All Locations > Colorado > Estes Park Valley > Big Thompson Canyon > Mary's Bust Area > Mary's Bust - main buttress
There's Something About Mary
Avg: 3 from 3 votes
|Type:||Trad, Sport, 350 ft, 4 pitches, Grade II|
|FA:||Mark Ronca and Bernard Gillett, 2009|
|Page Views:||2,279 total · 22/month|
|Shared By:||Bernard Gillett on Jul 13, 2009|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionIf you like adventurous outings, this tight little package has a lot to offer. There's Something About Mary is located on the overhanging west (maybe WSW is more accurate) face of Mary's Bust, immediately right of Violet Blue. There are 6 pitches, though two are just moving the rope over easy terrain. The exposure on this route is phenomenal. Some of the rock is a little less than ideal, but overall it's a very rewarding route.
Pitch 1: 5.0. Begin at the base of Violet Blue, clip its first bolt, and traverse right (no pro) for 50 feet to a ledge with two bolts. It's mostly 4th class with a move of 5.0 at the end. We may add a bolt or two (feel free to step up and do it on your own) -- at present, don't fall.
Pitch 2: 5.12a, 90 ft. An intricate lead with plenty of hard climbing. Head right past 5 bolts (very steep) and pull into a good hand crack (5.11). Follow cracks up to a roof (one bolt), and move out its left side (5.12a). The crux can be done low (funky) or high (powerful and reachy). Continue along the crack system to a bulge, and rock over at 2 bolts (5.11). An awkward 5.11 seam (one fixed wire and tricky small cams) leads to a good belay stance with chains.
Pitch 3: 5.12a, 90 ft. Mostly bolt-protected (11 bolts) with a few wires. Climb moderate ground to a small overhang, and punch through with a crux lunge. A good rest is followed by steep and pumpy climbing (5.11d) to a short, right-facing corner. At the top of the corner, you'll see chains up and left (more on these below*). Ignore them and hand traverse right (5.10a) to a wild perch on the edge of the wall. This is the money shot pitch, with heart-thumping exposure (the second pitch will also redline your heart rate). Lash into 3 bolts for the belay; the upper left is also meant to be used as a directional for the second, and the lower left for protection as you pull the last move to the belay.
Pitch 4: 5.10a, 75 ft. This pitch is easy enough that you can actually enjoy the crap-in-your-pants exposure (rather than feeling like the next moment could be your last). Follow 8 bolts on the edge of the buttress to a ledge with chains. Take care reaching the first bolt (placed high to avoid fractured rock; stay right). Climb through the bulges above bolts 3 and 4 on the right: there are a few suspended blocks glued to the wall with some prehistoric, petrified paste; these are best avoided.
Pitch 5: 5.2, 110 ft. Head to the base of the upper headwall (take a 1:00 or 2:00 heading) and belay at a good ledge with two bolts.
Pitch 6: 5.10d, 70 ft. Follow nine bolts to chains at the top of the wall. Avoid the funky, hollow flakes on the left at the bottom of the pitch -- any loose rock pulled off here would likely reach the road. Don't pull on the blocks resting on the belay ledge at the top of the pitch, either. Though they probably wouldn't budge, there are ample holds elsewhere, and you do not want to see these blocks take the ride to the road.
- The chains up and left near the end of the 3rd pitch were the original belay (we had not yet bolted the 4th pitch at the time). If you want, you can stop there, and head up and left through a 5.8 chimney (#4 Camalot recommended) to a separate set of chains (we'll call these the Chimney Chains for descent info). We never bothered to lead this pitch after discovering and bolting the more exposed 4th pitch described above.
LocationDescent: There are 3 options.
1. Rope off to the NE (about 40-50 feet of 4th class), scramble over to an obvious pine, and go through the notch to its left. Carefully descend 3rd class slabs to the pass between Mary's Bust and the gold wall behind it. Turn left, and traverse beneath the gold wall to a large boulder, shimmy down its far side, and then switch back to the edge of the cliff that is immediately west of Mary's Bust. You are now on top of The Devil's Backbone, and 3 rappels down that route (60 m rope) reach scrambling territory.
2. Rappel 6 times down the SE (roadside) face. A 60 m rope is sufficient.
a. 95 ft to chains that are located about 20 feet below the belay ledge at the base of the final pitch.
b. 90 ft to chains in a solution pocket -- these are just before the wall gets steep again.
c. 40 ft to chains on a stance on a rib that is a little below the high point on Proud Mary's 3rd pitch.
d. 85 ft to a stance just above a steep headwall. Rappels c and d can be comfortably combined with a 70m rope.
e. 85 ft to foothold on a gorgeous brown dike.
f. 70 ft to the ground.
Rappel route 2 is straightforward, and descends The Brown Palace. If there are people climbing on that route, you can swing left on rappel (d) to pick up the rappel route for Proud Mary.
3. Rappel the route, probably the least attractive option as the rappels are way out there, diagonal some, and when it's windy it can become a nightmare. The first rappel uses all of a 70-m line and ends at the Chimney Chains. Rope over to the chains above the 4th pitch, and then rappel to the original anchors on the top of pitch 3 (do not follow the 4th pitch bolts; stay to the left). Then a slight diagonal rappel to the top of pitch 2 (sketchy and overhanging), and then to the ground (35 meters, overhanging).
Here's the catch: if you're sure you can make it to the top of the wall, a 60 m rope is all you need. If you have to retreat, you're going to want the 70 m rope for the last rappel. You just *might* be able to swing around and get on the easy cliff at the base of the route with a 60 m cord, but you might also be screwed, hanging in space. We never tried.
ProtectionRack: one each Camalot from #0.2 (little red) to #2. Extra #0.5 Camalot, 1.5 tech Fr., and yellow TCU. 1 set of wires. First time up: you might want an extra 0.75 and 1.0 just to make sure you've got the right piece when you need it.
All you need for the 3rd pitch is a few wires; throw some finger-sized cams on if you like. 4th and 6th pitches: QDs only.
A 70 m rope is required if you need to retreat or you choose to rappel the route -- see descent information.