Type: Trad, 500 ft, 4 pitches
FA: FFA: Kevin Donald, Jim Walsh, Jim Erickson, 1970
Page Views: 6,180 total · 31/month
Shared By: Michael Walker on Sep 13, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Access Closed Details
Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details


The Left Side could be a lost Boulder Canyon Classic. This is a very dramatic, challenging, and impressive route that takes the most direct line up the huge Wall of Winter Warmth. For a complete and rewarding ascent, try The Slit (9+, recommended and described below) or one of the newer bolted routes on the lower slab to the left (Alpha Bob 12a on the left or Leader of the Pack 11c/d on the right) as an approach pitch for a three star WWW outing. Every pitch has quality rock, with challenging, varying cruxes that range from wild hand traverses to balancey stems. Each has personality. The granite on this route is magnificent; a clean and smooth water polished white, sun bleached and reminiscent of high alpine granite. You'll certainly feel like you're on a big wall on the Left Side's 2nd pitch (3rd pitch here) belay.

Approach via the Boulder Fall's tourist trail, escaping uphill to the west once near the falls. Once at the "Keyhole" above the falls, the Wall of Winter Warmth will be oh-so-very obvious to the North. Follow the trail on the west side of the river and cross where convenient to the slab at the base of the wall.

P1: Start with The Slit (9+, see that route description for details) and run it out a full 180' to the huge pine tree directly above the Slit (not the one lower and to the left), crossing the slabby, grassy areas with caution not to dislodge rocks. Belay at the tree. P2 (Variation 10a): The traditional Left Side route begins from a slabby, grassy area below the impressive main Wall of Winter Warmth. The lower slab (which you just climbed) can be avoided by scrambling up a Class 3 gully on the climber's left (north) side; or an easy slog up the gully on the right and traversing left across the slabs to the base of the main wall. The original first pitch begins from here up a low angled slab with easy cracks that lead to a belay beneath a steep, black colored, grooved wall. A second pitch (the reported crux) ascends the Black Grooves to a nice size pine tree on a ledge. It appears these first two pitches could have been combined, but we chose not to climb them as we learned the Black Groove's signature colorings come from water flow. It did not appear to be very pleasant to climb when wet. We climbed this route in the driest year in decades and still found water in the grooves. I don't want to imagine what this would be like after a thunderstorm.

We began at the huge pine tree uphill and to the right of the traditional start. Work up left from this tree along easy climbing, trending left toward the Black Grooves. Step up onto a ramp of sorts and follow left along good footholds above a roof, passing good cracks for pro. The footholds disappear and a finger crack will just reach your position from above and to the left. The crux of the whole route was a series of moves to get up into this crack, placing gear and moving over to meet the Black Grooves of the traditional start. The climbing isn't over yet, though, continue another 30 feet straight up along the left side of the Black Grooves to a perfect belay tree on a large, loose ledge.

P3 (9+): From the belay tree, work right out onto an easy rib and then straight up following good cracks up to a steep slot of sorts with an overhanging finger crack on the left, and a smooth right wall for smearing on the right. To get into the slot, we worked a balancey, fun mantel problem up cool horizontal chicken heads in the middle of the face (careful - potential fall onto the slab or adjacent corner if you popped, plan pro accordingly), then stemmed up the wide slot using the left finger crack for pro (crux). Move left when available above the finger crack and belay from a nice stance on the arête.

From the perch on the arête, a roof caps the route above and North Boulder Creek is a good 400' below you. The position on this belay perch is fantastic.

P4 (9+): Work left from the belay through the roof (tricky) and continue leftward along discontinuous and flaring cracks toward another large roof that guards the top of the buttress. (Other variations exist straight up from the belay stance). The pro is tricky and the exposure is mind numbing on this upper face. Be sure to use long slings where appropriate to avoid rope drag. A crux 9+ section could be found smearing up smooth water warn granite. Wild granite folds and flakes are frequently passed. Once below the last roof, escape right underneath and follow cracks up to the summit. This is a very long pitch.

Scramble off the South side or rappel into the Berlin Wall to the north and scramble down a steep, wet gully to the creek.


Bring a good selection of various sizes and types as the pro can be tricky to place among the numerous flared cracks, with the rock quality having a very alpine feel. Think RMNP and you'll be ok.
Crusher and I climbed this classic route in perfect fall conditions in late October, 2002. Bring a #4 Friend for the crux groove; there's a fine hold that's hidden at its top but was otherwise poorly protected without big gear. We both thought this section was trad 5.10.

The two upper pitches are also quite serious climbing with lots of hard 5.9 moves away from good protection. On the final pitch, I traversed directly right on the unprotected section in the middle to gain a good groove, and thought the final crack moves at the top were also in the 5.10 range.

Anywhere else but Boulder, this climb would get 5.10b s. In Boulder Canyon, it's a three star 5.9+. Wear a helmet on this one; we did. Nov 6, 2002
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Are there any private property/access issues with this climb? It sounds very intruiging, so I hiked the tourist trail to check it out today, and couldn't help but notice the many large signs on the west side of the trail and at the Falls stating in no uncertain terms that the area west of the trail and upstream from the Falls (to a point, obviously) are on private property and off limits. Michael or others, care to comment?

Also, is the wall visible from the Falls (I chose to obey the 4+ signs and not scramble up the hill)? The wall I was able to see from the end of the trail was very impressive. Nov 11, 2002
Michael Walker
Loveland, CO
Michael Walker   Loveland, CO

I had the same question about this area when I visited it the first time; I don't have any "concrete" land rules, only my experience to share (as well as my own opinions - he-he). So here it is: In the number of times I've been there I've never had an issue with crossing the "cross or die" signs going up the hill past the erosion breaks. And I guess that goes with the quantities of others through the ages who have crossed the signs in the past to put up all the routes in the narrow canyon beyond the falls.

I'm left with one conclusion why they are there: did you happen to see the hundreds of sightseers, gawkers and idiots on the tourist trail? Isn't it a rush to be so close to nature with hundreds of your brethren? Truly a transcendent experience if you ever get the chance to watch these idiots frolic in and around the falls. I think the signs are to prevent these lemmings from harming themselves by climbing up above the falls and invariable falling from the cliffs above. Even with the signs, land lubbors still seem to get themselves in over their heads in the area way too often.

Also (here's my cynical opinionated side coming through) you know that with the throngs available, if the signs weren't there, it would be the perfect invite to wreck the canyon beyond the falls. If they saw how beautiful the canyon is, how strangely detached from the crowds below, how majestic the Plotinus wall, Wall of WW and adjacent domes make the canyon feel, well, it would be overrun with Easter Eggs with legs and aggro tourists. Simply put, those in the know walk by undeterred, the tourists look on in disbelief and have something to point their digital video cameras at as they film your ass ducking through the Keyhole. For the time being, the only folks you'll see above the falls are other crazy climbers and Boulder locals, and that's just fine with me.

The Cone shaped wall proudly standing above the falls IS the WWW (it's an optical illusion, the wall is up the canyon a bit, it just looks like it rises from the creek). It really is impressive looking - like the Vampire, only this thing looks like good rock - and it mostly is!

Finally, go do this damn route! It's awesome! And if it gets climbed enough with gear, maybe it won't get bolted (snicker, snicker). Nov 11, 2002
Amen, the Black Groove is serious 5.10 trad. A quality 5.8 pitch lies 50' left of the Black Groove, and angles up to the same belay pine. Pitch #2 also 5.10, tricky pro but brilliant climbing. Pitch #3, 5.9+, goes left on runout face then tags into the last 2 bolts of A of Repose. End at that anchor. Wow... Nov 19, 2002
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Great adventure. A few notes on the climb: P1: Slit. Fun start and no pro loose 5th class slabs/vegetation above the two bolt anchor.

P2: Black Groove. Awkward 9+ moves but we didn't have anything bigger than a 3.5 cam, and protected fine. Was dry when we did it on Saturday.

P3. *** Pitch, best on the route. I found a few 'solid RPs' below the dihedral. BOMBER blue Alien at the start of the dihedral. One can sew up the rest with nuts and TCUs. Great rock and elegant moves through this pitch. Fabulous exposure. 9+

P4. Going left through the small roof can be protected with a blue TCU and then a #1 rock in the corner near the roof. Look for good holds left as you crank around the corner. This is a long wandering (some run-outs on 5.7 climbing) pitch to the second pitch anchors of Angle of Repose. Exit slightly right and up 25 feet to summit.

Great position on this climb, made me feel like I wasn't in BC, but somewhere tucked away in the Valley... Jul 14, 2003
Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
Truly a classic route. It is pure joy to do four pitches of granite in such wild surroundings, while only being 10 minutes from the car. You can't hear the highway!!!!

Enjoy the stinging nettle....

What is that awesome rock straight up the canyon from the top of WWW? I could see a few bolted routes and a wonderful looking crack facing me. Jul 14, 2003
Terrific route. One thought on P3: You can easily go past the statedbelay for P3 ("on the arete") another 30 feet or so. Go left throughthe roof, around the corner, and belay next to a big bush (tricams pink/brown;camalots 3/3.5). It makes it about a 90 foot pitch.

The advantage: you can see your leader on the last pitch. Jul 23, 2003
shad O'Neel  
One of the longest trad routes in Boulder Canyon. Perhaps analagous to a 5.9+ version of Bitty Buttress, pure joy, with much more excitement. The rock is great, position incredible and moves were awesome. A #4 Camalot came in handy on every pitch. I experienced no run outs on P3, stemming; perhaps due to bringing a yellow/green offset Alien. However, P4 has a substantial runout with much air, but is easier climbing. Interesting flared cracks and grooves made for quite an adventure. The black grooves were dry today, but still very hard for 5.9, I think it's more 5.10. Mar 18, 2004
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
I'm serious! The Black Groove is really hard and treacherous, and I was following. You have to struggle with the gear, because it's continually hard after you step off a big block which you don't want to land on.

The 1980 Erickson Rocky Heights guide says, "Chimney up the slot to a tree, 5.8".(!) He calls the second pitch 8+.

Pitch 2 was very good. You need to make a few moves above your gear, and it's confusing which of the two corners to use. I started right, moved left, back right and then back left.

Pitch 3 is mostly easy, with only a couple hard moves at the very top. Good gear where you need it. If it's slightly runout, it's only on really easy climbing. There's one exposed move left that's cool, as you look down on the very steep Angle of Repose (12a).

We rapped from the Angle of Repose anchors to the ground in two 2-rope rappels. Be careful if you're using just one rope. It looks like you could miss the intermediate anchors on the first rap and end up hanging in space. Nov 20, 2004
Shane Zentner
Shane Zentner   Colorado
Every pitch is fun with good moves. Pitch three is the money pitch. Pitch two was tough climbing through the black roof (green and yellow Alien). The exposure on pitch four is awesome-tricky gear placements over good air made this pitch exciting and heart pounding! Mar 1, 2005

At either base of The Slit or at the Pine Tree below the WWW.

Please call 917 751 4955 If found. There is no money in it... but I'll buy ya a six pack of your favorite if you get it back to me safe and sound.


Edited: March 10th, 2008

I have to admit this, and hopefully the few who read it will grasp the humor associated with it. Upon my return from a climbing trip to Alaska's smaller mountains, I was cleaning out my alpine pack, which I had used the day I thought I lost my wallet. The large pocket where I usually keep my hydration bladder was a place I seldom swept my hand in, because it was usually wet, with perspiration from my my bladder. In any event, I plunged my arm deep into the pocket and a distantly familiar object inside made me gleam...I am a fucking idiot. My wallet had traveled with me on every ascent I had made on our three week trip. Talk about extra weight... Apr 5, 2007
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
This is a fun route. Get on it. The rock gets plenty of sun in the late morning. We got way lost, but it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Felt like a big wall because of the exposure. Feb 7, 2009
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
I can't say enough good things about this climb. Its truly an adventure. First of all, you can't figure how the %^&# to pull the black streak without breaking your ankles. Then you can't figure out how to get up/out of the black streak. Then the second(third depending on how you're doing it) pitch comes and there is some thin gear on your left and reasonably incut holds until a stemmy/balancey move out right to some jugs then a fun traverse back to the anchor ledge out left. Then pull the roof and find yourself out on a face with four different possible paths and infinite combinations. Just start climbing and plugging gear where you can. There are some mildly large runouts on the easier third(4th) pitch, so be solid.

And have fun! Apr 26, 2009
I'm 6'4" tall, the opening "crux" on P1 at the base of the black slit was hard, very hard for my size. Newt made it look clean and easy, I felt like a beached whale. Keep in mind it was hard to hear over the water, and the idiots yelling at the creek while we were trying to communicate. I will go back, its a great/tricky first set of moves, just be safe.

Postscript: I finally made use of my partner's ball-nuts in the pin crack at the base of the slit, it was actually bomber placement. Sep 12, 2011
Jeff McLeod
Jeff McLeod  
The only part where this is above 5.9, in my opinion, is the very beginning of the crux pitch cranking into the black streak crack/slot system. The rest, is absolutely incredible climbing with tricky moves, amazing exposure, and good pro. I'm not sure why there are bolts behind the tree with the cord, it doesn't allow you to reach the ground after two raps. I rapped off the bolts under the roof at the top of the last pitch and got back to the ground with three raps. Jan 19, 2013
Moritz B.
Moritz B.  
The Black Groove was bone dry today. Feb 7, 2015
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
Does anybody have contact information for Bob D'Antonio? I would like to have a chat with him about his first ascents and about the bolts on Angle of Repose that overlap with Left Side. I am confused as to why a bolted route was put up which obviously crosses a well-traveled traditional route, and would like to discuss options for restoring Left Side to a more fitting state. I have a hard time considering a route which shares rock with another older route a legitimate first ascent but would like to give due consideration to Bob before taking action, even if I disagree with his tactics. Your help is appreciated. Jun 17, 2016
Conor Felletter
Boulder, CO
Conor Felletter   Boulder, CO
Be sure to go left immediately after the stemming section of the 2/3 pitch. Don't get lured right by the anchors as they are off route. Black groove was dry. Jan 8, 2018
David A. Turner
  5.10 PG13
David A. Turner  
  5.10 PG13
Old’s cool. Sep 16, 2018