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Routes in Mary's Bust - left buttress

Beak, The T,S 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Devil's Backbone, The S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Sparky's Cooler S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Sympathy for the Devil S 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Type: Sport, 310 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Al Simons/Ned Sparks/Kevin Ovenstone
Page Views: 2,750 total · 14/month
Shared By: allen simons on Dec 31, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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From the dirt parking lot 9.6 miles west of the Beige Siphon Tube look uphill and north west. The South Buttress/Slab is uphill 60 yards. Bushwhack up and right to the base of the climb, about 30 yards left the the gully that separates the North and South rocks of Mary's Bust. An alternate approach that has a better trail takes the main trail from the road that access the more vertical buttress and follow it around to the left or south till you get to the gully between the two main rocks. Angle up and left to the base of The Beak and Sparky's Cooler.

This is listed as 10a but is 5.7 or so if you do pitch 1a instead of 2a.Pitch 1A. Start under the bolt that is 15 feet up. Go up, traverse left past the bolt and up through a slot. Go a few more feet up and left, then traverse right to a belay (40 feet off the ground). This belay is on a ledge with a wedged boulder and a dead tree trunk. There are no bolt anchors.

Pitch 1B. Direct start. 15 feet right of the bolt for 1A. Climb up past one bolt to the bulging overhang and go up/left, then back right (10a) past 4 more bolts to a two bolt anchor which is 25 feet up and right from the start of pitch two below. A 1 1/2 to 3 inch cam may be beneficial in a crack behind and overlap/bulge between bolt 1 and 2. 90'.

Pitch 2. Follow the slanting seam up and right past a fixed pecker head and a lone bolt (5.5) to a bowl with 2 bolts (end of pitch 1B). Continue up the slot past two bolts (5.6). Wander up and slightly left past 3 more bolts (5.7) to a large ledge with 2 bolts and piton belay. 105'.

Pitch 3. From the anchors, go left and up 20 feet (5.7) past a lone bolt to a right-slanting, upward traverse behind the left side of the head wall (5.1) that ends with a 2 bolt anchor directly above the headwall crack on The Beak. The traverse takes gear to 4 inches but is easily climbed without gear. (One can toprope the crack 3rd pitch of The Beak from this anchor.) 110'.

Pitch 4. Move straight up the water slot stemming past 4 bolts (5.7), and then a bit of 5.3 to a two bolt anchor chain. 60'.

Rap off or walk of the the south. From here, you can hike left 50-60 yards to Moonlight Rock and Tick Rock.


6 draws/bolts, a couple with longer slings. The route does not take removable gear except in the left headwall pitch (5.1).

Eds. cams green Alien through #2 Camalot can help supplement the fixed gear.


Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
In its current condition, this is a nice route. For P1a, it is protectable with a long sling, yellow Alien/TCU and reasonable to go to the 1b (direct start) 2 bolt anchor with a semi-hanging stance. For P3, you can get a yellow Alien/TCU shortly after the bolt to prevent a big pendulum if your follower comes off. Also, for the 5.1 section going up to the anchors I recommend bringing an assortment of cams in the green Alien to #2 Camalot size, since some of those flakes shift a bit. Finally, FWIW, you can rap from the top of P3 to the top of P2 with a 60m rope in case there is traffic on The Beak, but there is a potential to get your rope into the P3 crack pitch of The Beak. For the 1a version, I'd call it 5.7 PG-13. For the 1b version, I'd call it 5.9 PG-13 (easier than P1 of The Beak), but a bunch of the holds are fairly mica-rich...meaning they flex. Aug 19, 2011
allen simons  
The bolt hole above the first belay now has a bolt in it. May 29, 2010
allen simons  
Jason and Wes. I am the original route setter ('95 or so). I don't know how the route description (i.e.: 5.8-10a-(5.6) got listed that way. Perhaps when the site hosts rearranged some of the sections something got changed. Here is my take and explanation. It is one route with two starts. The original route is the one in Wes's nice topo of the start which is on the left. One bolt to a ledge with a boulder in it. I put this route up on lead, hence the wandering line which is very visible in the topo) and was never compelled to put a bolt anchor on that ledge because in more of the trad style it was put up in. I felt safe on the ledge wedged down in somewhat of a hole with a log and boulder. The boulder can be slung for a solid anchor. Sometimes, when I lead this route, I continue past the pecker head on 5.3 ground to the two bolt belay atop the direct start (on the right in Wes's photo). From that belay, the route goes up an awkward slot and follows (the contrived) bolts to the belay on a large ledge. This contrived line wanders again, because I was bolting on lead and took the way that seemed best to me at that time. The direct start was not put up on lead and is actually the preferred start being a more interesting line. The second contrived pitch used to be led with only 4 bolts in the entire pitch, very run out on 5.6 or 5.7 ground. I always felt it a more serious lead for its grade. Last year after climbing with Bernard a couple of times and using the last pitch of Sparky's for the last pitch of The Beak, I elected to go back and add bolts to the entire route, which I did. There is one bolt hole (just past the pecker head) that has no bolt in it as yet. I will put it there soon. Pitch 3 used to go up and left of the belay (piton and 2 bolts) for 30 feet or so with absolutely no protection. I added bolt protection there prior to the class 5.1 (grungy gully) section which will take a lot of gear if one wishes. Pitch 3 ends at a two bolt belay under a water slot (in Wes's photo I believe he is just above this belay). This 4th pitch was also put up onlead with 1 bolt in the 60 feet of climbing. Again, last fall I added several bolts to make this a safer climb. Contrived? In spots because it was put up on lead and there is little natrual protection on that face. Safe? I think is it pretty safe now compared to the original line (7 bolts in 4 pitches compared to the 16 or so that are there now). Sorry it didn't work for you there Jason, I still think is is 5.6 or so, but ratings are subjective. Also,the route description clearly states above that the original first belay does not have anchors, only a boulder so that should have been clear prior to your ascent. When I did the FA of the route, I had a mini-epic climbing in snow flurries with cotton pants and a t-shirt. I also must say that my wife, who tops out at 5.8 or so follows this route without any problems. All that said, I do not put this route on the same quality as the routes on the main buttress to the north, but then again, the slabby nature of Sparky's lent to bolt placing on lead compared to the main buttress which is typically steeper. The other reason it was put up on lead was that back in the '90s MB was considered a "trad" rock and had a reputation for people getting injured and in one case even dying. I did not choose to sport bolt MB at that time because of the local ethic at the crag at that time. Things have obviously changed with the times. Wes, thanks for the additional photos and topo. I'll clean up the 5.8-5.10-5.6 thing at the top. You can comment on the route above and put your grading in and the web site will average the consensus of the rating. Cheers, Allen. May 2, 2010
Wes B.
Wes B.  
Climbed and enjoyed this route today. We climbed it in four pitches as outlined here. I may have placed some bolts in different locations (or added a few more in certain sections), but overall I felt like it was pretty secure. From the top of the 4th pitch we made 4 raps with a 60m rope.

I do agree with Jason on one point . . . I think the name need to be changed to "Sparky's Cooler", because the 5.8 or .10a may create some confusion. May 1, 2010
jason seaver
Estes Park, CO
  5.8 R
jason seaver   Estes Park, CO
  5.8 R
This route description is horribly confusing and misleading. As far as I can tell, the name of the route is "Sparky's Cooler 5.8 or 10a", and the grade of the route is 5.6. WTF? After wandering my way up the first 3 (!?) pitches yesterday with my dad, I discerned that the route does not go at 5.6. The 5.8 first pitch is downright dangerous and ends at a ledge with nothing but a marginal horn for an anchor. The second "pitch" is a joke, with one ancient piece of aid gear and one bolt on 30 feet of mostly traversing climbing. The 3rd pitch takes a contrived line up good stone past a bunch of bolts in weird positions. Sick of this silly adventure, we rapped from there. The 4th pitch looked like 20' of decent climbing, protected poorly by one bolt, followed by a filthy gully.
Anyone looking for a nice 5.8 route up the cliff, THIS IS NOT IT. I've enjoyed every route I've done on The Bust, except for this one. Apr 11, 2010
allen simons  
Glad you like the routes. Yes, sounds like you found an alternate start between the two, I have top roped that section. From your decription of where you found TR anchors on Bobcat, if they were on the east side of the ridge you need to hike up hill further. On the wall right next to the TR wall there is a south-facing wall that has a line of bolts, all hangers missing put up and removed by the unknown. Uphill from that a ways is another south-facing wall with 2 bolted lines, Hook 'n Ladder and Tip toe, and then uphill a bit further is what appears to be a crack that turns into a right-slanting OW and chimney, also east-facing. Chicken Head takes the wall just right of it and around the corner to the left is another climb, Climbing for Dummies. Allen May 15, 2008
allen simons  
J.P., the crack in the headwall does dry, usually in the summer unless there is a lot of rain. Question, what part of the route are you calling 10 r/x? I felt the direct start to be 5.10 but only a little run out. allen May 3, 2008
allen simons  
It will be a while before I get up there, so go for it. The placeable protection is poor and off of difficult stances. A fall would be a sure injury, and there is a back breaking rock at the bottom. I have top roped this section, and it is hard. Then, it is wet much of the time too. I probably won't bolt this section after considering it for some time now. I think I will add some bolts to a more direct line from the second belay that will arch up and right to the third belay. If you get it, let me know; or if you want me to go up with you, I can do that too. Allen Sep 12, 2006
Travis R. Thompson
Parachute (Rifle), CO
Travis R. Thompson   Parachute (Rifle), CO
Hey Allen, have you ever thought of placing the gear first and then leading it "pink-pointing" it? If you led it a few times, you could maybe figure it out enough to lead and place the gear. If you wouldn't mind, I would like a shot at it in the next couple of months.
Just to keep it pure, I would say not to bolt it, but I can't really say without seeing it. Climb safe, Travis Sep 11, 2006
allen simons  
I recently [climbed] this route again. At the top of the second belay, my [original] line wandered up left a bit from the anchors, 5.4 or so, to access a 60 foot, right-slanting break in the rock that is class 4 climbing. This class 4 section ends at anchors directly above the difficult crack in the headwall. I climbed a new variation this last time. From the second belay, I climbed up and right instead, directly to the base of the right-slanting break. This was fun and more direct, but 5.8 R- no gear- placement-climbing. The 5.8 move was 20 or 25 feet up from the anchors, and as my partner Pat put it when I finally finished looking at it saying "watch me" (what he was going to watch other than a 50 foot fall is now beyond me). He stated "you better boulder it like you mean it". He was right for sure. A fall here would ruin your day. Guess I meant it, but it was scary. I may go back and add a bolt or two or even look for a continuation to avoid the class four, slanting break. I have considered bolting the crack in the head wall since it takes little gear and the placements seem poor. This crack seems the logical place for the route to go up. I have top-roped it from the anchors above, (10+), and often seeping water. I keep hoping someone with more fortitude than I will lead it free and report it. Given that old slings have been found all over this area it may well have been climbed already but as in much of the canyon, who knows? Any takers? Oct 3, 2005
allen simons  
Pitch One B. Just for clarification I have not lead One B, just top roped it. A couple of bolts would make this the prefered start and add a couple of degrees of fun to this long route. Jan 22, 2005