Type: Trad, 400 ft, 5 pitches, Grade II
FA: John Otto, July 4, 1911
Page Views: 78,995 total · 353/month
Shared By: Ben Mottinger on Dec 31, 2000 with improvements by The Morse-Bradys
Admins: Jesse Zacher, Jared LaVacque, Bradley Mark Edwards, Nick Reecy, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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This is a nice climb in four short pitches that finishes with the last exposed and dramatic prow to the summit. It's on the shady side of the monument, so warm days are preferable. The FA, Otto, drilled and chopped many holds in the soft sandstone to aid up this route with pipes in the holes, but now just the holes remain, which gives the route a moderate rating.

P1: Start on the NW side near the East end at a right-angling ramp (5.4) past chopped steps to a large ledge with a crack to protect for a belay.

P2: Head up the wide crack (#4 Camalot at the top) and exit the slot to another large ledge. The 2" drilled holes can be protected with the tricams.

P3: 3rd class through the Time Tunnel up the ramp below a face with some drilled angles. Climb this short pitch to Lunchbox Ledge, a large belay spot with a terrific view. Three drilled angles at the belay.

P4: The awesome crux pitch. Take the chopped steps to the right up the easy, but runout and exposed face. Some drilled angles protect the final overhang on good holds to the belay ledge. A short hop up off this ledge gains the summit.

To descend, make a double rope rap past Lunchbox Ledge to the large shelf with the Time Tunnel. Traverse down the small tunnel to a short rap to a large ledge (top of 2nd pitch). Look for the last double rope rap to the right at the edge of the ledge, which was the top of the first pitch.


A small rack of cams with a 1.5 and 2 tricam, and a #4 Camalot. About 6 draws should do and several shoulder slings. Two ropes (for the rap).


This route can be rappelled in two raps with double 60m cords. The first one heads north from the summit anchors to the top of the Time Tunnel. Scramble down to the anchors at the beginning of the tunnel (top of pitch two). From here, rap directly off the north side to the ground. This rap does not follow the climbing route. When there are mulitple parties on the route, this rappel is the best option as you will not be in anybody's way or knock rocks on anybody. The last rappel requires 50m cords. Nov 5, 2001
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
I thought the second pitch was the crux-I was struggling on that much more than on the summit overhangs. The second to last pitch was no harder than 5.6, not 5.8 as at least the Bjornstad guide indicates.

Great unique route, definitely 8+ or maybe even 9- Nov 19, 2001
Tyson Arp
Omaha, NE
Tyson Arp   Omaha, NE
Funny how everyone's perceptions are different. My wife and I both expected this route to be much harder. I' wouldn't call it any more than a 7+. The only real interesting moves were the last three--and that's because it's so darn sandy and worn from too much traffic. Aug 16, 2002
I agree with Andrew. I thought the second pitch was the crux. Nov 22, 2002
Let's see, we just climbed this on 4/12/03.

What a surreal route. A must do if in the area.

The third pitch Off-Width is definitely size-dependent: Tall / slender people will fare better than chubbier / shorter ones. It is burly for sure, but protects very well with large cams and a sling around a chockstone.

The last pitch felt insecure. The chopped holds have turned into gritty sloppers. The reaches ae loooong and the pins looked just O.K. Felt like 5.9 to us.

Otto was a wild man, he climbed this in Cowboy boots!

Ironic that he was responsible for both chopping a 5 pitch route up the most beautiful formation in the Monument and leading the charge to turn the area into a National Monument thus ensuring its preservation.

Perhaps the same thing will one day happen with the Sports Park, NOT!

WT Apr 14, 2003
Ben Mottinger

Ben Mottinger    
I updated the route to modified as it should most definitely be. Apr 15, 2003
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
I think its pretty silly to blacklist this route. Yes, the holds are not natural, but since it occurred *way* before there was even a thing called climbing ethics, try as I might I can't get too worked up over the defacement. Apr 16, 2003
I never really looked at Otto's Route as a climbing route anyway. It's more like a super-advanced trail or via ferrata to a great summit. Apr 16, 2003
In a word, Bob, the answer to your question is: history. No one is going to argue that Otto's route has stellar climbing... in fact if you ask me, the climbing blows. The reason it's classic is because Otto had a vision, that by the standards of the early-1900s was insane. It wasn't ethically appalling back then to use these methods to climb. Its amazing to climb this route and think of the determination and obsessiveness that drove Otto to the top. The route is more of a museum relic... that and the summit is pretty darn cool. The sport park developers and chippers of today know better. Apr 16, 2003
Ben Mottinger

Ben Mottinger    
I agree, Andrew, that I'm not worked up or disturbed about the drilled holes on this route when I'm climbing it (since it did occur so long ago) but my intent of placing it on the modified route list was to back our stance of indiscriminate classification of modified routes. "Blacklisting" it was not meant to deter people from the climb, but just to make more people aware of the chipping issue on the whole. Apr 16, 2003
Excellent !!! Great Feel Good climb. The final move onto the roof is blistering ....Kudos Mr. Otto. May 5, 2003
The only rappel that requires double ropes is the last one (ie. to the ground), but a single 70m rope will get you down with a foot or two to spare. Less to pack in and out, less to haul, and less to drag over scree-covered ledges (helmets most highly recommended). Oct 31, 2003
Rappelling: Ok you could Rap the whole route with 1 60 or 70 if you did 4 raps; however its probably better to do it in 2 2rope Rappels. Use 2 60 meters to rappel from the summit to the time tunnel. Hike the time tunnel to belay station 2 then 2 60's to the ground (50meters will not work). This is probably better then trying the rap from the summit to lunchbox ledge. May 22, 2004
Dustin Bauer  
Ol' Otto you one crazy REDNECK! any ways did the route [Memorial] Weekend 04. I have to say the route was the easiest "5.8ish" [I've] ever done. Compared to the Durrance on DT which is 5.7ish this is a walk in the park. Little exposure, Monster "HOLES" some how perfectly placed.. Rapping down and a family of 5 having a picnic after time tunnel. All other aside in 1911 on the last pitch wearing cowboy boots with a [chisel] and hand drill in the other hand I must say Otto you one crazy REDNECK! Jun 3, 2004
The crux move is definitely harder than 5.8. I've done this route 4 times now, and it feels like a burly 9 move to me. With that said, it's a great route that demands a helmet given all the other parties that are going to be going up and down it when you are. It truly is a proud formation, especially when viewed from the east. So good!!!!! Aug 18, 2004
Elijah Flenner
Fort Collins, CO
Elijah Flenner   Fort Collins, CO
After climbing this route on 1/09/06, I wanted to provide a warning on some of the gear mentioned above. The chockstone on pitch 2 is about to fall out. When I got to the chimney, the chockstone was slung with a piece of webbing and a cord. I clipped the cord and pull tested it. The cord ended up at my knees and the chockstone dropped a little bit. It should not be trusted. Fortunately, the gear there is great (I placed a 3.5 and a 4.0 camalot). I also could not find a good placement on the last pitch for a 2.0 tri-cam before the pins. A larger tri-cam might have worked.

Also, it appears that the pins on the last pitch have been recently replaced, but I don't know how recent. They were all shiny and new looking.

In my opinion, the position on the last pitch is great, but the climging is uninteresting due to the drilled pockets. However, without the pockets the climbing would be much harder on the last pitch as well as the second pitch. Jan 9, 2006
Ben Boykin
Cheyenne, WY
Ben Boykin   Cheyenne, WY
Suggestion: Somebody take 4 quicklinks up next time you go, to place at the rappel points. They're all singles, just think it'd be prudent to have two links on each rap station, instead of one.

I'll do it if nobody else will. Thanks Mar 27, 2007
If anyone is interested in speed climbing possibilities of this route, my friend Andres and I simul-climbed it in 10 minutes and 24 seconds on Nov 9, 07. It could definitely be done in less, I was having to do the mountaineer's rest step on the slab of the last pitch due too lack of cardio fitness. Nov 16, 2007
Hell yeah, Jovan! I wonder what the speed record is? I bet it's been free soloed pretty fast. Nov 17, 2007
I don't know. The only other people I know of that have tried speed climbing it did it in twenty something minutes (they couldn't remember, it was back in the late 80s) and 18 minutes. I personally could not go as fast soloing due to no margin for error. (Not that simul-climbing leaves much room either.) Nov 17, 2007
That is a good point, the rock is sandy enough that it is not impossible to slip. Nov 17, 2007
Don't get too excited it's been done in well under 10 minutes. Probably gets speed climbed more often than you think. What's the going speed for car to car? Nov 18, 2007
Jesse Zacher
Grand Junction, Co
Jesse Zacher   Grand Junction, Co  
Why speed climb the thing at all. One section of 5.8 the rest a sandy mess. Nov 19, 2007
Fixed gear alert/info: the second anchor has one of of its two expansion bolts moving around a bit in the hole Nov 21, 2007
Ryan, what is the fastest time you've heard of, just curious what the record is? Nov 25, 2007
Nothing comfirmed but I've heard of ascents in the 7-9 minute range. Talked with a friend this morning who remembers their time being 8min40sec but it was quite a few years ago. I always remembered him saying 7min something.

Sandy mess, Jesse? It's desert rock, so of course there is sand, but it's got to be one of the cleaner routes in the desert and the climbing throughout is actually quite enjoyable. With the abundant protection and easy climbing, it's perfect for speed climbing. You speed climb to learn specific techniques for moving fast. You learn to be efficient as a team. You learn what is possible which gives you confidence to tackle a more ambitious project. For those who venture onto the larger faces, speed often equals safety and just like everything it must be practiced. Otto's is great practice. There are plenty of big routes around the world that require fast efficient climbing on nothing harder than 5.9. Nov 26, 2007
Denver, CO
jbarnum   Denver, CO
Climbed it two days ago. Ice at the second belay and getting up into the Time Tunnel. Cold Toes. I was shocked to find foot prints in the snow patches up there. Some wizard left the register open and it was filled with water. I poured it out, however the book and contents are soaked. I did not bring it down since I did not have a bag or anything, and the register might be saved if left to dry out. I am sure it will get replaced this summer, at some point. Just plan ahead with a bag or something. Lot of trash in that box. Mar 13, 2008
Minesh Bacrania  
A most excellent introduction to desert tower climbing. Lots of mellow climbing to get to the last three or four pumpy crux moves (5.8).

Some comments:

We climbed over Labor Day weekend, topping out at 10:30AM. Everything below the last pitch was in the shade the entire time.

A light rack is all you need: singles of BD 0.5 - 4 cams, nothing smaller. Single (or less) set of small/med nuts. 2-3 tricams (black or smaller). Lots of shoulder-length slings.

First pitch seemed harder than I was led to believe, but the hardest moves are no harder than 5.6. Tie in long to the first anchor (chains + piton), and keep going around the corner to a comfy belay stance.

A BD 3 is useful for backing up the chockstone (it's fine, the webbing around it isn't) at the bottom of the p2 OW, a 4 is good higher up. As described in the Supertopo topo, it's possible to stem around the opening of the OW. The climbing is a little more delicate (5.8?), but the significant reduction in the grovel factor is well worth it.

Leave the big gear behind on the ledge at the top of the Time Tunnel. The last two pitches can be done with tricams (I had black, pink, red), a handful of nuts and/or small cams (BD 0.5, 0.75), and a few shoulder-length draws for the fixed gear. (The crux pitch would've been a lot easier without a full set of cams hanging off my shoulder.)

The crux pitch was considerably easier than it looks from the belay. The steps are worn but secure, and there are a couple of tricam placements in the handmade pockets if you desire. The last few moves are well-protected (3x pitons) and juggy. 5.8, but it seemed a little harder after all of the easy climbing leading up to it. Your second will appreciate the use of a long draw on the highest piton.

Following ET's comment, two raps with 2 x 60m ropes leaves 5 feet to spare on the second rap. Watch the loose rock coming down with the rope. Sep 1, 2008
Lynn S
Lynn S  
Did this today with my 13 year old daughter and 15 year old son, what a treat! We had a great time, only party on the route. I thought the climbing was a blast, I can't wait to go back and do it again.

If you keep out of the OW and stem the holes, the crux is definitely the last moves on the final pitch (Tobin led this). #4 Camalot in the OW is all you need, you can also clip the ratty sling on the chockstone if you want.

I think I placed about 6 pieces of gear on my leads today (#0.75, 2, 3 and 4 Camalots, a green C3 and #4 Stopper), a few long runners and that is about it.

2 60m raps gets your down. Top to the fixed anchor at the bottom of Time Tunnel, then down looker's left to the ground, about 3 feet to spare. You end up 30 yards south of where you started the route.

We did the approach hike in 45 minutes, beautiful hike by the way. Oct 3, 2008
Tobin Sanson
San Rafael, CA
Tobin Sanson   San Rafael, CA
So, three or four pieces of gear, a couple draws, and balls of steel will get you through this route pretty well :) Oct 4, 2008
Doug Lintz
Kearney, NE
Doug Lintz   Kearney, NE
Good fun!! Aside from waiting 45 minutes at each belay we had a great time on this classic. All you really need is that #4 Camalot, a few mid-range cams, half-dozen draws, and some steady nerves on the airy last pitch. Mar 23, 2009
A 70m rope will get you down with 3 raps. On the last rap just be sure to go straight out and not back down the route. Be sure to knot your ends as it is right to the end of the rope!
Great route: Otto had gorilla balls! May 11, 2009
Cindy Mitchell  
Very fun route! 2nd pitch OW was the crux for me as it is height dependent. I couldn't reach the second hole on the right side to pull myself up and into the OW.

Last moves on the last pitch were pumpy and the footholds were slick and sandy. The summit is absolutely incredible! Apr 7, 2011
jeremy long
jeremy long   BOULDER CO
Fun, fun, fun. Done it twice, will do it again. Bring a blue tricam for the pockets on the last pitch. This route seems to get harder as the pockets erode, but it is still easy 5.9. May 19, 2011
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Has anyone ever done the last pitch without using any of the pockets? This is a good challenge for bored climbers who think it is too easy using the pockets. Oct 21, 2011
Great fun! Exposure really wasn't an issue. Big ledges and chimneys galore. Pitch 1 ended up a little harder than I expected while pitch 2 ended up MUCH easier. And I'm not tall (5'9"), but I was able to reach the HUGE, juggy pockets on both sides and just pull through. The final pitch was harder than I expected it to be. Feet kicking in the air and grunting didn't make it any easier. Finally got my feet to the right side (the slopey pockets were very sandy) and was able to get up. Oct 23, 2011
Josh Allred
Salt Lake City, UT
Josh Allred   Salt Lake City, UT
Absolute classic for its history. Unique climbing.

Happy 100 years Otto! Oct 23, 2011
RyanO   sunshine
We lost a blue Alien on this route on 11/25/11. We simul-climbed to the top of the third pitch past a big party on the first two pitches. Someone in that party clipped an extra runner to our blue Alien at some point, and my second cleaned the runner to our line and left the blue Alien because she wasn't sure what belonged to who. Please help us replace this irreplaceable piece of gear. Thanks! Nov 28, 2011
Daniel L
Daniel L   Moab
Nice climb! Got a #4 Camalot stuck in the 2nd pitch....
Very sandy last pitch! Jan 3, 2012
grand junction, co
rmaultsby   grand junction, co
One single 70m rope is enough to get down!!
Rap from summit anchors to Lunchbox Ledge. 3rd class down time tunnel, rap to first pitch anchors. Then rap straight back down to ground. You can make it down with the single 70m. Tie knots to be sure your rope makes it. Mar 18, 2012
This is a awesome climb and a must do. I climbed this for the first time last month and came back two weeks later to bring another friend up. The first time I climbed this I listened to all the spray about all the gear you need, so I brought a ton of gear only to see the party ahead of me climbing in bare feet with just a set of quickdraws. I would not suggest that to anyone; however, the second time I climbed it I brought a single set of Camalots up to a #4 and some stoppers. You can place a number 4 high on the offwidth and be fine. Thanks to Otto, there are holes everywhere. Do yourself a favor and climb this with a light rack. Oct 23, 2012
Bradley Mark Edwards
Grand Junction, CO
Bradley Mark Edwards   Grand Junction, CO  
Done this four times now, and it's just a pleasure each time. Good fun! Dec 2, 2012
tony m
tony m   frisco
I climbed this route several years ago and it is 1 of my favorites. The moves are all there and the scenery to incredible to describe. Having read some of the history behind this route made it even more enjoyable. I'm not sure what makes this a 9 other than a couple of runout spots that I could have used a tri-cam. I agree with an earlier post that a large rack is not needed. Bring what you are climbing with, and you will enjoy this route. Come early, we got at the base a little before 7am, and by the time we reached the 1st anchors, we saw 2 parties waiting. Feb 22, 2013
climberboy228 Romano
  5.8+ PG13
climberboy228 Romano  
  5.8+ PG13
Did this route on Easter 2013...24 hours after doing Castleton's Kor-Ingalls route...this is waaaay easier than Kor-Ingalls! The only hard parts come in very short sections...not sustained at all...lots of rests...hardest part is going to final anchor on slopey feet and a couple drilled pockets for hands...overhung and a bit scary. Historically very cool and unique with all the chops...Otto was a beast! Also, we rapped entire route safely with a 70m rope...just do last rap straight down (climber's right) and not on the route. Apr 1, 2013
mike olsen
Clarksville, TN
mike olsen   Clarksville, TN
The 1st bolt of the final pitch is hangerless. This makes the initial section of the last pitch quite runout if you can't protect the chipped handholds. The other 3 pitons seem solid. Sep 25, 2013
Tristan Burnham
La Crescenta, CA
Tristan Burnham   La Crescenta, CA
I brought a second rope but left it at the top of the first pitch and rapped everything with a single 60m and then one double rope from the top of the first. Also I didn't have any tricams, but I found a nice spot for a BD #2 in one of the holes on the last pitch. Nov 16, 2013
Seth williamson
Crestone Colorado
Seth williamson   Crestone Colorado
I climbed this route last week and in January. It is the same as it has been for at least a year. There are still plenty of pitons and drilled holes for climbing and protection. I didn't feel a need for gear. A #4 and maybe some tricams would be comforting to the timid. Still a 5.8 climb. All anchors are in good shape. Mar 25, 2014
Peter Blank
Grand Junction, Colorado
Peter Blank   Grand Junction, Colorado
My boy Bryce just led the crux pitch barefoot and skipped clips in 40 mph wind! May 6, 2014
Kris Hjelle
Grand Junction, CO
Kris Hjelle   Grand Junction, CO
The bolts and pitons are the same as they have been for many years.

However, the big vertical "handlebar hold" between the first and second pitons on the last pitch has broken off. There is now a flat, platform-ish hold which is incut in the back. Please be very careful and do NOT pull OUT on it as it is part of a block that is not firmly attached to the wall - you can see a crack in it. It does make a better foothold than was there before!

Such a fun route!

Kris Hjelle Jul 30, 2014
Carl H.
Carl H.  
Climbed this 9/11/2015. While all but the last pitch are in the shade, plan on a good hour for the approach and likewise for the return to the car which are in full sun. We drank all our water on the hike out and wished we had more. Oct 1, 2015
Nick Niebuhr
The Road
Nick Niebuhr   The Road
Had a lot of fun on this route yesterday! We misread the descent info and rapped directly to the ground from the bottom of the Time Tunnel with 70m and 60m ropes, my partner realized the 60m was about 20ft off the ground so had to jug his way back up to a ledge to shuffle the ropes, and in the end, both were touching the ground with a few feet to spare. Fortunately I have some basic skills in getting around the knot between the ropes, so all ended fine. There were marks on the rock from ropes being pulled in that direction, so obviously people have rapped that way before (skipping the last rap), but two 60m ropes won't make it! And to downclimb that last 20 ft looked pretty heinous.

We got lucky with how our ropes were situated and didn't have to jug back up at all, hopefully other people don't make this mistake! Jul 18, 2016
angus Morrison
carbondale, colorado
angus Morrison   carbondale, colorado
Did this yesterday. Perfect weather. Surprisingly uncrowded. Updated with glue-ins now. All the pitons were replaced. Brown and blue tricams still good to have, plus a #4 cam for the wide crack. Much better now. 70m gets you down for sure, much better not needing 2 ropes. Super fun route that I will do again. Sep 26, 2016
.8++++. Oct 16, 2016
Golden, CO
mmk   Golden, CO
Be prepared to share this climb with others. This route is historical, this is Colorado (i.e. huge population growth) and access is relatively easy. We listened to an out of state party two pitches below us whining that there were others on route (to be clear, they never waited for us, no issue of debris or rockfall, and we were a stronger party). Don't ruin your own experience or the experience of others with unreasonable expectations of a private romp (unless you choose your climb time extremely wisely and with a taste for the obscure). Oct 17, 2016
There are brand new bolts at the belay on top of pitch 2 and protecting the final, overhanging moves on pitch 4.

Thanks so much to whomever placed them since last summer. The old P2 belay bolts could be pulled out by hand and the manky pitons protecting the roof were unnerving. The new hardware is pretty great!

Btw, the offwidth slot on pitch 2 is definitely the crux. A #5 Camalot lets you protect the move at your waist, though. I had to do a totally horizontal kneebar to reach the next pocket/jug!

Oh, and you can also safely rap the whole route with one 70m rope. The last rappel is 35m on the nose, so be sure to tie knots and find your middle mark before you rap! Apr 13, 2017
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
Glad you appreciate the new hardware. All of the old fixed hardware was replaced with glue-ins through a permit from the National Monument. Hardware was provided by the ASCA, support them whenever you can.

Apr 23, 2017
Michelle Lynn
Moab, UT
Michelle Lynn   Moab, UT
We brought 2 60m ropes, followed ET's rappel beta, and it worked perfectly. One double-rope rappel to the Time Tunnel, very easy scramble down to the 2nd pitch anchor, then a 2nd double-rope rappel to skier's left gets you to the ground. IMHO, probably faster than rappelling with a single 70m. Jun 9, 2017
Matt Aschmann
Fort Collins, CO
Matt Aschmann   Fort Collins, CO
Great climb! The very last move is very pumpy and made harder by the fact that you've already climbed 4 pitches. The sandstone can also gather quite a bit of dust. The rock at your right foot is almost completely polished clean from smear attempts, making good footing difficult to find to assist with the move. Jun 25, 2017
I climbed it in mid July, 102 degrees out. Started the route at 9am, shade every pitch but the last. I'm a 5.10 sport climber, this was my first multipitch trad route. Overall it was a great experience for a beginner like myself. The last move was definitely harder than I expected. The whole rest of the route felt pretty easy, then that last move really got me pumped. The right foot is so blown out and sandy. Tricams 1.5 - 2 were the most useful piece of gear. Single rack 0.5-4, optional 5 to overprotect the 5.8 OW pitch. Protected the start of the crux pitch with the tricams, otherwise it's pretty runout to the first glue-in bolt (on easy climbing, but still). The tricams definitely got the most use. Rapped the route with a single 70m, and it was perfect. Jul 23, 2017
Matt Castelli  
Classic climb. Totems work great in the holes. G rated if you want it to be (tricams/gotems). Unrope for the time tunnel. Last move is hardest. Two ropes for rappel would be better, but a 70 works. Heard you can combine raps 1/2 but didn't try it. Rap 4 is close, so go straight to the ground, not down pitch 1. Simul rapping just got us down with a 67m rope. Oct 15, 2017