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The Scientist

5.11a/b, Trad, 80 ft (24 m),  Avg: 3.4 from 325 votes
FA: Bob D'Antonio, Vaino Kodas, & Mark Rolofson, 2/22/2003
Colorado > Boulder > Boulder Canyon > Lower Dream Canyon > Plotinus Wall > Middle
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This is a three star route that takes a direct line up the beautiful clean slab just left of "Rama" on the Plotinus Wall. Clip the first bolt and make a nice move up to the second bolt. Make a difficult move past the second bolt, then a another dicey move to reach the crack. Place the Aliens and move up over a small roof. Follow the line of bolts up the clean face to a two-bolt anchor. One of the best slab pitches in the canyon.


Eight bolts, green and blue Aliens will get you to a two-bolt anchor.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Ethan getting into the crux on the Scientist..
[Hide Photo] Ethan getting into the crux on the Scientist..
Jeff McLeod on the Scientist, 5.11a.
[Hide Photo] Jeff McLeod on the Scientist, 5.11a.
The Scientist, Boulder Canyon.
[Hide Photo] The Scientist, Boulder Canyon.
Annie cruising through the middle section of The Scientist.
[Hide Photo] Annie cruising through the middle section of The Scientist.
(I thought this was a cool shot of the route hope you don't mind I post your photo unknown climber.)
[Hide Photo] (I thought this was a cool shot of the route hope you don't mind I post your photo unknown climber.)
Plotinus Wall, middle.
[Hide Photo] Plotinus Wall, middle.
Unknown climber clipping the 4th bolt on the Scientist.  (I thought this was a cool shot of the route hope you don't mind I post your photo unknown climber.)
[Hide Photo] Unknown climber clipping the 4th bolt on the Scientist. (I thought this was a cool shot of the route hope you don't mind I post your photo unknown climber.)
This high step didn't work for Paul. If you're tall enough (he isn't) you can reach a good edge with your left hand and crank onto the good foothold in the crack, thus avoiding any thin feet. But it's still very thin moving right from there to the other crack. That's how I did it the first time, but I now think it's easier to do the thin foot moves and make a less extreme step up.
[Hide Photo] This high step didn't work for Paul. If you're tall enough (he isn't) you can reach a good edge with your left hand and crank onto the good foothold in the crack, thus avoiding any thin feet. But i…
The Scientist, Boulder Canyon.
[Hide Photo] The Scientist, Boulder Canyon.
The Scientist! Fun route! Picture taken while we were warming up on Mr. Sandman.
[Hide Photo] The Scientist! Fun route! Picture taken while we were warming up on Mr. Sandman.
A scientist on The Scientist.
[Hide Photo] A scientist on The Scientist.
Mike Amato making the reach to the slanting crack by the second bolt.
[Hide Photo] Mike Amato making the reach to the slanting crack by the second bolt.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Peter Beal
Boulder Colorado
[Hide Comment] This route is truly one of the best slab climbs in the area. Bring one thin finger-size piece for the crack or face a fairly scary but moderate stretch for the third bolt. Superb rock and excellent climbing, only slightly marred by the last ledge. A must-do. Mar 17, 2003
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Good climb if you like small crimping. Actually, pretty good climb if you don't, but you probably won't on-sight it- because that's what kind of climb it is. I like this route, which seemed to be a cosmic premeditated revenge upon me for downgrading everything else at the cliff. You are going to 'nickle and dime' your way up the route, so take the appropriate shoes.

If you like thin climbing (Eldo climbers, think 'Gravity's Angel' or 'Prince of Darkness') and want a bolt at your chest for the crux, this is 2*'s if you don't like thin stuff, it's one.

Harder than Bobsled, Sleepless in Boulder, Tooth Fairy, etc... At 5'10" and even with a +6" ape index, I was 2" from the crux hold from the good stance, so I still had to do a significant move. I toe hooked and went sideways to hit it static with the right (wrong) hand and had to piano switch to get to the big move right. I was wearing shoes that my foot literally hangs out the side of... but I think it's hard in any shoes- maybe VERY HARD for shorter people.

If all you brought was draws and no gear- no fear. The moves above where you'd make the placement are not that hard and the distance to the next bolt is not severe. This line goes pretty mellow without any trad gear. It's still not S. I took a cam at the suggestion of a pal, but it was easier to do 5.8 move than to try to place the cam and clip it from a 5.10 stance since the bolt was just left of my feet. Jul 11, 2003
Peter Beal
Boulder Colorado
[Hide Comment] RE Tony's comment about the gear: If hanging off a jug and placing a small TCU feels like 5.10, the moves getting to the next bolt will definitely not feel like 5.8. This section isn't really s-rated climbing but feels a bit out of place considering the otherwise closely spaced bolts. I've done this route four or five times and consider placing the piece a lot more casual than going without. Jul 15, 2003
Craig Quincy
Louisville, CO
[Hide Comment] Slab-a-licious! Sticking in the gear in between the 2 and 3rd bolts is half the fun and quite welcome. Watch out for the loose rocks on the ledge when pulling the rope. Jul 18, 2003
[Hide Comment] Perhaps I didn't do it as it was intended, but the fourth bolt seemed to pull me too far to the right. I moved left from the holds just over the small roof. Great climbing overall. Jul 21, 2003
Brian Milhaupt
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Great route. Tricky footwork gains the crux handhold. Glad to see there aren't bolts near the crack. Mar 11, 2004
Chris Malke
[Hide Comment] I think this is a great route. I really like balancy slab routes and this one definitely fits this category. I think 11a is appropriate, especially for taller people. Moving at the second bolt requires a pretty far but decent left hand crimper. I'm 5'11'' and I barely reached it. My buddy was an inch shorter and he had to add a pretty crappy foot move. Just watch it as you're going for that really big ledge just before the anchors, some loose stuff there. I ripped off a hold and took a nice 15 footer, so be careful. Otherwise, highly recommended. Jun 2, 2004
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
[Hide Comment] For the average-height or less, average-to-heavier-than-average, average-to-less-than-average climber, smearing above the good foothold, this climb will beat up your left hand fingertips and you may get some blood blisters. Ow! Bring your slippers. Nonetheless, it is an aesthetic, intriguing sport climb. Kudos to the FAists! Feb 7, 2006
SirVato SirVato
[Hide Comment] Sweet Route BobD/Vaino!! I am one of those short persons, at 5'4".
I had to make a shitty left foot smear to get to the left hand crimp (it took me a couple of tries high stepping w/ the right to figure this out). Then, the move to the crack I had to let go of the rock and just teeter over 'til I could make a last second thrutch for the crack. From the ground, we thought the roof would be most difficult, but after all the slabbing down low the roof felt easy on big holds. We didn't know what this route was named or graded before we tried it. That seemed to make it much more intimidating. Before my partner went up,I said that it was probably 11a/b. Good guess I guess ;-) I think that's pretty right on!! Jun 23, 2006
Geoff Elson
[Hide Comment] This is a classic no matter the area, it's good to see smart bolting on a route in Boulder Canyon. Toward the top there is a ledge stance which kinda takes away from this being a five star route, but the bottom 2/3 has really fun slab moves. 11a. Apr 15, 2007
Curt MacNeill
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] This is one of the top slab routes in all of Boulder. This thing is amazing!! Very balancy with super tiny feet. Don't do it when it's hot or it will feel significantly harder. Amazing route, though. It keeps you on your toes to say the least.... Get 'er done!!!!! Mar 23, 2011

[Hide Comment] i was kind of surprised by the difficulty of this route. it has one of those stand up moves on one foot with no hands that i generally struggle with. a #1 camalot would work really well for protecting the diagonal crack. the smaller crack has some pods and some vegetation that might make it a little more tricky to get a good piece. like others have said, you could probably do without the gear, but it isn't a bad idea to go ahead and place it if you can. Jul 18, 2012
[Hide Comment] There is currently a stuck cam in the crack. The wires are blown out, and you can´t get it out. Jan 17, 2015
Brad Gone
[Hide Comment] Not sure why you'd use "blue and green Aliens" over a bomber 0.5 Camalot placement in the horizontal/diagonal crack. Glad I brought one.

At 5'6", this route felt substantially harder than 11a. Sep 19, 2015
Aaron Furman
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Could be one of the best slab climbs in the Front Range, but I don't believe this deserves the rating of 11a/b, even with placing a blue Alien, still felt along the lines of 10b/c, nonetheless, amazing climb.

Post script, not knocking the climb, I think if you are shorter this could be a more strenuous climb, but there are really incredible feet as well as great finger chips to grab on the entire way...again, I think 10b/c. Mar 28, 2016
[Hide Comment] One of the best slab climbs around Boulder. A real gem. On par with Bearcat goes to Hollywood and longer than with similar quality as Prince of Darkness. The bolting, unsurprisingly considering the FA, is a bit strange. The first bolt is quite low, and blowing the second clip, although easy, will land you on a ledge. The bolting at the cruxy start is a bit spaced, while the bolting up higher on easier ground is quite close. The route could easily do with half as many bolts up higher and still be safe. Why? Why is it OK to take larger falls close to the ground on harder terrain, but smaller falls higher up where it is actually safe to fall? I may never know. At least Bob didn't put a bolt next to the crack like he has on other routes in the area. Although a blue Alien/purple Mastercam works in the crack, small to medium-size nuts are even better. Jun 17, 2016
[Hide Comment] Super fun edging route that is very secure if you do much slab climbing. Agree with Aaron on the grade. It'd probably be rated 5.10 anywhere else. Dec 16, 2018
Prav C
Arvada, CO
  5.11a PG13
[Hide Comment] I struggled with the crux at the 2nd bolt (both the high right foot thing, then gaining the crack), but once I had the crack, it was pretty easy to climb up and clip the 3rd bolt. The crack holds feel like giant jugs if you can make it through the slab stuff. Gear probably not needed. Nov 16, 2020
Mark Rolofson
[Hide Comment] First ascent: Bob D'Antonio, Vaino Kodas, & Mark Rolofson on February 22, 2003. Bob may have had the pleasure of getting the first lead, but it this is after Vaino Kodas equipped & cleaned the line. Vaino & I first toproped the route & marked bolt locations. This is another Vaino Kodas masterpiece.

I prefer placing small medium stopper (#6-7) in the crack, not cams. There are perfect stopper placements. Nov 23, 2020
Spencer Coon
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Slabtastic! Imaginary holds from bolt 2 to the horizontal crack. I agree with earlier comments that if you make it to the crack and are confident at the grade, likely you don't need gear. I brought a 0.4 per guidebook recommendation and didn't place it, since it's just a few more relatively easy moves to the 3rd bolt. Definite no fall zone though if you do that! Nov 30, 2020
[Hide Comment] A black Totem or red c3 goes in nicely in the horizontal. Pretty friendly route for 5.11 slab. Agree with Michalm about the bolting. The route would benefit from bolts 1 and 2 being moved around. Or moving 1 lower and adding a bolt in between. I’d be happy to do the work and provide the hardware if the FA isn’t opposed to this. Dec 5, 2020
[Hide Comment] Reminiscent of Gunks face climbing only lower angle. Beautiful route. Dec 16, 2020
Dan Raymond
Longmont, CO
[Hide Comment] This route is height-dependent. There are two important crimps on the slab: a small right hand crimp and a big left hand crimp. You can easily reach the right crimp from the clipping stance for bolt 2. Tall people can reach the left crimp from the same stance, but most will have to move straight up using a high right foot and smearing with the left foot before reaching left to the big crimp. Some careful footwork now will get your left foot on the small crimp while your left hand is still on the big crimp. From here, you can barely reach the crack if you are average height. You'll have to push off the fingertips of that left hand. The crack takes a secure #0.2 X4 placement. As others have said, you can skip it (the climbing in this section is easy), but it's nice to have because a clipping fall at bolt 3 would be disastrous without it. Sep 4, 2021
[Hide Comment] Really fun route. A black Totem fit in perfectly to protect the crack. Pretty sure you could use any cam between BD #0-0.4 and it would fit well. Very easy to protect.

Watch out for the loose jug to the right of the last bolt. It is easy to avoid all together if you step to the left before doing the last moves to the chains. Dec 1, 2021
Weston Hamilton
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] It is possible to skip the cam placement. The feet are really good right there. This is a great and thoughtful slab route that goes at 11a if you are tall or harder if you aren’t. May 13, 2022
Daniel Kaye
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Ehh, a bit of slab with a few hard (AKA reachy), thin moves. A small cam placement to add some excitement, but otherwise the face climbing slowly eases the higher you get.

Maybe fun if you love slab? I typically don't. Classic? for 2ish bolts of thin slab to some more moderate face? Not in my book....

Didn't love this one, but I really love the low-angle face climbing of 'Walking with a Ghost' in Clear Creek. To each their own, I guess. Nov 27, 2022
Jeff G
[Hide Comment] Really good climb, but yes, you have to like slabs, but that’s pretty obvious when you look at it. High risk, low reward to go without a piece. Pretty simple to drop in a bomber small cam or stopper.

There are several tough moves on this pitch. It’s laughable that some people on here are saying 10a or 10b. I’m not sure where they usually climb. This would be 11a in Eldo too, not just a “soft BoCan rating”. Feb 24, 2023
Shay Subramanian
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Rad climb - it looks totally blank from the base...4 star slab up to the crack and more (although a tad easier) thoughtful and thin moves to the ledge! The 2nd bolt is way easier to get to than it looks, but don't blow the clip. Two things:

1. A black Totem or something equivalent is bomber in the crack and an easy placement. The right sequence is indeed not bad from the crack to the 3rd bolt, but you would 100% deck if your foot blew (not impossible) and have a Bad Time.

2. I'm 5'8" and miles from being able to reach the nice, left hand crimp from the 2nd bolt. Here's the super specific beta that made the sequence doable for me (spoiler alert): from the 2nd bolt clipping stance, use the small right crimp and your thumb (almost like a gaston) on the tiny, shitty ,left hand "crimp" (it's like a little crystal sticking out of the wall). Get the obvious high right foot hold, and slowly stand up using the thumb press and the right crimp, until you can statically move the thumb press into the good left crimp. Then move your left foot up to the small right crimp you started on, stem your right foot out high to a small foot (reachy), and reach up to the crack with your right hand. The thumb is actually really good and so much better than trying to two finger crimp that crystal. The stem looks improbable but is good. This beta was super consistent, and I didn't end up taking any falls after figuring it out. Jul 1, 2024