Type: Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Dan Hare and Jeff Bevan
Page Views: 6,941 total · 34/month
Shared By: Old Fart aka Dave Bohn on Jan 26, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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I almost feel bad about writing up this route as it was in virgin condition when I did it. It offers lots of climbing in the sustained 5.8-5.9 range on generally good to excellent rock and makes a great uncrowded alternative to Syke's or The Barb. Hike up to the south nose/arete of Spearhead which is fairly blunt and slabby at the start. The topo in Rossiter's guidebook is pretty much right on, but the face is a little more confusing than the topo shows in the first 2 pitches. We were using a 60m rope, so my belays were based accordingly.

P1. Start up the most prominent, right-facing dihedral slightly left of the actual prow and about 100' left of Age Axe. It's a clean, wide crack, easy 5.6; I belayed on top of the "tooth-shaped" flake just left and slightly below the "7" on Rossiter's topo. Close to a full rope length.

P2. Continue up on slightly harder climbing to the ominous roofs above and find the easiest way through (5.8). Look for a left-facing dihedral just over the roof and continue up a ways. Rossiter shows a belay just over the roof. I belayed about 40-50 feet higher just below another small roof. About 150'.

P3. Here I think I may have been off route. From the small roof, there are 2 options; straight up and over the roof in the continuation of the dihedral which turns into a small hand/fingers crack over the roof (which "MAY" be the 5.7 way that Rossiter shows) or continue up left around the roof which turns into a very shallow left-facing dihedral that I thought was more like 5.9-. In any case, both variations merge on easy ground at the junction of the true "South Arete". Belay just below a 3" crack in a beautiful orange open book. You are now on "Age Axe".

P4. Jam and stem up the open book with excellent position, (sustained 5.8), 80-100' to a wide ledge and belay. Rossiter incorrectly shows double bolts at the right end of this ledge. They're actually at the left end. Shift the belay over to the right just below some large flakes/chimney.

P5. Climb up through the large flakes to another large ledge. A short 5.4 pitch.

P6. The business: you have 2 choices here. The crack straight above is the final pitch of Age Axe (5.10c and fairly well fixed with wireds). My partner wasn't up for that so we shifted the belay a ways right and finished up the final pitch of 3 Stoners (5.9). (The mental crux of the route was climbing across the down sloping, sidewalk wide ledge that is the common last belay for Age Axe, Stone Monkey and 3 Stoners.) The final pitch up 3 Stoners is excellent. A short 5.9 chimney leads up 20' to a point you can step right and into a perfect 5.9 finger crack. The rock here is really good! Continue up this to a final roof passed on the left and up to the descent ledge.

Descent: as mentioned by others, walk down SW (leftwards-facing uphill) a long ways on a fairly open ledge/meadow. There are a few cairns. At some point, you need to downclimb a bit to gain the top of a long, NE facing (left; facing downhill) ramp. It's VERY easy to get cliffed-out here! Take some care to find the proper place to turn down. I don't remember there being any cairns to mark the point but there is a faint trail. The long ramp back down is a lot like the descent down Redguard and wouldn't be lot of fun in wet or icy conditions.


Standard rack with a few extra pieces in the 3" range.


Jim Berg
Jim Berg  
I could not find the way to the lower roof & ended up doing a variation to the left. Way out left is a small left facing dihedral. A horizonal break in the right facing system used on the first pitch will lead you here. This happens as you approach the roofs on the second pitch. I ventured out left looking for this variation & notice the rock to the right of the left facing dihedrial was covered with chicken heads. Instead of taking the left facing dihedral (which looked 5.8/5.9), I went up the chicken heads. Not much pro but a fun pitch that was 5.6ish. With a 60m rope, I ended up a little short of the ledge that leads right to the 5.8 pitch of Age Axe. This route is excellent. The last pitch of Three Stoners is oh so sweet. Felt a little harder than 5.9, but the altitude always does that to me. Spliter pitch. Great route that is sure to see more traffic as word gets around. Jun 15, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
See Age Axe for some photos and a description of the final 10a/b/c (take your pick) final pitch of Age Axe. Aug 16, 2004
Jeff G.
Jeff G.   Lyons
Very worthy route especially at the grade. I don't think it is as good as The Barb, so I'm only giving it two stars. It does, however, offer excellent and clean climbing in the 5.8-5.9 range. We also traversed right to finish on Three Stoners' final pitch (I would also argue that this pitch could be given a 10a rating). Jul 17, 2005
Chris Toney
Chris Toney   Boulder,CO
Did this route today 8-12-06, The third pitch, the gorgeous open book is not a 3" crack more like 3.5 to 4". So if you think taking multiple 3 Camalots will allow you to sew it up think again, you'll need (2)#3.5 and (1)#4 Camalot if you don't want to run it out. As for the rest of the route, great climbing that sees little or no traffic at all. The 5.9 finish of Three Stoners is a good as it gets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aug 13, 2006
Bowe Ellis
Taos, NM
Bowe Ellis   Taos, NM
The moves right around the flaring "tooth" in P1 seemed about 5.8, as described by Rossiter (his topo and description don't match). As far as I can tell this is the only option for the start of the climb. In June 2008 (snow still on the mountain) the slab below this tooth was wet from seeps. Jun 17, 2008
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
A single #3 Camalot and a #4 Friend are adequate for the 5.8 "fist" pitch, if you are comfortable at the grade.

EDIT: you could easily leave the #4 Fr at home, also. Aug 6, 2009
Mike A. Lewis
Estes Park, CO
Mike A. Lewis   Estes Park, CO
We did the original last pitch, the 5.10 pitch that is shared with Age Axe. There were no more fixed wires. It was sustained 5.10, exposed, and really, really good - minus the sketchy block about half way up. Pro was TCUs to #2 Camalot. There is a crack on top of the cliff that takes #0.75 to #3 Camalots for an anchor, if I remember correctly. Aug 28, 2011
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Yep, single large pieces are good enough, but sure, one #3 Camalot and one #4 Friend.
With a larger rack, you can do what we did and finish the whole thing in 4 long pitches with a 70m rope (and likely with a 60m) if you simul-climb the easy part on the 1st pitch. Casual 1/2 day. Jul 27, 2015
Some additional route finding beta in case you, like us, forgot any sort of topo or route map and only have the MP printout. Also, we felt the ratings were a bit sandbagged and have listed them like we would call them.

P1. 5.7-.8. You are looking for a right-facing corner with a big “ear” to the right about 25 feet up. Climb around the ear to the right to the top of it, and then head up and left on a thin seam. You are aiming for a good ledge near a “tooth” about 180 feet up and below a hanging offwidth flake visible from the ground.

P2. 5.9. Climb up and right on another “ear” feature directly above the belay (not the big offwidth to the left). Take the path of least resistance over slightly runout terrain with some questionable rock to an airy roof and undercling that to the left. You are now in a 20-foot dihedral that ends in another roof. Climb the dihedral, traverse left underneath the roof, and belay at a small stance. About 150 feet. An alternate belay can purportedly be had by climbing through the last roof instead of going left. Looked uncomfortable to me.

P3. 5.9. Climb up directly off the belay and lieback the corner. Continue up until the crack ends then run it out 25-30 feet on 5.6 or 5.7 slab to a handcrack flake above. Ascend the flake and belay at a nice ledge below another handcrack. An alternative variation we did not do would be to take the crack on the right side of the roof, which looks like it goes to the same place and may alleviate the runout. Note, the belay on P2 would be different (i.e. in the crack through the last roof on that pitch). About 120 feet.

P4. 5.8. Climb the nice handcrack (with a little offwidth) to a nice ledge with two old bolts on the left end of the ledge. Traverse far right on the ledge and belay.

P5. 5.7. Climb up into a short chimney section to a good grassy ledge and make the decision. First, you can belay right there and finish on Age Axe. Alternatively, traverse at least 50-75 feet right (and climb around the big boulder blocking your path (exposed) to the base of another offwidth/chimney feature and belay there. Maybe 100 feet total if you traverse all the way right.

P6. 5.10 (something a, b, ?). Climb the offwidth/chimney feature for 20 feet and gain a handcrack. Climb that for 10 feet and transfer into the crack on the right. This is at some points a finger crack but is not a continuous splitter finger crack. Pro is adequate, but the lead is a bit heady. Undercling the roof to the left, and climb the obvious crack system to a very large ledge system near the summit (descent ledge). Several books call this pitch .9, but I thought it was harder and more sustained than the crux of either the Barb or Syke's. Classic pitch - excellent climbing.

Descent: descend skier’s right on easy ledges staying close to the wall until there is an obvious way on ledges down to the scree field. Nothing harder than 3rd Class. Jul 28, 2015