Type: Trad, Alpine, 600 ft (182 m), 7 pitches, Grade IV
FA: George Hurley & partner?, FFA: Reveley, Roos, 1979?
Page Views: 21,953 total · 89/month
Shared By: david goldstein on Aug 16, 2003 · Updates
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

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Description Suggest change

Once you get to the Obelisk, the climbing is four-star, featuring splitter cracks that are cleaner and steeper than usually found on the Diamond. The route is in a south facing dihedral on the left edge of the Diamond.

The Obelisk itself starts about halfway between Broadway and Table Ledge. There are two standard methods of getting from TL to the first pitch of the Obelisk: via Pervertical Sanctuary or the Window Direct. Either of these approaches is problematic.

The PV approach climbs the first three pitches of PV (excellent climbing) then traverses left to the Obelisk dihedral. The traverse, if done from the 3rd belay of PV is said to be hairy -- 5.11R. [Gillett] writes than he once did this traverse in the opposite direction and it was not bad; he believes he probably traversed lower than PV's 3rd belay. At any rate, this traverse is capable of gumming up the works.

The Window Direct approach, which we did, looks efficient on paper -- two pitches, 5.7 and 5.5. The first pitch starts just right of a huge, right-facing corner at the top of the the menacing snow/ice field which obstructs Broadway below PV; add an extra pitch for dealing with this obstacle. To avoid the snowfield, we traversed on the small ledge system that starts around Yellow Wall and parallels Broadway about 20' above it. We followed this easy traverse for more than a rope length until we intercepted a [vertical] crack system w/ some fixed pins (about 30-50' right of the huge corner). We belayed at the end of the traverse. We climbed the crack system upwards and slightly left for about 100', belaying just below a long ledge system of black rock; this pitch featured supspect rock, intermittent pro and was harder than the 5.9 last pitch of PV. The next pitch went up to the ledge system and traversed right for 200' w/ some up, down, left and right to the base of the Obelisk dihedral; though the climbing on this pitch might be 5.5 it includes bad rock, scant pro (including some Dolemite [style] fixed pins) and a culminating [vegetated], wet, protection-free slab with horrible rope drag. These two pitches of WD rate a Bomb.

The Obelisk: P1 (5.11a, 100') This 3* pitch which utilizes cracks of the right wall and in the corner is strenuous but not too technical. Extra hand size cams are useful. Belay at a worthless 1/4" bolt and a so-so ledge. If this pitch were more accessible, it might be considered the classic handcrack of the [Front Range].

P2 (5.10a, 30') Continue up the corner to a better ledge the base of the offwidth. This pitch could sensibly be combined with the previous, gear permitting -- a second yellow Alien would help realize this linkup.

P3 (5.11a, 80') A slightly overhanging 5-6" crack in the corner which ends atop the pillar, at a good ledge shared with PV. Gear: almost the entire pitch accepts #4.5 Camalots; a #4 Camalot would be next to useless, while a #5 would only be useful at the end. Supplemental gear, ranging from small wires to hand-sized cams, is periodically available in a crack on the left, but placing this gear sometimes obstructs coveted hand holds. Kneepad recommended for left knee. All things considered, this is a very fun pitch; again, if this were at Lumpy or Vedawoo, it would be the classic of its type and grade. Despite the guidebook ratings, I found this pitch considerably easier than Crack of Fear ("10d") at Lumpy.

P4 (5.9, 100') The last pitch of PV to Table ledge, belay about 40' south of rap anchors. This pitch seems like a cakewalk after what preceded it -- if the weather is threatening, you can really motor here.

EXTRA BETA (onsighters stop reading):

P1: Climb the corner for about 10' then traverse into the crack; going straight up the crack is 5.12ish campusing on painful fingerlocks. Extra beta: have a #0.75 Camalot on a quickdraw ready to plug at the end of the traverse. After 30'-40' of solid (if strenuous) handjamming, the crack narrows down, seemingly to thumbstacks; at this point, despair mounts, until you realize it is possible to stem back into the corner and breath a sigh of relief, assuming you have any breath left.

P3: This is probably too obvious to be considered beta, but solid left side knee jams, sometimes with heel toe, can repeatedly be obtained. The right inside wall of the crack contains many hidden edges, particularly higher up. Getting started is kind of tough, but once you're moving the crux is about 1/3 of the way up; at the end of this section there is a a decent foothold on the right face, from which you can rest or at least hang out until gasping subsides; from this point the climbing eases [slightly].

Protection Suggest change

We had: 1 set of stoppers from very small to medium with extra in the 1-4 Rock sizes. 1 each blue, green, yellow Alien; 2 each #1 - #3 Friend equivalent; 1 #3 Camalot; 2 #4.5 Camalots; 1 ea Tricams #1-#6.

This rack was sufficient, but it would have been nice to have a couple of more hand size SLCDs for the handcrack (replace the two biggest tricams w/ a #2.5 and #3 Friend).