Type: Trad, Sport, 60 ft
FA: Chris Alber and Mark Rolofson, March 29, 2000
Page Views: 3,279 total · 16/month
Shared By: Aron Quiter on Oct 24, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

74 Opinions

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details


This is located on the West Face (Cracks of Surprise Wall) around the corner from the South Face of Surprising Crag. This is the first route left of the chimney (5.8+).

This would be a great route... if only it hadn't been bolted, and if only someone hadn't drilled a mono pocket (denied by Mark Rolofson below) in the crux. Why bolt a perfectly protectable crack?

The mono makes for an interesting balancy move out of the crack, and then head back up and into the crack.

As it stands, this is a 12a. Without the mono, it would be considerably harder.


6 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor, or you can probably trad lead this with pro up to 3 inches.


This mono is not man-made. Occasionally features like these are created when granite is formed and/or eroded. I've climbed this route and have looked for and have NOT found any signs of chipping. Look at the hueco on "American Beauty" next to this climb. It is NATURAL. I have seen these kinds of pockets on granite in many other areas, not chipped. Just because a route is at the Sport Park does not automatically mean that it is chipped or bad. There are some good routes up there.

This is a good route with one very bad jam in the crux.

I think that it would hard to protect the crux and the section above it getting to the good finger jam (where the difficulties let off). At this point your last piece would be below the horizontal seam that is before the crux. A fall here, on gear, would be interesting. Aug 19, 2004
Joe Collins
Joe Collins  
When I first climbed this route several years ago, I thought it was chipped as well, but after climbing a few more routes on the cliff, I highly doubt the two solution pockets in the upper part of the route were chipped. At the worst they might have been comfortized, but this section of Surprising Crag has several such pockets, nowhere near the cruxes of routes (you don't even have to use the crux "mono" mentioned above).

This would be an R/X-rated trad lead. It would be an exciting, but relatively-safe mixed lead if one clips only the bolt at the crux.

People who are caught up in the Sport Park hysteria are missing out on a very nice crag in the west face of Surprising. There are several good 5.11-12 sport routes (not chipped) and some intimidating looking trad lines. Oct 11, 2004
Chris O'Connor
boulder, co
Chris O'Connor   boulder, co
I'm glad this route was bolted, because I would never want to lead it trad, and I have led other routes at this crag with trad gear. Sep 16, 2007
Brent Apgar
Out of the Loop
Brent Apgar   Out of the Loop
Really good route. Technical and powerful. My two cents worth: I agree w/ Joe in that I don't think that the route is any harder w/out the mono. -BA Jul 27, 2008
Wherever we park!
AOSR   Wherever we park!
I don't think that pocket was drilled. If that goes on gear, it would def include a heavy R rating as the crux would be very unprotected. Mar 21, 2009
Mark Rolofson
Mark Rolofson  
To set the record straight on Mercy Drilling & all the routes on the west face: all holds are natural. Perhaps the person who submitted this route should talked with Chris or me. In fact, the two finger undercling/sidepull pocket would have been very hard to drill like this. This is a beautiful examples of how natural pockets exist in granite. Most of the drilled holds I am aware of at the Sport Park are the larger pockets & jugs. I have ignored much of this site, especially if I have climbed a certain route & have the needed info. I generally just use it to get new route & first ascent info, but I am tired of hearing about this pocket being manufactured. Lastly, if you don't like the bolts on this climb, either don't clip them or go climb Never A Dull Moment, Spin Off, & Englishmen's Home at Castle Rock. Limits Of Power at Blob hasn't seem a repeat in probably over two decades. Jul 15, 2010
J. Albers
J. Albers   Colorado
This is a really nice route. It's a little short, but it's quite fun.

I would agree with others that when I first looked at the pocket on this thing, I thought it was drilled (and yes, I frowned a little). However, then I started to look around more and there are indeed other solution pockets scattered here and there, and given that Mark has posted up, I think it's best to take him at as his word (thanks for posting, Mark). I think the route poster should consider amending the description.

Furthermore, about the gear... this thing would be deeply 'R' without the bolts. The placements are flaring and marginal at best. A fall at the crux would probably not be super pretty. On top of this, I think it's bad form to climb a route using the fixed gear and then comment on how a route "could" go on natural pro...and clearly the route poster has not climbed it this way, because if he had, he would have noticed that there is no 3 inch (or 2 inch for that matter) gear on this until you are at the anchor. Nov 8, 2010
Bal Rau
Denver, Colorado
Bal Rau   Denver, Colorado
So the route is called Mercy Drilling, but all holds are natural? Me confused. Jun 18, 2012
Jay Samuelson
Denver CO
Jay Samuelson   Denver CO
Maybe because it's a bolted crack? And I'm glad they were there; I wouldn't lead this thing on gear but had a great time clipping bolts and enjoyed the safe crack climbing. I also didn't find a mono on the upper section, just the two finger pocket in the middle. Sep 19, 2012
Ken Cangi
Eldorado Springs, CO
Ken Cangi   Eldorado Springs, CO
Those monos are all over the place. Mark has earned more respect than to be accused of manufacturing holds by people who probably don't even know him. I've known him for decades, and if he says he did not drill that pocket, I have no doubt in that he didn't. Accusing someone like Mark, without sufficient evidence and whose route-development résumé speaks for itself, is bad form.

If this bolted route isn't your style, there's always RP or Not to Be, in Eldo. It's barely 12a, and you should have no probably getting your pucker factor on. Dec 5, 2015
That pocket is natural, for sure. There are a lot of water pockets throughout Boulder Canyon that occur naturally, and this is one of them, at least from my experience climbing the route. You can tell because a natural pocket will still have a rough, crystalline texture. Dec 6, 2015
Jeff G.
Fort Collins
Jeff G.   Fort Collins
I led this on gear today, and the pro is actually very good. That being said, it was strenuous to place, and I had to top rope first to figure out some of the placements. It's a little finicky right before the crux. The crux itself is protected with a bomber small stopper. This route feels really cool as a trad line. PG-13 rating with the right gear beta.

I used lots of small cams from the tiniest gray C3 up to a #0.75 Camalot plus small to medium stoppers.

This gear info is just FYI for anyone who wants to do the pitch on gear, I certainly do not expect the bolts to get pulled because I rehearsed a gear ascent on top rope.

The pocket seems most definitely natural, and there are several other similar pockets on that face that aren't part of any route. Aug 29, 2016
Mark Rolofson
Mark Rolofson  
This climb was led in 2001 by Alex Shainman without the bolts & on sight. His partner also led the route on mostly gear but opted to clip the crux bolt. I can think of numerous routes that have been led on gear after being established with bolts. Usually these climbs will still be led with bolts by the majority of climbers. It's fun to climb Mercy Drilling & simply focus on the climbing, without having to fiddle with tricky gear to engineer a safety net.

Other serious, hard to protect climbs that were led entirely on gear were later bolted. Cookie Monster (pitch 1 - 5.12a) in Yosemite & Jaws (5.11d) at the East Quarry come to mind. Classic routes that get climbed thanks to the bolts. Mar 23, 2017
Josh LaMar
Boulder, CO
Josh LaMar   Boulder, CO
Didn't even notice the monos until coming down. Totally pointless. The crack pinch thumb catch is so cool! Nov 11, 2017
David A. Turner
David A. Turner  
Not chipped. Check out Good Bad & Jacked on Vampire for another route with all natural granite pockets. Aug 19, 2018