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Routes in International Buttress

International, The T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Type: Trad, 2000 ft, 18 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Michael Kennedy & Harvey T. Carter, 1975 FFA: Kennedy & Jeff Lowe, 1982.
Page Views: 2,386 total · 21/month
Shared By: Michael Schneiter on Oct 3, 2008
Admins: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Railrod is private property Details


It's impossible and out of character for the nature of the climb to give a pitch-by-pitch detailing of the climb. So, the general beta is to climb two granite buttresses at the bottom and one limestone buttress at the top, with a short amount of hiking, bushwhacking and scrambling in between.

On the first granite buttress, we climbed a relatively clean and enjoyable right-facing corner with a splitter crack in one long pitch. This may not have been the original line of ascent.

On the second granite buttress, climb and simul-climb ledge-filled terrain with the best start being on the right side of the buttress. Look for old fixed pins to guide the way and in general, follow your nose. This second buttress is at least a few hundred feet tall and so may involve several pitches.

The limestone climbing is what this climb is really all about. Climb the nose of the buttress, aiming for a small tree down low and the prominent, vertical crack. A number of old pins assist in route finding. About halfway up the buttress, the crux roof pitch is encountered although it's the terrain below the roof that is to be feared and taken seriously. It's maybe 4 pitches to the roof pitch. Above the roof, climb 2 or 3 pitches, or one really long pitch, following the vertical crack. This set of pitches ends at a large ledge. A final headwall is climbed in a couple of pitches or one really long pitch. Finish on the canyon rim with a cairn.

Originally climbed in 18 pitches, it was climbed in 10 pitches on the free ascent. Most parties interested in making a speedy ascent will incorporate simul-climbing on the easier sections.

Many of the pitches are of a serious nature so you should expect some PG-13, R and maybe X-rated climbing. There's a lot of loose rock as well and this route is the definition of "adventure" climbing so take all beta with a grain of salt and bring your "A" game.

Hike east (upstream) from the top of the route, follwing game trails, until it is possible to descend a gully. In the gully, head downhill through scree and foliage until you are deposited on to the train tracks.


Located two buttresses upstream of the Fountain Buttress. The easiest way to find the location of this route is to park on the opposite side of the interstate in one of the pullouts and to look for the most sustained and continuous line of rock, culminating in the obvious limestone buttress at the top which is split by a clearly visible crack.


A complete set of Friends from micro to #6 Friend, a small set of stoppers and a set of pins including knifeblades (2-3, especially long), Lost Arrows (2-3, including super long), and angles (2-3, including baby).
Nick Schlichtman
Golden, CO
  5.10+ X
Nick Schlichtman   Golden, CO
  5.10+ X
Looks like the flake on the crux pitch is gone. Don't worry though, Still plenty of terrifying rock left in its place.

I left my TC Pros at the top. I will not be returning to get them...if someone does do this route and wants to bring 'em down, I'll be happy to share stories of the ascent over beer. Aug 9, 2016
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
Hey Jason. When I wrote the description, I basically borrowed from the original description that was in the American Alpine Journal. Hence, there are two buttresses, broken by a sizable ledge, in the pre-Cambrian granite layer. Above, the rock often gets described as limestone, but you're correct that it's actually that Sawatch quartzite layer. On the International, you never get into the true Leadville limestone, that beautiful gray limestone at the top of the canyon. Instead, it seems to stay with the Sawatch sandstone quartzite, and maybe it's a little of the Manitou dolomite at the top. It's all pretty much crap rock, whatever it is. One thing to note as well is that the single "limestone" buttress at the top is also a bit of misnomer. While it is a more continuous layer compared to the granite, there are still a couple good ledges at the top separating small buttresses (200'+) of rock. Hence, and I'm an amateur geologist at best, I think some of those upper buttresses may be the Manitou dolomite and Chaffee formation. It would be amusing to see what a true geologist would say of climbing through the rock layers in Glenwood Canyon! Jun 16, 2011
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
Jason Kaplan   Glenwood ,Co
I'm curious, the first page says 2 granite buttresses and a limestone buttress. That would be a great unconformity due to the fact that it goes Pre-Cambrian granite to Sawatch quartzite sandstone then it works its way upto the Leadville limestone formation. The pics seem to illustrate the Sawatch sandstone more than the Leadville limestone, just curious. I hope one day I have the sack to climb this thing. Jun 15, 2011
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Nice job, Michael. We tried it in '83 and bailed early on. Never wanted to go back. Feb 11, 2011
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
I learned recently that Layton Kor made the first attempt on this climb with Harvey Carter but turned back at the crux roof. Thinking about that I was amused by this quote from Glenn Randall's 1983 book, Vertigo Games: "...Layton Kor, whose enthusiasm for climbing extended to anything more solid than a pile of cinders...."

Classic. Apr 12, 2010
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
Here's an article about our recent ascent of the International. Oct 7, 2008

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