Trad, 300 ft, 2 pitches,
Avg: 3.7 from 67
FA: Stouch, Cheyney, Croff in the early '60s
> Colorado Springs
> Old Stage Rd
> Saint Peter's Overlook
After several attempts to find this route I was lucky enough to run into Stewart Green at Shelf Road. He emailed me some directions to it (thanks Stewart!). The Martyr has been described as some of the best 300 feet of crack climbing in Colorado. The route was much different than I thought it would be. I expected the rounded lip cracks that are generally found in the Platte. The cracks on The Martyr are square lipped and pretty damn steep. They kind of reminded me more of the desert than Turkey or Cynical Pinnacle. The climbing is super, the gear is plentiful, and the views are hard to beat. It is north facing and offers beloved shade when the rest of the world is frying.
To find The Martyr, drive approximately 13 miles west from the Broadmoor Hotel on the Old Stage Road to the St. Peter's Overlook. There will be a small dirt pulloff parking lot on the right hand (north) side of the road that overlooks the city. There are several very large boulders in this parking lot area. Note that the classic climbs volume 4 Pike's Peak area lists this as being approximately 18 miles. This has definitely lead a fair amount of people on wild goose chases.
Park at this pulloff. Facing the city, turn your head to the left approximately 90 degrees and you will see a steep tree covered ridge a couple hundred yards away. Start hiking straight up the side of the ridge, aiming for slightly right of the highest point. There is kind of a trail that goes straight (and I mean STRAIGHT) up the hillside, but don't worry too much about finding it. When you get to the top of the ridge, look over the other side and you will see some rock on the left. There is kind of a little cliff band that extends for a couple hundred yards. this is the sanctum. If you follow this cliffband with your eyes and keep looking to the right, this eventually merges into the top of the backside of the Aiguille de St. Peter. Below you the trees will fade into a large random talus field after a couple hundred feet. Just start heading down (minor bushwhacking might be involved) and you can't miss this talus field. Boulder hop down and after a couple hundred yards you can bear left along the base of the east face of the Aiguille until you can cut left at the base of the north face. The Martyr is RIGHT HERE.
The first pitch of this line is very striking and you will know when you see it. Look above and there will be a left facing corner with a finger crack in the back. On the left face there are also a pair of perfect finger cracks, capped by a small roof above.
Pitch 1 - Clamber up the initial blocks to get to the base of the finger cracks. Jam any or all of these beauties and head towards the roof, passing an antique piton. Instinctively, you will probably want to pull the roof on the right side. I haven't done this variation, but it looked like there might be a few troublesome flakes. Instead of going right, step left into a nice thin hands to hands crack. Follow this until you can pull around the arete on your left and over the roof into a flake undercling. These are some fantastic moves. Surmount the flake and rail up a sweet hand crack. Be sure to keep looking to the right for a decent place to belay. It will be very tempting to go up to a ledge on the left with a GORGEOUS thin crack system above. Instead of doing this, climb upwards until you see a very large ledge on your right hand side. Belay some where in this area.
To get to the base of pitch 2, belay your partner as he/she steps to the right onto the big ledge. This involves a weird step across with a large pillar trying to throw you off. Highly entertaining.
Pitch 2 - There are several options here, each of which looks like fun.
A) On the left side of this face above the ledge is a gorgeous lightning bolt crack that tears upward into a crazy looking offwidth right on the upper arete. Where it goes from there I am not sure. Or, just below the offwidth you can trend right on a ramp to a stunning lichen yellow corner.
B) Face climb straight up on large edges and flakes with big moves. nice and steep. There is an old pin driven down behind a flake about 15' up that is hidden from below. You can then head towards the offwidth or bust right on the ramp system to the corner.
C) From a pair of bolts on the right side of the ledge, head up a dirty looking dihedral. This actually climbs much better than it looks. Great Eldo-esque stemming past an ancient pin will get you up to the ramp system and the yellow corner.
From the base of this yellow corner, jam and stem with perfect hands until you can rock over onto a ledge. This section is steep and classic. After you have achieved the ledge, either step left and up the crack, or climb the crack straight above you (be careful for a couple scary flakes!). Pull a small weird boulder and you are on the summit.
The descent is pretty crummy. If you are brave you can do the small downclimb off of the backside of the summit. otherwise, bring some webbing so you can sling a block and rap off. We followed the gully down the west side of the formation and then traversed over to our stuff at the base of the route. This involved bushwhacking and mangy rubble. Use caution. Perhaps Julian Smith can suggest a better descent.
Standard rack to #3 Camalot/3.5 Friend. Bring extra small hands to hands pieces. If you are doing the offwidth above 2nd pitch then #4.5 Camalot of #5 Camalot might be useful.
Joe Williams, second pitch.
Eben and Ange reaching the summit at last light.
Eben protects the splitter on P1.
Top of P1 on the big ledge.
John B leading P1.
Looking up at the stellar first pitch.
Near the top of the first pitch.
About at the first roof on P1. A deep, tooth-shaped flake allows a moment to protect the move around this obstacle.
Martyr from the west.