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Routes in West Ridge - part D - Xanadu to Pony Express

Air Mail T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
Backslash T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Barbie Doll Arete, The T 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Bit by Bit T,S 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a
Bottlenecks T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Clean Dan T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13
Coffee Break with Joe T 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
Cold Turkey T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Coniferous Types T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Crazy Fingers T 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a PG13
Cruising Lane T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R
Detour, The T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R
Doc's Little Brother T,TR 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Dr. Michael Solar T,TR 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Duh Dihedral T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Early Bird Special T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Fine Line T,TR 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Five Fang Overhang T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Fork in the Road T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Formula, The T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Foxtrot T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13
Funeral March T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Hand Crack (aka White Lightning) T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Hang Ten T,TR 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
Henry Chinaski T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Highway 61 T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Inverted Vee T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Iron Pony T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Kashmir T,TR 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Kubla Khan T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Lady Fingers T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Lunar Avenue T 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c R
Lunar Lander T 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
MRJR (aka MB III) T,TR 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b R
Masterbator's Edge, The T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Milk Dreams T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Milk and Honey T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Mirage T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
Parallels T 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Pool of Blood T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Positively Fourth Street T,TR 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Rhadamanthus T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
River Of Darkness T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Road Narrows T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Sign of the Cross T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Snail Mail T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R
Srinagar T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Tampon T,TR 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Tango T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Tanqueray T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a R
Terminal Velocity T 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Texas Two-Step T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R
Three Lane Highway T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c X
Tickle, The T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13
Toprope Right of Formula TR 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Trip Itch T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Tryptich T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Whatever T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R
Willow World T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R
Working Class Hero T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
X T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Xanadu T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Zap Snack T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Zip Code T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
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Type: Trad, 80 ft Fixed Hardware (2)
FA: M. Rolofson and Alfredo Len, 11/29/1980
Page Views: 5,889 total · 29/month
Shared By: david goldstein on Dec 31, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This route is the obvious, left-facing corner just left of "Handcrack" on upper West Ridge. The crux is a thin section about 20 feet up that is protected by small RPs. The last 20', a beautiful stemming corner, is also fairly challenging but has much more reassuring protection. Once above this corner, traverse left 5' to the rap slings used by Handcrack. This quality pitch is somewhat diminished by huge ledge between the hard sections and the fact that at some points, including the middle of the crux, it's possible to escape right to Handcrack.

Note that this pitch is easily top roped after doing 5.10 HC.


Small: 2 each 1-3 RP, 1-4 Rock. A collection of small cams (up to #2 Friend) is also helpful.
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
I know I say this all the time, but... ballnuts.

I've climbed Terminal Velocity at least 5 times. Although it was not always me leading, I feel like I know the route pretty well; it definitely deserved to be rated S. The books reflect the VS grade and I am somewhat surprised that this review does not reflectsome caution. The crux can be protected by a nest of small nuts, although it is sure pumpy getting them in. Although it's not the crux, you could hit the ledge from the upper 1/4 (10d/11a) if you are not attentive- lots of rope out on a undulating path and a slight distance from your gear with a ledge lurking below.

It seems to me that T.V. is very height dependent on the upper 1/2 because the footholds either do or don't allow you to reach the good hands. I think that's the crux. Feb 15, 2002
david goldstein
david goldstein  
I'm somewhat confused by the first comment. The upper part of the route has excellent protection. A cluster of good, small gear can be placed at the start of the crux and a good RP can be placed (admittedly strenuous) in the middle of the crux. This RP is no lower than your feet when the next good gear opportunity arises. I wouldn't argue much about giving this pitch an S, but it should not be a death pitch. Feb 17, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
I agree that it's not a death-fall, which I why I said it is S and not VS. With the amount of rope that will be out however, it would be quite possible for a leader to hit the mid-route ledge from one of a few hard moves on the upper section, with rop stretch. This may be only my opinion, but it is supported by the traditional VS rating of the climb. Feb 19, 2002
Adam Brink
on the road
Adam Brink   on the road
I found this challenge of this route to be entirely in the first section, which had [awkward] moves, sketchy protection, and deceptive holds (read: classic!). While the upper section was incredible fun, the protection was excellent and the climbing easy. If you can stem, the upper part is about 10a. Jump on this small gem if you feel comfortable fiddling in gear while hanging less than perfect holds. Enjoy. Sep 20, 2002
Hey, I was [Mark's] partner in the [first] ascent, circa 1981, I have done the climb a couple of times since and still think its great fun.

Alfredo Len Oct 16, 2002
Joe Collins
  5.11b R
Joe Collins  
  5.11b R
I agree that this is a fairly sane lead for the Eldo 5.11 climber. You can sew it up through the crux. The hardest move was getting to the large chalked flat hold in the middle of the lower section... after that the pro worsens but the climbing isn't as hard (though still solid 10/10+ or so). I got pro in through this part, but I wasn't terribly confident that it could hold falls... the most 'bomber' nut placement on this section is behind a chalked hold that makes a funny sound when you set the nut. I would definitely give this a very solid 'S' rating due to the marginal nature of the pro. As for the upper part of the route (is it just me or does this seem just as hard as the crux?), you'd have to really screw up to hit the midway ledge. If you're up for leading it, I would recommend climbing Hand Crack first, and then suss out the pro options on the way down. Nov 10, 2003
This is a really great climb mainly because you have two very different types of climbing in the same pitch. The beginning is fairly sporty and strenuous and the upper half is amazing stemming. I do think that this climb deserves a solid S, but probably not a VS. The top is very safe with locker stoppers. The bottom however, can be pumpy to hang out and fire in a bunch of RPs. The pump from placing gear makes the upper portion feel harder than it is, but stick with it, it is not that bad. I got in what appeared to be a locker offset after pulling the crux, but it must have been behind the same loose sounding flake the above comment mentioned. I really would not like to fall in the crux of this climb. An excellent route if you're solid at the grade. Dec 15, 2003
Fred Vanden Bergh  
Very fun route, and I agree its tricky to pro - I'd give it an S rating. Considerably easier than Foxtrot, a bit easier than Parallels, so I'm going with 11b...whatever...its fun. The hardest single crux protected pretty well for me, but the section above, up to the midway ledge, was harder for me to fiddle in good pro, so I ran it out. A fall would have been baaad.

I'll agree with a previous post: I also felt the pump from the first section while doing the upper half, but it is easier (10) and protects well with stoppers.

I think its really satisfying to do a route with this blend of technical moves and technical protection -- that's why it merits 2 stars in my book (despite the big, momentum-breaking ledge). Dec 22, 2003
M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
The upper section might be a bit easier for those of us with small hands. Where as I could get some purchase with my fingertips, my partners (both bigger than me) had no such luck and were forced into laying back the arĂȘte. Still, the upper section is probably solid 10+ demanding wide stemming and finesse. Three stars. Feb 22, 2004
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Ahhh c'mon, I can still fit some pinkies in up there. Stem! Feb 23, 2004
I just tried this (on tr) and in terms of pure difficulty of climbing found the upper section to be much more difficult than the lower section. I had a really hard time using the stems to gain enough reach to get to the good finger lock. Really fun climbing throughout the entire climb though. Apr 17, 2006
I'd agree with the crux of the route at the classic Eldo stembox up high. It'll be more challenging for those of a shorter nature. Apr 20, 2006
For the upper section of the lower crux, it seems kind of ridiculous not to place some pro in the Handcrack climb on the right when you can just reach right over to it. Just need a long sling to keep from getting rope drag. This will keep you from taking a "Terminal Velocity" braking fall or falling onto some marginal RPs.

But if you want to make this climb more serious than it needs to be I guess you could avoid this.

Except for the gear fiddling issues on the lower crux section, the hardest climbing, to me, did seem to be the upper corner. Enjoy! Nov 13, 2008
It's funny how many different opinions there are about what's hard on this route and why. I'm tall, so although the bottom had worse protection (kind of crappy rock), I reached up high and just got a left hand that I bet others would have to climb to. That would be dangerous (R not X) in my opinion. I felt like my height actually hurt in the corner above, because although I could reach things (like the final finger lock) easier, my stem has to be way wider or farther down. The bulge on the left wall you have to stem over ends up being higher on my body for me. I always have problems with corner stems like this, because to get enough purchase, my wide stem puts me far away from the hands. Alternately, a narrower stem has much less purchase. It also puts my feet lower which in this case is a minus. Aug 3, 2010
  5.11b/c PG13
1rsties4life   CO
  5.11b/c PG13
Redpointed this yesterday as my first real Eldo project.

A helpful note for those aspiring to lead this gem: there is a great RP placement (largest size RP) just above the sketchy flake above the crux. It fiddles in a horizontal and hangs out halfway but is in solid rock and should hold a fall.

If the run out above the crux has stopped you from leading this, find this RP and you will feel much more comfortable on the sharp end. It needs to be a BD RP though because of the accelerated taper. A nut won't do.

Great route, looking forward to more projects like it. Oct 15, 2012
Ryan Kempf
Boulder, CO
Ryan Kempf   Boulder, CO
The gear I found for the crux section was really good, although small and fairly spaced apart. I used a blue TCU, yellow C3, #3 BD straight wire and a #5 offset (RP) to get to the ledge halfway up the route.

Fishing in the #3 wire takes a bit of time, but the hold you're on is good, and once you get it in there, it's Bomber. It's nice to have that piece @ your waist making the 5.11 moves. Apr 11, 2014
Mark Rolofson
  5.11b R
Mark Rolofson  
  5.11b R
One of my old favorite Eldo gear routes. The actual first ascent date was November 29, 1980. We originally did it as a 2 pitch climb, since there is a big ledge in the middle. I led the first pitch (5.11 R), & Alfredo Len led the second pitch up the dihedral (5.10). We later learned that Eric Doub had already led the second pitch in August 1980, via an easier, indirect start to avoid the 5.11 first pitch.
The upper dihedral can be climbed using holds on the arĂȘte to the right (5.10b) or climbed in the dihedral, avoiding the arete (5.10d/11a).
After our first ascent, I normally led the route as one pitch. Most of the gear on the 5.11 climbing is bomber (even before small cams). It gets exciting hanging on a jug at the top of the bulging section where a #2 RP protects hard moves to get stood on this jug. Then the climbing eases off, but gear is still tiny. I remember using a sling made of nylon shoelace that would fit behind a small horn placed while standing on the jug. Jun 21, 2015

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