Type: Trad, Sport, 85 ft Fixed Hardware (3)
FA: C. Griffith, P. Ament, G. Ringsby 1984
Page Views: 3,763 total · 18/month
Shared By: Chris Dawson on Sep 9, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Subject to Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


Located thirty feet left of the first pitch of C'est la Vie. Climb up and right from a ledge to clip the first bolt at about 15-20ft. It is necessary to make one solid 5.10 move to clip the bolt (this is a little scary). Make first 5.11a move up to a second bolt (a bit of a reach to clip if you're short). This protects the crux move. Pull up to the third bolt and move straight right for another hard move. Continue up to the anchors below C'est la Vie dihedral at 80 ft. Awesome face climbing. Good stances. Can be easily toproped from anchor on-you guessed it-C'est la Vie.


This is an eighty foot pitch with three bolts (one at each 5.11 crux move). It is possible to place a small wire between the first and second bolt. Otherwise there isn't really any other pro (hence the trad definition).
This is a great pitch. I remember getting in some small gear/threads before the first bolt. I suspect that a fall from the high slab crux would not be pleasant. Nov 12, 2001
I would rate the slab move stepping right at the last bolt to be about 15a or so, probably 15b in the sun. Nov 12, 2001
Regarding injuries leading this route, I know of one. A friend of mine, who was climbing solid 5.12 at the time, tried to onsight this back in about 1994 or so, but he fell before getting to the first bolt. He broke his ankle pretty badly.

A tip I have heard for making getting to the first clip somewhat safer involves going up C'est la Vie about 25 feet and putting in a bomber cam (about #2 Friend), clipping it, then coming down and leading up Pansee Sauvage. By doing this, you should avoid hitting the ground in a fall before reaching the first bolt, but you will certainly have an exciting ride. Nov 14, 2001
This is a superb pitch, Eldo face climbing at its finest. have led it twice now, with no pansying about on C'est la Vie (though I have seen others stoop to such chicanery). I reckon the bolts to be really well placed, The hardest moves are immediately after them. The three bolts were replaced by Darren Bornn just last year with 1/2 inch modern bolts, so they'll be good for decades. Getting to the first bolt does not seem too bad to me_if you feel up for leading Eldo 5.11, you should feel relaxed on this stuff. I have to think hard about the moves after the second bolt, and really struggle on the slabby crux right after the third bolt. There is a good wire low down to protect the moves onto the initial face, then 5.9 climbing up the the bolt. Ironically, Christian actually placed only two bolts_the second and third, and the first was placed later, by Someone Else. Not sure too many folks would run it out to the second bolt! I know I wouldn't. I clip in with "granny draws" with double locking biners, for the bolts_one less worry. In addition, there is a small spike which takes a skinny shoulder-lengh sling a little after the second bolt. There is an RP between the first and second bolts, but the flake it is behind would likely fail. Nov 14, 2001
The first bolt was added to the route by Rob Candelaria (without permission) in the 80's when he replaced the original bolts. Needless to say this was highly controversial and scorned at the time. Christian's lead of this route, including placing the original 2 bolts, is one of the great leads done in the canyon.

I, for one, would probably have never led this without that first bolt yet if Christian had decided to remove it I may value the route even more for it's inspirational effect.

I find it more comfortable to clip that first bolt while using a sidepull or undercling on the left, and a sling oner a spiky flake on the section above the second bolt is the best protection I think. Nov 21, 2001
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Crusher: What are "granny draws"?? Are they mandatory for Grandmother's Challenge? ;-) Nov 21, 2001
Granny Draws. I'm a neurotic worry-wort, so when I pluck up the courage/stupidity to try one of the great runout Eldo pitches (Like Pansee Sauvage), I don't want to worry about the rope possibly coming unclipped from carabiners during a fall. A Granny Draw is just like a regular quickdraw; but with two locking 'biners. Once clipped and locked, the rope absolutely cannot come unclipped from the draw. This is perfect for the type of runout precarious bolt-climbing found around Eldo. It would be kinda pointless for somewhere like Sport Park, and a real pain for somewhere real steep, like Rifle. If you try this, make sure that you have the gates undone before you start climbing. Granny Draws are also good for lowering off of, if there is to be some toproping from the anchors. I usually carry about three of these, but often only take them on a pitch which is runout or where someone wants to toprope. Jan 1, 2002
Joe Huggins
Grand Junction
Joe Huggins   Grand Junction
I think it's funny to note that this route was originally toproped by the rangers; Richard, Steve, Sara etc., who named it Staff Infection. Feb 14, 2002
A trivia tidbit: Rossiter's guidebook translates the name as "mind of the savage," but it would be more accurately translated as "savage thought." It would also be more accurately spelled "pensee," but then, maybe Christian was making a multilingual pun so that in english there was a hint of the word "pansy." None of that matters of course. It's a very fun and challenging piece of face climbing that I don't yet have the confidence to lead -- kudos to those who have, especially on-sight. Apr 18, 2002
I just toproped this climb for the third time yesterday. I find it a fun, challenging route. I fell off it a couple of times yesterday. I'd like to make this a weekend warrior type headpoint project. Nothing like the big boys like Steve Levin and company, but something a regular guy can aspire to.

The hardest move for me is just past the second bolt - reaching that hole. This involves a desperate, painful sidepull on a small, sharp hold. I think the final slab move, while very thin, isn't too hard if you are six feet tall. I can span clear over to the sloping ramp on the right after some foot shenanigans. Jan 27, 2003
Well, Bill I bet you're right about height helping on that move. Unfortunately, I'm not tall; I am weak; my mental game is lacking, and I find that this pitch really makes me trust my feet even on top rope. What a job to set the bolts on lead. Thanks for setting such a sweet face climb Christian. Apr 29, 2003
After resisting the temptation to TR this climb for a while, I led it the other day. I agree with most of the comments above. The cruxes are very well protected and the climbing to the first bolt is unnerving but secure.What I found to be scary though, and I'm surprised no one mentioned it, was the solid 5.9 runout after the final crux to the anchors. The climbing on this section is slabby, polished, and insecure as opposed to the more positive edging on the lower part of the route. May 6, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I can't climb this route without hearing Rossiter's tongue-n-cheek commentary: "The mind of the savage is simple, yet resourceful and inventive" (from Boulder Climbs South). The ideal ascent of this line is free solo in a loincloth, with a turkey drumstick in your mouth to be devoured at the belay. Or you can toprope it. May 6, 2003
Brian Milhaupt
Golden, CO
Brian Milhaupt   Golden, CO
A fantastic pitch that was well bolted. For me the crux was well above the third bolt, reaching across from the diagonal ledge. May 16, 2003
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
  5.11b R
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
  5.11b R
Every time you see a bolt, expect a hard move just after it. On TR, I thought the hardest moves were after the third bolt. I have TR'ed some 11c's and 11d's climbs at Eldo that are easier than this climb, but if you can dial in the thin smearing moves at the third bolt 11b might be right on target. Nov 17, 2003
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
Found this in Pat Amen'ts "Eldorado--a rock climber's guide" (1980):"A direct route (5.11) was top-roped to the left of the first pitch of C'est La Vie in 1980 by Christian Griffith and climbs a steep wall to the huge dihedral."Rossiter says, "Bolted on the lead by C. Griffith with Pat Ament and Gray Ringsby, 1984."So Pat Ament is likely right that it had been toproped earlier. Mar 14, 2004
Just for the record and to add to the debate about retro bolting etc, I on-sighted this route in late October 1985 belayed by Jerry Handren now in Vegas. I don't remember any bolts apart from two very poor studs, one above a little step about 45-50 feet up [after a hard more of course] and another about another 30 foot up I think. I understand reading the comments that it has been retro bolted a number of times since then, with bolts added to make it safer?

Kind of a shame really, as climbing at its purist should be about respecting the first acentionists efforts and trying to match or better them. Can't say I have done this my entire climbing career but I do remember pushing the boat out a little on this one. Jun 15, 2005
Mike Robinson
Grand Junction, CO
  5.11b R
Mike Robinson   Grand Junction, CO
  5.11b R
Bolts are where you need them. However, unless your a solid 11 Eldo climber you may want to have health insurance before you try to onsight this climb. Aug 22, 2007
sean connors  
This route has some of the most beautiful face climbing I've ever done!!! 3-stars in my book. Jan 9, 2008
josh balt
Hill City South Dakota
josh balt   Hill City South Dakota
This is the best single pitch climb I did when I was in Eldo. The face climbing is so fricking amazing. Getting the first bolt had me going, but the real mental crux for me was at the very end 10 or 15 ft before the anchor. Maybe it's not so scary there, but something had me going.

Super fun do it if you are solid on the grade. Jul 29, 2010
I've avoided top roping this climb in the hope that one day I'd have the skills and balls to lead it. Yesterday I finally got the gumption. I agree with many of the previous comments that before the first bolt and after the last bolt are the two most dangerous spots. Some 5.10- climbing guards the first bolt and if you blow it, you won't be happy. Though somewhat runout, the climbing between the bolts was fairly safe, as is often the case with sporty but intelligently bolted lines.

I blew my onsight attempt at the 2nd bolt and decided to give it another try. When I rapped down, I placed an extended draw on the first bolt. This eliminated the need to pull the balance-intensive sideways move from the flake unprotected.

Stylistic issues aside, if you want to lead the route, but are worried about getting to the first bolt, from the Ces't la Vie anchor you can place an extended draw on the first bolt that tames at least one of the "hold your breath" moments. Just to emphasize, doing so definitely didn't change the R rating. This is still an 11b for the 11d climber. Jan 30, 2011
Ken Cangi
Eldorado Springs, CO
Ken Cangi   Eldorado Springs, CO
I led this thing in '92, after toproping it a few times that season. Although it still felt spicey, leading it onsight would be a much more serious undertaking.

I tr'd it yesterday, after 21 yrs, and it felt harder moving past the first bolt. It has been a long time, but the horizontal crimp seems like it broke. I remember that move off of the left gaston being much easier. Mar 16, 2013
Noah McKelvin
Colorado Springs
  5.11b R
Noah McKelvin   Colorado Springs
  5.11b R
The crux felt like it was on the first bolt for me. Outstanding face climbing! Always a challenge to read. One of the best face pitches in Eldo for sure. Make sure you're having a good day before doing this thing. I don't know what was more scary, getting to the first bolt or getting to the anchors. Aug 9, 2013

  5.11b R
  5.11b R
Long ways to the anchors, and the last little bit isn't trivial. Aug 9, 2013