Type: Trad, 1000 ft, Grade II
FA: Probably G. Roach
Page Views: 1,318 total · 9/month
Shared By: Tony B on Jul 5, 2006
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


This route is the only documented and obvious route on The Keel. It traces the summit ridge of the Keel for about 1000' from the base to the summit, but it is almost never far from the ground.

The route is mostly good rock and is an excellent solo, owing to its low angle, choice of good holds, and opportunity for escape along various points of the rock (until near the summit).

There are many false summits along the way, some of which are possible to escape West from.

2002 entry by AC: this scramble is actually just below the Angel's Wings. The bottom third is typical easy Flatiron paddling, at a slightly lower angle than normal. The middle third is walking through trees, and then the upper third is a bit steeper. Rossiter's book says it's about 1000' of climbing. The trickiest bit is at the top, climb a wide crack to the summit. Downclimb back about 80' and exit south. I walked off to the north, since my dog found her way up that side. This is a good rest day adventure solo.

Eds. this is a combination of two submissions. One was originally entered as an subarea back in 2002 under Angel's Wings, which was inaccurate. An MP.com user noted this confusion and that entry, originally submitted by Anonymous Coward, was transformed into a route entry in 2007. However, some confusion may result from this, so this explanation is inserted here.


Find the right-most end of the Keel (Northeast) and begin climbing on the higher of the two bands of rock there. For about 20 meters, the rock has some pine needles and is lower angle, but after that it straightens out and continues on good territory for 1000 feet to the summit.

From the 2002 entry: from the end of North Shanahan Trail, follow the Mesa Trail south until a big open meadow is west of you. From here, there are good views of the rock. Wander up through the meadow and you may find a faint path through the upper bits of Shanahan Canyon. Stray southwest as you near the top of the canyon and you will find the rock.


Opportunity for gear seemed to exist and was probably be ample for a safe lead with a standard rack, but this Flatiron was best as a solo and having been done as such, I can't say much more.

There are 3 options for descent:

1) 80' of rope would make the descent easiest- rap from the tree growing up against the summit from the ground.

2) Downclimbing the ridge a few hundred feet to the last walkoff to the west.

3) Downclimb the east face for perhaps 100' to the ground to the South- from any given point this is possible, but it might be the crux of the route.


Ernie Port
Boulder, Colorado
Ernie Port   Boulder, Colorado
Agree with Tony on the descent...if soloing this, the 80' down climb from the summit to the south walk off is the crux. Not too bad though. Wouldn't recommend down climbing the tree, as the branches are all dead. Bear hugging the bottom 15-20' to the ground from the last branch wasn't the option we chose to take.... May 27, 2008
Rob Nevitt
Louisville, CO
Rob Nevitt   Louisville, CO
My partner and I climbed The Keel yesterday.

We found that the base of The Keel is far lower than Leonine as mentioned previously. We traversed directly south from the Shanahan Crag South Face 5.4 climb. While we travelled mostly level from there, downclimbed some and we were below the South Face climb when we reached the base of The Keel.

Both of us having a wife and kids - we're fairly conservative climbers. With a 60 meter rope, we did 7 rope stretching pitches to get to the base of the summit block. From there, it was one short 50 foot pitch to the summit with outstanding views over Boulder.

Gear was plentiful and we had mostly excellent, cozy belays stations along the ridge. Only one belay station we used was less than bomber.

Upon arrival at the summit there existed slings and a rap ring on the 'downclimb tree'. So, we added an old biner and new webbing to that setup to rappel about 60 feet to the ground.

While the upper half of the tree is vibrantly alive, all branches on the lower half of that tree are dead and most have been knocked off. Only as a last resort would I downclimb that tree to descend! The last 30 feet would be a perilous bear hug.

We then walked down the boulder field to the south for descent.

I highly recommend The Keel for a great, easy day of slab climbing! Jun 6, 2011
Glen Charnoski
Boulder, CO
Glen Charnoski   Boulder, CO
Fun, easy scramble. I found it a little bit hard locating the best start once I got to the base, it was so overgrown with lots of obscuring trees. I rappelled, adding purple webbing to the 3 other ones. A rap ring and biner are there for a trouble-free descent. May 11, 2016
Long Ranger
Boulder, CO
Long Ranger   Boulder, CO
Most of The Keel is pretty easy climbing, but the last bit of climbing to the summit is a bit more than Class 4 I thought, a tiny bit of route finding and some actually committing moves. Nice summit. The downclimb to the South isn't so bad. Reverse the summit moves, the find the deep and narrow slot straight down on the S side. Keep scrambling to the east of that slot, until you're above an open book. Good holds make this an easy stem to the ground. Jul 6, 2016
Joe Castellano
Joe Castellano   Boulder
A fun adventure, but I found it more covered in lichen than others have described it. I must have cut off right earlier than other as I linked this into The Rudder and then the northernmost Devil's Wing. Sep 23, 2018