Type: Trad, 80 ft
FA: Josh Wharton 6/11/06
Page Views: 10,062 total · 66/month
Shared By: j wharton on Jun 27, 2006
Admins: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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This stunning crack and face route is perhaps the best single trad pitch I've done in Colorado. Overhanging and sustained with a crux throw at 2/3rds height. It was a long time project first attempted by Jeff Hollenbaugh in the early 90s on gear. It was then bolted and projected by Tom Perkins, but still remained unclimbed. After climbing the route on gear, and receiving Tom's permission, I removed the unnecessary bolts. (There are still a few bolts that need to be removed as of 6/27/06). The route may be a bit soft for .13a, perhaps .12+, but needs a repeat to confirm the grade.


This starts off the same ledge as I'll Be Black, in the middle portion of Sunset Cliff.


Placing the gear on this route is a definite crux. Although never dangerous the route requires a go-for-it attitude. A single set of cams from a #0 TCU to a #4 Camalot, one extra #4 Camalot, and a small wire or two will see you to the anchors. There is a fixed wire at the top of the initial fist crack--the climbing to here is worthwhile .12a. There are chain anchors at the top of the route, which are accessible to set up a toprope (with a little scrambling).
Which bolts are unnecessary and will be removed? It looks to me like only 2-3 hangers in the upper part of the crack section have been removed. All of the hangers at the start and finish appear to still be there. Were all of the bolts eschewed on the FFA and only gear used? Just trying to clarify what standard has been established.

This is a bad-ass looking rock climb. Jul 17, 2006
j wharton
j wharton  
All the bolts need to come out. I climbed the entire route on gear, and never used the bolts during my attempts to redpoint the route. For full disclosure--I did use a few bolts for directionals during my initial TR recon. I removed the bolts from the anchor down to the roof (maybe 4) before heading to Asia for the summer, but still need to finish the job. The route has mostly studs, so they're a bit of a pain to get out. I should be able to finish the job this fall. True onsighters stop reading now, but for those curious about the gear beta I used a .75 Camalot, orange TCU, 2 #4 Camalots, #3 Camalot, stopper (now fixed), yellow TCU, .75 Camalot, purple TCU, green Alien, and small wire (in that order) to get to the anchor--you've got to punch it a bit, and some of the gear is a bit blind to place but fortunately it's steep enough that you'd have to mess up huge to get hurt.

josh Aug 27, 2006
Jay Knower
Campton, NH
  5.13a PG13
Jay Knower   Campton, NH  
  5.13a PG13
This summer, Jason Huston and I each repeated The Avenger on lead, placing all of the gear. We worked it for a few weekends on TR before the sends. We both think that the 13a rating is spot-on, as we certainly were giving a 5.13 effort on the thing. This is an amazing climb that climbs like a sport route, yet placing the gear adds another level of challenge. All in all, climbing on The Avenger was a memorable experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a (fairly) well-protected, steep, pumpy, gear route. I'd give it ten starts if I could. Aug 25, 2007
It is so inspiring that the superfluous bolts were removed from this beautiful gear line. That said, I do really enjoy the humble moderate that is "I'll be Black!" regardless, thank goodness this exquisite crag has been spared the various indignities that have been callously imposed on various other crags in this state...like in Boulder Canyon.

This cliff is sooo good. Kudos to all who put in time and effort to create a quality, climbing area. Aug 31, 2007
Kayte Knower  
Eds. This was originally posted as a route. With the poster's consent, this has been converted to a comment. Thanks to all involved.

Josh Warton described the first half of The Avenger as a "worthwhile 12a." For those not up to the 5.13 finish of the Avenger, the steep offwidth and fist crack up to the fixed nut is a fantastic route in its own right, and not as contrived as it might seem. To clarify that I was gunning for the fixed nut with no plans to venture out the underclings, I referred to the 12a section of the route as "The Adventurer." It's longer than it looks from the ground, and plenty taxing with a bunch of reachy moves off fist jams and lots of options for the upper crux sequence.

Scramble up the slab just to the right of the tree and belay at the base of "I'll Be Black." Climb the easy slab to the base of the offwidth. The crack narrows to fingers at the top. Clip the fixed nut and contemplate the 5.13 finish.

After a bit of tenuousness at the start, this crack protects beautifully with size 3 to 4 Camalots. The crack eats as much gear as you can bear to carry. I also placed some smaller gear at the start (a #1 Camalot, a #9 BD stopper, and a 0.5 purple BD Camalot were key). Lowering off the fixed nut to clean your gear isn't the most confidence inspiring anchor I've ever seen, but it's also not the worst.

Eds. The original post included a 3 star rating. Sep 10, 2007
Drew Allan
Drew Allan   Denver/Aspen
Eds. This comment was originally under a different route and moved here. Thanks to all involved.

I am the one guilty of questioning this route description. My post was merely poking fun at how ridiculous and dangerous this route description is. I did not attack anyone directly or use foul language. Yet it was erased, along with Chris and BJ’s posts.

As Chris has stated, I think it is a bad and horrible precedent to allow people to post a new route description that is merely a partial ascent of an established route, especially rapping off a single fixed nut. There is no indication that Josh thinks it is ok to create a new route name for a partial ascent of his route just by referring to it as a “worthwhile 12a” up to that point. If anything, the information for Adventurer should just be an additional comment under The Avenger without a new name (which is quite common).

The precedent this sets is applicable to all routes where the crux may be found on the upper half of the route. For example, would not an 11a with a “worthwhile 5.9” section up to the sixth bolt (or fixed stopper) from which you can lower off the climb be exactly the same thing as Adventurer. Isn’t that known in our climbing community as an uncompleted ascent of a route?

I think we should let the Mountain Project community weigh in on whether this should be allowed on this site. And, please, do not delete these posts by Chris, BJ or myself. An Administrator, who has climbed Avenger, should be well aware of this issue. Sep 10, 2007
Eds. This comment was originally under a different route and moved here. Thanks to all involved.

This is my second comment. My other comment was simply "huh?" which I think started a slagfest that then apparently got censored. What I meant by "huh?" was that I found it odd that someone would post a partial route with a separate name and no anchor. I was looking at the posts for the Avenger, having tried it recently, and came across the post for this route.


#1: Taking an off-hand comment as a grade. The lower crack may be 5.12a if you complete the traverse (either running it out off the nut or strenuously placing a cam) to the "rest" before the crux- but really only in the context of the route as a whole. Grades don't work like that. If you split the route in two (or three, or four, etc) the grades would change. The boulder problem that is the crux would be piss easy if it was off the ground - V2 or 3 max. But in the context of the route, it feels much harder.

#2: Advocating (even with the caveat) lowering off of a single nut (and an old, unknown carabiner) even if it is bomber.

#3: A fixed nut on a chopped route. Why is that nut there anyway? Didn't the route get chopped so that it could be a clean trad lead? It will not be there anymore if I go up there again, anyway.

I am not trying to be a wanker, but I found this so strange in the context of how information about a climb is normally conveyed I just had to comment. Nothing personal. Still, I can't quite put my finger on what is wrong with it, or what bothers me, other than that it goes against the most basic edicts of what the majority of the climbing world, even the most maverick among us, consider proper style. In the greater context of the climbing world, lowering off gear mid pitch is failure, not a publicly notable ascent. I guess it is as simple as that.

Yet, to look at that crack and even try to lead it is an accomplishment, and I guess that fact may be the basis for the post.

Also a note for the administrators: Sunset is in two different areas- one on the Independence Pass page, and this one buried deeper in the Lincoln Creek page. Sep 10, 2007
Jay Knower
Campton, NH
  5.13a PG13
Jay Knower   Campton, NH  
  5.13a PG13
Eds. This comment was originally under a different route and moved here. Thanks to all involved.

I did not delete the comments in question and never saw them before they were deleted. I can only assume that they questioned the validity of this "route."

I encouraged Kayte to submit this route. While I was working the Avenger, she decided that this variation would present a considerable challenge for her. I agreed immediately because it's always better when we have projects in the same area. She got psyched up, led the variation, and then asked me if she should submit it. I replied yes because, in my opinion, she went through the same emotions and excitement as if she had complete a separate discreet route. Hey, I thought, why not add the route to Mountain Project?

I agree that lowering off the single nut is sketchy. But consider this: after the nut, and the finger jams that offer a great rest at the nut, the route changes dramatically. Once you start underclinging out the roof, the route begins to feel very different that the lower part. The lower part is crack climbing, and the upper part, to me, felt a lot like sport climbing. So the nut seemed a logical "breaking point."

I also agree that it may have been a bit presumptuous to add a new name to the route, but Kayte was clear and honest in her description. Climbing is all about what we make it. We look for challenges that are relevant to us personally, and for Kayte, this "route" was a valid challenge. You may not think that this "route" is valid; that's fine, don't climb it. Others, beyond Kayte and me, agreed with her interpretation of the climb. Finally, I think the 12a grade is right on. Sep 10, 2007
Kayte Knower  
Eds. This comment was originally under a different route and moved here. Thanks to all involved.

When I added this route, I realized that it would generate some controversy. I've never met Josh, so I did not mean to imply that he considered the bottom half of The Avenger to be a route in its own right. I simply read his comment and felt encouraged to give the bottom half a shot. I know I took liberty with his description. I would love to know what Josh thinks of me adding "The Adventurer." I would certainly respect his wishes if he wants that deleted. I agree that whether or not this route remains on the site should rest in the hands of the community.

I did speak to a local guide who felt the bottom half could be considered a route. Since the crack itself ends at the nut, and the 5.13 part is such a distinct traverse, you could think of the crack as it's own entity. I think other climbers have in the past.

My climbing partners for the summer were dedicated to The Avenger, and I was up on the ledge all the time. Calling the bottom half a route gave me something to climb on when otherwise, I wouldn't have climbed on that spectacular overhanging face, one of the best at The Pass in my opinion. Also, the bottom half stays dry in the rain, and in August that's a big plus. In any case, I had a blast doing just the bottom half. Whether you think it's truly a "route" is up to you.

There are many examples of routes to a midway anchor with an upper harder extension, such as Swedin Ringle being the bottom half of Air Sweden, or Biography being the bottom half of Realization. Of course, for those routes the extension was added later to the already established bottom half. I realize that I am doing it backwards (and perhaps wrongly) by ending in the middle of an established line.

PS. Please don't take the fixed nut out. The nut is there so those leading the Avenger can lower off the anchors and clean their gear from the crack. Sep 10, 2007
Ok, Ok. I knew somebody would bring up the "it's all good, it's all my experience, just leave it alone if you don't like it" argument.

Unfortunately, that is not how the climbing community works, not for you or anyone else. There are agreed upon statutes under which we operate and report climbs. Just like we can't call a 5.11 first ascent 5.13 without getting our shit called out big time. Nor can we say we summitted when we stopped 100 feet short. Or claim we onsighted a route when we didn't or a thousand other circumstances under which we have agreed to conduct ourselves in the public climbing arena. Even discussing a grade- 5.9, 5.6 or whatever - falls under this category. Interestingly, nearly every post in this thread brings up a grade and, let's face it, Avenger would not be seeing half the action it has been if it wasn't "5.13". (I know somebody is going to say "no, I climbed it because it's a beautiful line, and for the experience, blah, blah- maybe after the fact - but you went up there the first time to check out the new "trad 5.13", and you know it!)

Either it works like that or it becomes a meaningless freeforall where guidebooks are obsolete and so are any public media outlets associated with climbing including this site.

So I brought it up in terms of that argument, not as an indictment of your personal experiences. Kayte chose to share in a public way, even stating "I realized that it would generate some controversy." Which is sweet, by the way.

I must say again, that this is not a personal attack. It is simply a theoretical discussion of style. For me, without style, climbing becomes less interesting and motivating because like any other sport, the rules force us to push harder. Soccer, for instance, sure would be easier if I could pick up that damn ball and throw it where I wanted it. Jay, too, would appear to believe this. He worked Avenger for some time. Why bother? Why not just TR it and call it good. Or take a little rest in the rope at the crux. I would say that part of him was driven by the greater climbing community's idea of proper style: placing the gear on lead. It gave him a concrete external goal, and he didn't stop until he adhered to a style that he, actually, had no hand in creating.

The irony here is that the Avenger was born because the "rules" concerning bolting were flouted and Josh took issue with that, and challenged himself to skip them. (To Bob and Tom: you guys have put up great bolted routes, but ya gotta admit, this one was a bit excessive!)

I refute Kayte's comparisons to Sweden Ringle and Realization as those were extensions (as she stated), and as it were, fit into the very essence of free climbing in that they push higher and harder and in many ways, improve the style. Most would have put a bolt on Airsweden, and with good reason, but Pat chose to adhere to the style of the area, and at least one subsequent ascent did not even clip the chains on SR as pro. I can give you many more examples of where mid-anchors were pulled than where they were added. Besides, the Ceuse locals think it is merde that the Biographie got renamed, by the way.

Here is some more irony- just down the wall from Airsweden, the mid-anchor on Dos Hermanos was added, pulled, added, half-pulled, and then I, of all people, actually added a bolt to the single one people had been using for a couple years while I replaced the upper anchors. What a fucking hypocrit, eh?

Lastly, and I will shut my trap after this, you do not need that nut to clean the route. Tram in while lowering like any steep sport route. Elementary. Just watch the rope ends! (Kayte's concern implies that she is working the route still. That's killer. I sincerely hope you send that shit, Kayte.)

Sorry about the rant. I don't have cable, so what else am I supposed to do while I eat my burrito? Thanks again to Leo and Jay and others who run this kickass site. Sep 12, 2007
Jay Knower
Campton, NH
  5.13a PG13
Jay Knower   Campton, NH  
  5.13a PG13
Chris, while I agree that you have made many good points about the validity of "The Adventurer," I feel that you have misinterpreted my motivation for doing the Avenger. I placed gear on it (instead of pre-placing gear) because I made a conscious decision to, not because someone else said that I should or some other group of people dictated that that was the proper style. I did it because I decided that placing the gear represented the kind of challenge I was looking for. Sure, had I chosen some other style, it would have taken me half the time, but for me it would have been less memorable. My point is, that I chose to climb the route because of what I was looking for. I've pre-placed gear on a bunch of routes. I wanted this one to be different.

Regarding the grade of the Avenger: Call it something else if you want. I don't really care. I had fun on the route. It was a good challenge for me, and I learned a lot on it. Everything beyond that, for me, is just noise. Sep 14, 2007
Kayte Knower  

Thanks first of all for the tone of your post, conversational not combative. I really appreciate that.

Briefly, about the fixed nut, I think you need it in order to tram in. Since the anchors are so far to the right and so overhanging compared to the start of the route, if you lower off the anchors after leading the route, you can't swing over far enough to get your gear out of the initial crack. Believe me we tried.

I agree with all of your points about style, and will readily admit that calling "The Adventurer" a route in its own right is in poor style. Perhaps with tagging along with a group of climbers so much stronger than me, and climbing in the winter, and in the rain, I've dropped the importance of style in favor of having a good day. I used to never top rope, but in order to keep up I often top rope the warm up these days. It's the only way I can warm up on what my climbing partners warm up on. Similarly with "The Adventurer," my climbing partners were working on The Avenger and I just wanted to climb something. I was up on the ledge until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and then it rains. It was the bottom half of The Avenger or a summer of rest days.

I added "The Adventurer" thinking that some other person might find his or herself in my position, belaying The Avenger and longing to climb. I realize that I should have added my two cents as a comment in the first place. I guess I felt presumptuous commenting on a 5.13 that I hadn't actually worked on...my motivation was to be clear. Even in camp, people would ask, "what are you up to tomorrow," and I felt disingenuous saying I was getting on The Avenger when I had every intention of lowering off before the crux.

So, if you are reading this and think that The Avenger is too hard, but an amazing, challenging, protectable 12a sounds like a good time, I recommend climbing the bottom half of The Avenger. One guide and two 5.13 climbers felt comfortable with calling that a route. Others, like Chris, point out that to do half a route is artificial and in poor style. Chris is right...but then again who's going to have more fun on a rainy afternoon in August? The person adhering to the rules of style and not climbing, or the person climbing anyway. Sep 14, 2007
Drew Whitley
New Castle, co
Drew Whitley   New Castle, co
Be careful with the gear on this one. Back in about 2006 I saw a guy deck on this route when 3 or 4 of his pieces rotated out from upward pull. Dec 30, 2013
Jonathan Siegrist
his truck
  5.13b PG13
Jonathan Siegrist   his truck
  5.13b PG13
The crux is pretty brutal if you're too small for the leftward toss. Felt like ~V8 up there... heinous smearing. Definitely 13b or c for me, but maybe I'm a wimp! A killer route. Engaging, just heady enough, and tall. Aug 22, 2015