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5.12a, Sport, 85 ft,  Avg: 3.8 from 120 votes
FA: Mark Tarrant, 1993
Colorado > Rifle > Rifle Mtn Park > Winchester Cave


Ricochet. This must be one of my favorite climbs at Rifle and is a brilliant addition that gives even gumbies like myself something to climb. A bit uphill from the cave proper and on the left is a vertical wall with grey to blue stone. The left of two routes is Ricochet (Noto bene: the FA data were incorrectly attributed in Hassan's guide. Mark Tarrant put up this terrific climb during the start up years at Rifle.). Big reaches to crisp edges with intricate footwork and sustained climbing can be expected. There are a couple of small overlaps to negotiate, but these are not the real cruxes - these arise with the tricky occasional cross-throughs. Ricochet is great line by any standard for the excellent quality rock, intricate moves, and relentless continuity. Bring some finger strength.


Bring 12 to 15 draws and a 60 meter rope. The route may be only 80 to 85 feet, and I can't recall how much of our 60m remained unused. Play it safe.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Photo: Tyler Casey.
[Hide Photo] Photo: Tyler Casey.
[Hide Photo] Ricochet.
Splits on Richochet.
[Hide Photo] Splits on Richochet.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Midway up on the left watch for a loose block with a white X, about 12" X 12." It looks like a hold that gets used quite often. Jun 2, 2004
[Hide Comment] assuming I was on the correct route (I think I was--left across some talus, right of a ramp, locking bail biner on 3rd? to last bolt) this route has some relatively sporty runouts between several of the bolts. It's vertical and not too difficult in these sections, but a misstep/broken hold would send you a long way. Check it out well from the ground before you head up, if you don't dig such things.

Anyway, the climbing was also fantastic. Jun 21, 2004
Chris Archer
[Hide Comment] Brilliant outing. Very un-Rifle-like. Lots of positive flat edges with generally obvious sequences. Richard, any additional info on the FA mix-up? I thought Rob Candelaria had opened Richocet and Puppy Love. Jun 21, 2004
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
[Hide Comment] CA - (sorry, the last post written in haste) - I don't think there is a lot more to discuss as regards the FA of Ricochet. I'm not sure how Rob ended up being credited with Ricochet, I suppose that things like that just happen. I do recall getting dragged up Puppy Love shortly after Rob put it up - it seemed like a very bold lead (scary in other words), typical of a lot of Rob's routes. What I can assure you is that he never made any claim to Ricochet himself, and any mix up probably came in the process of cobbling together the early route data. I did point out the mix up to Hassan when he was getting his guide assembled, but as I recall it was annotated correctly in an early version of his published book (?). I must have been on Ricochet within a week of the time Mark and Scott got it in, and as I recall I chased the line that time with Mark, and at that point, I don't recall any other line on that sector of the Winchester Cave other than Ricochet. Once again, digging through the musty neuron tracks, it seems as though Rob got Puppy Love established close on the heels of Ricochet, certainly less than a year later, and perhaps within just a few months. Jun 21, 2004
Chris Archer
[Hide Comment] Thanks for the recollection, Richard. I always wondered why Rob didn't open more routes protected like Ricochet, and your thread answers that question nicely! Thanks for setting the record straight. Jun 21, 2004
[Hide Comment] Recent postings got me thinking about the history of this route, if it matters. This was the last route I put up in Rifle in 1990 or so, not long after the problems on The Eighth Day began. The line seemed obvious and beautiful, bouncing between the two parallel grey streaks (hence, "Ricochet"). It was the first route in the Winchester Cave (named after the old Winchester Hotel in Rifle where Teddy Roosevelt had stayed, and even more important than that, where we used to have Sunday breakfast with my dad...). My wife-to-be, Anne Marie, and I clawed our way up a poison oak-filled gully, got to the top, set the anchor and lowered off. I got 7 of the 11 bolts drilled that day, left our rope up and returned a week later. Rob C. was actually putting in Puppy Love when we returned (I think he used our rope to get his anchor in), and he mentioned that he'd been on our line. I assumed he'd TR'd it since the first 3 bolts and the last bolt weren't in yet, and besides, not many people heisted routes back then,(wait, see Eighth Day!). Anyway, we got it finished and were quite happy. Rob's partner (a southern climber), gave it a quick try the same day, taking a long fall near the end with Anne Marie belaying (I have good photos of him on the route). Rob led it later and I remember him asking why I added the last bolt--he liked it better with the runout, so I was sure he'd been on it before it was complete. Maybe this is where the FA discrepancy arises. I was surprised to see the wrong FA info in the Rifle guides, but always thought it was just an honest mistake. So, that's what I recollect about Ricochet, lots of gibberish about an 80' slab route, albeit a pretty good one. Jun 23, 2004
Rich Strang
Santa Fe, NM
[Hide Comment] This is a fantastic route and a must do for its difference in style and exceptional rock. Unfortunately the right cold shut anchor is half worn through as of May 2014. It would be nice to see some new anchors on this classic. A fun, heady route but never desperate. May 19, 2014
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] I'll second what Rstrang said. Climbed this route yesterday, and the top was equipped with two rusted bolt hangers and nothing else. Oct 12, 2014
[Hide Comment] One of the best climbed I ever did climb. Pure Genius. Sep 8, 2015
Steve Annecone
[Hide Comment] Excellent, clean route, with loads of hard moves but decent stances and rests where you need them. Thought the bottom 3 bolts or so was fairly spicy with chance for decking low and a reachy clip or two but probably nothing harder than 5.11- in there.... Oct 3, 2015
[Hide Comment] The large flake on the right of the bolt line midway up, the only large jugs on the route, flexes under body weight when pulling the mantel to move past it. Freaked me out feeling it move and then seeing it pull away from the wall when I pulled on it. I guess be careful, and hope you aren't the one to pull it off?

As for the rest of the route, perhaps slabby and technical is not my style, because I didn't think this route was particularly enjoyable. It's also supposed to be a soft 5.12a but felt harder due to the consistent nature of the climb and the consistently strenuous feeling clips. Definitely don't blow the first couple clips. May 28, 2018
Darek Krol 1
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] The route was re-bolted with glue-in bolts in the summer of 2018. The moving flake was reinforced with glue injected in the crack behind it, it stopped wiggling. Only the placement of the first bolt was changed to allow vertically challenged climbers to make the clip safely with no need for a stick. May 17, 2019