Type: Trad, 2 pitches
FA: Glen Denny, Bill Forrest, 1966, FFA Michael Kennedy?
Page Views: 10,753 total · 49/month
Shared By: Pinklebear on Jun 4, 2001
Admins: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This is the obvious inset open book to obtuse corner on the left side of the Grotto Wall, highly visible from the parking lot (yes, you will draw a crowd of slack-jawed Bago warriors during the summer months) and highly classic.

Scramble up on the ledge and get a load of this crack! Incut features on the quartzy right wall and sinker jams in the ever-steepening crack take you to a final, pumpy section of finger locks before you gain the ledge (10a). Belay here at bolts and chains, or if you have a 70-meter rope continue into pitch 2.

Move up the bizarre corner above the ledge past a stemmy section, then trend right on an undercut flake (Metolius 2 and 3 TCU's I think), passing a couple of pins to get out to a bolt protecting the bouldery, powerful crux (11+). A second bolt above this takes you through steep but easier terrain with positive grips. Surmount a final, easy roof to reach a double-bolt anchor at the lip of the wall. Double-rope rap from here (you may make it down with a 70-meter cord) or top out on slabs.

The second pitch can be reduced to 10+ by heading left out of the obtuse corner then arcing back right above the first bolt to join the easier finishing section.


Standard rack with lots of hand and finger-sized cams and mid-large stoppers.
Great crack climb. Can be a little tricky if it's at the upper end of your ability. My partner led it and left no pro when he moved left, then traversed back right, avoiding the 11+ crux if you climb straight up. I couldn't see his lead, as it was up and over, and got pumped when I tried to follow straight up. I eventually moved left and back right as well, which definitely put me at risk of a serious pendulum had I come off the rock. So, the leader may want to stick that one extra piece of pro in there... Jul 10, 2002
We didn't do the second pitch, but the first pitch is an absolute must if you visit this area. There are chains at the ledge at the top of the first pitch. Sep 3, 2002
Nice climb. I didn't know about the stemming and didn't figure it out up there either. Instead, I laybacked the upper section and ran it out 10-12 feet above the rest stance and took a nice 30 footer onto a yellow Alien. I rested and then went up and ran it out to the top, pumped out of my mind. Next time I do it I'll definitely try the stemming method. Jul 27, 2005
For the direct second pitch, I remember the small cams mentioned after the stemming; then a larger cam, a bolt over the small roof and a pin about ten feet after. Nice, challenging, finish to good climb; I think it protects better than the alternate finish, for both the leader and the second. Sep 2, 2005
Carbondale, CO
dbyte   Carbondale, CO
The 1st pitch is mega-classic, probably the best single ropelength I've done since moving to CO. Every placement is bomber & all are set from good stances.

DO THIS ROUTE! Jun 30, 2008
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
This route is an all time classic! The first pitch, by itself, is pretty much incredible! The second pitch, straight up variation was excellent as well. If you want the true onsight, stop reading now. If you want gear beta, continue on.

I used the following on the second pitch straight up variation (which is really cool!). In the tips crack off the belay, a larger RP and a blue Alien (a green might fit at one point, too). Good med/lg nut in the corner. Another one from the finger lock on the roof, then a #2 Camalot. Then decide if you want a red Alien / #0.5 Camalot, or you can clip the beefy bolt right there too (I don't know why there is a bolt... maybe because the last placement is in a pod so the cams could move and umbrella.. but there is plenty of gear). There is a crap bolt above the first one and a pin out right (I skipped both, and I'm not very ballzy), then a shallow #1 Camalot and you're onto easier ground after a few more pieces (can place a #3 Camalot but not necessary). Get on the second pitch as it's good gear and pretty easy to aid if you don't want to pull the moves! Walk off or rap. Killer! Oct 4, 2010
Glen Denny is at my place (Basalt) visiting right now and I just showed him this page on Cryogenic(s). He says he and Bill Forrest climbed it in 1966 while they were getting ready to do an ascent of the Yellow Wall. They hadn't ever climbed with each other, so they wanted to get a feel for each other's style. So they drove up the pass and did this route. Cam Burns May 5, 2011
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
This route is ok... all right, it's pretty good. I don't understand the hype about it though. The first bit is awkward thrutchiness up a wide, rather rotten crack. Pro is less than inspiring because it depends upon small, cracked flakes.

Then after a squirmy no hands rest, it's a few moves of lieback to jugs. Classic? Maybe the most classic trad 5.10a at Independence Pass. But let's not get carried away.... Sep 7, 2011
BJ Sbarra
Carbondale, CO
BJ Sbarra   Carbondale, CO
I'm with you, Phil. If it was actually a good "crack," it would be a much more quality pitch. As it is, it's fun face climbing protected by gear that I agree is sometimes less than inspiring. There are plenty of good trad lines in this area. Check out Cramper at Lincoln Creek if you want a true splitter crack. Sep 8, 2011
Lynn S
Lynn S  
3 new anchor bolts/chain atop pitch 1. Hardware courtesy of ASCA. Jun 6, 2012
scott e. tarrant
Fort Collins
scott e. tarrant   Fort Collins
Howdy Phil (and BJ)

I think the confusion might be due to having only done 1 pitch of a 2 pitch climb? Granted it has been some time since I did it, but I recall the first pitch as being something worth enduring to get to the fun climbing above! (which poses some confusion regarding it being rated as 10a...it is a solid 5.11 climb with a 5.9+/10- 1st pitch...). The 1st pitch leads to some great and exposed (and well-protected) 5.11 climbing that make Cryogenics a route really worth doing! Besides being in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it has that cool exaggerated exposure, good pro, funky body English climbing...just a cool, classic route IMHO.


Scott Dec 22, 2012
Pink Thunder
Sacramento, CA
Pink Thunder   Sacramento, CA
Just did the first pitch, not the second, and it kicked my arse. It was awesome, great pro, just pumpy as hell, especially at elevation. I pulled over the last bulge and just laid back, panting.

And for anyone interested, there's a fixed piece in the small, right-facing alcove that's a little over halfway up. Jul 8, 2013