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Routes in Notchtop

Direct South Ridge T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Finding Religion on the Spiral T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Instant Clarification (AKA Rap Route) T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Laid Back (a.k.a. NE Ridge) T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Mornin' T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Optimismus T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Relief Train T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Religion T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Spiral Route T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Topnotch T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
White Room T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c X
Unsorted Routes:
Type: Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, Grade III
FA: Walter Fricke and Dan Bench. 1970
Page Views: 1,406 total, 7/month
Shared By: paco on Jun 30, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Seasonal Closures Details


Optimismus goes straight up black water streaks(seen in pic below) to reach the main bowl of Spiral Route below the Notch. as long as its dry, Optimismus is a steep, quality route.

p1- pitch one and two can be linked in a streacher 60m pitch but this landed me in a not so hot belay spot protection wise. either way p1 starts off with steep offwidth and stemming. great pitch. 5.9.

p2- head up and left with some nice face moves before the belay at a horizontal break. 5.7.

p3- climb straight up a steep stem box to right facing corner ending on a nice big ledge. kinda loose 5.8.

p4- traverse right on the ledge to a nice but sharp left facing corner. stem and jam the corner and continue up to the Spiral Gully bowl. cool 5.7.

from here there a several choices to finish on but East Buttress 5.8+, South Ridge 5.8 or Spiral Route 5.3 are among the best options.


bring one to two sets of cams to #3 camalot. a #4 camalot could be used in spots but is not needed.


L. Hamilton  
Minor historical note: Walt Fricke's 1970 guidebook rated Optimismus 5.8 A1 (one move of aid). John Byrd and I made the first free ascent, AFAWK, in 1974.

A photo the guidebook showed Optimismus as the only route ascending Notchtop's main face. The photo with all that unclimbed rock became the inspiration for Religion (1973), Laid Back (1974) and White Room (1974). Oct 4, 2008
Bill Flaherty
Evergreen, CO
Bill Flaherty   Evergreen, CO
Did this one a couple days ago with Brian Dotterer. Fun route overall. More loose rock than I've seen elsewhere in the Park. I found myself testing lots of holds and was glad to be on double ropes because of the choss factor (particularly pitch 3 and a bit of the descent). I'd recommend dropping in the odd piece of gear even if the climbing is easy... just in case something breaks. Fortunately, we never saw loose rock, hard moves and bad pro at the same time. It could be a good first alpine 5.9, since the crux pitch is pretty reasonable and secure. Aug 10, 2004
Martin le Roux
Superior, CO
Martin le Roux   Superior, CO
We did this is three pitches even though our ropes were only 50m.

To get to the start of pitch 1, we scrambled up left along a loose, easy gully then traversed back right to reach the bottom of the black streaks. This was 3rd or maybe 4th class.

We moved our belay between the top of pitch 2 and the start of pitch 3 (basically a 20m walk along a wide ledge). Jul 16, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
With a 70M rope, this route can be done in 3 very long pitches.

Scramble: Scramble up to the base of the black streak with the dihedrals. I say scramble, but I guess this is in effect just easy 5th class rock. I soloed it though. YMMV.

P1- Climb up the dihedral and keep going up and right through the slot on P2 for quite a ways. You will need lots of slings to avoid drag. If you like pro, you will like having at least six 2' slings and ten 1' slings.One option is to belay off of a few good stoppers and a good cam after crawling up on top of a HUGE flat balanced rock where the system primarily faces right. You will see a fixed rap station over to your right. This is about 45Meters Or keep going. There are more belay opportunities to come... but not all are this cushy.

P2- If you just did the first pitch as described as a 45M pitch, then go onward and upward for a long pitch... 70M. You will follow the crack system as is curves up and left, past an insecure move then up into a short chimney system to a huge ledge. Run up and to the right on said ledge as close as possible to the HUGE ORANGE left facing dihedral to belay.

P3- Another Long one. Climb up the dihedral system until it becomes discontinuous. There will be a slab to your left. Traverse out left across it (5.8, S) and up and left through the East Meadow to the base of the back wall below an obvious crack to belay again. This is the End of Optimismus

Finish on the 5.7 route in back. It's nice and fits with the [character] of the rest of the route. Sep 16, 2002