Type: Sport, Alpine, 350 ft, 4 pitches, Grade III
FA: Mark Tarrant, Richard Wright, May, 2008
Page Views: 812 total · 6/month
Shared By: Mark Tarrant on May 27, 2008
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Touch Gold is a 350' sport route that starts from the Catwalk about 25' down and right of Priceless. The first and last pitches are over 100', so a 70m rope is required to rap off. The entire last pitch has some of the best stone yet climbed at Empire.

Pitch 1: 5.11c, 18 bolts, 3-bolt anchor, 104'. The hard stuff starts right from the get-go through the first 5 clips and then eases as you approach a small roof and then a ledge. 60' of .9/.10a takes you to the anchor.

P2: 5.6, 4 bolts, 3-bolt anchor, 50'. Head up easy ground and find the belay on a ramp to the right.
P1 and P2 can be combined (some rope drag) and you can back clean along the way to save on draws.

P3: 5.12b/c, 12 bolts, 3-bolt anchor, 80'. A wild pitch with great movement through the sustained crux roof. Locating a few invisible holds is the only thing that keeps it reasonable. Work up to the roof and decipher the initial tricks to get established at the lip (hint: go straight up). Move straight right along the sharp lip past 2 bolts and finally pull onto the wall above (hint: reach about 3.5' right of the high and difficult 2nd clip). Balance through 2 moves and climb 25' to the anchor on a nice ledge. It helps to lower yourself out about 10' from the anchor so you can see your partner.

P4: 5.10d, 15 bolts, 2-bolt anchor, 110'. The last pitch is fantastic both for its position and quality of stone. Climb the corner right of the belay and then launch up beautiful golden rock for 60' to a green slab. Move right and up the slab for 40' to the anchor. Lowering back to the belay requires a 70m rope. (You can rap this pitch with a 60m--barely--but only after the pitch has been followed/cleaned.)

Descent: Rap the route. Note the distances on the first and last pitches. After lowering off the last pitch, it's possible to return to the Catwalk in 2 raps with a 70m rope. From this anchor, a 70m rope just makes it to the 1st pitch anchor--knot the ends! A 60m rope will require 3 raps. We've rapped the first pitch with a 60m rope, but the ends hang about 4' above the ground.

The name Touch Gold was given both for the nice, gold stone on the last pitch and for an awesome golden eagle that soared by, close enough to touch, on two trips up the route.


Above The Catwalk about 25' right of Priceless.


About 20 draws (more if you combine P1 and P2). 70m rope is recommended.


Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
I would like to see ANYONE on-sight this. The 5.12 rating may be true for a redpoint burn, having found all the blind holds above the crux roof, but I seriously doubt any 5.12 climber will flash this one.
Talked to Mark about that- he confirmed that his intent was to express that the technical difficulty of the hardest individual move was probably 5.12, but that it was not going to go down easily on-sight. I still think maybe a harder than 12b, but then again I didn't necessarily find everything or the best sequence either. Even getting to the small hold just below the roof was hard, and it isn't a great hold. The the blind holds over the roof and then the hidden cling/crip to the right of it... and you're still quite solidly in 5.12 territory. Yowsa! Aug 23, 2009
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
I have worked this crux pitch with Mark several times, and I think you can forget hoping to pull it at low end 5.12. Moves over the roof may themselves come in at that level, but the crimps that end the sequence and allow you to pull over the roof are significantly more difficult. However, the crux section is well enough protected that even if it evinces some hangs it is worth running just for the radical sequence. Furthermore, while the last pitch may only come in at 5.10, it's worth the fight to get there just for the position and high quality climbing on great rock that ends the route. Aug 24, 2009
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Completely agreed- the route is safe to flail on. And fun regardless, so thanks for putting it up. There should be no reason not to get on it. My note is not a complaint- it's just to level-set the expectations for people who might try to climb this route.
The link-up of Cat Tracks to Touch Gold was a 4-star day. With the exception of the 3rd pitch of Cat Tracks and a short section of Touch Gold, the rock is bullet hard and bomber, and in may places "perfect."

PS - Be warned, the final 5.10 pitch is on the hard end of 5.10... and you'll be completely worked when you arrive. This is a hard-man's climb, not a Bocan sport climb. Aug 24, 2009
Mark Tarrant
Mark Tarrant  
Adjustments made to the ratings. It's important to get input on routes after the FA to solidify ratings. Tony is correct in that there are a few ways to rate a route's difficulty. I tend to rate primarily on technical difficulty; the hardest move determines the rating. But rating for the on-sight is probably more logical, especially at Empire where other factors add so much to the difficulty. I think most people who have climbed here agree that solutions to the cruxes are harder to figure out than to actually pull off, making on-sighting things pretty hard. The nature of the holds (usually flat), the endurance demands, the altitude, and the 'spookiness' of the atmosphere, all require real familiarity with the area before feeling comfortable on these crags. Aug 24, 2009