spur/Icarus or Rewritten). We were surprised how steep the last 200 ft. were. Linking pitches 2 and 3 was not a big deal with little rope drag. While the 5.8 dihedral did not seem to be the crux, exiting out its roof and steep jugs was a little taxing. I found the crux to be a little traverse move off a crimp drifting right: final pitch. This was just before gaining the arete 50 ft below the summit (although it seems there are multiple ways up the final pitch). If possible, move to the arete to finish, the earlier the better. Fantastic finish!
Of the descent options, descent A1 seemed best (see Shirt Tail's main page), scrambling and shuffling around ledges to the north 50 ft. PAST the first rappel tree (this first tree requires the exposed downclimb and can easily be seen from the arete on ascent). TIE KNOTS ON YOUR ROPE ENDS!!! One rappel with a 60m deposits you at a small ledge. An easy 40' scramble down and south takes you to the final rappel. TIE KNOTS ON YOUR ROPE ENDS!!! (as always!). Rappel to the ends and do an easy 30' scramble to the ground. Jun 11, 2007
Buzz Burrell
Buzz Burrell   Boulder
This is a remarkably popluar climb on weekends! Start it just above the Fir tree bent around a bulge in base of cliff.

The guidebooks seemed confusing, so did this in 3 perfect pitches, which were natural and logical. P1 is mostly a scramble, up to a massive flat ledge. P2 is continuous, a series of bulges that are awkwardly fun, and finishes on a very large flat ledge. P3 clips an old pin (looked fine to me), traverses onto the face to the right, then romps up a single steepish continuous crack system (very unusual for Eldo) to the top (180'). P2 & P3 are steep, juggy, with pro placements everywhere (0.5 - 2" mainly).

From the top (where it's easier to see), note the Ponderosa tree 15' below the crest of the ridge, about 80m away. That's the one; a 26m rap takes you into a grove of trees where a small tree 5m lower is hung with hidden slings. Another 26m rap and you can walk off into the gully. Sep 16, 2007
Longmont, CO
JVonD   Longmont, CO
Great route. Tricky and sketchy having to negotiate seemingly loose chunks. I followed my buddy Chris T up this, and we did it in 3 very long pitches. The best part was instead of following the route right to the face, we went straight up a 5.9 roof and had access to the arete which was breathtaking, and the 5.9 roof has a couple techniques that were so much fun. Considering the loose chunks, the 5.9 upper pitch was more enjoyable and easy for me not having to death grip. Nov 12, 2007
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
The standard way to do it in 3 pitches is to combine 2&3 and 4&5 as listed in the above desciption. The first pitch still ends at the big tree. Done this way the last pitch is the longest one, and you need a 60m rope. Jun 20, 2008
Wherever we park!
AOSR   Wherever we park!
The only thing that could do this route justice is the poetic description deposited here for you all on mountain project... thanks to MW. Oct 5, 2008
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
This is a great climb. Thanks for the awesome route description. The approach was very scenic and only felt like it took half an hour. I brought the #4 and wished I had left it at home. On the way back we stopped at the boulders off the trail about a quarter mile from the road. What a great January day. Jan 18, 2009
Aaron Pence
Boulder, CO
Aaron Pence   Boulder, CO
A bit more info on the last pitch....

Head straight up from the anchor and head left where it looks like you should step right or head left up a small incline. If you go right, then you'll end up on an inclined slab with a crack toward the back where there's a large overhang. The overhang looks tough and is clearly not the 5.6 way to go (not to mention has loose blocks above the overhang). When you head left, go to a corner and head straight up. The blocks above look chossy from below, but are actually pretty decent. If you go left and pass by the corner, you'll have to pull out onto the face. This appears to be the way to go if you want to hit up the arete. For my 5.8-lead head...it was a bit much, especially since I was concerned about the remaining gear I'd get. There doesn't appear to be much out that way.

Thanks for the great descriptions everyone! Loved it! Mar 2, 2009
Solid climb. Dihedrial belay to top-out is 1 pitch (60m), never really saw "shrub" mentioned in the guidebook other than one that was ~15' from summit. Class 4 walk off is not apparent, but is the easiest descent. Fun climb, but watch out for loose rock. Mar 23, 2009
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
An excellent climb. P2 and P3 go together quite nicely, although I did give myself a bit of rope drag by not using a long enough sling just below the pigeon shelf. I must say, a little rope drag was a small price to pay for not having to smell all the pigeon droppings while belaying on that stance. Jun 24, 2009
John Korfmacher
Fort Collins, CO
John Korfmacher   Fort Collins, CO
Rossiter describes two variations to the top 60m of this route (last two pitches as described above). Climbed variation 'A' with C. Schnatwinkel on 7.25.09 and found it excellent. From the top of the short offwidth, work right to the next crack system and head straight up. This crack is visible just right of the indicated line on the topo photo. The protection is good, the exposure is exciting, and the moves are very steep and sustained, but never harder than 5.8+. This is a good finish for those desiring a bit more spice than the standard pitch.

I second Chris Darr's post on the approach--there was an enormous rockfall there, this past spring from the look of it. It is very unstable with large, potentially foot-squashing boulders. Be cautious and allow an extra 15 minutes. Jul 27, 2009
Shawn Mitchell
Shawn Mitchell   Broomfield
Just spectacular fun! Skip the bird ledge and link 2&3. Also, a vote to finish the money pitch (the initial turn onto the face) at the first bench-perch ledge about 30 or 40 feet up. For a magic last pitch, take that ledge left to the arete-it slants down, then steps up to the corner. Sail for the top. Nicer than Rewritten; doesn't get any better.

Continuing up the face via different crack systems is classic, too; do it sometime. But after climbing the arete, I can't seem to go the other way!

For descent, the Jones/Clopton comments get you there. The right tree is 100+ feet out the ridge, and the turn to the 10' downclimb is kind of framed by a squareish slot. There's a boulder/flake/horn sticking up and partially hiding the slings on the tree's base. Jul 28, 2009
Rick Casey
Fort Collins, CO
Rick Casey   Fort Collins, CO
There is a big loose rock (about 2'x4') about half way up the first pitch, on the first ledge where there's a small tree -- be careful! I accidentally dislodged the thing by backing into it last Friday Aug 7, when it shifted about two feet, (slightly injuring my foot in the process, could've been much worse), but it stopped. I didn't think of it at the time (too jazzed, rapped off), but someone would do future climbers a big favor if they discover it's still unstable and push it all the way down, safely of course -- it's not like there's not already a gully full of loose rock up there! Aug 10, 2009
Dustin B
Dustin B   Steamboat
4 stars?!? Really? Can I buy some of whatever you guys are smoking? Did any of you thump on one of the thousand or so loose, stacked blocks that the route is basically made of? I'm usually pretty liberal with my stars, but I just can't see this being a 4 star route. Just opinion really, but I can barely give this one three. Yeah the quality of the climbing is good, and the setting is excellent, and loose rocks never ruin my day, but you couldn't pay me enough to climb this thing underneath another party. Jan 17, 2010
Phill T
Phill T  
As a 4th pitch variation, after pulling over the chockstone after the offwidth crux, you can head left and up the rotten ledge. The first right-facing dihedral looks like it goes at a thin 9, the second (further left) is a left-facing dihedral with a bomber handcrack in the back leading up to a jugalicious roof traverse left. I'd put it somewhere in the 5.6, 5.7 range. Continue up obvious and good cracks to the ridge line and straddle the arete to the finish! Super fun, but I don't know if it's better than the original 4th pitch line as I haven't done both! Mar 15, 2010
Did this for a second time today, and it was just as fun as I remember. We did it in two long pitches with a 70m which turned out to be perfect. We belayed from the ledge just before the final roof (where the fixed pin is). My partner had a purple C4 walk in on him on the ledge. Beer for retrieval! Jun 19, 2010
Representative of Eldorado climbing in general, but the grade seems a bit off as this is easier than the first pitch of Werks Up or Osiris. Will Compton's descent description is correct. If you're not certain, back yourself up w/ prussic and knots at the end of your rope! Ben, your cam was not seen. Jun 24, 2010
Larry Graham
Boulder, CO
Larry Graham   Boulder, CO
Today, Aug 2, 2010 I rope-soloed this fine route, one of my favorites in Eldo. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that a well-constructed climbers' trail, including a couple of ladders (low-angle) has been built that gets you from the base of Center Route/Rincon area right to the base of Gambit. That scramble that we always had to do is now unnecessary. No one has mentioned this, so it may be a very recent improvement. Thanks to whomever created it! Aug 2, 2010
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
The trail was built in Oct/Nov 2009 and was fully funded by ACE (www.aceeldo.org) through generous donations from climbers. Visit the website and make a donation today! Aug 5, 2010
Awesome fun! Great leads, especially the second and third pitches. (I did it in four pitches, as per Levin's excellent book.) DO watch out for loose rock that you can easily kick off the belay ledges by accident.

Have fun! Aug 23, 2010
jacktheburro   Denver
Freaking Fantastic Fun. With capital FFFs. I'd never done this route before today, and it was absolutely killer. One of the best I've done in Eldo, for pure enjoyment. The pro is bomber, the exposure is amazing, the crux isn't too bad and is really well-protected, and every single pitch (except the first) is top-notch. My advice is to link the second and third pitches--not too long, and a bit of rope drag, but you can reduce this to almost nothing by using longer slings on the 5.7 roof on the second pitch. Save some bigger pieces for the 5.8 crux up at the top of the third pitch. The off-width is kind of weird.... I wound up stemming/laybacking it, and stayed completely out of the crack. It was a hell of a lot easier that way, and not too hard. Also, instead of doing the last pitch straight up the face, move left to the arete and finish the route that way. You'll be glad you did. Aug 28, 2010
jacktheburro   Denver
Forgot to mention: there's a huge jug underneath the roof on the second pitch that's just waiting to bust off. Bang on it lightly and you'll hear that it's as hollow as a termite-ridden tree. Skip the jug, use some holds on the right, and it'll take you straight through. Aug 28, 2010
Sean Wolf
Denver, CO
Sean Wolf   Denver, CO
Third pitch (when climbed as four) was my favorite. Almost vertical with great jams and amazing exposure. That belay ledge is freakin' awesome. I though that the roof at the end of P2 had some suspect holds that seemed really hard to avoid. Aug 29, 2010
Count Chockula
Littleton, CO
Count Chockula   Littleton, CO
The last time I climbed Gambit was over 3 years ago, and I had forgotten how loose the last pitch really is...sketchy blocks everywhere. Place gear wisely and climb softly. The position is sensational, though.

If you like to sew things up (as I do), bringing the #4 will be worth it. You really don't need it for the awkward start to the 3rd pitch...just clip the pin and layback that mutha, but there are numerous places to plug the #4 once established in the crack on the steep face above. Aug 30, 2010
Shawn Mitchell
Shawn Mitchell   Broomfield
As Dustin B and Count Chocula say, the upper face is scary: feels like enormous, puzzle-wedged, loose, vibrating blocks hold the whole face together. Don't climb it, or climb it once; the location is amazing. But you can still climb Gambit, get comparable or better location, and avoid the Jenga Russian Roulette at the top. Just use the first belay ledge on the face to cut down and left to the arete and finish on a Rewritten-quality blade.

After turning on to the face and enjoying the stellar hand crack for 30 or 40', don't set the belay too high and right up the ledge. That makes it hard to cut back down to the arete. Move a little left, and belay lower on the bench. The arete awaits. Sep 5, 2010
Arch Richardson
Grand Junction
Arch Richardson   Grand Junction
Repeated this fun route recently. Much of the upper climb is on detached but solidly interlocked blocks. I wouldn't yard on the holds indiscriminately by any means, and some of the gear is suspect. Its not loose by alpine standards, though. Sep 13, 2010
Rodger Raubach
Loveland, CO
Rodger Raubach   Loveland, CO
I did an early ascent (2nd ascent) in 1965 with Bob Culp (1st ascent), 'cause Bob wanted to show the route to his friends. I took a short fall seconding, since a big hold that I was standing on simply broke off. There's a reason the ledges are rubble covered, and the rock is very "brittle" in places. Other than that quibble, this is a simply marvelous route for a midgrade climber. Just another old Eldorado "classic." Mar 14, 2011
Dan 60D5H411
Colorado Springs, CO
Dan 60D5H411   Colorado Springs, CO
6 parties on this today (a Sat. in spring)...get up early or hit this late to avoid potential clusters. Great climbing even though the giant flakes on the last 2 pitches can be terrifying. Apr 3, 2011
Crag Dweller
New York, NY
Crag Dweller   New York, NY
An absolutely spectacular route. My favorite .8 in Eldo thus far. We did it in 4 pitches. I don't know which I'd consider the crux, the 2nd or the 3rd. But, I enjoyed and was challenged more by leading the 3rd than the following the 2nd. In any case, every pitch was great fun even with a bit of loose blocky stuff on the fourth.

The descent was, as described, not obvious. But, it wasn't too difficult to find. Pay attention to the prior comment about looking beyond the tree that, at first, appears to be the obvious choice. Apr 10, 2011
Benten   Denver
It is an easy eight but still a very good climb. I cannot stress enough the importance of watching out for loose blocks. I will admit that is what makes this climb exciting though, gently climbing a dead vertical, shattered chunk of rock. Not to worry, there are PLENTY of good bomber gear placements, so much fun. Sep 17, 2011
Zane E
Lyons, CO
Zane E   Lyons, CO
Counted only 3 rocks that moved on the last 2 pitches. People make it seem like some Spielberg movie trying to get to the top with rocks falling all over the place. It's definitely worth the hike and having to watch what you're grabbing (which is pretty standard for Eldo). Jan 4, 2012
James Wilkerson
Saratoga Springs, NY
James Wilkerson   Saratoga Springs, NY
Found a 0.4 Black Diamond Camalot lying at the belay on pitch 1, a little weathered but in seemingly good shape. Message me if you lost it. Apr 26, 2012
Michael Butts
Boulder, Co
Michael Butts   Boulder, Co
Super Classic route. I think this route is a must do for anyone. The approach is not that bad. Great views. We did it in three pitches linking the last two w/ a 70 m. Started late to beat the heat. Started around 9:30. The top of the second pitch belay loses shade around 11am. The rappels are super casual and really easy to find.
Loved every second of this climb. Jun 24, 2012
NickinCO   colorado
Great climb! Had it all to ourselves this morning. For anyone interested, there's a fixed, offset stopper on pitch 2, and a fixed C4 #3 right at the crux. I fiddled with it for a while on lead, but it's in there pretty good. There's also an older style #5 at the start of the 4th right after the pin that looks like it's been there a while.

We did the climb in 3 pitches, linking 2/3, 4/5. The crux right before the ledge on pitch 3 had some angry bees that wouldn't leave a couple important holds, so I rate my version 5.9. Jun 30, 2012
Done in 5 pitches. 30 minute approach. Great climb, protection everywhere. Lots of loose rock, especially at the crux roof on the top of P2. P2 and 3 can and should be combined - the pigeon ledge is very small. The beginning moves past the half-driven pin on P4 had us scratching our heads for a while. Don't think of it as an off-width, and it's easy. #4 not needed, and there's one stuck in the back of that crack. P5 we went up and left from the belay ledge and moved left on an easy ramp to the arete and finished on that. No loose rock there and spectacular position reminiscent of Icarus/Rebuffat's but a heck of a lot higher! Sep 10, 2012
Rich F.
Colorado Springs, CO
Rich F.   Colorado Springs, CO
This route is fantastic -- well worth the 30 to 40 minute approach. The last two pitches, though rated just 5.7 and 5.6, have incredible position and exposure. Don't miss this climb! Sep 23, 2012
Found- gear. Email tomwalter55@gmail.com to describe multiple pieces of protective gear left on Gambit, in Eldo. Found on Sat. Sept. 29, 2012. Oct 8, 2012
If you want to avoid the 3rd pitch pin-'protected' regular line, step out right onto the steep face. Unprotected, but un-sustained 5.7. Reach up; what you need will be there.

From the next ledge, you can avoid an awful lot of loose rock by heading left about 10 feet; there used to be a little tiny tree here. Follow the obvious fist crack up a few feet, then traverse right across the unlikely-looking but actually 5.5 face. This puts you on a nice arete. As usual for aretes, there's not much pro, but the climbing is easy. Said arete will take you all the way to the summit. You can make it there in one long pitch, but the rope drag could be a doozy. Plus there's a cool, classic little belay stance that needs to be savored. Not a good place to be in high winds. May 3, 2013
Cam Sheldon
Lone Pine, CA
Cam Sheldon   Lone Pine, CA
When I climbed this, I got off route. I was expecting a 5.7 pitch and did the 5.8 variation, and as I am an inexperienced trad climber I gave myself heinous rope drag. I also found myself struggling to find a placement in one section of this pitch. Great climb, well worth doing, but I would caution that trad climbing an Eldo 5.8 is not a walk in the park. Jul 20, 2013
Take the advice about the descent seriously. Don't use the first tree! I just did, and it was super sketchy and could've ended up badly without a prussik and knots at the end of the rope. Apr 5, 2015
A partner and I climbed this together Saturday June 13, 2015. He doesn't have much experience climbing trad, so I led all the pitches. The first pitch was super easy and is soloable. In fact, the party in front of us did this and roped up starting at the second pitch. By the time we racked up, their second was already headed up pitch two, so I wasn't worried about rockfall. I actually missed the pigeon ledge. I climbed up to it and got lost, so I yelled down at my partner to check MP. That's when I realized I was on the ledge. As I was so close to my partner, I elected to continue on using a double length alpine draw to protect the traverse. Rope drag was not an issue. I never saw the belay for the end of the fourth pitch, so I continued on and was able to reach the summit with about 4 feet of rope left of my 60m. I highly recommend this. The climbing is easy and pro abundant. It makes for a long stellar push to the summit. Awesome climb.

For the descent, we used option 1A under the Shirttail Peak Page. This was easy just be careful pulling the rope. I knocked a hand-size rock off pulling the rope on the first rappel. Jun 15, 2015
Hiro Protagonist
Hiro Protagonist   Colorado
Highly recommend, decent A1 too. I've done decent A, in the dark, rain, stuck rope, and aliens attacking...ok, no rain or aliens, but we did the rest. Did A1 today, so so easy, and a 65m rope put us easily onto the dirt at the bottom. It's still a scramble to reach the tree, don't blow it, but not very far off the top.

A1 first tree currently has some fairly new looking 6-7mm cord, along with a collection of other webbing and multiple rings/quicklinks. A2 second tree has older webbing and also multiple rings. Jul 12, 2015
William Thiry
Las Vegas
William Thiry   Las Vegas
Terrific, fun route. Some of the cruxy moves on the 2nd pitch (combining pitches 2 & 3) are loose and rattly - a bit unnerving for the leader, but they seem to be wedged in place fairly well. Some people are worried about the large blocks on pitch 4 being loose, but to an alpine climber, they will seem pretty solid. This pitch is a pure joy. Enjoy! Jul 13, 2015
B. Smith
Denver, CO
B. Smith   Denver, CO
Great climb! Be careful on the belay edges, though. There is a ton of choss and substantial sized boulders that can be easily dislodged. Oct 28, 2015
There's some really great climbing interspersed with large, loose rocks. The looseness only detracted from the quality of the climbing once on P5 (I think). There was a shallow chimney where I really wanted to place some gear but thought a fall on that rock would send rubble (and likely me) careening off the side of the cliff. It's a little heady, but there are some solid holds in there if you look around. I'd climb through much more loose rock than that to get to make that airy step into the dihedral on P3... Woh, super cool and scary but the good kind of scary.

We linked pitches 2 and 3 as well as 4 and 5 without too much rope drag. On the P4-5 linkup I placed a single rack of C3s, doubles of #0.5-#2, as well as a #3-4 and a bunch of nuts. It's just a long pitch; probably pretty close to 60m. I barely had enough gear left to set up a belay at the top, but if you bring a cordellete, you can probably just sling a giant boulder and call it good.

We did the A1 descent and were confused when we got to the first rap tree and saw another tree on the P5 arete (if you went that way) with a sling and rap ring. We thought: "wait... is *that* the first tree?". It's not, we were indeed already at the first tree. Continue down the ridge a little bit further to the actual A1 tree. We rapped with a 70m and almost made it all the way to the trail from the second rappel; we landed on a ledge ~15ft above the base and found multiple ways to scramble down. From there, you're 30ft uphill from that crazy crooked tree.

Get on this route, it's so worth it. Jul 31, 2016
Patrick O
Colorado Springs, CO
Patrick O   Colorado Springs, CO
1) The approach isn't as bad as it's made out to be - 30 min if you're not meandering.

2) The rock isn't as loose as it's made out to be. The belays are littered with softballs --> microwaves, but the actual climbing is solid (save a few on the last pitch).

3) Every pitch protects extremely well.

4) The descent is very easy to find, the 20 foot downclimb is mid-4th Class.

Climb it, it's spectacular. Jul 24, 2017
Larry Shaw
Boulder, CO
Larry Shaw   Boulder, CO
Climbed this route today in 3 pitches linking 2-3, and 4-5 in the description. It felt like one of the easier .8s in Eldo with only a few moves in that range. The loose chunks in the last 150ft. took this climb down to 3 stars in my book. Fixed BD #3 at the crux roof and fixed BD #4 above the fixed pin in the offwidth of pitch 4 in the description. A fun climb without a soul in sight. Sep 7, 2017
Le Bob
Le Bob   Lakewood,CO
Awesome route! We used double 50m ropes and easily linked P2-3 but didn't try to link 4-5. We weren't sure when to go to the arete on P5, so we just kept in cracks and topped out 5' to the right of the arete.

2 x 50m: rappelling off option A worked in two long raps all the way to the packs. From the first sketchy downclimb tree viewed from the top along the ridge, pass the next two webbing trees to a third smaller tree with blue/red cordalette at 165'. Then rap to ground. Watch your lines for cracks and loose rocks when pulling! Oct 6, 2017
Ran into a swarm of wasps early on in the 2nd pitch on Oct. 20th. Left cordalette & a quicklink on the tree at the top of the 1st pitch. Probably could have climbed through them but wasn't feeling it. Good luck! Oct 21, 2017
Jake Web
Denver, CO
Jake Web   Denver, CO
It was crowded, but it was good. Nov 12, 2017
Gregger Man
Broomfield, CO
Gregger Man   Broomfield, CO
Gear note: at the end of the P2 dihedral (edit: P3 in the above description), there is a #2 slot before a final crux step to the left. Yesterday I removed a #3 that had been stuck there for several years. It's a #2 slot - remember that.

mountainproject.com/photo/1… Nov 15, 2017
Lane Mathis
Denver, CO
Lane Mathis   Denver, CO
My follower left my 0.75 with an Edelrid draw attached on the final pitch last night just before sunset.

I can't make it up today to retrieve it. So if you find it, you can reach me at 505-218-7589, and I'll do my best to repay the favor. Dec 3, 2017
Angel W
Angel W  
We did the start slightly to the left following the face crack which was enjoyable. The pitches were all really fun and had interesting movements and beautiful views. There were four other parties trying to do the climb in front and behind us on Sunday. Lots of small rockfall. Dec 11, 2017
Boulder, CO
Branty   Boulder, CO
What a fun climb! The second pitch is the money pitch, and combining the last two pitches makes for a spectacular Eldorado Canyon summit block romp. We didn't think it was too hard not to knock rocks off of the ledges -- just take some care, especially if there's a party below you!

The variations all look very fun -- the .10 line leading out to the left near the crux is especially enticing!

We combined the first two raps by using double ropes. They were overkill for the third rap. Be careful about getting them stuck in trees if you do the same! Mar 11, 2018
Golden, CO
Josh   Golden, CO
May 2018 "conditions" update: the "pigeon ledge" (the belay for the top of P2 in the description on this page) is remarkably free of pigeon poop right now. However, a colony of wasps lives in the rock wall immediately to your (climber's) left as you make the last moves into this belay pod. They are mostly behind the tiny, natural arch flake on the left wall, where the feet would begin for the Missing Link variation. We happened to arrive here exactly as the sun hit that wall, and several dozen came out to warm up in the sun. Interestingly, after a few minutes of warming, they all left to find food or whatever else for the day. There are chalked handholds in their vicinity, including the flake they basically live behind, but you don't need any of them to climb the main Gambit line. Seems like maybe they would only be a hazard if you got there during the few minutes of shade-sun transition when they are all on the surface and before they've dispersed. May 5, 2018
Samir Abdosh
Samir Abdosh   Colorado
after starting pitch 3 and getting through the boulder/roof sequence, there's a point where u continue downward within this large cleft in the rock (you can easily see it in one of the topo drawings in the photos section). at the end of this cleft there are a number of different paths you can take up the face. I'm not sure if what I went up was the actual line since i saw a piton on a heavily chalked up line about ten feet to my left during the climb (there's chalk almost everywhere, but this was a noticeably more established path of chalk I was seeing near the piton). If I had followed the line with the piton, I believe I would have reached the step a lot faster and easier and would have been able to just walk to the end of the step/pitch where the belay station is. Whatever I was on had a fixed offset along it that had black/red tape near the end of the pitch.

Be sure to mind your rope in the cleft after you get through the opening vertical sequence on pitch 3. Going straight up the start and down the short downclimb can create a bight in the rope that will result in HEAVY rope dragging while you're on the face. See Kevin Currigan's comment above.

Also, there are tons of loose blocks everywhere and this is definitely an "Eldo 5.8" so don't expect a cruiser if you're fairly new to trad. A fun and satisfying climb nonetheless 3 days ago