Type: Trad, 4 pitches
FA: Dick Walker and Steve Gaskill, 1972
Page Views: 3,086 total · 15/month
Shared By: Michael Komarnitsky on Apr 25, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Subject to Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
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It's surprising that this multi-pitch 5.9 hasn't been added to the site yet. Perhaps it's the long walk up to the route.... regardless, this route sees very little traffic, and has a definite alpine flavor to it (it did rain/hail on us a couple of times during the route, which added to that feeling). Loose rock on most of the pitches, routefinding challenges, and some curious gear opportunities give this route an 's' rating.

About 50 yards past the Darkness 'til Dawn dihedral and just before a rotten band (home of choss-fest Outer Space) lies an obvious chimney/slot with two large chockstones 40 and 70 feet up. Immediately right of this chimney is a well-chalked crack that is Disappearing Act.

P1. Ascend the chimney, awkward 5.6. There is an optional belay on top of the second chockstone. It's better, however, to continue up the dihedral to it's exit, 150 feet high, to a tree with slings. Be careful for loose rocks on exit from the dihedral.

P2. Scramble up the easy dihedral for about 60 feet to another tree with slings and belay just under a bulge with a hand-sized chockstone.

P3. Here's where it got interesting. Our clear target is the ledge 20 feet to the right of the enormous tree on the face above you; however, chossy rock is between you and that belay ledge. We turned the bulge, hand-traversed out the wide crack, and then gingerly climbed up large, loose, licheny blocks before a final traverse back right to the ledge. Continuing up the dihedral from the belay and then coming back left *might* be a better strategy, but that looked pretty loose too. 50 feet.

P4. Ascend the fingers-size crack in a small ramp/right-facing dihedral that curls back to the right for 60 feet, before turning a roof. Again, this is where it got interesting, as above this roof the route and pro becomes indistinct. Kreighton Bieger was heard whining that he would "give his first-born for a good piece of pro" on lead in this area. Supposedly follow the line of least resistence; we moved left and up, back and right to sling a horn, and then traversed left on an airy and exciting ramp before heading up more loose rock for 25 feet to finish. 150 feet.

We're still unsure if we went the correct way; no chalk marks anywhere gave us hints. Regardless, this is a little-climbed route that probably deserves more ascents.


Standard rack up to a #3 Camalot. Doubles of fingers size and smaller comes in handy on the last pitch.
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Two stars might be a wee bit generous, even by your description with all the "loose rock" and "chossy" elements to your description. We did it a few years back in less exciting conditions, so we might not have gotten full value. One star IMHO. Apr 27, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.9 PG13
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.9 PG13
I did Sunstar in fall of 1995 with Steven Gale.

In my experience, bad rock does not always equate to a bad climb in Eldo. If anyone out there knows, it's probably me. There are other factors to be considered. Sunstar is at the top end of Redgarden, and has fabulous views and position. The moves are fun, and although the rock is a bit "chunky" it's not bad [rock], there are just a lot of loose bricks and blocks. The area is never clear enough to clean the route very safely.

That said, Sunstar is definitely no 3* classic, but it was fun enough to recommend, which according to this site, is a 2* route. 1* is "it was OK, but I wouldn't bother again" type of thing.

One final note: THIS ROUTE IS NO PLACE TO PUSH YOUR LIMITS. You could be seriously injured by a fall, and escape would be problematic, at best. Apr 29, 2002
Whether this route deserves one, two or three stars may be beside the point, because it will and maybe should continue to have limited mass appeal.

Save for the first pitch, which is very nice, the rock on the rest of the route ranges from fractured and loose to a veritable minefield of loose and broken blocks. Routefinding is difficult, and the protection is sparse and difficult to place on the last two pitches.

That said, and as Tony mentioned, the route achieves spectacular position and in general the climbing is pretty good. Additionally, it starts high enough up on Redgarden that it offers a more 'remote' feel, if one is into that sort of thing.

One last thing - a helmet would be a very good idea. I sent at least one foothold down onto Myke's head.

1.75 stars for me. Apr 29, 2002
I did part of this route a few weks ago starting with [Disappearing] Act as a first pitch variation instead of the chimney. I led up to the tree (pitch 3?) on the face in the picture and my partner started to lead out left on very loose rock. After about 10 feet on his lead my belay hand slipped and suddenly a 200lb. block that was my stance detached from the wall and smashed to the ground in about 4 seconds. Thank God no one was underneath (no one was hurt, but some people on Green Spur and [Grandmother's Challenge] were screaming and frightened). Debris slid down the entire slope and there were chunks taken out of the main trail up to Green Spur from the main piece of the detached block. The tree has some slings on it for rappel, but it would probably be best to stay away from this tree and the rock around it altogether, as there are stll loose blocks ready to come off. The Sunstar route stays to the right of this a little, so it shouldn't be a problem as long as you stick to the main line as shown in the picture although you'll still encounter plenty of smaller sized loose stuff. Cherio! Aug 21, 2002
Be very careful topping out on the last pitch. Just after the obscure, difficult to protect section above the small roof, you pull onto a slanting ledge that is littered with death bombs just waiting to be dislodged. Also, we rapped down the giant corner to the right of the route. Plenty of loose rock there as well. Consider walking off, the rap didn't save much time. Overall the route was worth doing, but I doubt I would repeat it. Sep 29, 2002
Scott Conner
Lyons, CO
Scott Conner   Lyons, CO
Did Sunstar today. A few comments:

It's only 100' to the tree so it makes for a great pitch to combine the first two.

On the second pitch (or 3rd), it's best to stay in the corner, turn the two bulges, then angle up to the base of the corner. The climbing is better than it looks and the rock seemed pretty solid.

After reading the description and comments for this route, I was expecting more of a hair-raiser. It felt a little R on the last pitch but never S. Overall, I thought it was a great climb. Definitely 2 stars. The last 40 ft. of climbing was a little heady for me, with poor pro and not-so-great rock, but the climbing is probably only 5.6/7 here. Some really good climbing and excellent position. May 28, 2003
Phillip Morris
Flavor Country
Phillip Morris   Flavor Country
Definite two star route..........superb position and climbing on the final pitch. Marred only by the sometimes crispy and lichenous rock on the final upper pitch. However, I did not lead the final pitch so cannot confirm nor deny the other trepiditious leader comments. I would agree that the pro seemed somewhat sparse, but not non existent. I did lead the middle pitch and found it easiest to stay in the dihedral and cut up and left on some stacked blocks to the ledge near the tree. Felt the second pitch protected well enough for a chain smoking .8 leader to feel secure. Jun 16, 2003
Shane Zentner
Shane Zentner   Colorado
Combined the first two pitches easily. After that, I climbed over two bulges and to the ledge near the big tree which was not at all straight forward. I then followed the right facing dihedral, pulled the roof, and got into an area that had awkward protection placements(tcu's and aliens in bad rock). Lots of loose rock up there.

I would recommend combining the first two pitches and rapping down from the big ledge(two ropes). There are better routes to do in the area. Try 'Darkness til Dawn'. Mar 21, 2004
The photo topo for the final pitch is marked wrong. The real top pitch is further left. The right-facing dihedral (shown in the action photo) is of course invisible on the topo photo. The huge black block, marked as being below the final belay, is actually right of, and above, the real belay.

That said, my partner and I both thought the route excellent. The description in the Rossiter guidebook works just fine, though it's worth walking up the trail a couple switchbacks with the book, to piece it together from the ground first. A little care prevents any loose rock coming off (neither of us pulled anything off). This climb, with no chalk on its holds, potential loose rock, and definite routefinding issues, is perhaps more challenging than technically harder long routes like Yellow Spur. Classic "obscure tour" material, providing a glimpse of how the [now-polished] classic Eldo route once felt. Of the whole route, the last pitch is by far the best bit, so don't even think of bailing from lower. This pitch is really exposed, sustained, thought-provoking 5.8 R. Requires routefinding skillls, yet is actually pretty direct. Not for the beginning 5.8 leader. And be aware that your belayer is directly under you!

The hike off is fine. There is a well-worn trail leading north, then west and up to a small notch about 500 feet away (even some cairns). Then an easy talus trail down to the main trail. Jun 14, 2004
Taking care around a few areas of loose rock, especially at the summit, I found this route to have a lot of fun climbing with adequate pro. The third pitch is a little runout, but what a treat! Oct 29, 2005
Tom T  
The top of this one is a bit dicey. If not for the GREAT view at the top I would give it a bomb. A fun but chossy alternative if Rewritten is crowded. 5.8 R IMO. May 14, 2009
Jay Eggleston
Jay Eggleston   Denver
Based on the comments above, I was expecting the last pitch to be more hair raising and runout than it turned out to be. The gear is adequate and the climbing is mostly easier than 5.8. Some of the gear is hard to see, not obvious, but a seasoned Eldo leader should not feel too runout on this pitch. I agree with Tony B. though that this is not a good pitch to push your limits on. Mar 3, 2010
Boulder, CO
pfwein   Boulder, CO
I dunno, we did the first 3 pitches, I headed up the fourth about 50 feet or so, didn't like the looks of it above (the gear, not the climbing, which was no problem).
Downclimbed and cleaned my gear, then led out the gulley (exit on the right side), which worked out fine.

Levin gives it a PG, how about at least a PG13? Maybe I just wasn't in the right head space, but I'd say you should be ready for adventure climbing on this route. May 23, 2010
Great Route, 3 stars.

First chimney pitch is awkward, and Eldo 5.6....

Upper after the tree is not for the faint of heart or like mentioned above for the beginner 5.8 leader.

Most of the time the people that are putting down a route like this in Eldo are the ones that haven't been climbing there for a long time.

This climb has all the classic Eldo problems to solve/overcome of all longer multi pitch routes in the canyon.

I wouldn't run back and do the first couple of pitches, but the upper I've been on twice...and they are great. Mar 12, 2011
Dave Miller
Dave Miller   Boulder
Awesome route! Did this line yesterday for the second tiime. The last part of the last pitch is a head's up, spicy lead. Loose rock, tricky route/ gear, etc. This is pure adventure climbing! Sep 25, 2011
Rich Kelly
  5.9 PG13
Rich Kelly   Boulder
  5.9 PG13
Steve's book indicates p1 is 9-. I think the p1 described here is the 1st pitch of Lost in Space. Anyway the pitch we did is the chimney immediately left of Disappearing Act which turns into a corner with a 5.9 section right before the belay (100').

The last pitch definitely has some long runouts and it is not obvious what is the easiest line. Aug 3, 2013
I guess I'm just duplicating previous comments, but I echo Mike's warning about the loose rock at the end of P1 (if you exit left). This climb is indeed the complete Eldo experience. A few personal suggestions: 1. For P2, stay in the corner (Lost In Space) until the last possible second to traverse to the belay ledge. Don't exit early. 2. The frustrating thing about Sunstar is that P1 is just wonderful. I suggest climbing that, exiting RIGHT through a hand crack, traverse to the Disappearing Act anchors, then rapping. The only thing you'll miss is the exquisite 35 feet of climbing found at the beginning of P4...which turns to crap after that, and where begins the "full Eldo experience". 3. Tony, I agree with your assessment of the route but question your reasoning here: "...and although the rock is a bit "chunky" it's not bad [rock], there are just a lot of loose bricks and blocks." 'Course, since you're my hero, I'll just consider re-adjusting my existing definition of 'bad rock'. May 3, 2015
  5.9- R
  5.9- R
A lot of people have commented on the safety and quality of the route, but a note on difficulty:

Pitch 1 has the hardest climbing, starting with an awkward chimney with thin moves and smooth feet. You get a few stances before being funneled into an open book with a finger/hand-sized crack. It climbs weird at first but gets better and steadily harder with some awesome and well-protected moves to a great stance with great exposure. Above is a finger crack, fairly thin and flared. The last two sections combined for the crux, 5.9-/5.9. You eventually reach some mellow Class 3 and belay wherever you want, preferably higher. This belay can be done with really any gear. 5.9-/5.9.

Pitch 2 starts with a weird bulge onto a ledge and then another weird bulge. They are both about the same difficulty, maybe 5.7+. This is where we went left and climbed the 2nd groove into the shattered alcove. The hand traverse was very cool and exposed but not harder than 5.6. From the shattered alcove, we went steadily left into better rock, then up to the tree and back right to the bottom of the arching crack. This pitch is no harder than 5.7+. This pitch ends with a traverse back down and right, around a blind corner to the base of the crack. 5.7+ PG-13, extra loose, many stances.

Pitch 3 climbs up the obvious crack and is really cool for 50 feet. The climbing is 5.7/5.8, but the moves to exit the crack at the bottom of the roof felt closer to 5.9-. Thin and sort of brittle. Next, I went left below the roof near the huge scary fin, which can be avoided carefully, maybe 5.7+ PG13. After this, you sorta choose your own adventure, straight up and kinda left. I felt like the climbing was solid 5.8/5.8+. Alternate between great stances and real rock climbing on bad rock, way above gear the whole way. If you felt unsure of the climbing on the first two pitches, do not do this pitch. You can get hurt. Belay on a horn at the top with either a sling or mid/small cams. 5.8+ R. Scary Loose. Apr 16, 2018