Type: Trad, Alpine, 900 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: R. Northcutt, Carter
Page Views: 13,258 total · 93/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Apr 25, 2007
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Odd, wasn't this in the database?

Note, this route is now probably 5.10R unless someone has figured out an easier start.

This was originally a 50 Classic Climbs route. There has been much history about this route. Once, it carried a somber reputation of a fear-inducing North Wall. However, a couple Californians came to erase that reputation with an afternoon ascent. In its former state, it provided a great, moderate line up the 3rd buttress. With the rock fall which changed the first 2 pitches in the late 1990s, this route's start increased in difficulty to the 5.10 R range. Still, some loose rock exists in the section between the 2nd and 3rd buttresses which runs across the start of this line. Route finding still is a bit challenging, as evidenced by bits of scattered gear along the route.

Per Bob Dergay: alternatively you can: "start this route by going up the wide crack/squeeze chimney on the Kor-Van Tongeren route just to the right of the scar. Head up as if you're starting the Kor-Van Tongeren, then after emerging from the squeeze chimney (5.8ish) you do a pitch left (75-80 feet), staying essentially level and you'll come to the old anchors/slings that were the original Northcutt-Carter 3rd pitch start."

The approach takes about 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 hours.

P1. Ascend a corner to a chimney about 1/2 a rope length, move left, pass a smooth section and belay at a reasonable stance. ~110'.

New line - Ascend somewhat fractured rock.

P2. Ascend a dihedral, move left into another dihedral, pass pins, then move left again into another dihedral, and belay at a ledge. ~150'.

New line - TBA.

P3. This can be a route-finding challenge. Move up ~20' then move left to a smaller-than-you-think right-facing dihedral (~80' out) that is the right side of a subtle pillar. You'll likely pass 3 pins. You'll be drawn further left than you think, if you don't look carefully. ~160'.

P4. Go up a crack above this pillar in a R-facing dihedral. Continue up a left-facing dihedral and belay in nook. You'll likely pass some pins & fixed nut. ~150'.

P5. Pass a bulge on its right side, then move left, pass a ledge, fade right, go up to a 2nd ledge with a pin. ~160'.

P6. Continue up a shallow dihedral up and right with a pin past a bulge. Continue up left past fixed pins into a chimney. The belay seemed semi-hanging. ~165'.

P7. Climb up and right, then undercling left, pass a bulge, and continue up somewhat a chimney with pins at the top. ~140'.

P8. Move slight down to a gully, continue to the top of the wall.

Descent: hike uphill/right into the gully bordering the right side of the third buttress. This is loose in spots and can provide some excitement. Near the bottom of the gully, you must trend a bit uphill, climber's right, to keep the descent mellow.


This is on the third/rightmost buttress of Hallett Peak.


Wires, cams to #4 Friend, some hexes.


Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
I did this route after the rock fall, but it was ~5 years ago, so I unfortunately don't remember many details. I seem to recall one of the replacement pitches climbing a dihedral that arches right-wards to form a roof, and placing a 0 TCU at the exit of the roof. The crux was getting established above the roof. When the rockfall first occurred, there was a great deal of speculation that the route was "destroyed", but I found it to be still quite enjoyable, and not terribly dangerous. I believe the "new" route is described in Gillett's guidebook. Jun 15, 2007
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
I don't see any reason to retain the "traditional rating" if the first two pitches have fallen off! Why not list it at 5.10? Jun 25, 2007
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
George, I just haven't been back to try the new version...maybe waiting for loose rock to get pulled off. I've got to get back & try it. I don't like putting in information without direct knowledge...it's like copying a guidebook. If someone has more modern info, let me know, and I'll add it to the description & change the rating. Jun 27, 2007
Bob Dergay
Bob Dergay   Colorado
You can start this route by going up the wide crack/squeeze chimney on the Kor-Van Tongeren Route just to the right of the scar. Head up as if you're starting the Kor-Van Tongeren, then after emerging from the squeeze chimney (5.8ish) you do a pitch left (75-80 feet), staying essentially level and you'll come to the old anchors/slings that were the original Northcutt-Carter 3rd pitch start. From there, follow the above description.

I did this route a few weeks ago- AMAZING! Do this route!! The fact that this wall was climbed in 1956 is astounding! Kudos to Ray Northcutt and Harvey Carter! Sep 21, 2009
Ross Swanson
Pinewood Springs
Ross Swanson   Pinewood Springs
We tried BobDergay suggestion, but it did not pan out. We may have started to far left? Then again maybe NOT. As in directions to Kor-VanT we followed a ramp above the slab to a 5.8ish chimney. The traverse directly after the chimney was about 40m (marginal pro) which brought us to broken ledges and a fixed pin. There is a large 2m obelisk we later rapped from.
Anyway, we continued the traverse for another 6-5m (with marginal pro) to a stunning 50m, left-facing corner capped by a small roof which I was very happy to enter and go up with good pro 5.9ish. From the top of this, my partner did easy traverse 10m to a dihedral capped by a roof chockstone from which he returned saying it was dirty and loose, so we did 3 clean raps to ground.
--Ross Jul 19, 2010
Captain America
Longmont, CO
Captain America   Longmont, CO
I should have noted this point... 'Kor-Van Tongeren' is listed to start 300ft right of Northcutt-Carter. How could we traverse "75-80 ft" left as suggested and make it all the way back to Northcutt-Carter?? Dergay must have been referring to another start just to the right Northcutt-Carter. The dihedral mentioned above lead into the Black Chimney which is surely Kor-Van T. The dihedral we climbed below this (if also Kor-Van T. seemed harder than the listed 5.7) Jul 19, 2010
Bob Dergay
Bob Dergay   Colorado
Hey, guys - regarding the start: I went back to my photos from the day I was there -- Here's a beta pic where I outlined the course I took. The red dot is the start of the original 3rd pitch. Looking back...yeah, maybe not a 75-80 foot traverse (sorry, didn't have a rope that day. So, the distance might be a tad attenuated in my memory) - but I remember traversing, with a slight ramp I went up and back down, to get to the 3rd pitch belay...from that belay, I remember the route-finding a little weird for a few feet, but you'll pass one or two pins past the belay as head to the 3rd pitches' dihedral out left.... Jul 30, 2010
I did this route today with a minor variation to Bob's suggested approach to the third pitch. We climbed the steep dihedral just left of the wide crack that he describes. We figured it would be more fun and better protected. It turned out to be rather pleasant with excellent protection. This route should see more traffic than it is currently getting. It is really nice Hallett climbing. Aug 22, 2010
Rodger Raubach  
I've only climbed this route once, BITD. It was 23 July 1961. Layton Kor was my partner. It took just a hair over 3 1/2 hours to do the climb using pitons, driving, and removing. I don't recall that the climb was all that enjoyable, and certainly surprised me when Steck and Roper included it in their book. There is some brittle or friable rock towards the top, and a friend of mine took a pretty big leader fall on the next-to-last lead in 1960. Apr 10, 2011
Estes Park
Q B   Estes Park
Climbed this today. Description is fair and wording is slightly confusing. Like most Hallett routes, look around and don't be afraid to wander.
We also did the right-facing roof/dihedral, left of the big slot, that Ben mentions. Excellent hand jams through a roof with great gneiss edges for feet! The traverse pitch can just go straight across rather than up and back down.
We did the route in 6 long pitches. Descent is a bit snowy still, June 28th, we took an alternate route to the snow and glissaded. Jun 29, 2011
Climbed it yesterday Aug. 7 2011. Started via the Kor Van Tongeren. P1 5.7 55m to bottom of prominent "V"
P2 5.9 50m took left hand option of V. Short but fierce crux then easy.
P3 5.0 30m climb down and left past loose blocks and flakes to the top of P2 of the Northcutt Carter. There are a couple of old pins and some old tat to mark this belay.
We then followed the Northcutt Carter route to the top.

The above description exactly matches Bob Dergay's beta photo. We found the entire route to be really fun on steep, featured, mostly solid rock. Expect tricky routefinding and sometimes widely spaced protection.

There is still a large snowpatch to cross to get to the start of the route and another small but steep one right below the summit of Hallett. We didn't use our ice axe, but you would have to if the sun hadn't softened the snow. Aug 8, 2011
Ray Northcutt in a 2009 interview:

"Beautiful wall, beautiful setting." Mar 25, 2012
Julius Beres
Boulder, CO
Julius Beres   Boulder, CO
This thing is a choss pile. I will give it 1 star for the setting, but it is not only the worst route I've climbed on Hallet, but also the worst route I've done in RMNP. I don't understand how this ever made the 50 classics list (were the first 2 pitches that fell off incredible?!)

The route is dirty as hell and it doesn't seem like many people climb it... lichen everywhere. The holds are really brittle and tons of death blocks on the route. The gear is spaced, and though most of the climbing is easy, the crap nature of the rock makes it sketchy. I also thought the crux moves on this were harder than anything on Culp-Bossier.

The route description here is excellent for those wanting to do it. BDergay photo is perfect for starting on KVT, and from there on, you follow the description here starting with P3. We actually did the KVT start in 3 pitches (one to the base of the squeeze chimney, the chimney, and then the traverse). Jul 21, 2012
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  

I think your critique is fair. I've enjoyed climbing the routes on that list as much as anyone, but to be fair, many of the selections have not withstood the test of time. But to answer your question, I believe the route was included in 50 Classics because of its "historical significance". Northcutt declared it the hardest in CO, and perhaps the hardest route in America when he did the FA in 1956. Chouinard & Ken Weeks casually fired it in half a day for the 2d ascent. Needles to say the two CA authors of 50CC couldn't pass on the chance to stick it CO climbers by including this history in the book.

That said, it is one of the more impressive looking lines on Hallet, it was also the first line on the N Face, and Hallet is one of the more recognizable features in RMNP. I think it makes sense to include a route on Hallet, and clearly Culp-Bossier has become the true classic, but Northcutt-Carter is far more significant historically. There are plenty of other routes in the book that look good and have an interesting history, but offer mediocre climbing at best. Jul 22, 2012

i think the rockfall really beat it up. when i did it (maybe '94 or so) it was a decent route and the rock quality was fairly good (for an alpine route). my main memory is coming up to my partner's 4 RP hanging belay. he was a really good aid climber, and i think he was trying to freak me out. that, combined with the typical black clouds rolling in, made me anxious to get to the top. Jul 23, 2012
Mark Hyams
Mark Hyams   Albuquerque
I climbed this route on July 14, 1999 and loved it. It was in its original state then, and the rock-fall must have happened soon after. See the photo that I posted.

My partner and I swung leads. I remember thinking that rock on the first two pitches was somewhat suspect. Everything seemed hollow. Sure enough, it was! The whole route is very steep for its grade, which is what makes the route (and other routes on Hallett) special.

We carried all our gear up and over Hallett Peak proper, and hiked down the Flat Top Mtn trail. A much more pleasant way to end the day than going down a steep gully. Plus, we got to admire the route on the way down.

I climbed Culp-Bossier a few years later and thought it was of equal quality. I don't remember liking one route a lot more than the other. Apr 20, 2016
Mitch Musci
Estes Park, CO
Mitch Musci   Estes Park, CO
For those interested in the direct start, here is what we found:

The topo in Rossiter's new guide is quite accurate. Locate a hand/fist crack about 150ft off the ground, on the far right edge of the massive white scar. This crack heads straight up from the most prominent white band and is immediately right of a medium-sized, RF corner. This crack is the start of P2.

Scramble up and slightly right to the highest of several ledges, just right of the fall line from the P2 crack.

P1: climb up into a short corner with a hand crack, navigate some choss, and veer left to an obtuse sort of chimney/gully. Pass a slung block (bail anchor), and stem up through a small roof to get established on the slab above. Slam in a cam (or 2) in a nice splitter (best protection on this pitch), and contemplate your options. Up and left is a sort of right-facing flake system that leads to the belay, and is composed of rotten, loose, white flakes. The climbing might be reasonable, but the pro would definitely be questionable. Another option is straight up the face through a bulge on what looks like reasonable edges/flakes, but it is probably 5.10, loose, and questionable pro. I traversed straight right around a bulging, decomposing flake/rubble pile to a mellow ramp. This led to a final couple body lengths of thin corner climbing in white rock with decent feet and ok pro. This way felt about 5.9 R, and the rope drag was horrendous (you should mega extend your piece in the roof below the splitter). Overall one of the chossiest pitches I have led in the park but totally worth it for P2.

P2: climb up the now obvious hand/fist crack. Initially, the rock is fractured with wedged blocks but quickly turns into that bullet Hallett rock we all love so much - steep but feet everywhere. A #4 would sew it up, but a single #2 and #3 worked. Pull a small roof at the top (now perma-grin), pass a fixed nut anchor, then clip a decent looking pin. From here, veer right onto the steep face above and find a seam angling up and left. Fiddle in some thin gear as you crimp up perfect edges/locks and save some energy for the final mantel, then climb up and left on easy terrain to the belay ledge (2 pins/slung block). This pitch felt about 10b and spicy but probably not R, 2.5/3 stars.

P3 and beyond: see above. Jul 3, 2018