Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Carter Classic

5.9, Trad, 500 ft, 5 pitches, Grade II,  Avg: 3.4 from 68 votes
FA: unknown
Colorado > Buena Vista > Davis Face


Start right in the center of the face, up a prominent crack feature.

P1. Climb long 5.6 to bolted belay, stay in dihedral.

P2. The crux pitch: traverse right from the belay, take a short steep crack with sometimes fixed pro, then move left to pull the small roof/bulge (5.9). Then continue on an easy 5.7+ finger crack to an uncomfortable bolted belay.

  • *It is possible to start with the finger crack on the right and continue straight up. This option is also good, but I did not believe it was as fun as the route proper. Staying to the right, however, allows you to skip a pitch, and you will end up at the top of pitch 3 on a nice ledge.

P3. Ascend a short 5.8 chimney, come out to the right to another nice, bolted belay.

P4. This is the mental crux pitch. It is short, and it is hard to find "the" hold, 5.8+. Go up the dihedral, then break out right to face climbing, a #2 Camalot in a horizontal slot is key. You may brave to go at most 8-10 feet without protection on this short pitch.

P5. Traverse with no pro at 5.4 to a dihedral left, then continue up a lieback 5.7+ dihedral to another outstanding belay.

From here, it's route finding from the top, nothing harder than 5.8 whichever way you go.


You can rap down or walk off.... Rapping, I found to be easier, just make sure to always look at Mt. [Princeton], 'cause what ever is on the top of it, is heading your way! To get up to the climb, it's a faint, if any, climbers' trail.


Bring mid sizes up to size 3, double on 0.75 helps. Bring smalls though (Aliens!!), really, just a normal rack up to 3 inches.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Carter Classic route.
[Hide Photo] Carter Classic route.
Moving into the roof crux. Underneath the roof was dripping wet...which made it feel really cruxy. 5.9 if you're tall and can reach good holds. I'm not.
[Hide Photo] Moving into the roof crux. Underneath the roof was dripping wet...which made it feel really cruxy. 5.9 if you're tall and can reach good holds. I'm not.
Rapping the pitch 1 anchors to the ground.
[Hide Photo] Rapping the pitch 1 anchors to the ground.
Fury just above the traverse on P5.
[Hide Photo] Fury just above the traverse on P5.
Marty following 2nd pitch of HC on Davis Face. June 15, 2009.
[Hide Photo] Marty following 2nd pitch of HC on Davis Face. June 15, 2009.
Ben heading up the start of pitch 4.
[Hide Photo] Ben heading up the start of pitch 4.
Chels coming up pitch 1 - looks steeper in this photo than it actually is.
[Hide Photo] Chels coming up pitch 1 - looks steeper in this photo than it actually is.
Carter Classic, Davis Face, Buena Vista, CO. Top of pitch 1 on May 8, 2015.
[Hide Photo] Carter Classic, Davis Face, Buena Vista, CO. Top of pitch 1 on May 8, 2015.
Marty first pitch of HC on Davis Face. June 15, 2009.
[Hide Photo] Marty first pitch of HC on Davis Face. June 15, 2009.
Starting up the first pitch.
[Hide Photo] Starting up the first pitch.
Bill pulling out of the super fun and all-too-short dihedral on P5.
[Hide Photo] Bill pulling out of the super fun and all-too-short dihedral on P5.
My brother Patrick on the 4th belay station on Davis Face.
[Hide Photo] My brother Patrick on the 4th belay station on Davis Face.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Bowe Ellis
Taos, NM
[Hide Comment] This is a great route unlike most other Buena Vista climbs. It has more of an alpine feel and the granite has small crystals and many featured holds.

There are six belay stations. Pitch 1 is long and probably can't be linked. Pitches 2-5 are all very short - generally 40 to 80ft each. Pitch 6 is longer, probably 130-150ft. We linked P2-P3 with some rope drag due to the roof. The true P2 line appears to go left through the roof, but a right variation is also possible.

P1 is easy & fun with a short crux at the top, probably 5.6.

P2/P3 go back right from the belay into the dihedral, go straight up and do a lieback move to gain a bucket right in the roof. From here do some hand traversing left or right to pull the roof. Neither route can be seen from below the crux lieback so there's a little bit of faith here. We went right, passed a fixed pin, and led up an intermittent finger crack (good pro). Maybe 5.8+ but airy and committing. The left option looks great and possibly easier: grab big chickenheads and work up and left into a left facing dihedral with a fixed pin and good pro. The right variation lends well to linking P2 & P3 but it's still possible to traverse back left to the intermediate belay.

P4 goes into a chimney that turns into a shallow groove with no pro for about 8-10ft. Delicate and certainly cruxy 5.8.

P5 easy friction traverse left with no pro for 25ft. 5.4 or so. Go up into a beautiful lieback right facing dihedral with splitter (5.7).

P6 has many options following weaknesses. Our line felt like 5.6.

On our rap we used the tree with lots of slings, the P4 station, and the P1 station to make 3 raps.

What a great line! Jun 17, 2008
Lee Jenkins
Tucson, Arizona
[Hide Comment] Hey Bowe,

Glad you liked it. The normal P2 crux is pulling the roof right. Also, P2-3 as indicated in your Topo are almost always linked and P6 is rarely done, and when it is then you can walk of left (cliff facing) and down a gully. Jun 22, 2008
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Pretty good climbing with great exposure. It was fun to do and I would definitely recommend it but I don't feel the need to go back due to the logistics. It is a long drive (need high clearance) and a hard 30 minute hike so it turns into a full day.

I definitely wouldn't do pitch 6. Isn't very fun and it doesn't feel like you are at the top more so than pitch 5. Also, aside from pitch 1 it is the only pitch you need 2 ropes to rappel. Therefore if you skip it you can leave your second rope at the first belay ledge after the first pitch.

Pitches 2-5 are very short. I would definitely combine 2 and 3 to skip the uncomfortable belay. You can't combine 4 and 5 due to rope drag on the traverse.

You can however rap 4 and 5 together with a 60 meter rope. **Be careful to find the exact middle and to tie knots at the end of the rope because you just barely make it to the belay ledge for pitch 4.** From here you have to rap pitch 2 and 3 separate if you only have 1 rope. Then tie your ropes together and rap the first pitch down to the ground. This method is 4 rappels but we only needed to carry 1 rope past the first pitch.

Hope that all made sense and enjoy the climb! Jul 5, 2008
Dean Cool
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] I recommend this climb to all. Although the climbing was easy it made you use different techniques. The roof at P2 was probably the hardest move and a bit balancy. I also think pitch 6 was a blast. Protection is scattered and long runners are encouraged. It would have been nice to leave our extra rope at the top of P1, but glad we hauled it to the top! Jul 29, 2008
Will Lewis
Leadville, CO
[Hide Comment] This route can be done in 3 pitches pretty easily. Link the 1st two, link the second two, and one rope stretcher to the tree at the top. Three double rope rappels. Sep 6, 2008
[Hide Comment] We climbed the Classic route today combining pitches 2 and 3 (went left at roof),then 4 and 5 (long runners after the traverse). For the 6th pitch we angled up right and found some fun 5.8 puzzles to solve. Great route!
There is a mixed route starting 50'± to climbers' left of Carters Classic. It looks fairly new. would be great to get more info about it. We only had time for the first pitch today. it was 150', a little bit PG for pro, 5.9ish, fun... Sep 8, 2008
[Hide Comment] If you use 2 x 60m ropes, you can rap from the 5th belay station to the first, and then make another rap to the ground. (2 double rope raps to the ground). The first of these raps is right to the ends of the ropes so make sure that they are 60m and make sure you have knots in the ends!
Also, as you you pull the roof of pitch two, to the right, watch for a pin (I missed it and had to settle for two lobes of a blue Alien...ugh). May 18, 2009
Jordan Winters
Minturn, CO
[Hide Comment] Fun route! Linked pitches 2-3, but should have linked 2-4 as there would have been plenty of rope and it would have saved some time at the belays. Went right at roof on pitch two and up the finger crack with a couple crux moves...didn't see any pin on this variation...
Also, tried to link 5-6 all the way up to the rap tree but came up 8 feet short on a 60m rope! Bummer! Had to build an anchor 8 feet below tree...I'd read you can link those two pitches but it must be with a 70m rope.
Super fun route on quality granite - highly reccomended. Jun 16, 2009
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] Fun, moderate route on great rock. The moves are varied and the more difficult sections (I believe there are two--the roof on P2 and 12 feet above the belay on P3) are very well protected. The pin protecting the moves to the right of the roof on P2 is still there, just hard to see behind a small flake.
With a 70m rope we linked P2,P3 and P4. I believe you could link P2,P3,P4 with a 60m rope too--just be diligent with your rope work to avoid drag. P4 and P5 are very short.
We also linked P5 and P6 with our 70m rope.

Also, there are no cables connecting any of the bolts at any of the belays. Jul 5, 2009
[Hide Comment] About 8 ft right of the rappel tree, currently with good slings, is a pair of bolted rap anchors, slightly hidden from view. Would make a more direct line to the p4 anchors. Jul 5, 2011
Cañon City, CO
[Hide Comment] You can definitely link pitches 2, 3, & 4 with a 60m rope going either way at the crux roof on pitch 2 if ya bring enough gear. Aug 11, 2014
John Ryan
Poncha Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] This is a really great route. Protection is solid, especially where you want/need it. Fixed pin seemed solid as of 5/17/15 pulling the right portion of the roof. The 5.4 runout traverse is short and super easy. Also, when we did the route we found no tat or rap station at any of the summit trees. Those trees have taken a beating here and are barely hanging on - we missed the rap station, which as I understand it is to the right of the second tree from the very top, approximately 20-30 feet below the summit and the tree on the summit. If you summit, you'll have to scramble back down to the rap station, or rig a short rappel to it. (Edited for accuracy regarding rap anchors.) May 18, 2015
Parker Wrozek
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] This was a great route. Linked 2 and 3 by going right and running it up the easy face climb (no protection), should have kept going and linked pitch 4. Pitch 6 was interesting, I suppose. Pitch 2-5 is the meat of good climbing though.

Small cams were very useful, but I placed up to a #3. Pitch 6 made use of a few nuts, but otherwise I only placed 2 nuts on the first 5.

You can run out the bottom of pitch 1 pretty good until you get up into the crack. I used the crack system on the right to work my way up to it. On the pitch 5 traverse, although easy, a bolt midway would have been lovely as a slip would have been seriously painful.

Really though this is a very fun climb, the roof pull to the right was great on pitch 2 (fixed pin still there).

E: nuts BD 4-13, X4 0.1-0.4, C4 0.5-3 was all I took.

E2: road is good out there. Crosstrek had plenty of clearance. A car would be tough though. There is an established trail all the way from the parking. Jul 25, 2016
[Hide Comment] Question:
Does anyone have any beta on the walk off option? I have a 70m rope, so rappelling won't be an option. I'm hoping to tackle this Sunday - if anyone can share their experience, great! If not, I'll try to take some photos and post myself.

MJ Aug 3, 2017
[Hide Comment] Fun route. Recommend finishing pitch 6. At the top, there are bolt anchors next to the tree you can see from below, and it's an easy 4th Class to the summit from there. Great views and no fewer rappels -- took three rappels with 70m rope and tag line. Oct 29, 2018
[Hide Comment] Was able to link pitches 1 through 5 with careful attention to pro and use of long slings. Mar 3, 2019