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Routes in South Face

Family Values S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Shangrila T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
South Ridge (descent route) T 5.0 2- 4 I 6 MM 1c
South Side Topropes TR 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Type: Trad, 300 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,158 total · 6/month
Shared By: Sean O'Dell on Nov 19, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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2017 Gray Rock Raptor Closure - Lifted Details
2017 Seasonal Closures - Partial Closure Lifting Details

Description

Eds. This route is open per Bret Tennis, Garden of the Gods Park Operations Administrator.

This is the much-discussed downclimb from a summit-going ascent of New Era, but it can also make for a short, sporty, fun, upper 4th/lower 5th class scramble for those looking to do something a little different and/or brush up on your 4th class mountaineering skills. I'm assuming the majority of those reading this are interested in the south ridge as a downclimb from the top of New Era, so that's how I'll list the beta. Obviously, to use this route as an ascent of Kindergarden Rock, just do everything in reverse :-)

Your ascent of New Era should spit you out on a small grassy plateau just east of and about 20 feet below the actual summit of Kindergarten Rock. (The true summit should not be considered off route as it is the highest point in the Garden and offers phenomenal views of the park from a small, airy summit block.) From this plateau, you will want to descend directly south - down one of the several chimney systems that slice down the length of the south ridge. Choose your chimney carefully - as your choice will make all the difference in how hairy your downclimb will actually be.

At the southern edge of the summit plateau, you will be immediately faced with 2 gullies you could enter. The eastern (your left) one should have an arrow pointing at it that is carved in a block of sandstone at your feet. You will want to START your descent in this gully; however, THE EASIEST DOWNCLIMBING IS FOUND IN THE DEEP GULLY JUST TO THE WEST OF THE SUMMIT. You will notice that this is NOT the gully you are starting off in. The whole key to making this downclimb as easy as possible is to pick the most opportune time to traverse into this prominent gully to the west. About 10-15 feet down the eastern gully from the summit plateau, you should notice a small, flat spot in the spine separating the gully you are in from the deep one to the west (right). Upon peering over the small spine, you will see a northward-slanting ramp system that descends into the deep gully. This will be the crux of the downclimb, but it is easier than the hardest climbing in the other gully. Scramble west over the spine and down this ledge system into the deep, steep-sided gully to the west. Once there, the rest of the gully should be a walk in the park.

Take this gully down, over a large chockstone (note: this chockstone is the indication you are in the right gully on the ascent) until it opens up into a wider, less steep area of rock just above a grassy plateau with 2 pine trees (conspicuous trees about half way up the South Ridge). Heading directly at the 2 trees from here will present you with a lower 5th class scramble down a chimney full of loose, broken rock. This section can be avoided to the west. Traverse over a small ridge of rock into a small, shallow gully to the west of the trees. When you are directly west of trees, look for a weakness in the rock to your left that will allow you to traverse back to the east and wind up right on the plateau with the trees. Once here, the route finding is basically over - as there are several, equally easy paths through the features on the lower half of the ridge.

The the bottom 75 feet of the south ridge is the most technical you will encounter. Here there are 2 options: to rap off, or to head east to the easier rock. Parties with a rope will probably prefer to rap to the ground. There are 5 anchor stations set along the rim of the steep section - several of which consist of large eyebolts - so find one of these and you won't need any other slings, etc. A 50m rope SHOULD reach the ground from any of these - and I know a 60m will. Or, if you prefer to downclimb the rest of the way, traverse east until you encounter a lower-angle ramp that descends the final altitude and meets the ground at the very southeast corner of the rock. This ramp probably has the most fall potential of the whole route - as it goes across a fairly slick section of slab with a painful looking fall off to your left. It would be mighty embarrassing to break yourself on the lower 30 feet of the downclimb, so use a little extra caution if you descend this way. (NOTE: this ramp is THE way to get on the south ridge on the ascent.)

All in all, the ridge is pretty tame, but harder country lurks in a few places and could get you into trouble if you're coming off in the dark, etc. Generally speaking, the easier ground is always to the west, with the exception of the ramp at the very bottom. Have fun.

Protection

You shouldn't need any if you have half-way decent route finding skills. A 50m rope will allow you to rap the last pitch to the ground if you wish.

Photos

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Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
Bill Olszewski   Colorado Springs, CO
The top out is nice; a little 4th/easy 5th up the south summit west face. Jul 18, 2011
Chris Zeller
Boulder, CO
 
Chris Zeller   Boulder, CO
 
We used this downclimb for New Era. It was worth it as it's always better to top out than to rap a great route like New Era halfway up, but the routefinding is a bit challenging.

We looked at the traverse to the second gully stated here but decided against it. It would have been fine roped but looked like a sketchy scramble.

INSTEAD, we headed off North along the spine and downclimbed west to a grassy ramp. Then climbed back up over the spire on the west side to gain the second gully. This detour is longer and more convoluted but technically easier, I think. Just one more option. Nov 21, 2008
Nelson
FT Carson
Nelson   FT Carson
Just wanted to say I got bitched at for downclimbing the Tourist Gully the other day. Said something about a rope if you're on the rock and above 10' (LOL first bolt about 40' up). I guess you could sling basketball-sized boulders or better yet maybe I'll slam in some 1/2" bolts Bolder Canyon style (every 3' along a hand crack). There were climbers below me, and I don't know if you were to rap and pull a rope up there you run a chance of dislodgement of rocks to down below. Well anyway, you have to love 3rd and 4th class descents they cut the hole count down but only in the Garden will you be in trouble for saving rock. Oh and I tried "I have a rope and gear" just wasn't using it it didn't work they said it must be in use. Jun 24, 2007
If you do use this route as a "sporty scramble" to ascend Kindergarden Rock, make sure you have your rope and gear. Even if you don't use it, technical gear is required in GOG for going higher than 10 feet off the ground. If it's the summer, the rangers could make a fuss if you don't have gear while climbing. Apr 27, 2007
Agree with Sean that the East ramp is the easiest way to begin the ascent if you want to climb this route. However, if you want to add a little interest to the start, the right facing crack just to the left (west) of the toprope routes is quite enjoyable. It can be well protected with stoppers. Small to Medium cams will also fit in a few places along the crack. I would guess that this pitch is about 5.6. Jan 2, 2003

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