Type: Sport, 400 ft, 4 pitches, Grade III
FA: Mark Tarrant, Richard Wright, Joe Desimone. Sept., 2003
Page Views: 5,462 total · 29/month
Shared By: Mark Tarrant on Sep 26, 2003
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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WOW starts about 50' downhill from EOA. It's described as 4 pitches with rap stations after each pitch (and a rap station/belay halfway up the long first pitch), so you can bail out at any point. The striking 400' sport route has terrific position and lavish protection on mostly excellent alpine granite. It takes aim at the obvious main objective: a big, steep plate that is every bit as good as it looks.

Pitch 1: 5.9-, 18 bolts, 160'. 10 bolts lead up shallow corners to the first rap station at 80'. Another 8 bolts continue up 50' (.6) and then straight right to a massive ledge below a vertical wall. (Long slings useful).

P2: 5.12a/b, 6 bolts, 50'. Climb up and left on a smooth plate (sequential). Move straight left at the 4th bolt to a nifty arete then up to a good ledge below an awesome plaque.

P3: 5.12a, 12 bolts, 90' (two long slings useful). This stunning pitch climbs up the center of the overhanging plate on nearly perfect rock. Square-cut edges, side-pulls, and deadpoints take you 50' to a rest. Pull over an arete onto a ramp. A final .10+ move to a hidden jug leads to an anchor at the top of the plate. This anchor is NOT meant to be the belay anchor--it's for TR'ing or lowering off if necessary. The belay is over the top of the plate on a big sloping ledge. This pitch is mostly an endurance test--not technically 5.12, but the continuous 5.11 sequences sure make it feel like .12a especially at this elevation.

P4: 5.11c/d, 11 bolts, 90'. Move 20' up the ledge to a chain anchor (optional). Climb a vertical wall with hard moves to a jug above bolt 2. This section has caused some confusion -- clip bolt 2 and stay right (don't aim for bolt 3), and then dyno straight up with the right hand to a good jug, then move left to bolt 3. Squirm out the left side of a huge roof to a ledge below a steep wall. A reachy section (.10+ if you can reach the starting holds) gains the final, wonderfully exposed arete (.10+). A 2-bolt anchor lies 8' over the flat summit.

P2 variation: 5.11a, 60', 6 bolts. Before traversing right on P1 (about 120') find an anchor below and left of an arete. Two hard moves off the belay lead to nice 5.8 climbing on the arete (shares the last two bolts of the regular second pitch). This variation avoids the technical crux and is very worthwhile if your primary goal is to arrive at the big plate with a little extra muscle.

Descent: Walk off the obvious big ramp to the north.


About 20 quickdraws (including 3 or 4 long slings). A 60m rope is necessary to rap/retreat.
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
Mark can be a tad understated at times. What makes WOW so "WOW" is that several things came together in the creation of this route. First, the rock quality is largely exceptional from top to bottom. While, a bit of brushing here or there may be nice, it's not much of an issue and key sections are well cleaned. The rock itself is often composed of that golden color granite found occasionally in Boulder canyon and more often in RMNP. Most of it is bullet-proof. Several ascents through the main plate have shaved off almost nothing, and although helmets are usually vital in this alpine setting, we have climbed it without head gear. Second, the exposure on the last two pitches (P3 and P4 or P4 and P5, depending on how it is done) is outrageous. The final arete moves are made with a 400 ft bee-line to the talus field below. The main South/West facing plate is simply "way out there". Third, in pushing through a new multi-pitch route in an alpine setting, there is no guarantee that everything will link up well. WOW linked beautifully throughout. There are huge, sprawling ledges between pitches, reminiscent of the fourth pitch of the Naked Edge, and the climber is safely tucked away at each with beefy double bolt anchor systems. Take a bottle of wine; the view is terrific. Last, the climbing itself is superb. P1 can be done as Mark indicated by stopping at 80 ft (5.9) or extended to one of two belays below the small plate at P3. P3 has a gorgeous sequence that felt like 5.12b to me (Mark liked 12a, so a/b is a compromise). The pump on the last two pitches is really the crux, but if you can hang through the lactic acid swamp, a jug will soon be coming. Movement through the main plate is almost too good to be true. Properly set up, the climbing pictures of the main plate or the final arete could be excellent. On a three star scale, WOW should get five. This is no small achievement. Oct 8, 2003
Chris Cavallaro
Chris Cavallaro  
This area is destined to become classic. [Definitely] the best multi-pitch sport climbing I have done in Colorado. The rock is very clean, and the climbing itself is HARD! It must be due to the alpine nature of the wall. We did this and Higher Calling in the same day, and thought they were both super sustained climbs. For WOW: P1 is an ok warmup with the hard moves off the deck. P2 is very sequential and hard. P3 is epic, and if it was on a Clear Creek or Boulder Canyon crag it would be the most popular route as every move is awesome. P4 we could not figure out the moves from bolt 2 to 3 at .11 climbing. Maybe something broke off? Also, after the roof and in gaining the arete we also thought was super hard. Richard mentions it being reachy, but we could not start off the sloping ledge easily. The arete moves towards the top are some of the coolest, most exposed moves I have done anywhere. This area has a very alpine feel to it and only a 20 minute approach. The trail in and of itself was no small feat.Thanks to all who helped in establishing this area (Mark, Richard, Joe.) I can't wait to get back. Aug 29, 2005
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Great route. I'm shocked that there are not more people there. It was a beautiful day at Ra, but it was near 100 down there in Boulder/Denver. Jun 17, 2007
Overall - an excellent route. Nicely done Richard, Mark and Joe!

I found p1 to be a bit trickier than 5.9. maybe it's my Boulder Canyon upbringing.... I'd give it tricky 10a-b at the bottom easing up as you ascend.

The 5.11 p2 variation was quite tricky at the bottom, a bit heady as you moved up 2 bolts, and then pretty cool to the anchors.

P3 is a great little pitch. Well bolted. Very sustained.

I found p4 to be exceptionally hard between bolts 2&3 and then again at bolt 5 once you're on the ledge and trying to get up to the arete.

I'm guessing between bolts 2-3 had a hold break off? I found it rather difficult to pull down and then lock off on a quarter digit, 3 finger crimper (offbalnce) to go for a jug 2 feet higher with no obvious feet. but then, I'm 5'7"... bolt 5 was also extremely reachy. I ended up pulling on draws.

There were no chains at the top of pitch 4 to rap the route. There are coldshuts 20 feet up and left, then 6 feet down to rap from. Jul 14, 2008
Stefan Griebel
Boulder, Colorado
Stefan Griebel   Boulder, Colorado
Ditto that, Tony. 3 years later & my partner and I were the only ones up there today. Perfect climbing temps.

We mistakenly did P1 of Empire of the Air, and then the rising 5.7 traverse to the base P3 - the main, awesome shield - of WOW. This does allow you to get to the golden pitch in 1 long pitch though.

P4 is definitely no longer 5.11c/d! There is no jug anywhere near the 2nd bolt, and whatever used to be a dyno to the giant hold right of the 3rd bolt is now a balancy, reachy pull on tiny side-crimps and a shallow finger corner thing. 5.12, IMHO. Maybe harder since I did it with an unknown amount of rope tension after pulling on a draw and clipping the overhead 3rd bolt to suss out the moves. Also, you can see patches where bolts 2 and 3 (or 1 and 2?) used to be. The current bolts are within 2' or so of the those patched holes, but they are not ideally located for the current "easiest" sequence to get through there. Mark and/or Richard, if this pitch has indeed lost some jugs, I propose moving that 2nd bolt about 3-4' directly right and a touch higher. I'd be happy to assist with this effort. Jun 20, 2010
Mark Tarrant
Mark Tarrant  
Here is a suggestion for avoiding the weirdness at the start of the last pitch. From the belay anchor/chains at the base of the last pitch, thread the rings and lower or rap 30' down and left on an orange slab to the chain anchor at the top of P3 of Eternal Sunshine. Pull the rope and climb P4 of ES. This allows you to still climb the cool arete at the top of WOW while climbing a much more enjoyable, slightly easier, and more straightforward initial wall. This should take only about 5 extra minutes but might save 30 minutes trying to get through the apparent idiosyncrasies on the regular last pitch of WOW. Jul 6, 2010
Golden, CO
Monty   Golden, CO  
Great route! I thought the sequence between bolts 2-3 on pitch 4 were really fun and technical. In it's current state, P4 feels 12b-ish. Well worth the effort. Aug 21, 2017
Kyle26 McKay
Kyle26 McKay   Boulder
Wonderful route. The crux of the route is certainly on P2. P3 was down right fun, and both my partner and I thought P4 was in the 11 range. Not sure where the confusion lies that makes that pitch go in the 12s?, but all in all, it was certainly a climb that I would love to get back on! Jul 14, 2018