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The Gauntlet

5.12d, Sport, 65 ft (20 m),  Avg: 3.4 from 45 votes
FA: D. Mabe, 3/06
Colorado > Golden > Clear Creek Canyon > Armory
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


Start with an overhung stem dihedral, crank off of a flake, and reach into the left angling and sharp finger crack in solid orange stone. Pull around the roof to difficult clip, finish with steep crimps on the narrow pillar. It is sustained and overhung most of the way.

How Ya Get There

This is actually located on The Armory downstream of the Crystal Tower and above the new tyrol. Locate a huge, slanting boulder at the base of an overhanging, left-facing dihedral, uphill and left of Ken T'ank.


9 bolts and chains anchor.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Gear beta. I thought the blue/green Alien protected the crux pretty reasonably. I did use an afternoon to redpoint while clipping bolts.
[Hide Photo] Gear beta. I thought the blue/green Alien protected the crux pretty reasonably. I did use an afternoon to redpoint while clipping bolts.
The amazing finger crack on the Gauntlet.
[Hide Photo] The amazing finger crack on the Gauntlet.
Finishing up The Gauntlet after starting up Siberian Express.
[Hide Photo] Finishing up The Gauntlet after starting up Siberian Express.
A rest after the first crux on The Gauntlet.
[Hide Photo] A rest after the first crux on The Gauntlet.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] This is a fantastic line, thanks to Darren for putting it in. Hard start, then sustained difficult climbing to the top on beautiful rock. This has become one of my favorite routes at the grade in CCC. Probably soft for 12d, perhaps as more people climb the route, the grade will solidify. Oct 16, 2006
[Hide Comment] Sick, fucking line. Now who is going to man up and lead this thing on gear? Jul 11, 2007
Kyle P.
Lander, WY
[Hide Comment] Tried it on gear but bitched out. Dammit. Harder than we were prepared for. Dec 3, 2007
Patrick Pharo
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] This might turn out to be a candidate for one of those assinine "12d," "No, it's 12c," "No, it's 12c/d" arguments, but The Gauntlet is solid 5.12 on fantastic stone. Thanks a ton to Darren for bolting this and leaving draws up to encourage traffic. Highly recommended. Apr 8, 2008
Darren Mabe
Parks, AZ
[Hide Comment] Glad that you enjoyed it. When I first bolted it, the initial stem corner was very crumbly and has since cleaned up a bit to yield some solid edges. In fact, on the FA it felt closer to 12d or even 13a. However as is, there are some long moves that are slightly height-dependent, that I could not justify it being harder than 12c or d. So in other words, a shorter person that can not make those wide stems, or long reaches would feel its solid 12d. Also, the moves coming out of the dihedral were more straightforward, though harder, and did not need to go too far out right (I moved bolt 3 about 8 inches to the right after the FA). In fact, we did not use the jug side pull at the top of the dihedral to establish into the finger crack. The kneebar helps quite a bit too! I also stay directly in the excellent finger crack feature, for the intended line, but found that folks can also stay right of it, easing it up, using the crumbly, leaning corner and still make the clips.

I think this is why there is a grade discrepancy, but I think no matter how you do it it is 12"+", and a nice sustained line. The move over the roof is no give away and clocks in at low 12, IMO. Therefore, an overall grade of 12d seems appropriate. Apr 8, 2008
Patrick Pharo
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Darren,
I think that the observation about height dependency is spot on. I am a tall guy with a wingspan of 6 foot, and the low crux (bolts 2-3) felt reasonable (V4ish) for me. I was working the route with someone who is considerably shorter, and she had a tougher time at this spot due to the fact that she had to use some terrible holds.
I wasn't trying to initiate any sort of grade debate, merely indicate that it might feel easier for some. You said it better than me with regards to the height issue. Also, in reading the way you avoided the good rest between the stem crux and finger crack, and stayed entirely in the crack before tackling the roof, I have no doubt that it felt harder. This beta seems like it would be really intense. Good work, but good grief! Why not use the better holds that seem on route? Now I feel like I cheated. I took full advantage of the rest when I sent, and was fresh for the moves between finger locks.
I have been really excited about going back and doing this on gear. I think it would be a different test now that I have done the route on the bolts, but I'm not advocating that it should have been left as a gear climb. Clear Creek is primarily a sport area, and I think you're right to assume that if it was a trad route, not too many people would even try. Especially if the rock quality was originally as marginal as you say.
Lastly, for the top, I found pulling the roof much easier with a knee-bar. I'm excited to go explore gear options at the roof, and agree that from there, it is run out to the chains.
Ok, enough spray from me. Thanks for the route. Apr 8, 2008
Darren Mabe
Parks, AZ
[Hide Comment] Patrick, I have 6'6" wingspan and am able to make the move off of the flake, at the top of the dihedral, intermediate left hand press, left drop knee then go for the arete crimp just out of the finger crack where a better hold used to be. Broke off in subsequent attempts. Before I moved the bolt, you had to clip off of the flake. Later ascents opened up the flake a bit, so now you can get about three pads on it.

When I did it again later, it probably was closer to the way you sent it.
BTW, knee bar at the roof is indeed handy (as well as the hand jam!), and also the knee bar smear at the top of the stem dihedral.

We better shut up now, or we will blow someone's onsight and will get downrated to 12a. ;)

Are those draws in good shape? I haven't been over there for about a year. Good luck on the gear ascent! Be careful! Apr 9, 2008
Patrick Pharo
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Ha, no kidding. We pretty much spilled the beta beans.
The draws were looking good, although the one DMM draw under the roof (bolt 5, I think) was getting a pretty solid notch. If I get back up there soon, I'll bring a draw to leave if it really needs it. If I switch it out, do you want it back? I think it was one of those sewn DMM guys. Apr 9, 2008
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] I'm gonna go with a solid 12d. It's harder than both Sucking My Will and Anarchitect, at least in my opinion. Very technical climbing the whole way on great rock, get on it! Jul 1, 2009
[Hide Comment] Hey Darren, thanks for putting up a rad route, but no thanks for bolting a protectable crack. How many hard gear or mixed gear routes are there in Clear Creek? Only a handful.

How rad would this have been if you cleaned the crack and didn't put bolts next to it?!

The "sport crag" argument is a tired excuse for robbing routes of the ability to be led in the best possible style and without contrivances such as skipping bolts which are next to bomber gear placements.

Take a look at Thunderdome at Easter Rock in Boulder Canyon. It is all gear at a crag with otherwise only bolted routes. It is rad and doesn't get done much. Even better that it isn't as greasy as the sport routes! Does every route need a lot of traffic (i.e. chalk and grease) to distinguish it as a high-quality line?

There are plenty of mixed gear and bolted routes in climbing areas all over the country. These are highly sought-after and so much more rewarding than the mindless clip-ups they could have been if people took the "sport crag" attitude like Bob D'Antonio, Mark Rolofson, and other flagrant perpetrators of criminal rock vandalism.

You have put up some rad routes and first ascents, and I respect you for this. Please don't stoop to the level of Bobby D., who is widely loathed for his disprespect for natural gear placements. You can do better than that, Darren.
I fully intend to use removable gear and skip bolts as necessary when I try this beautiful line.

Clear Creek has plenty of sport routes... please leave some excitement for people with the skill and will to step up to the challenge! Sep 1, 2016
[Hide Comment] Soooo, have you actually been on this route prior to commenting??? Sep 1, 2016
Darren Mabe
Parks, AZ
[Hide Comment] Michalm, I've been waiting ten years to entertain this discussion!, but not until you climb the route first, you silly goose. Since I apparently robbed you of your pure trad rad experience of The Gauntlet, have a stab at Big Bros Watchin', Naked Kill, Brennivin, and Wiled Horses if you're willing to step up to the challenge. Sep 6, 2016
[Hide Comment] Don't leave draws on the first 3 bolts on this line. In less than a week, just saw 3 quickdraws disappear with a random biner left on the 3rd bolt.

The route is awesome and very comparable to other 12+ routes in the canyon. Very neat seam/crack moves for a sport route. The rock quality is still good, and it is not totally trashed. Apr 11, 2018
Jack Sparrow
denver, co
[Hide Comment] BETA ALERT: The Gauntlet is a nice route up some beautiful stone. After the opening crux, snag a quick rest, then fire into the finger crack, climb in the crack for a few moves, then bust out right, and make a clip. At this point, the route got a little funky. To get established under the roof, I had to pull on three suspect, chossy-looking flakes (if they have been there this long, I imagine they are fine). The one used to get over the roof with the kneebar is unpleasantly sharp. I think these three holds are the only detracting part of the route. The finish is kinda funky, and you should have some beta worked out before arriving on point (if projecting). I thought it was quite funny seeing the downgrade to 12- with a comment about learning how to jam, when neither cruxes require jamming. Honestly the easiest climbing in the route is the finger crack, so what he’s saying is if you can jam the easiest two moves (think like 10+) on the route, then this is 12-. That comment certainly doesn’t make sense to me. To all the trad daddies, sorry you were robbed of your pure climbing expierence, but come on, this ain’t Eldo. This cliff is downstream from one of the most gridbolted walls on the Front Range. This from day one wasn’t a purest trad area and had never been developed as one. The crack is an appealing feature on The Gauntlet but is by no means a trad route especially if you pulled over the roof on it. An example of a beautiful hard trad route that should have never been bolted - check out China Doll. Feb 15, 2019