All Locations > Colorado > Estes Park Valley > Big Thompson Canyon > Mary's Bust Area > Mary's Bust - left buttress
The Devil's Backbone
Avg: 3.2 from 17 votes
|Type:||Sport, 280 ft, 3 pitches|
|FA:||Bernard Gillett and Mark Ronca, 2009|
|Page Views:||3,538 total, 33/month|
|Shared By:||Bernard Gillett on Mar 22, 2009|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionThe Devil's Backbone (or El Espinazo del Diablo if you like your route names with a little more flavor) follows the extreme right edge of the large buttress that sits immediately left of the main formation of Mary's Bust. It lies just across the gully from Violet Blue (which is on the west face of Mary's Bust), and to the right of Sparky's Cooler.
The route essentially follows the long extruded rib of rock (the backbone) that forms the right arete of the wall. The name is also a nod to the prominent landmark on the west end of Loveland and at the foot of Big Thompson Canyon (Devil's Backbone Open Space).
Take the standard approach to Mary's Bust (the steep trail leads to the middle of that wall in 5 minutes), head left along the base, and then turn right around the corner. At the corner, you'll pass beneath Proud Mary and Mary's Tricks, and will be looking up at Violet Blue on the west face. Scramble up the left side of the west gully for 100 feet, and then climb a 20-foot 4th class slab to reach a ledge at the base of the arete. This ledge sits atop a 60-foot wall, and continues left for 50 feet.
Pitch 1: 12 bolts, 5.11a, 100 feet; the bolts come in triplets on this lead. Climb on big holds through an intimidating bulge (3 bolts, 5.9+) and sling a horn. Follow the groove just left of the backbone (3 bolts) to a shelf, and then balance up a testy slab (3 bolts, 5.11a) to another shelf. Move right around the arete for the final 3 bolts (steep and very enjoyable buckets) and pull onto a ledge. Step up and clip the first bolt of the next lead for a directional, and then step back down and left to double chains and belay.
Pitch 2: 12 bolts, 5.11a, 90 feet. Tricky opening moves on a slab lead around the left edge of an overhang -- it's best to avoid the hollow flakes to the right. Traverse right at the 3rd bolt to the arete, clip the 4th, and then climb on the right side of the arete (the bolts are on the left side). As you near the roof looming overhead, switch back over to the left side of the arete (committing crux), and then pass the roof on the right with some amazing jugs. There's a block resting on a ledge just beneath the roof -- it appears to be solid, but it's easily avoided (and might go to the road if trundled, so leave it alone). Once the roof is cleared, a horn can be slung, and easier climbing leads up and left to belay chains at a good ledge. This pitch has some very fine positions on the arete, and will keep you thinking the entire way.
Pitch 3: 7 bolts, 5.11c, 60 feet. Work up a slab to the right, and overcome a bulging headwall with excellent knobs (crux). The 5th clip is tricky, and you have to punch it through the crux to get to the 6th. Belay at a stance with chains. Or, keep going 25 more feet (5.6 with one more bolt) to chains at the top of the wall.
LocationThe Devil's Backbone follows the right edge of the buttress immediately left of the main Mary's Bust cliff. It's the arete bordering the left side of the west face gully.
Descent: Rappel the route, 60 m rope required. From the very top, it's 85-90 feet to the belay atop the 2nd pitch. If you stop at the chains after the crux headwall, it's a 60-foot rappel. 90-95 feet from 2nd belay to the first, and 95-100 feet from 1st belay to the ground. Tie knots in your rope for the final two rappels.