Type: Trad, Aid, 16 pitches, Grade VI
FA: Becker, Webster, Lella, Newberry
Page Views: 24,203 total · 116/month
Shared By: slevin on Feb 17, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


The Hallucinogen Wall received a lot of press after the protracted, epic-filled first ascent. It was a CLIMBING magazine cover shot and received a fair bit of sensationalism in the Western Slope newspapers. The first ascent was an outstanding achievement for the period and included some of the most impressive aid climbing yet done in Colorado. One can only wonder what was going through Bryan Becker's head as he hooked ad nauseum on the crux lead well into the danger zone. (Given the route name, it's easy to guess at least one thing going through his head.)

Today it is THE wall route to do in the Black, and gets done a fair amount - although not in the Valley trade route sense. It is a beautiful line, taking a fairly direct route up one of the steepest and cleanest sections of rock in the canyon. It has been climbed hammerless, rope-soloed many times, climbed in winter, and subjected to ruthless single-push timed efforts.

Even after many ascents there is still a funk factor, although the route has no doubt cleaned up considerably since the first ascent. There are some potentially dangerous blocks and flakes on pitch 11. Otherwise there is little munge, pegmatite or bad rock- a bit down low and some up high. Most ascents are now clean, but bring a hammer should a fixed head blow.

Several "chicken" rivets have been added to the hooking pitches, and with the well-worn hook placements these blank pitches must be alot easier nowadays. One hooking strategy is to have a complete set of hooks on each of your aiders. This avoids fumbling as you find the right hook and try to remove it from the gear sling. You could also wear rock shoes and a chalk bag to use available face holds when high stepping. With all the hooking you end up doing, it's interesting to note that more than one climber has considered the crux of the route the final headwall rivet ladder, where one memorable rivet is bent down and almost completely out of its sleeve.

One of the most beautiful cactus colonies I have ever seen (anywhere) is directly on this route. Please be careful crossing this clump of delicate plants and arrange your ropes to avoid it. A mid- to late-May ascent may enable one of to see these in full bloom, a sufficently hallucinogenic experience in its own right.

A motivated competent party could leave Boulder after work and bivy on the rim that night, descend at dawn and start climbing, bivy at Fantasy Island day one, Happy Trails day two, then top out (and drive home?) on day 3.

Descend the Cruise Gully to beyond the toe of the Nose buttress and find a nice camp here amidst the poison ivy. There is a fire ring here but fires are technically illegal. Bring iodine tablets and fill all your water bottles from the river. Strategies vary, so depending on the hour, your motivation, and the general tao of the moment, fix pitches and camp here, or simply embark on your journey.

P1-P5: Locate the line with the most bushes. This leads to a large obvious left-facing corner system. There are several anchors along the way on the initial pitches, so depending on your rope length consider stretching it out. Haul on the right wall. The hauling is hell early on, so the second should be available to unstick the bags. The climbing gets better fast, and after a choss section of 5.10 (or C2), includes some nice 5.10 wide crack climbing (easily aided) and a beauty of a 5.9 hand crack (P5). A poor bivy stance exists between the wide crack and hand crack pitches.

P6: Head left under a roof, then hook your way up the blank wall past several bolts to a roof with gear to lower off, and pendulum left into a right-facing corner leading to Fantasy Island.

P7: Climb a L-facing corner system to a belay on a flake (a quick, relatively easy lead). If you arrive early at Fantasy Island it may behoove you to fix this pitch to get a jump on the next days climbing.

P8: A short stretch of sketch (most people will free climb this short section) leads to a beautiful L-facing dihedral. The A3+ rating (a few fixed heads, some rattle-gear) is sometimes annotated with a "5.11" free climbing rating, but no way does this go as a 5.11 lead. Belay at a cluster of bolts.

P9-P10: More hooking and the like lead up into a vast blank "out-there" section of wall. Very enjoyable climbing, some bolts, some route-finding issues (issues, issues, issues), but pretty much every time you're in doubt a little Braille search above will locate a bomber hook placements. These are the original crux pitches of the route.

P11: The cactus pitch, with perhaps a pin placement or 2, some loose blocks, and a traverse straight right at the top to reach Happy Trails bivy. The start of this pitch is a bit spooky, runout on choss 5.9, but by now being spooked is feeling normal, so proceed with aplomb. There is a bomber bolt to hang a ledge off at Happy Trails, great views below, an imposing wall above, and the ubiquitous but faint bivy odor of eau-de-climber.

P12: Head off right from the bivy, up some fixed heads to a traverse right (awkward gear placements), and the notorious headwall- a very steep, exposed section of memorable climbing graced with some pretty funky fixed stuff. Belay at a cramped spot below a huge roof.

P13: Again, right and up from the belay, past an overhanging corner, some rivets, and a line of bolts. This pitch eases off the higher you go, which is a nice feeling.

P14: Climb through some blocky pegmatite, up and left to some awkward and slightly strenuous stuff, and belay at a bulge (this is where the free version of the Diagonal meets the route). Although pin placements are suggested for this pitch, with not much trickery it is easily climbed clean.

P15-P16: Enjoy the chossy 5.8 chimney munge above; you deserve it. Find the line of least resistance from the terrace to the rim. Fix the haul line, leave the haulbag (and your partner) hanging, and dash to the car for that cooler of beer. Drink heartily, then return (with at least one cold one for your partner) to your final task of hauling the bag.


3 sets Friends to #3, doubles #3.5 and #4, a #4 Camalot, 2 sets TCUs, Wires/RPs, 2 sets assorted hooks including talons and Fish hooks, a small selection of heads (in case a fixed head blows on you) including a few circle heads , and a couple rivets hangers. Some people bring a small selection of pins (a few blades, LAs, to standard angles) although you will probably place very few pins. Portaledge (Fantasy Island is a good one-person bivy, but 2 is way crowded; Happy Trails is a marginal bivy for 1). Buttbag, helmet, all that kind of crap. 50m ropes will work, I assume, but 60m eliminates assumptions. Bolt kit just in case (a lot of bolts are looking pretty old). The hauling is easy once you get about 5 pitches up. Music cassettes from the heydays of psychedelia, Hendrix preferred.
Steve, Thanks for the quality additions to this site!! Feb 17, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Not veryone pulls on gear on P3. I did it free, but admit that it felt more like 5.10a than like 5.8. The bottom pitches wandered so much and there were anchors (albit a few poor ones) at different heights and here and there across the wall. I and my pertners kinda wondered if we were exactly on route a few times. The 5.8 way may have some crux avoidance deviations that I did not find (and if so, apparently others also do not). It is an aid route anyway, I guess. Apr 28, 2003
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
Anyone have any info. about the current free attempt by Ogden and crew???

Specifically- have fixed heads been cleaned and have bolts been added?I'm hearing mixed reports. Apr 13, 2004
[Don't] climb a wall with out the proper gear. If it calls for heads bring them... Apr 16, 2004
Word is Jared Ogden and Ryan Nelson freed route around May 21,22, and 23rd, with a little dry-tooling on the crux pitch. May 28, 2004
While I applaud the efforts of Jared and Ryan, I wasn't aware that dry tooling was now considered to be free climbing. May 28, 2004
Heard that too- but I hadn't heard of the drytoolin'. Actually heard that they had freed all the sections but hadn't did it all in one push yet.... May 29, 2004
So, I guess time will tell whether this is an inspirational ascent, some new hybrid style to aspire too, or mearly a party trick.

Cheers anyway, if it's true, to thinking it up, those boys for sure can mixed climb.

So, is the grade 5.12 M7 or what?

...and of course the most pressing question...WERE THEY LEASHLESS?

Heard Jared and Topher have some 5.13 proj on the South Chasm too...keep the sickness coming. May 29, 2004
I WOULD call this a FREE ascent, and I am very impressed! When "dry tooling" a mixed route or alpine climb you are not suddenly "aid climbing" when you move off of the ice. You are simply using "tools" as extensions of your own "natural" equipment. If you hang in your harness from an axe or piece of protection THEN you are aid climbing. These guys were moving onward with tools in hand not feet in aiders. No one out there is willing to say that the use of sticky rubber shoes or crampons is "aid " climbing. It is equally likely that most people would consider ice climbing "free" climbing and not "aid" climbing simply because the climbers hands grip tools not icicles. Anyone out there care to tell Hugh Herr that he was just an "aid" climber because he used adaptable modifiable extensions? This was an amazing accomplishment and a visionary approach. If it bothers anyones purist ethics then I suggest they probably have forgitten the past and dread the future. Like EB's and Fires, Camalots and TCU's, droop picks, mono points, and speed screws, some will always see evolving as "cheating".Really it is just the future moving through the present towards the past. Congratulations to an amazing team of climbers with the boldness to try something different. Aug 29, 2004
Have to disagree with you Phil. The Hallucinogen is not an alpine or mixed climb. It is a rock climb. Free climbing a rock climb means touching the rock with your hands.

All equipment is aid, but the history and development of modern climbing allows for the use of sticky rubber rock shoes- much like using an ice axe is appropriate in alpine or mixed venues.

Using a prothesis (or 2 in Hugh's case) is also a poor argument- artificial limbs are a replacement for something missing.

I am sure that drytooling the headwall bolt ladder was difficult, but it was a gimmick to get through a section of rock that is in all likelihood impossible to free climb. While I seldom use words like "amazing" and "visionary" to describe anything in climbing, I do agree the 5.13 A0 ascent of the Hallucinogen was a significant accomplishment.

One further thing- if drytooling is indeed the wave of the future, who decides when and where it can be used? Can someone use it to "freeclimb" the lower pitches of the Hallucinogen if they can't do it the "old-fashioned" way? Aug 30, 2004
So if somebody climbed a 1/16 inch splitter crack in Indian Creek with 2 ice axes and rock shoes, is that a free climb also?

What is so bad about the simple fact that the Hallucinogen is still an aid climb? The .13 A0 ascent was a great achievement, why not leave it as that? Sep 3, 2004
Hmmm...I just saw a great picture in the paper of Aron Ralston climbing. Many will remember that Aron is the Guy who had to cut off his own arm to survive after being pinned by a boulder for days. It appears he has had a prosthetic arm modified to attach ice axes to. It looked like he was cranking some pretty hard stone. But I bet you'd say it was only A0 or maybe A1... Sep 8, 2004
5.13, A0Hope they had fun, but i also hope no harm or customizing was done to the rock.****watched a guy w/ 1 arm lead the 1st pitch of Castleton North Face w/ 1 hang a couple weeks ago. Was *not* wearing his capt'n hook. Sep 15, 2004
On April 23rd, Stefan Griebel and I climbed the route in 23h39m from base to top. If anyone else has done the route in 24hours, I'd be interested to find out.

It's hard for me to comment on the bolts, since this was my first time on route, but they were all in good condition (except for the nearly blown rivet on pitch 6). I had heard that additional chicken bolts had been added to pitch 10, but it appeared that it was more of an upgrade (i.e. there was a fatty bolt 1 move above an old rivet). As a personal comparison the route felt much more difficult than The Shield, and none of the A2 pitches were as easy as standard A2 pitches in the valley.

I've never done that much hooking before in my life. Pretty much every aid pitch required hooks.... I think I'll be hanging them up for a while, so to speak. Apr 26, 2005
Regarding J Thompson's questions about bolts... I talked to the climbing ranger, and he said that Jared told him that he had only added a couple of bolts to pitch 6 to establish a variation to avoid the pendulem. It didn't look like anybody pulled heads and placed bolts instead, the number of bolts on the route seemed fairly consistent with the Williams topo. There are still many long sections of fixed heads and hooks.

I can't say how the character of the climb has changed with the bolt upgrades or if any bolts were put in that shouldn't have been, but I can say that it's still a pretty stout route. Apr 26, 2005
city, state
alpinglow   city, state
Cheers Alan,

Nice send. A buddy and I put a watchless push on this back in college, in our assumption, just a touch past 24.

Haven't heard of anyone else doing it in a day, but these days there are too many hard dudes to say.

Again, nice send. Apr 26, 2005
"watchless push", what a great turn of phrase. I hope that one becomes firmly ensconced in the speed-climbing lexicon. And in actual practice. . . . Apr 27, 2005
Yes, nice work Alan and Stefan! It's about time somebody got it done. Yo B-dog! A buddy? Shit, what about all those nights cuddling in ledges buddy. I don't remember being buddies at the top of this route though. The last pitch is a doosie and we were quite strung out by then. As I recall we were 26hrs car to car sans watch. Does "watchless" mean you climbed it with your eyes closed? That must be why it took so long. Pretty awsome gaining hieght fast on this route huh alan? Makes for one hell of a day. Good job! Apr 27, 2005
Hey I heard on rec.bouldering.soill that those dudes did it sub 20 and chugged beers on the summit!

Here's an idea... Rather than spray rumors, maybe we can just ASK THEM. Apr 30, 2005
23 hours 39 minutes or 48 hours 27 minutes, who cares it is still a great route. It is not the Olympics. No one is going to give them a medal for breaking the four minute mile. And even if they get featured in the crag rags they will still be eating tuna out of the can with a piton in the back of a VWee micro van. Even if they fixed the first five pitches just climbing the beauty of a beast in any thing close to 24 hours it is amazing. If you want to go faster go for it. Joe Callahan and I did one of the first ten ascents of The Hallucinogen in six days including surviving and climbing through the sixth day while being in the epicenter of the worst lighting storm / squall I have ever seen. That seemed fast enough for me. Personally I applaud these lads efforts no matter what their time cards say. Apr 30, 2005
To quote the 'thought of the day' in the Colorado Daily 5/1/05 "America is a country that doesn't know where it is going but is determined to get a speed record getting there." -Laurence J. Peter

As an old fart tradie I always thought that climbing fast was for safety in the mountains not competition glory. Style in climbing is a personal choice not a dictate. Cheers!philo May 1, 2005
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Too bad every accomplishment someone makes has to be dragged into this sort of a squall. I know and have climbed with both Alan and Stefan, I can assure you that it is not their intent to deceive or exaggerate anything. They are both certainly capable of this feat and since they have done it, it has been done. I have discussed it with Alan since.

If it had not been for that discussion, I think two elements of evidence would have been enough to convince me anyway, even if I did not personally know the two of them.

First of all, I have climbed with them. Both are capable of climbing up to 5.12, or perhaps harder. In fact, I have been on trad 11d with each of them within the past 12 months. I've raced both of them on speed ascents and scambles. Perhaps RACED is not the right word; to say that I have CHASED them might be more accurate. Even that description of the timed ascents I [made] behind Stefan and Alan fail to mention that I was struggling to keep them in close distance or even moderately within sight on trail and rock, and I am not a slow-poke. Stefan is one of the faster runners/climbers in the Boulder Minions gang. Yes, including Galen and Buzz Burrell, Dave Mackey, Tim O'Neill, Bill Wright, Bill Brigs, Christian Griffith, Jon Seargent, etc... We are talking about a FAST crowd. Stefan has also been "in the money" in races, IE, taking 1st in the Teva games adventure race last year. He's not slow.

Second of all, I have put in a bid for the H.W. myself, now nearly 10 years ago. Sorry, I have no final time to report for you, as I was stormed viciously from the wall. However, having been on it with Nate Beckwith and Amanda Tarr, both [competent] aid climbers, I can tell you that 24 hours is by no means an [unbelievable] feat. Any nay-sayers should go give it a shot; it is an accomplishment for sure, but it is a quite reasonable claim.

Perhaps stopwatch photos were taken because it was known that some armchair [critics] would pop up? Isn't that sad? Maybe the critics should go climb it.

Also, a late start? Sure, you usually don't initiate 24 hour pushes to being at daybreak. You begin at mid-day. That way when you are trashed and beat and sleepless and worn, at least there is some light out. I began my "HM in a push" at mid-day too. May 1, 2005
Tony- I don't see this as such a squall. They obviously did the thing fast. It appears folks just want to know more of the details of the ascent. If they were there the day before it seems perfectly logical and ethically legal to scout the first few pitches. This would account for being spotted down there. On the other hand if fixed ropes were involved (which for the sake of the accuser should have been specifically witnessed to justify accusations) then there is a squall. I don't see the point of claiming a 24 hr ascent if fixed ropes were involved and I assume these boys wouldn't either. Alas this merely appears to me that site searchers need SOMETHING to do while waiting out these incesant storms.

As for your belief that this thing will go much faster, who couldn't agree. There are plenty of hard men around that could fly up this thing.It's just a matter of wanting to. It seems most Black climbers are more interested in linking free climbs than swinging around in their harness.

Now this whole deal with starting in the middle of the day isn't for everyone. We started our push early in the am. thereby climbing the easier free pitches at the bottom and the top in the dark. This is a merely a question of where your strengths and weakness' lye. For me I like my aid belays sunny. May 1, 2005
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
Friday (4/22/05), we climbed P1-P6 so that we would be familiar with the location of the start and the easy free pitches that we would be doing in the dark the next day. Then we rapped to the ground, stashed our rope and gear, and hiked back out for some dinner and sleep.

Saturday, we got up early, descended in the dark (it was a full moon though), and started climbing at 0347 on my watch. We thought we had it in the bag for sure at the end of the last hard aid pitch as it was still light out. But then, we too entered some sort of time-inversion-black-canyon stupor, and spent waaay too long on the last 4 pitches topping out at 0326. I think it was mostly due to my crappy aid skills combined with my dehydrated grovelling up the scary rotten chimney pitch in the dark with the rain starting...

What's humorous is that we did accidentally "fix" pitches 4 and 5. On Friday, we did a double-rope rap from the top of P5, and when we pulled our ropes, our thin tag-line got stuck at the very top. What it was stuck on, we had no idea, but only someone like the accusatory AC moron would even consider jugging that thing. A _7mm haul cord that might be wrapped around a bush?! Since we were coming back the next day anyway, we left it hanging and did 3 more single-rope raps to the ground. On Saturday, when I arrived at the top of P5, I learned that the thin rope had whipped itself into an overhand knot on the rap-ring with a 1" tail!

Alan and I talk all the time about how some real speed climbers will easily take this route _16 hours on their first try.How many A3 El Cap routes did Ammon McNeely do in a day last year? And those are all roughly twice as long as the Hallucinogen Wall. May 1, 2005
Good job you two! There must be some sort of dehabilitating hallucinations that slow people down on those last pitches. Great shot of the cacti by the way! Let's hope their there for years to come. I don't believe they have anything like that on El Cap. May 2, 2005
Drew Allan
Drew Allan   Denver/Aspen
I will match Bob and raise it. Great job Alan and Stefan!! May 2, 2005
Great Job to everybody! Nice going! Keep up the good work! Kudos! May 3, 2005
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
Thanks everyone! But now it's time to congratulate some real speed climbers. Ryan Nelson and Jared Ogden went back to the Black on 5/12 and did the route in 8h59m! (speedclimbing.org) Now that is smokin' fast! May 17, 2005
Under 9 hours! ....Barring the use of R2-D2 jet packs that is FAST, mindblowingly fast! All kudos and congrats to these uber dudes. This remarkable news inspired me to jump up out of the rocking chair (of course that may have been due to the spastic sphincter seisure syndrome that I experienced while reading about their speed ascent) and wonder if I could break my own ...speed of 132 hrs, Nah, not likely. All my juvenile juice has turned to geriatric jelly I'd surely be slower. Your record is safe from me uber dudes. But if I ever bump into either of you I will gladly buy you a flagon of ale and a side of beef or what ever it is that satiates monsters like you two. I am still [completely] blown away. 'course that could be that sphincter thing. For what little it is worth my hat is off to you guys. May 18, 2005
J Brown  
Umm....can anyone tell me the rack for High and Dry please! [mainly] Any aid gearzzz? Jul 7, 2005
Jay 1975
Bonedale, CO
Jay 1975   Bonedale, CO
What is a better 1st aid route in the Black...? High and Dry or Hallucinogen? May 11, 2007
Matthew Seymour
1996 Dodge Van, USA
Matthew Seymour   1996 Dodge Van, USA
The route goes clean at C3+F relying on many fixed heads.
You DO NOT need any pitons on this route. Old scars protect great with Lowe-balls and tri-cams.
The only reason to bring a hammer is to replace any blown heads you might encounter. Nov 20, 2008
Durango, co
eggman   Durango, co
Definitely bring a selection of mashies and hammer. You'll use 'em. Also some thin webbing to tie through the lower-out bolts. May 16, 2011
Andrew McLean
Eldoorado Springs, CO
Andrew McLean   Eldoorado Springs, CO
Interesting. It looks like the entire route has been freed.

alpinist.com/doc/web11s/new… Jun 9, 2011
Did the route a few weeks back and here's the update -
The vast majority (95%) of the heads were in good shape.
Linking pitches is not such a good idea...even with a 70m rope.
All bolts and belays are bomber.
The "5.9" chimney is hard and loose...more like .10R.
The hooking is mostly casual so long as you have a good selection of hooks to choose from.
A full rack of cams with doubles up to a #3 Camalot will do you just fine. A double set of brass nuts with some larger nuts thrown in for good measure will suffice. Bring a couple of pitons (3 LAs, 3 blades, 3 angles) and cam hooks. Oct 20, 2011
Jay 1975
Bonedale, CO
Jay 1975   Bonedale, CO
Can the route be rapped from the top to the very bottom? Are there anchors the whole way? Any beta? Nov 30, 2011
Vassar Thompson   earth
Climbed Astro Dog yesterday and watched as someone was working their way down North Chasm View on (presumably) Hallucinogen Wall. They were hammering at the rock and knocking off huge chunks of stone. Anyone know why or what that was all about? Sep 30, 2012
Scott Krankkala
Flagstaff, AZ
Scott Krankkala   Flagstaff, AZ
vimeo.com/49214523 Nov 3, 2012
Fritz Nuffer
The Western Slope
Fritz Nuffer   The Western Slope
We interviewed with Jimmy about the FA, and it's a pretty good story. sendersgamepodcast.com/2018…. Dec 2, 2018