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Routes in The Saber

Kor Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Pocketknife, The T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R
Razor's Edge T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
Southeast Corner T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Southwest Corner T 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches
FA: Layton Kor and Dean Moore
Page Views: 8,304 total · 40/month
Shared By: Kurt Johnson on Dec 28, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

33 Opinions

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I don't remember much about this route except that it was harder than I expected. Not only the supposed 5.8 crux pitch, which almost everyone considers a sandbag, but nearly every pitch on the route. Even the last of the three "initial pitches," a so-called 5.6, bulged out slightly with delicate moves and tricky protection, and although it's possible that I was off-route, nothing to the left or right looked any easier. Apparently, that's just the nature of routes on The Saber. I heard a story of a well-known Estes climber who struggled on the Southwest Corner route even though he was capable of leading several grades higher. The Saber is no Petit Grepon, and climbers, especially more moderate or less-seasoned leaders, should prepare accordingly.

We began the route high up the east side, near the base of the righthand gully/chimney, on a steep grassy slope (which required a bit of easy 5th class climbing over a short band of rock). From the here, look around for the line of least resistance and traverse diagonally up and left, and eventually staight up for 3 pitches until you reach the large and obvious ledge from where the route officially starts. Move your belay right along the ledge to the base of a distinct left-facing dihedral. This is pitch 1 as discribed in the Rossiter guidebook.

P1) Head up the dihedral to where it peters out, pulling left at a small roof and then up another left-facing dihedral (to the left) to a good ledge. This is the crux pitch and is definitely 5.9 climbing. There's a thin parallel crack running straight up from the belay ledge in which I placed the 2 smallest aliens and the smallest tcu as my anchor; maybe I missed some more obvious gear placements but that was all I could find. It made for a solid set-up, but I'd have had a harder time finding a belay if I hadn't had those small cams. Also, after the small roof before the second dihedral, there's another dihedral directly overhead which leads to the same ledge that confused me at first, and which I'm glad I didn't take as I'm sure it's harder.

P2) Traverse right and up the edge of the face into an easy dihedral which ends at a long grassy ledge. Move your belay right along the ledge to the bottom of a large and obvious left-facing dihedral.

P3) Head up the steep dihedral to a belay behind a pinnacle which you can sling with a cordelette.

P4) Continue up the next dihedral and follow the crack system to the second grassy ledge.

P5) Head up and right into what the Rossiter guide calls "nebulous" terrain. He's right: you just have to pick and choose the way that looks easiest and the most straightforward. Ther's a lot of potentially loose-looking flakes and features up here, and the angle stays steep, so climb carefully. You're aiming for a ledge with rappel slings, and it's not that easy to find.

P6) We got stormed off at the base of this pitch, and descended the rap route, but this pitch supposedly goes straight up through a bulge and a v-slot to a notch on the ridge crest, where you can either continue on to the summit (several more easy pitches along a ridge) or start the rappel route.

Descent options are explained in the discription for The Saber.


Standard rack.
justin dubois
Estes Park
justin dubois   Estes Park
This route is not as quality as the Petit, but the decent by rappel is much more straight forward than the rap off the Petit. Jan 11, 2002
This route has some great climbing and some serious chunk pitches. Definitely not to be taken lightly as it is a long route with some confusion stuff up top.

The pitch description above is what I remember. Through pitch 5 (excluding the beginning pitches) the rock is quality and the climbing is fun. The nebulous pitches are just that. Pick and go. I didn't see anything formal looking that I would have been inspired to rap off of, but we were headed for the top anyway.

The last pitches take a while to sort out. You have to choose a balance between the path of least resistance and the best rock. You get to do some ledge to ledge climbing with loose wet stuff abound. If you are topping out keep climbing until you intercept the routes from the outside corner at a saddle between the first false summit and the second false summit. Climb to the top of the second false summit. You then down climb this summit on the north side on a ramp with protection for the hard spot, go through another small saddle, and then up to the real summit. From this point it is a short rap (maybe 50 feet) and then walk off towards the notch between sharkstooth and the saber.

The Rossiter book is pretty on for the walk off with the exception of the single rope rap in the gully. The point when you must rap is obvious, but the book says you have to rap off a bolt. Look around, and you will notice several good slings around a huge boulder, which seems to be a much better alternative than an old rusting pound in bolt. This entire descent takes a little more than an hour. Jan 16, 2002
Didn't remember much about this route either after 20+ yrs...Memory is kind. This route is a pile! Only the 1st and third pitches (both 5.9) are any good. Rap off before it all comes down...then jump on the Moon. S.Kimball. Jul 25, 2002
I did this route last weekend, and thought that the route was surprisingly good. The crux pitch is really nice and some of the other pirches are pretty good too. I also though that, contrary to popular belief, the original 5.8 rating was pretty fair. It is certainly comprable to standard 5.8s at Eldo. If you want some real sandbagging, I recommend the doing the last 5.9 pitch of Obviously for Believers on Spearhead. This can also be done as part of the East Prow or Age Axe. Aug 12, 2002
Luke Clarke
Luke Clarke   Golden
This route is no more technical than 5.8 but it is a burly mother. It goes on and on. The loose "looking" stuff is, acutally, quite loose. I felt glad when nothing was moving under my feet and I quickly learned not to yard off any flakes, taking smaller, more likely solid hand holds on the last five pitches. That said, there are few places with better position or more dramatic summits. There is one fixed pin in about 1,000 feet of climbing! Not a sport route. Jul 6, 2004
Not as good as I though it would be. After the first two pitch you climb right next to a low angle gully. Southwest Corner is the route to do on this thing. Aug 18, 2004
Very nice route. We started way up high in the gully and soloed up to half a rope length below pitch 1. First pitch was beautiful climbing, solid rock, excellent stems with the crux move (no harder than 5.8(+)) being at the very end of this long, steep pitch. All other pitches were nice and quite clean for an alpine route. We followed Rossiter's route description and thought route finding was quite easy though we might have been a bit off route on pitch 3 taking up a wide (and dirty) crack on a steep face that looked more enticing than the vegetated lower angle dihedral to the left.
The raps were very straightforward, and as of this weekend the anchors were in good shape. Enjoy the very last, airy rap.
Definitely a route worth doing. Jul 31, 2006
Armin climber
Westminster, CO
Armin climber   Westminster, CO
P's 3 and 4 combine quite nicely (about 200 feet and change, had 70m's) if you don't put to much gear in/back clean. This route would be 3 stars if the last two pitches were't so junk/more exposed. Jun 14, 2007
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
"This route would be 3 stars if the last two pitches were't so junk/more exposed"

Yep... check out 'The Razor's Edge' as an alternative. Jun 14, 2007
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
The last pitch pretty much spoiled the route for me. Grungy loose rock with big runouts--the runouts were perhaps my choice due to trying to move fast, but it was pretty dangerous and very out of character with the lower pitches. The rock was better but much steeper further left, and further right would have put us into the grass of the rap route. We topped out at a notch just climber's right of the rap anchors, which were not visible from that point, and we first went climber's right, towards the gully, looking for them. P1 was great with fun stemming and some hard moves higher up, but I was suckered too high by a fixed nut towards what is apparently a 10 variation. P2, 3 and 4 were good but nothing special. The raps are fast but some were less than inspiring being just big blocks sitting in the dirt. Bring extra webbing and rings. Aug 3, 2008
Buster Jesik
Allenspark, CO
Buster Jesik   Allenspark, CO
I thought this route was super fun. Nice sustained moderate climbing that goes on and on. The worst death blocks were on the 1st and 3rd pitches. The one on the 1st pitch is by the pin when you go left out of the corner, and the one on the 3rd pitch is about 30 ft off the belay and is really scary. It is a 3 ft tall pillar sitting on a sloping ledge so precarious it seems to sway in the breeze. I recommend the .10a variation on the second pitch. Go straight up to the grassy ledge instead of traversing right off the belay. The rock is good and the .10 part is not sandbagged like the rest of the route is. The final ridge to the summit is super funky, probably only worth doing once if you value you life. Aug 16, 2008
jeremy long
  5.8+ PG13
jeremy long   BOULDER CO
  5.8+ PG13
Loose, blocky, scary. The raps suck, too. If you lead the grade, do the southeast corner thruogh the roofs! I call it PG-13 due to the loose blocks. May 19, 2011
What a pile of choss; 2 of the 7 or 8 pitches are good. Super loose at the top; all but one of the raps are fine.

I wouldn't recommend this route to anyone looking for a fun day. Jul 23, 2011
AAJ 1963: "The Saber. From Sky Pond in Loch Vale, one views the slender ridge of the Petit Grepon and to the right and east of it rises a great, red corner, 1000 feet high. Dean Moore and I made its first ascent on July 13 in five hours. After climbing unroped for 300 feet, we came to the base of the buttress proper. Finding cracks in the smooth red rock, we climbed up 25 feet, left for five and back right for 15 and over a small overhang and a difficult slab to a foothold belay., The second lead ascended left around an overhang to a small ledge and then up an 85’ wall to a grassy terrace. A traverse right on grassy ledges took us to a vertical crack system, which we climbed to a separated pillar belay. The next lead of enjoyable face climbing took us to a flat ledge, 40 feet from the corner proper. We traversed left up a difficult crack into a chimney and finally onto a good belay platform below a smooth overhang, We followed thin slabs left around the overhang and climbed broken rock to the summit ridge. Several hundred feet of unroped climbing and one roped lead finished the ascent." LAYTON KOR, Colorado Mountain Club. Apr 27, 2018

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