Type: Trad, 100 ft, Grade II Fixed Hardware (2)
FA: Steve Dieckhoff and Mike Gilbert, 2000
Page Views: 2,941 total · 15/month
Shared By: Tony B on Jul 18, 2003
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Saturnalia is a single pitch climb worthy of a star or two, but comes on top of 2-3 other pitches of good rock and good climbing. All-in-all, I don't know of a way to get this route without doing at least 2-star climbing.
Climb Bastille to Outer Space, or X-M to reach the big sloping ledge as for the final pitch of Outer Space. From the base of the last pitch of Outer Space, traverse up and right on the ledge perhaps an additional 10-15 feet. You will see a brown-painted bolt hanger overhead at the lip of the overhang. Build the belay for the base here.

Climb chalked up holds from the ledge upward and left to reach a few stopper placements (good #4 and #12 BD, or Eq size) which are nice, considering one loose hold immediately above them. Continue up and left to the jugs and the clip (reachy for short people) and then pull the lip of the overhang (5.10) and establish yourself on the upper wall. Climb up a slightly wandering, but obvious line of holds, passing a few placements to reach a 'diagonal/horizontal' crack (2-3.5" cams) and then up and left towards the second bolt. Clipping the second bolt can be done from the best holds if you are very tall. If you are of average height, it will be thinner holds for a strenuous clip. If you are short, it might be a little ennervating. After clipping the bolt, continue up past thinning, improbable holds to the left, directly, or to the right have all been done (3 ppl's beta, 3 different ways) but each are difficult. Establish yourself on a sloping ledge with a few juggy holds and place gear in a crack low and to the left (large stopper + .75-1" cam). From there, continue straight up on 'Lost In Space' (5.9, R 'lost with spice?') on a few questionable looking holds and not much protection, or start up and then traverse left to Outer Space (5.10-, but better protection).

This is not a good climb to do on a hot, slimy day.

Beware of loose rock!


The crux is protected by a bolt at your feet, but there are other considerable moves with trad gear or little gear at all protecting the fall. A rack with a single set of muts and cams 0.5"-3" is probably as good as you can do. [The] larger cams fit in a horizontal placement before the crux bolt and do add mental comfort/security to the long moves to reach the clip.


Seconding Tony on this, I damaged a hold below the first bolt (see the first picture below). It's loose but I couldn't totally pull it off. If you elect to run it out to the first bolt, this hold could be a nasty surprise. If you place the nuts shown in the picture, you will be fine. If you think you can remove the baseball-sized loose part safely, please do. It will not drastically affect the difficulty of the climb. Jul 21, 2003
Following Bryson on this route, I too encounter loose rock below the first bolt. Use extreme caution in this area, as it is very likey that any rock knocked off will land on the road below. And there is plenty of loose rock in this section. I broke off a foot hold yesterday, which scared the hell out of me, but did sail clear of people on XM. Yikes!!

I think staying low and traversing out left after putting (or cleaning) gear in the crack will help you avoid the worst section of rock, though this may add to the difficulty. Jul 22, 2003
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
One star, at most. Loose, yes. Spice, yes. Didn't pass mustard on public nor FHRC vote first time through. Persistence on the part of the retro-bolter did push it through the second time. Jul 22, 2003
Clipping the 1st bolt can also be done solidly from a big side-pull on the left and this is better for a shorter person. Or anyone really.

Yes, traversing lower past those 1st nuts is better - I didn't use that "loose" hold for much more than balance but if someone wants to pry it off then go for it.

Yes, I did rap down to clean what I could, and did hang slings .... from RPs. Mea Culpa.

If Charlie did lead it, then he must have used some other Very Loose Holds that were balanced up there...not to mention front-pointing on the lichen I cleaned. Lichen grows very slowly so maybe it was Lewis & Clark who did the FA....

This is a serious route, but not 'very serious'. It's not "for the masses" If you're not up for it then fine, but don't whine about it. Mar 1, 2007
Regarding the first ascent. I did not know that there was new first ascent standard in Eldorado, the "rumor has it" standard. If we start with that, we will never end. Steve, I think it is best to do your fact checking correctly and explain who, what, when, and where rather than starting a cascade of dubious revisions. Now I am concerned to think that you might be writing a guidebook to this area. The "rumor has it" guidebook is bound to be an interesting one....

Saturnalia, together with Innerspace, is one of the better pitches in the Bastille. It is a great final pitch to many of the cool three pitch link-ups that the Bastille has to offer. It provides a great alternative to the often crowded and overclimbed Outerspace. I like very much the fact that it provides a bit of pumpy climbing over the roof, as well as a techincal, thin crux higher up. If finished via Lost in Space, it is just a great pitch. As for loose rock, I don't think there is any at all, but of course that is a subjective appreciation.

I think it deserves 3 stars.
rolo Apr 4, 2007
Saturnalia is certainly a worthwhile route to finish on. Pumpy, rough rock and a thin, balancy sequence at the end make it all the more satisfying. But there is loose rock up there, and it isn't as good or sustained as some other climbing on other, three-star routes. I give it two stars for quality. Rumor has it that Charlie climbed just about everything in Eldorado Canyon. Mentioning this isn't an attempt to set a standard by which first ascents are graded. Merely a way of keeping people honest. Giving historical value.
When it comes to trad first ascents in Eldorado, one can't always be sure that someone hasn't come before. At the time, when the name was proposed there was a lot of speculation about who might have first climbed the rock that became the route known as Saturnalia before Michael and Steve got their fair due.
It only adds interest that CF might have gone up there before anyone else. Who knows? Maybe Duncan soloed the thing. Apr 5, 2007
Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
tooTALLtim   Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
Three stars for sure! Pumpy, overhanging climbing to airy arete slapping and crimping; how could this not be three stars?

Seems 90% of the loose rock has been taken off by past parties. We too found that square hold (on the traverse to the first bolt) to be loose, so we took it home. Thanks to all who cleaned the route.

After getting to the first bolt, I took a huge sigh of relief, and was pleased to find no more long/dangerous runouts. I was also happy to be very tall while clipping the second bolt!

All and all, great climb. Jul 13, 2011