Type: Trad, 140 ft, 2 pitches
FA: D. Mabe / C. Bernal, March 2004
Page Views: 11,681 total · 65/month
Shared By: Darren Mabe on Mar 15, 2004
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

107 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures & Rockfall Mitigation Project Details


The dark and ominous Mission Wall is home to many hard 5.11-5.12 routes. This route provides a linkup with Gneiss Roof allowing a fun 4 pitch 5.8, 5.9, 5.9, 5.9+ climb up this intimidating wall. All of the pitches are unique and challenging for the grade and the climbing quality improves from ok to stellar as one ascends the rock. Each pitch has sections that look much harder than they turn out to be. It is relative easy to rap from any of the first three belays. Pitches 1, 2, and 3 can be combined with the generous use of slings and rope drag for a long pitch. One can climb only the two pitches of Ride The Snake with a few QDs, but continuing with Gneiss Roof creates a stellar Clear Creek classic, and it sizes up to other 5.9 classics in Eldo and Boulder Canyon.

Ride The Snake starts at the top of a small, left-angling ramp ~20 feet to the left of the start Gneiss Route.

P1. 5.8+, 70 feet, 7 bolts. The first 25 feet is on sharp crimpers that lead up to a roof. Angle up and right to a huge jug that allows you to pull around the roof. Continue up a short slab to a two-bolt anchor.

P2. 5.9, 70 feet, 6 bolts. The intimating roof above the snake's head is reasonably tamed after the climbing is figured out. The first 30 feet is up steep rock with big and hidden holds. After turning the roof, continue up easy rock to another two-bolt anchor at a nice stance.

You can rap here using the P1 anchors by carefully swinging/climbing right.

To join Gneiss Roof:

Rack: 9 QDs (few mid and shoulder slings), micro to med nuts, Aliens (green, yellow, red), Camalots (#0.75, #1, #2).

P3. 5.9, 40 feet, 3 bolts and gear. Stem up a short dihedral to the roof, clip the black bolt with a long sling and traverse left placing the red Alien in the middle of the roof. Pull around the left side of the roof and climb up to the plush Ashtray Belay placing an optional small nut or two on the way. It is possible to rap from here using the anchors on Ride The Snake by carefully swinging/climbing right.

P4. 5.9+, 120 feet, 6 bolts and gear. Big exposure, challenging and sustained climbing and good protection. Stem up to the roof passing a bolt. Using the roof crack for pro, traverse the rail and place the #1 cam as high as you can reach. Make an airy mantle at the lip of the right side of the roof, stand up and clip a bolt. Continue up slabs, bulges and nice face climbing to Surette Ledge.

Once on Surette Ledge, one can a) scramble off the left side of the wall and hike down a loose hillside, b) rap 3 times down Gneiss Route with a 70m cord or c) rap Rocket Man with two 60m ropes.


7 QDs only. Trad gear is needed to continue up Gneiss Roof.
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
There are 7 bolts in the first pitch. I accidentally drew 8 bolts in the beta photo. There are two bolts in the slab before the anchor, not three as shown in the pic.

casey Mar 31, 2004
Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
Fun route. Watch the lichen on the slab. I found it to be a little devious to climb through the roof at 5.9. It's good to have a warm up rather than just jumping on 5.11 of the deck! Jun 11, 2004
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
The link up of "Ride the Snake" and "Gneiss Roof" is also called: "Nice Ride". May 9, 2005
Great route. The first 3 pitches are a lot of fun and clean. I don't think the 4th pitch sees much attention (loose rock, lichen and runouts). Gear is needed but not much. I used 1 #0.5 Camalot, 2 #0.75s, a #6 Trango/#1 Camalot, and a few small nuts, but that is it. So don't drag up a huge rack. The rap is great fun, but make sure you have 2x60m or just walk off. Definitely 2 stars. Aug 5, 2005
Tom Pierce
Englewood, CO
Tom Pierce   Englewood, CO
We did this route today and I thought it was great! WELL worth doing, a real adventure. Here's some info for the difficulties as they are presented:

(1) The tyrolean across the creek is in place (as of 6/13/06) and it's very robust, a taut steel cable. A pulley is recommended as it'll probably chew up a biner, it certainly did a number on our REI pulleys with nylon wheels.
(2) Unlike the comment on the main Mission Wall page, I saw no evidence of ticks. Nonetheless, I sprayed some bug juice on the legs, etc. No ticks at all.
(3) There are some traverses & roof moves that may be a bit difficult to protect for a novice second climber. That, and the significant exposure, make this not a good pick (IMHO) for a less experienced climber.
(3) I'd say go light on the gear. We used gear only on the last (roof) pitch, and then only: 2.5 Friend; 3.0 Friend; 2 Camalot; 3 TCU. No nuts, nothing smaller. Could've been done, I'm sure, but it seemed more of a hassle to plant gear on somewhat easy terrain 10 feet from the belay than to just go up and anchor in. My opinion.
(4) Caution: We probably screwed this up, but we rapped from the first anchors to the climber's right of the top anchors. With a 70 m rope, I passed a good mid-point anchor, but it was under an overhang and inaccessible to me dangling in mid-air. Found good anchors at the VERY end of the rope. Be careful, knot your ends as you may need it. Again, we probably missed something. Per the earlier post 2 60m ropes may add a comfort margin. Just be careful. Enjoy! Jun 13, 2006
Dylan Waller
Golden. CO
Dylan Waller   Golden. CO
This is a super fun route and tall for Clear Creek. Am I the only one that thinks the crux move on P4 is a little strenuous for 9+? Mar 15, 2007
Dan 60D5H411
Colorado Springs, CO
Dan 60D5H411   Colorado Springs, CO
Very fun route all the way to the top. The 4th pitch however is NOT 5.9+. The traverse is not too bad, or the mantel afterwards. Going from the jug after the mantel and up the thin corner afterwards is easily 10+ compared to the preceding 3 pitches. I collected a surrendered biner in that section where a previous party had obviously tried and bailed from the route.

Dan Godshall Jun 25, 2007
J Ulland
J Ulland  
If you are curious about this, but worried about the grade you should at least do the first 2 or 3 pitches. The fourth pitch is certainly strenuous, but the crux move is well protected. The roof that looks like the crux is not too tough. For that you plug a #2 Camalot in, you reach up for huge jugs, and pull a nice mantle move. With the mantle complete you reach for another jug, clip a bolt, take a deep breath, and charge on up into and through the crux.

Well worth the time spent to get to this climb, and the cable traverse is pretty fun provided you have a pulley. Sep 2, 2007
Brian Nelson
arvada co
Brian Nelson   arvada co
Pitch four is a sandbag. We are not living in the '60s or '70s. Someone could get hurt. Keep things current with the times and area. Clear Creek seems to overall have soft ratings. Why go the other direction? With that said, what a great route! Nov 23, 2007
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
We should all be aware that route grades are subjective, and hence, everyone has their own opinion of what level difficulty a route is. I offer you and everyone to submit a grade to the website and then we will eventually have a consensus grade.

With that said, I am a firm believer in universal grades, that are applicable in all areas. That way out-of-staters know what they are getting into. We certainly felt that the grade was appropriate for other climbs in Colorado, like Darren stated, and for the crag itself. Have you climbed any other routes on the wall?

I am most interested in how/where you thought "someone could get hurt". Darren and I would certainly consider updating the route (as we already have) in order to make it safer. Again, I invite you and anyone else to provide specific feedback on how to improve the safeness of the route.

I am glad you liked the route! Dec 5, 2007
Cheyne Lempe
Denver, CO
Cheyne Lempe   Denver, CO
IS it possible to do all of the pitches with just draws?
I don't have any protection, so are there enough bolts to avoid and big runouts?
If not, how many of the pitches are safe to do without protection? Apr 17, 2008
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
It is possible to do the first two pitches of Ride the Snake with only draws (there is no trad gear required for these pitches). The next two pitches (3&4) are actually of a different route, Gneiss Roof, and it DOES require gear if you want to avoid possible R/X rated falls. See the link above for more information and some comments about not taking trad gear.

Again, for some "moderate" bolt-only climbing, do the first two pitches. If you want more, go do Ground Control to Gumby One or the first pitch of Wild Child. There are many other climbs on the wall that only require draws though they are mostly harder.

Enjoy! Apr 17, 2008
lakewood, co
mzellman   lakewood, co
Just climbed the "Nice Ride" link-up tonight and found the climb to be great! Each pitch has unique character and interesting/fun moves. I think some of the moves felt around 5.10a or so.

I did find a good amount of loose/flexing rock through the first 2 pitches. As I was getting ready to clip the 3rd bolt on P1 a key right hand jug busted loose. I was surprised to find a nice hold still remains which seems to be quite stable. Be sure to inspect the holds carefully, and wear a helmet!! A few more of them seem ready to break free. Rock quality improves with elevation. Sep 24, 2008
Sean Wolf
Denver, CO
Sean Wolf   Denver, CO
HUGE block got knocked loose while pulling the douple rope after rapping from the ash tray. Landed about 5ft from me. Be careful. Jun 8, 2009
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
Casey Bernal   Wheat Ridge, CO
I would recommend doing 3 single rope raps, not a double rope rap, if rapping from the Ashtray Belay ledge. You have to swing to the climber's right each rappel but it keeps you out of the way of rockfall.

Two ropes are only needed to rap from the top, via Rocketman rappels. Jun 8, 2009
rob bauer
Golden, CO
rob bauer   Golden, CO
I LIKE this route. We did it as 4 pitches in less than 2 hrs. About the crux, between 2 people and 3 leads, We've neither done the crux after the traverse. Even today, when I followed it, same as when I led it last year, I clipped the bolt and slapped around for the 5.9 holds; not finding what I considered the grade, backed down and traversed back over to the crack and moved up at 5.9 (IMO) rejoining the presumed line a few feet higher. (Turns out that's the way my partner led it also, and he's 6 inches taller.) So, with that in mind, competent 5.9+ trad climbers should go climb it and see what you think. Jul 3, 2009
desertrunner   Denver
This is a great climb. It seems to have everything vertical, slab, a few overhangs, exposure, sequences, runouts, and even the rap gets you hanging in mid air. Fun stuff.

Did this climb in 3 pitches. Link the first two pitches, make sure you bring some runners. Lead with a 70m rope.
First anchors on climber's right use 2-70 meter ropes and it will take you for a nice ride all the way to the ground with rope to spare.

If you have a 70m and a 60m, make sure you put your knot on the 60 meter side of the anchors and pull the 60m. This will still take you all the way down, but you will have to downclimb from the first bolt.

If you have the 70m/60m option, be sure to tie knots in the ends for you will need them.

Or, of course you could just do two raps.

Cable: I am working on getting a permanent pulley for the cable. The cable will ruin a carabiner. Bring a quick link. Aug 24, 2009
bryan dalpes
Livingston, MT
bryan dalpes   Livingston, MT
Got on the route today. Really, really fun. From the get go, we realized this route is definitely for the adventurous soul.

P1 & P2 are straightforward though there are some VERY loose flakes! Be careful as a couple are relatively high above your last bolt.

P3 is more intimidating than the moves really are. Place a 0.5 cam under the roof and commit to the jug out left. Easy climbing to the belay.

P4...the traverse is heady and super fun, but the crux moves out and over felt like 10a/b to me. That's with one send so...? After you pull the crux moves, it's fun 9/+ climbing to the ledge.

Fantastic route! Aug 18, 2010
Fun climb. The approach was more sketchy than the climbing! P1 is very sustained 5.8+ with a couple heady moves. P2 has a nice overhang with big jug lines. Had a little trouble on p3, very loose rock and had a cam blow out on the roof, so we backed off. Can't wait to attack that thing again! (turns out we were supposed to go left and went right on the roof of p3 :P) Jun 6, 2011
Great couple pitches. 3 guys in 3 hrs including the roof.

I'd say that 5.9+ is a fair rating for the 2nd time up the route, but especially the fourth pitch seemed considerably harder than a normal onsight 5.9. Apr 28, 2014
Michael Underwood
Broomfield, CO
Michael Underwood   Broomfield, CO
I've now done this route twice in a row. Great views of Clear Creek and the surrounding crags (Wall of the '90s). For a sport climb, the line is very adventurous and wanders a bit. I'd recommend longer draws to reduce rope drag. As far as grade goes, I think you could call this 5.9+ or 5.10- if you wanted to. It's cruiser climbing, but you'll want to have a cool head for it.

Some beta: I like linking P1 and P2 into a single long stretch of pure, efficient sport climbing. To protect P3, I use only a 0.5 Camalot. To protect P4, I use a #1 Camalot, as well as a yellow and a green Alien. I don't feel that I'm running it out very much using just these four pieces.

To descend from Surette Ledge, I imagine most people will naturally want to rappel off the anchors directly to the right of the climb. No matter your rope combination, I'd suggest stopping at every intermediate rap station on your first trip down. You can really get yourself into a fix if you're not sure exactly where you're going. After you've scoped out the descent once, then you might be able to get away with skipping some rap stations.

Oh, and about the steel Tyrolean cable - it's true that it eats carabiners, so be sure to use an old one that you don't plan on climbing with anymore. I'd also advise gloves for comfort and some kind of glasses to prevent metal shavings from spraying into your eyes if you're not using a steel pulley. May 27, 2015
Denver, CO
Seb303   Denver, CO
Has anyone done the walkoff to descend this route? How safe is it? I'd prefer to walk off but wondering if it's safer to just rap this route. Aug 28, 2017
Seb303, this route does have a walkoff, when you do the last pitch of Wild Child to top out on the wall instead of belaying at the anchor at the top of the pitch, climb past the anchor and belay from a slung tree at the top of the wall. I would recommend backing up this belay with another tree about 10 feet to the left. The walk down has a faint trail and is safe, watch out for cactus if you are planning on doing the walk off bare foot. Mar 27, 2018
Greg Miller
Greg Miller  
"Once on Surette Ledge, one can a) scramble off the left side of the wall and hike down a loose hillside..." 3 days ago
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
Seb. If you made it that far you will be just fine on the walk-off 2 days ago · Temporary Report