Type: Trad, Alpine, 2000 ft
FA: Bill Wright and Mark Oveson
Page Views: 14,171 total · 87/month
Shared By: Mark Oveson on Aug 25, 2005
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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The ridge between Shoshoni Peak and Apache Peak is one of the best ridge traverses in the Indian Peaks. The rock is solid, the ridge provides plenty of scrambling and routefinding challenges, and the setting is superb. Best of all, the ridge is dotted with tower formations that beg to be climbed. Gerry Roach refers to these towers as the Chessmen, but in his guidebook he says he knows of no recorded climbs on them. The Chessmen have dwelt in obscurity for years.

For better or worse, the Chessmen are now known and climbed. The Kasparov Traverse is a journey from Shoshoni Peak to Apache Peak along this scenic ridge, climbing all of the Chessmen on the way.

The towers are climbed in this order (see overview picture): White Knight, Knight's Pawn, The Queen, The Bishop, Black Knight, Bishop's Scepter, The Rook, King's Pawn, The King, and Apache Peak itself. See descriptions for each of these individual climbs for details.

From the summit area on Shoshoni, descend on talus toward the towers until you reach a notch that marks the start of the ridge proper. Stay east of the White Knight and climb the White Knight and Knight's Pawn (4th class). Descend off the tower and proceed south to the Queen. Stay east of the Queen and climb its east face (5.0-5.2). Descend and continue south and down to the low point of the ridge, staying mainly on ledges on the east side of the ridge.

Climb the north ridge of the Bishop (5.4-5.5), descend past the Bishop's Scepter, and climb the Black Knight (5.5s). Return and climb the Bishop's Scepter (5.6). Scramble up to the south of the Rook, traverse north on a narrow ledge, and climb the Rook's east face (5.10+?).

Start the long march up to the King's Pawn, staying near the ridge crest. Climb the summit block of the King's Pawn on the east or west side (4th class). Descend to the north until it is reasonable to climb down to ledges that allow you to proceed south. Climb the huge buttress of The King. It is imposing but much easier than it looks (3rd class). The King is threatening but has no real power--you can walk off the other side. Pass a last notch and finish the climb with a nice scramble to the summit of Apache.


See individual tower descriptions for details
Bill Wright  
A trip report on this climb can be found here:

wwwright.com/climbing/tripr… Sep 1, 2005
Ethan Gutmann
Boulder, CO
Ethan Gutmann   Boulder, CO
Great route. Lots more photos from a recent climb (July 2 2006) up at aster.colorado.edu/trips/ka… Unfortunately we had weather rolling in so we skipped the Rook, Black Knight, and Sceptor. But we'd love to go back and hit them all in style.

When we went down the couloir there was plenty of soft snow, and we slid the whole way down. Jul 6, 2006
Greg Sievers
Bozeman, MT
Greg Sievers   Bozeman, MT
8-31-08: climbed the north half of these. very enjoyable, very exposed. awesome and lofty exposure. Brian Verhulst made a novel FA variation to the Queen. if you've got a rack anyway, and were headed for the Rook, then you'll be stoked to do "Queen Reiche". its an off hands 5.10 crack on the right side of the south face of this feature. see pic. Sep 3, 2008
Do you have to climb each peak or could you skirt around some/all of them if desired? Is there a way to do this with only 3rd and 4th class climbing? Thanks. Jul 24, 2014
Mark Oveson
Louisville, Colorado
Mark Oveson   Louisville, Colorado
William: climb all the summits, or none of them, or take the ones you like. All of them can be bypassed if the goal is simply to get from Shoshoni to Apache Peak staying near the ridge crest. But to say you have done the Kasparov Traverse, you have to climb the towers. :) Aug 7, 2014
Todd Ritter
Todd Ritter   Lafayette
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the climbing. The Rook and the Bishop's Scepter would be great routes if they were in Boulder Canyon. Great scrambling/route finding between towers, along with a long hike to and fro, added up to a wonderful day. Sep 3, 2018