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5.10c, Sport, 60 ft,  Avg: 2.9 from 249 votes
FA: FA: Richard Rossiter and Bonnie Von Grebe, 2001
Colorado > Boulder > Boulder Canyon > Avalon > Second Tier > Three Dihedrals
Access Issue: Seasonal Closure / Update Details


Hike the faint trail to Avalon until you reach the base of the Three Walls formation, a distinct buttress sporting a broad, low-angled west face. The colorful route Strange Science marks the northwest and lowest boundary. To the right of Strange Science is a large roof, which has a pillar-like arete on its right margin. From this reference, go left, and scramble up some boulders. This will take you to a ledge with a dead tree on it. This climb follows a very obvious bolt line and will be right in front of you. On your right, there will be a sheer, bolted (5.11?) face.

This climb goes straight up, and is pretty strenuous and slightly overhanging, with some cracks on the upper half of the climb. It is well protected, and finishes at a two-bolt anchor.


Seven bolts to a 2 bolt anchor.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Cruising up Dominator
[Hide Photo] Cruising up Dominator
Dominating a second time, 4 years after the first time.
[Hide Photo] Dominating a second time, 4 years after the first time.
Dominator - 2nd tier Avalon.
[Hide Photo] Dominator - 2nd tier Avalon.
[Hide Photo] Dominator
Brett is chalking up for the next move.
[Hide Photo] Brett is chalking up for the next move.
Evan on the upper section of Dominator.
[Hide Photo] Evan on the upper section of Dominator.
Richard Rossiter at the start of the overhanging crack on Dominator.
[Hide Photo] Richard Rossiter at the start of the overhanging crack on Dominator.
Robbie leading Dominator
[Hide Photo] Robbie leading Dominator
Leon top-roping Dominator
[Hide Photo] Leon top-roping Dominator
Christa cranking on Dominator
[Hide Photo] Christa cranking on Dominator
[Hide Photo] Dominating.
Jen Yuen on Dominator; Ron Olsen on Dom Perignon.  The Clipboard wall lies just to the right.
[Hide Photo] Jen Yuen on Dominator; Ron Olsen on Dom Perignon. The Clipboard wall lies just to the right.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] This is "Dominator", FA: R. Rossiter and B. Von Grebe. Richard calls it 10a so let's split the difference... say 10b. Steep and pumpy, it is a bit sandy with some suspect flakes but should clean up okay. "Dominatrix" (of course) is the mixed route to the left (one bolt?). Sep 15, 2002
[Hide Comment] Good for struggling 10 leader since bolts are very close together. Super fun tradesque climbing, in fact the route could go with no bolts, just good gear. Seems to have cleaned up, I didn't notice much loose. Jul 13, 2003
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] I thought this was hard. I was expecting 10a based on Rossiter. I was self belaying, and struggling with what that entails took its toll, and I ended up hanging twice. Unlike most of the other sport climbs I've been on at Avalon, the rating of this one seems pretty real.

However... this would have been even better as a trad climb (speaking as a trad climber--of course all you sport-only clilmbers may disagree). There is excellent gear everywhere except near the top of the initial corner. Even there there is gear, but you have to look around a bit, and it may be a bit funky. Climbing it trad (not that many would, but you could) may bump up the difficulty a letter grade or two. Nov 14, 2003
Steve Annecone
[Hide Comment] Nice route, but I was disappointed with the excessive use of bolts. Spacing bolts 2 or 3 feet apart on a steep face like this doesn't make much sense, and completely removes any sense of exposure or excitement. There was also excellent natural protection available, making one wonder why the bolts were there at all. Maybe it's too late, but I hope this area isn't becoming another Sport Park. Apr 20, 2004
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] I climbed this route last weekend. I started up and clipped the 1st bolt, then looked up at the remainder of the route, cleaned my draw and downclimbed. I couldn't clip the bolts in good conscience, especially after my girlfriend carried a rack of cams up to the crag!

I grabbed a single run of cams and a few nuts out of the pack and headed up. I ignored the bolts and placed 7 pieces of gear, all bomber, ranging from green Alien size to #3 Camalot size. I could have easily placed more, but 7 pieces was actually feeling a bit excessive.

There are 8 unneeded bolts on this climb! Sep 14, 2004
[Hide Comment] Here we go again ...

Good style Stefan. If you feel like the bolts are unnecessary, place gear and ignore them like Stefan did, and most importantly don't let it ruin your day or lose sleep over it.

There are just as many people who will be very happy to put those bolts to use, even if you don't ... AND I'M NOT ONE OF THEM. Sep 14, 2004
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] Hey Bob,

Boy, if it is Rossiter who put this up, this is out of character with so many fine mixed routes he's done. Say it isn't so! Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] From Richard Rossiter and Von Grebe, 2001

I'm not justifying bolting cracks, but again, just like for Little John's Big Stick, some Boulderites have the uncanny knack for losing all sense of perspective.

Michael, Stefan, etc- don't you think there must be a reason why this wasn't climbed trad pre-2001? Because it was likely a hanging pile of choss, which only became a climb once several hundred pounds of loose rock were cleaned. It's still a one-star route at a one-star crag, and in my mind, if someone is willing to put the time and effort into a route like this, then they can develop it in the style they see fit (sans deliberately chipped holds, of course). Sep 15, 2004
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
[Hide Comment] Joe, I more or less agree with you, except it's not all that clear to me why you make an exception for chipped holds. Personally (speaking in general terms), a bolted splitter would bother me more than a route with chipped holds. Not feeling argumentative--just curious. Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] Sure, up until now the route had not been climbed, but just because nobody had done the work to clean it doesn't mean it's free and clear for people to do anything without criticism.

Another point. I reserve the right to disagree with people who bolt cracks, while at the same time thanking them profusely for the really great, fun routes that they've put up and all the incredible work they've done. It's a little like being told "sport climbing, love it or leave it" and I think it's a little unfair.

It looks like this route (like Headline on the Little Eiger) has been overbolted, though I bet it's fun to climb. Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] I totally agree with Joe. People forget about all the work that goes into getting the routes in good enough condition to climb. It may have been so dirty that you couldn't have wiggled your widgets in the cracks in 2001. As for Charles comment, we're not talking about splitter cracks here, and I again I agree with Joe and AC, aside from chipping, that if you want the line done in your own fashion, go clean it, lead it, and publish it. It's that simple! It's not about sport climbing or leave it. It's about getting off your complaining butt and doing some work yourself. The majority of new routes going in aren't bolted cracks and are done in "good" taste. Fellow AC, you beat me to the punch.

P.S. You're a jackass to call Richard or anyone that, Mike W. Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] Charles- I agree, a bolted splitter is about the most repulsive thing I can think of.Dominator is far from splitter, though it does have crack features that perhaps could have best been left for natural pro.

Kirk- I agree that any action is open to criticism. What raises flags for me and prompted my response, is the incredibly overly self-important and myopic view of climbing that a lot of people on this site seem to display on a regular basis. One poster used a tone reserved for criminals and cheats, then backed off when he realized he was calling Rossiter out.A little overblown for a short Avalon route don't you think? Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] Richard Rossiter put in the time and effort to do the FA of this route the way he wanted it done. It has been enjoyed by many people since then. If you don't like the route, then you should have done it first, the way YOU wanted it done. And no, it's not too late. There are still plenty of "trad" climbs waiting for you out there - it just takes work - so don't complain after somebody else has done it. And that's the real problem: it's easier to flap your gums on a website than to go out and do a first ascent, particularly if you know hardly anybody will enjoy your "trad" route. Sep 15, 2004
[Hide Comment] I agree that this route is overly bolted; with or without the crack features, but it is a very fun climb.

Here's my question for Joe and everyone else who feels the same way: Why does chipping a hold offend you so much but cleaning "hundreds of pounds" of rock and dirt from a "climb" warrant congratulations and praise? Are there not billions of organisms (plant, insect, animal, etc.) living in the rubbish that needs cleaning? Aren't you still altering the rock and your "climb" to suite your style and needs? Sep 15, 2004
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
[Hide Comment] I may have jumped to the lowbrow when I said Jackass, but hey, that's what I thought, and Richard is an adult. I'm sure he understands where I'm coming from - he's been in the climbing game long enough to know the decision he was making when bolting next to a crack was not going to be praised by everyone who climbs his legacy.

I now live in the PNW and at the crags in Washington, BC, etc, the need to clean a climb before it can be sent doesn't have the mystique it seems to have here. As if the act of cleaning a crack of dirt or prying loose rocks from a climb somehow transforms the climb into some kind of "style free" zone. Hardly. At Index (near where I live in WA - awesome granite climbing btw) the vegetation is so severe and fast acting that almost yearly cleaning is needed or the forest retakes the climbs. Yet the need to clean a climb doesn't mean that it's then free to bolt up - nay, it just means the cracks will now accept cams or stoppers, and climbers or belayers (hopefully!) won't get a granite sandwich when on the climb.

For whatever reason, Rossiter chose to bolt this climb and the act of cleaning does not negate this breach of style. I really do enjoy many of Rossiter's climbs. This, however, is not one of them. Sep 16, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] Rossiter did Dominator in 2001. He put in Eight Miles High at Sleeping Beauty in 2000. He says this of Eight Miles High: "I would like to comment on the superfluous bolts just right of the initial crack. As you may know, I have cleaned, set up and led hundreds of new routes along the Front Range in Colorado. It has never been my practice to bolt usable cracks. Looking back at this route now, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. If these bolts are offensive to most people, I will be happy to remove them myself. "

Perhaps Richard regrets also the bolts on Dominator.

As for cleaning the route justifying bolting, how much cleaning, if any, was necessary? There were at least several trad routes climbed at Avalon prior to Rossiter developing the crag. I doubt if those trad lines were cleaned top down. And, if Dominator did not need cleaning, perhaps it had been climbed trad previously. See Life on Mars on Wake Up Wall/Lost Angel/Dream Canyon for just one example of an unreported trad climb that has since been bolted. Sep 17, 2004
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] I Emailed Rossiter and asked his opinion, but it bounced. His Email changed since the last time I talked to him. I think it will be for the better if he does comment, then we can all debate the facts with that in light, not impressions of what might have been. Sep 17, 2004
Richard Rossiter
[Hide Comment] Regarding the route Dominator at Avalon, I am surprised to see so many comments posted for this route. I became fascinated with Avalon in 1996 while drawing topos of the routes Earth Angel and Black Tiger. Though overgrown and obscure, the crag (then unnamed) looked promising and had no other known routes. It was a serious bushwhack just getting to the bottom of the walls. But it turned out to be great place and I kept putting up routes there until my nearly fatal bicycle crash in November 2002.

As for the Dominator, the wall was so dirty and exfoliated, climbing the debris-filled bits of crack seemed unreasonable...hence the bolts. After hundreds of ascents the route has cleaned up pretty well. Based on the posted comments, a few people seem upset about the bolts. I think the route (now) has too many bolts and I will be happy to remove some of them myself, but not all of them. The Dominator has become a popular climb as it is. It would disappoint many people if I removed all the bolts, and for nothing.

Tony Bubb mentions that I was in Special Forces, which is true. I served three years in Special Forces during the Vietnam War and had several of my friends blown to smithereens in places that weren't in the news. Perhaps some of these guys complaining about bolts should try out for Special Forces. If they can make the cut, they might get a lesson in reality and find out what matters in life and what doesn't. Having been all the way out on the edge and come back alive, I would suggest that the arrangement of bolts on a climbing route is pretty trivial stuff.

By the way, I never envisioned this crag as a sport park and I hope it never becomes one. See Crack Land, Blade, The Horse, Tunnel of Love, et cetera. Cracks are good, yes?

Richard Sep 24, 2004
[Hide Comment] Well said Richard. Finally, a voice of reason. Agreed ... on all points Richard. Sep 25, 2004
Kevin Neilson
[Hide Comment] I got to do this route yesterday and really enjoyed it. It is an interesting sport route because of the finger cracks. There are no real cruxy moves, although there are a couple of points at which a delicated stance is required for the clip. The first time I led it I thought getting my fingers in the last crack to get to the anchors was the crux, but the second time I realized that a better foot placement makes this less difficult. Jun 23, 2005
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] The last bolt hanger before the chains was not there, making the last 7' rather spicy. Aug 18, 2005
Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] After doing this route again today, found an easier sequence for the finish and now realize why the last bolt was unnecesary and hanger removed just below the chains. High reach left for the corner off the right finger lockout makes this finish easier, than working that right crack all the way climb. Aug 28, 2005
Kyle Turner
Brighton, CO
[Hide Comment] GREAT route! Sustained, well-protected, and fun to climb. Clean, somewhat-overhanging fall lines make this a great route for the aspiring 10+ leader. -KT Sep 26, 2006
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] We started on this when we were told it was a 9. Cool climb with good moves but it is more like 9+. Also, bring the trad rack and skip the bolts if you want because there is plenty of natural pro.

[Edit 9/1/07] Climbed this on gear today without any problems. The bolts aren't necesary, but they don't bother me either. Gear (in order of placement) sling horn, grey Alien, 0.5 Camalot, green Alien, #2 ballnut, #1 Camalot, #2 Camalot, red Alien. Still felt pretty easy for the grade.

PS. Sorry Richard, but this area is turning into a Sport Park. At least 30 people at Middle Tier today. It's a testament to good routes though; people want to climb them. We all appreciate your work and efforts.


CL Aug 12, 2007
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Wow. So much bullshit on this comment list. This is one of my FAVORITE climbs in Avalon. Yes, it may not need bolts, or that many-but some of us do not trad climb, nor do some of us think that it is worth the risk to us (a personal decision). I would not be able to climb this without the bolts. Period. We are not all trad climbers guys. Some of us are sport climbers. Some of us are boulderers, and some of us are aid climbers, ice climbers...but we all love climbing. Take your negativity and selectiveness somewhere away from the rest of us. May 27, 2008
Meredith DB
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] This climb currently has a spinner bolt - the last bolt before the anchor. Jul 12, 2009
[Hide Comment] Climbed this today, and the last bolt was not there. Made for some intense lead climbing-anchors are there. Jun 18, 2010
[Hide Comment] Actually the last bolt is still there with the nut on it, the hanger is what is missing.

When we climbed it on June 24th, 2010, you could slip a thin wired stopper over the nut and between the rock and bolt so that the last few moves could be protected. Seems silly that the last bolt is unclippable since there are eight bolts on the route.

Either chop it or don't...A GREAT climb! Jun 24, 2010
[Hide Comment] Great route. Lots of fun. Jun 18, 2011
Joel Weinstein
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] It looks like someone replaced the top bolt hanger. When I was there a week ago, people were climbing the route with all bolts as it used to be. Jul 13, 2011
James Hulett
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Sorry to say, but this place is now a Sport Park. Had another group on each side of me the entire time climbing here. Classic trad route with bolts. Makes me glad Eldorado has a bolting ban. I do enjoy clipping bolts once in a while, so I am glad Boulder Canyon has its own set of rules. Jul 4, 2012
Travis Provin
Boulder CO
[Hide Comment] Bolts or no bolts, this route is classic. First time at Avalon and my favorite route all day. Fun climbing moves with great rests and a jug here and there. Get on it! Jul 16, 2016
Andy Hansen
Longmont, CO
[Hide Comment] I think this is a phenomenal route. It certainly makes a great traditional lead, but as it stands, it's also a great bolted lead. Solid rock, great movement, and pumpy and punctuated with great stances. An ideal rack would be small stoppers, #0.3-#3 Camalot. Have at it. A great way to tack on an extra 20' is to start about 10 meters down and left, plug gear in the 5.10 cracks, traverse to the bolt on Dominatrix (long sling), and then step right into the 2nd or 3rd bolt vicinity of Dominator. Great trad route when done this way. Oct 20, 2017