Type: Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Richard and Joyce Rossiter, 1984
Page Views: 3,596 total · 17/month
Shared By: Julian Smith on Jun 23, 2001 with updates from doug haller
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

19 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This route is located on the second buttress of Cathedral Wall. Approach from the Sky Pond trail, traversing across a talus slope to get just to the right of a large right-facing dihedral, located in the middle of the buttress. The descent is down the back-side and then down Andrews Glacier trail. Coming back to the base of the route is only an option if you are into punishment. So, up and over with everything. The Rossiter guide does list an optional descent as scrambling west up the Cathedral Spires ridge until it is possible to descend talus and a gully to Lake of Glass and the Sky Pond trail.

Pitch 1. Work your way up to gain an unlikely looking crack that goes to a roof. Continue angling up to a ledge on the right (5.9). Locate a blocky face below the trees and roof. Climb a blank face for about 20 feet to gain a faint crack system. Follow intermittent cracks up to the base of the roof making the most of any gear placements. Save a #3 cam for the wide crack below the roof. Either build an anchor or continue up and right to the tree ledge. If you continue, use a double length runner.  

Pitch 2. Climb up through some grubby trees, and follow a right-facing corner up to a ledge (5.6). Step behind the trees to locate a right-angling crack that leads to a long narrow roof. Traverse right for 20 feet an pull the roof where it narrows. Attend to rope drag. After pulling the roof, climb unprotected 5.6 to gain easier terrain. By managing rope drag, P2 can be combined with P3 with a 70m rope.

Pitch 3. Climb a ramp that goes up to the left and belay at the bottom of a right-facing dihedral (5.4).

Pitch 4. Climb the corner and a short, steep crack to a ledge (5.8). From the corner, climb up and left to gain a short headwall (the first of two) with a crack. Pull through the vertical section avoiding loose rock to gain a ledge. Repeat this process for the next headwall and ledge (you have the option to combine with P5 using a 70m rope).

Pitch 5. This pitch is basically a scramble. Go up the ridge through a chimney and belay on a grassy ledge (5.4). Belay among loose rock at the base of the dihedral.

Pitch 6. Climb a right-facing dihedral, and turn a roof at the top. Continue to a belay on a ledge beneath a steep wall (5.8).

Pitch 7. Climb straight up the crack. The Rossiter guide says that this pitch is 5.10a, but it is a very short section of hard stuff. The crack gears up well, and it is really more of a boulder problem. Definitely go for this variation. The other variation hand traverses out to the right from the crack and climbs up the face to a ledge, reportedly, 5.9.

Pitch 8. Climb up the right side of a leaning pillar, turn a small roof, and run the rope out to spot to un-rope and rack the gear (5.6).

Continue to scramble up the gully. Once you reach the notch, angle down to the left over talus, aiming to find the gully described in the descent for Cathedral Wall. Overall, this route is sort of loose, and not continuous in difficulty. An ascent of Cathredral Wall is definitely worth the effort, though. At least this route does not have the letter "s" attached anywhere.


Standard RMNP alpine rock rack.


I seem to remember something about a mass heap of lichen on pitch one of this route... at the crux? A bit easier and not 1/2 as steep as Cathedral Wall proper but a pretty fun route all the same. Feb 8, 2002
Dan St. John
Castle Rock
Dan St. John   Castle Rock
Was super clean when Julian and I Did it last summer. I do not recall a crux, except for a few mind cruxs; slight run outs on RPs. I curious is we did differnt routs. Feb 15, 2002
Doug Redosh
Golden, CO
Doug Redosh   Golden, CO
Nice route. Not as committing as a lot of other stuff in the Park at this grade. One can walk off (with a couple rappels) back to one's gear, by traversing left a few hundred feet, then down some gullies. (It was 2 years ago!) The hand traverse right on the next to last pitch is a gas! May 19, 2002
An ok route on pretty good rock by park standards. Not much for exposure, but ok climbing and a good way to get the head in the game after a winter off. This is not nearly as run out as Cathedral Wall proper, but not nearly as steep either. We did this June 1 anticipating the wall would be dry and sunny, and the approach would be easy. It was.

Combining pitches with a 60m is a cakewalk, and makes for a really short alpine day.

Pitch 1 traverses a bit, and above is a tree so don't link it up.

Pitches 2 & 3 combine with a 60 with 10 feet to spare. Go until the climbing gets steep and belay. Beware-we may have been off track, but going up the dihedral we ran into a crux that was quite a bit harder than 5.6 (harder than anything on the route other than the 10a bit) and a fall would have been painful. Clean rock, little pro.

Pitches 3&4 combine with 20-30 feet to spare. Climb until you are at a headwall with a thin crack.

Pitches 5& 6. Easy to combine again. You could almost climb the last pitch as well, but it might entail simulclimbing through the crux. This way you get to belay on a meadow on a ledge. The 10a crux is pretty much dead on, but it is over quickly. The 9 traverse looked good, but I was not sure when to turn up. The 10a is pretty damn straightforward.

Pitch 7 - 50 foot scramble. You probably can forgo the rope at this point as getting off the back will probably be technically more difficult.

Comments on escaping: I have been on the Cathedral Wall twice now. The first walk off I went a little (south) left and picked through cliff bands. There always was a way just when it appeared like it would cliff out, but the downclimbing was loose and slick. This time we went way right (north) picking down until we were forced right. Again, we were dumped in the same crappy type downclimbing, but we didn't cliff out. I guess the descent just sucks. Rapping the gully climbers left as we went up looked possible, but loose and dangerous also. Jun 3, 2002
Here's a suggestion to satisfy the want for exposure and steepness in the immediate area. Just to the right of Tourist Tragedy and following the blunt arete, more or less, is a route called Running With The Bulls (5.11 ?) put up 2-3 years ago by a couple of guys, not sure who. I haven't done it but looked over from Tourist Tragedy; the rock and line both look to be very good. It looks to be more sustained, steep face climbing, because it doesn't have the large ledges like TT.

In the above photo is a lone tree in the center of the image. Up and right of this tree is a terrace with several trees. It arrives at the left-side of the terrace, half-way up the wall and, I believe, goes straight-up. Anybody know anything more about this? Jun 4, 2002
Dear Old Fart I've just submitted the details for Running. Hope you enjoy it. Jun 5, 2002
Going straight up the dihedral on P2 looked tenuous, see Frank Stock's comment above, so I traversed right about 10 ft before crack petered out. This is easy and there's a good #1-1/2 Friend at end of traverse before you pop over to a ledge. Looking back at the top of the dihedral, I'm glad I traversed.

On the descent, there's one sure fire way to get off. From the notch, traverse W to the gully that is the normal descent from Sharkstooth, Saber, Petit (non-rap descent) and walk down to the trail coming down from Andrews Glacier. Stay high on this traverse so you don't get sucked into an earlier gully. Aug 19, 2002
Byron Murray  
My partner and I climbed this yesterday and we used the topo in Richard Rossiter's guide and found it accurate. On the 2nd pitch be careful to go left. After pitch 8 scramble down then up to the notch. Pass through the notch to the West side and traverse skier's left towards Sharkstooth. If you drop down towards Andrews Glacier/Creek trail you are guaranteed to cliff out. The traverse left descent is quite civilized and the end point is the large rock wall that crosses (dams) the valley floor between Andrews Glacier and Sharkstooth. The large rock wall has a waterfall on the west side and you can pick your way down on the east side. The North and South sides of the rock wall are filled in with snow. (A good idea is to bring an extra pair of socks.) Once you descend the snow field you will be on the Andrews Glacier/Creek Trail. We stashed our packs at the Andrews Creek trail turnoff on the hike in so we wouldn't have to retrace steps back to the base of the route.

A great route that is not done often. Make sure you are warmed up and ready for the first pitch. Jul 12, 2010
Clint Locks
Clint Locks   Boulder
We found it best to stay on-trail until even with the upper edge of the #2 buttress, then traverse the boulder field to the base. The first pitch begins ~25 feet down from the large off-width crack at the left side of a 25 foot arete. There's pro where you need it, but don't expect an abundance. This is not the case with the rest of the route. The second pitch is a bit confusing after the grubby trees, and The 10a variation has adequate pro, but did not 'gear up' as well as I'd expected from the route description. Don't duck down too early on the descent; stay high until you can see a clear path down. See Byron's comment for details. Another good idea is to bring mosquito spray for the pack drop at the trail junction. I brought extra socks. Jul 12, 2010
Kevin Landolt
Fort Collins, Wyoming
Kevin Landolt   Fort Collins, Wyoming
Fun tour of Cathedral Wall. The descent back down to Andrew's side is pretty straightforward and fast. Dec 11, 2010