Type: Sport, 250 ft, 3 pitches
FA: John Langston and Bernard Gillett, 2009
Page Views: 2,059 total · 18/month
Shared By: Bernard Gillett on Aug 5, 2009
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Sympathy for the Devil is a brilliant variant finish to The Devil's Backbone. It may be the best pitch at Mary's Bust at present.

Climb the first two pitches of The Devil's Backbone (both 5.11a), but skip the last bolt at the end of the 2nd pitch and head right to a great ledge on the edge of the buttress with a hidden two-bolt anchor.

Pitch 3: Start up the arete, and move onto the overhanging wall on the right. After clipping the 4th bolt (awesome 5.12a to here), you have two options.

A) Traverse straight left to the arete and follow it for about 8 feet. Move back right again, and clip the 5th bolt with a long sling. This was the way I first envisioned the route, and the way it was first led when John and I did it.

B) Punch straight up from bolt 4 to bolt 5 (and clip with a long sling as above). This is the stronger line and doesn't really add much difficulty to the route; you just have to go a little bit further with a few more hard moves to get to your first shakeout (I led this version with Jonathan Siegrist a couple weeks after the FA). Both versions are worthy; do them both over a couple visits.

Having clipped the 5th bolt, continue right to a bulge/small overhang. Lever over this (5.12a) to beautiful face climbing that hangs over the abyss. A belay anchor is found on the arete at the top of the face. Lower off from here to clean the pitch, or move left to the anchor on The Devil's Backbone to rappel off.


This route climbs the right edge of the buttress immediately left of the main wall at Mary's Bust. The last pitch provides exceptional position as it overhangs the gully to the right, and the rock is nearly perfect. See The Devil's Backbone for more detailed approach information. See topo for The Devil's Backbone to check out where the route lies.

Rappel three times (60', 90', 95') to reach the ground. The first rappel goes to the normal anchors on The Devil's Backbone; you'll see them from the crux pitch belay.


Bring 15 quick draws and a thin, over-the-shoulder sling for the horns on The Devil's Backbone. There are nine bolts on the crux pitch.


Bernard Gillett
Bernard Gillett  
Retreating from midway up the crux pitch could be interesting (it may also be straightforward, but it looks like it has the potential to be spicy). Aug 5, 2009
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
What a treat. I have been itching to get on this well touted route for more than an year, and finally took a break from tapping in new routes in the South Platte. The whole route had good climbing throughout with some tenuous smearing on P1 and P2. The 5.11c variation for P3 (Devil's Backbone proper) was a tad sharp but fine climbing as well (11a/b). P3 on Sympathy for the Devil proper was a great pitch - a bit hard to deciper on the first go. The best version by far is to follow the bolt line closely. Moving to the arete never seemed like a good option. Moreover, Mark pulled a large block off the arete just below the final overlap. So the arete itself may not be super solid. Strong turns on the lower part of P3 set up a series of largely excellent hand holds with only one thin section at bolts 3 and 4. The final slab was simply terrific. Great job overall !! Aug 30, 2010
Ken Duncan
Ft Collins, CO
Ken Duncan   Ft Collins, CO
Great moves over the overhang and the face above is outstanding! Combined with the first two pitches of Devil's Backbone it probably deserves four stars. Definitely a better finish than the sharp crimps on the third pitch of Devil's Backbone. Sep 28, 2010
Is NICE...I LIKE. The better way to finish the Devil's Backbone for sure -- pumpier, but much kinder on the fingers. A mega-pitch; thanks for the hard work and great routes, guys! Oct 5, 2011
Elijah Flenner
Fort Collins, CO
Elijah Flenner   Fort Collins, CO
After finishing the crux on a sidepull that one wishes was just a little better, you are rewarded with some great face climbing to finish. Great addition to the area. Sep 9, 2014