Type: Sport, 450 ft, 6 pitches, Grade II
FA: Team effort (Gillett and Foster on redpoint day 2009)
Page Views: 14,080 total · 123/month
Shared By: Bernard Gillett on Jul 31, 2009
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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The Brown Palace runs up the entire length of the southeast face of Mary's Bust, beginning on the left corner at Proud Mary, and traversing right to the base of a gorgeous, 4-ft wide brown dike. The dike continues up much of the wall, receding into the fabric of the cliff at times, but prominent at other locations -- the route strives to follow the dike.

Denver denizens know the Brown Palace as the hotel in downtown Denver built by Henry Cordes Brown (construction began in 1888; the hotel opened in 1892). Of course, you don't need to live in Denver to know about The Brown Palace, as it's a famous four-star resort. It seems fitting to also award four stars to the route, though we'll let the critics weigh in on the matter to get a definitive answer. You can't beat it for sport climbing of this variety: SIX pitches of bolt clipping with very nice rock, excellent position, and flat-out fun the entire way. I like calling it the Naked Edge of sport climbing -- a big stretch given the stature of the Naked Edge, but it's a fine route nonetheless.

First Ascent: as noted above, a route of this magnitude required a lot of man-hours and team work, and several people contributed. Bernard Gillett, Paul Bodnar, and Jim Bailey did the FA of the first pitch. The last pitch was done by Mark Ronca and Gillett as part of There's Something About Mary. Gillett, Paul Foster, and Ronca worked out the details on the middle pitches; these were first led on the FFA of the entire route by Gillett and Foster.

Pitch 1: 5.9-, 70 feet, 6 bolts. Begin at the left edge of the main wall next to a big pine tree. Clip the first bolt on Proud Mary, and then make a rising traverse right to gain a ledge. Walk right to a bolt on Deceiver, and continue up and right past two more bolts and a tricky move before a two-bolt belay on the right side of the brown dike.

Pitch 2: 5.10c, 9 bolts, 85 feet. Follow the brown dike (the most aesthetic climbing stays on the dike itself; it's a little easier on the right) to its top, then step right to a flake. A #2 Camalot can be placed here, or do two more moves to the next bolt. Steep climbing lies ahead (5.10c): stem through a corner, bump left, and finish with a thank-god jug to a good stance at the base of a prominent rib (bolts and chains).

Pitch 3: 5.11a, 9 bolts, 85 feet. Waltz up the bolted rib (the continuation of the brown dike) to a chimney. Bridge up for a ways (take care with a big, hollow flake at the base of the chimney), and then move left onto overhanging rock. Several tricky sequences lead left and up around a bulge (5.11a) to a small ledge with two bolts. The belay is a short distance right of the last pitch on Proud Mary.

Pitch 4: 5.11a?, 4 bolts, 40 feet. This short pitch goes straight up a discontinuous column (I think also part of the brown dike formation) to a small overhang. A weird crux follows, maybe only 5.10+ for the long-limbed folk. Belay at two bolts in a solution pocket above the overhang. A bit of poor rock must be endured at the crux; it's the only funky rock on the entire route (and it should clean up some as the route gets repeat ascents).

Pitch 5: 5.10, 12 bolts, 120 feet. Angle right off the belay to access a nice slab with mellow climbing. Half way up the slab you will encounter two lovely chicken heads that appear to be made in the mold of the brown dike. Continue up to an overhang, and yard through with a long reach (height-dependent crux, I'm thinking, somewhere between 5.10a and 5.10d). Easy climbing goes past a rappel station (long sling) and one more bolt; the pitch ends at a good ledge with two bolts at the base of the upper headwall.

Pitch 6: 5.10d, 9 bolts, 70 feet. The final pitch is shared with There's Something About Mary. Follow the bolts to the top of the wall (crux near the end), avoiding the loose flakes on the left at the bottom of the pitch. It's best not to grab the blocks resting on the belay ledge, either -- they look reasonably solid, but if they came off, they might reach the road.

Per Liz S.: beware of a toaster-sized, unattached rock on the left that looks like the resolution hold. This is about 3 feet below the anchors.

How cool was that??? Enjoy the view and rappel the route.


Start at the left edge of the southeast face of Mary's Bust, beneath the first bolt of Proud Mary.

Rappel the route to descend (95', 90', 40', 85', 85', 70'). If you brought a 70 m rope, the 3rd and 4th rappels can be combined. The first rappel goes past the last belay ledge to a station that you used as pro on the 5th lead. I recommend tying knots in your rope for at least this first rappel.

Because I suspect this may become a popular route, here are some other options to avoid rappelling over other parties.

1. You've done the first 3 rappels and are atop the 3rd pitch, with the bolts of Proud Mary to your left. Swing left on your next rappel to find the rappel station for Proud Mary (it is not on the route; read its description). Then rappel straight down to the anchor on top of Deceiver, and then to the ground.

2. Scramble off the back side to the rappels on The Devil's Backbone. Begin by roping off to the NE (40 ft of 4th class) and then head for an obvious pine tree. Go through a notch to its left, and carefully down climb the 3rd class slabs on the back side of Mary's Bust. These lead to a saddle between Mary's Bust and a short gold wall behind it. Turn left, traverse beneath the gold wall, shimmy down the far side of a big boulder, and switchback left to the edge of the cliff that sits immediately west of Mary's Bust. Rappel The Devil's Backbone (3 rappels, 60 m rope required).


15 quickdraws will do it. Bring a few long slings for rope drag. A #2 Camalot comes in handy on pitch 2, and it could be placed on pitch 3 to decrease the distance between bolts (unclip it afterward to reduce drag). Bring a little more gear if you want to eliminate a few more bolts: I think the route has 62 bolts (belays included), and we could have done it with perhaps 4-5 fewer bolts, but I didn't see the point with a route this big.

You'll certainly have enough rope left over to combine pitches, but rope drag argues against it. If you want to try anyway, #4 and 5 could be combined with 17 QDs. But the belayer won't be able to see the leader at the 5th pitch crux.
Bernard Gillett
Bernard Gillett  
I'll post a photo/topo when I get the chance, but you really don't need it. Once you complete the first pitch, just follow the bolts straight up the wall.
EDIT: I posted a photo on the main Mary's Bust page. Jul 31, 2009
This sounds great, Bernard- I saw those 1st couple new bolts the other day and was wondering...? Keep the new routes coming! -tim Aug 1, 2009
Scott Matz
Loveland, CO
Scott Matz   Loveland, CO
I tried B.G.'s Brown Palace, and got a little mixed up, I didn't traverse far enough right on P1, and ended up on Deceiver. There are so many bolts up here, it is confusing, but B.G. just put a topo that will help us bag this route. Thanks. Aug 5, 2009
Jake Carroll
The Springs
Jake Carroll   The Springs
We did this in a party of 3 with two 50m ropes. It took about 6 hours. Super fun climbing that will leave your fingertips feeling... used. Double rope rappelling with the two fifties, we were able to combine the rappels in the order of: 6-5, 5-4, 4-2, 2-ground. Hope this assists people in the future!
Btw, did the start of Deceiver (agreed on the 10a rating) as suggested by Lew, and it was definitely worth it. Cut right after the 4th or 5th bolt. Oct 4, 2010
David Menzies
David Menzies  
I found it pretty easy to combine pitches #4 and #5 without any rope drag. The key was to skip the first bolt after the intermediate belay. The climbing is very easy, so I thought it felt safe. The downfall to this option was that there was extra rope out for the crux of pitch #5, and the fall looks like it could be a little rough. May 21, 2011
Stephen Nance
Boulder, CO
Stephen Nance   Boulder, CO
Freakin' amazing. The only problem I can think of about this route is once word gets out, it will be packed...

- short approach
- 6 pitches
- super well-protected
- amazing views

Doesn't get better.

Stephen Jun 6, 2011
Flagstaff, AZ
Katy90   Flagstaff, AZ
Super fun climb! Watch out for the loose boulder just before getting to the anchors on the last (6th) pitch. I almost pulled it right onto myself when pulling the last small roof. Other than that. this is an awesome route that utilizes laybacks, big roof moves, stemming, and ends with a crimpy, exposed, face climb. Aug 19, 2012
Vaughn   Colorado
We brought a #2 cam but never used it. This route is extremely well protected on bolts alone. Do this climb. Sep 2, 2012
Brody Hatch
Brody Hatch  
Excellent route! Did the first two pitches with numb fingers and toes (turns out mornings are cold in early November), but when the sun came out, the temp was perfect. The crux pitch is still pretty chossy, but it's only about 2 bolts worth, the rest of the climb is nice and clean. We also took a #2 and never used it. The last pitch was by far my favorite. Do yourself a favor and and do this route! Nov 4, 2012
Liz S.
Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
Liz S.   Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
WARNING - at the top of the 6th pitch - the very last move of the climb - there is a toaster-sized, unattached rock on the left that looks like the resolution hold. This is about 3 feet below the anchors. For this reason, don't belay at the anchors at the base of the wall. Use the anchors at the top of pitch 5. It doesn't seem safe to trundle the rock, because you cannot see the base of the climb. May 24, 2013
You definitely don´t need a #2 on this route. We met another party and they were also carrying a #2 and didn´t find a useful placement for it. Bring draws only, not a single cam or nut needed. Jun 2, 2013
Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas   Colorado
Climbed this today on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The toaster size block at the top is still there, but otherwise the climb is pretty clean.
Very well protected (almost too much). As said in the description, you could bring a #2 for the second pitch for a transition onto a flake, but there's a bomber ledge that if committed will get you to the next bolt easily.
Overall, despite sometimes not having a lot of good friction, a lot of thought was put into this climb, and it is pretty varied. May 4, 2014
What a great route.

Each pitch is different, and the cruxes are brief. Pitch six is not to be missed for its verticality and summit.

Beautiful! Mar 10, 2016
Dom R
Bend, OR
Dom R   Bend, OR
Awesome 4 star route. The climbing is technical and demanding with clean falls at the cruxes and great exposure. Our party as well did not bring the #2, and I didn't find it necessary. It's an intimidating looking run to the next bolt, but the holds are all jugs. Regarding the pitch 5 grade, at 5'11", I found the crux to be fairly easy compared to other bulges on this route, I was able to reach the high crimp without issue, but my partner that is an inch or so shorter had a little trouble reaching it at first. I personally found the slab climbing just below the bulge to be more demanding. Compared to other pitches on the route, I would say pitch 5 goes at around 5.10b/c. Again, great route, bring a good amount of water, and start early. I slept for 12 hours after a day on this. Once you're off the ground, the difficulty doesn't ease until you're rappelling back down. Jun 12, 2016
Alice Chiang
Cambridge, MA
Alice Chiang   Cambridge, MA
Did this route last summer with my partner, and we found the climbing to be pretty sustained face climbing. She's about 5'7", and I'm 5'1"; I would say the 5th pitch crux was significantly harder for me than some of the other cruxes (very height-dependent).

I found the rock a little hard to read and trust at first, but a few pitches in and we were fine. We brought a few cams due to the comments above but didn't find a need for any of them. Falls are clean, bolts are safely spaced. We simul-rappelled the top part of the route (very easy for the last 2-3 pitches). May 25, 2017
S. Neoh  
The route goes into shade late August around 2pm. You have at least 5 hours of daylight then. Based on first hand experience, we would recommend an afternoon ascent of this if you are comfortable with the reasonable time constraint. What a pretty location. Sep 10, 2017
Jason Giblin
Boulder, CO
Jason Giblin   Boulder, CO
The main road to this route is closed for the time being, as of October 2017. Anyone know of another way to access this? Apparently the road construction isn't supposed to end until Memorial Day, 2018. Oct 7, 2017
Me and my party agreed, very meh. Rock is meh in most places and the climbing not sustained at all. No real exposure and the climbing feels discontinuous. I would give it an "Okay" or 1 star for the novelty of it being a longer sport multipitch, but i wouldnt recommend it to a friend unless they were just looking for that. we were definitely let down after seeing all the hype. Jan 4, 2018
Isaac Mauro
Fort Collins, CO
Isaac Mauro   Fort Collins, CO
High quality route. Really fun climbing pretty much the whole way up with ample protection bolts. A #2 was completely unnecessary. I placed it on pitch 3 in the chimney before the first bolt in the chimney, but I didn't really need it, the climbing was easy. Definitely bring some long runners, they were useful for almost all of the pitches, especially pitch one. I found pitch 2 to be more strenuous than both the .11 pitches. Moves weren't hard, but I found myself pretty pumped before tackling pitch 3. Pitch 6 was money, nice sustained face climbing from the belay to the top. Didn't find much loose stuff atop pitch 6, but be careful nonetheless, and definitely wear a helmet. We got hit by ice multiple times as the rock warmed up from the sun. We didn't link anything, rope drag would be pretty bad. Little less than 6 hours car-to-car, but we were really slow on the first 2 pitches, because it was cold and the rock was wet and icy in spots. Could easily be done in less than 4 hours by a party more solid at the grade with better efficiency. Nov 15, 2018