Type: Trad, 700 ft, 5 pitches
FA: John McMullen, Kyle Copeland, & Marc Hirt, 1985
Page Views: 6,036 total · 53/month
Shared By: Luke Clarke on Aug 17, 2009
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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This is fine route with lots of slab climbing, jamming and liebacking. Guidebooks vary on exact route and difficulty -- 9 or 9 minus. This felt soft for a South Platte 9. It's a good route for someone breaking into the grade. The rock is classic S. Platte granite: hard and knobby.

Pitch One: Lieback and jam an obvious 5.7 dihedral or follow a crack system angling up and left in the middle of a face. Find a belay in a spacious pod at the base of a huge right-facing dihedral.

Pitch Two: Ascend easy ground up and right to a belay ledge about 100 feet up.

Pitch Three: Climb the clean, right-facing, right-leaning dihedral. The crux is a traverse to cracks at the end of the dihedral.

Pitch Four: Either take the sweet finger crack splitting the face on climber's left(as depicted in Peter Hubbel's South Platte The Rock Climber's Guide) or climb the wide chimney on climber's right (Ken Trout's South Platte Rock). The finger crack protects easily. The wide crack would take a No. 4 Big Bro if you have one but only where the crack narrows a bit and the climbing gets easier. Either way, climb to a cave under a large overhang.

Pitch Five: We traversed out right(east)and made a couple slab moves with ledge-fall potential before you can place gear. Continue up obvious cracks to easy ground and on to the summit.


The start of this route is hard to find. Traverse along the base of Wigwam far to the east of Hill Route and Ramblin Rose. Fight through brush and boulders about 40 feet up to a clearing on a wide ledge and walk back left until you see an obvious right-facing dihedral with a hand size crack leading to a bushy corner. There is probably a better way but that's how we got there.


Double cams to 3" and at least one No. 4
Andrew Ingraham
Andrew Ingraham   Conifer
We took the wide crack on pitch 4. You can get a orange TCU in a pod just as the chimney starts to shrink that will protect you through the crux. The finger crack looked excellent and more exposed, but the chimney was super fun and classic in my opinion. Great climb. Sep 1, 2009
Patrick Betts
Patrick Betts  
It's good to note that, personally, I believe the lower you traverse on pitch 3 the easier it is. However, you better be comfortable with a 40ft traverse on 5.7/5.8 slab. It seems the higher up the dihedral you wait, the more water-worn the slab gets. My 2-cents. Great climb! Jun 20, 2012
Patrick Betts
Patrick Betts  
Climbed it again yesterday, 9/21, and did the finger crack variation on pitch 4. Stellar. With having done both options, the finger crack variation is definitely the way to go, in my opinion. Used just a #1 and 0.75 in the finger crack and that's it for the pitch. It does eat up gear though. Do it! Sep 22, 2012
Colorado Springs, CO
LawHous   Colorado Springs, CO
Just climbed this route today. There was some icefall and some water on the climb, but it will still fun and climbable. Nobody talks much about the descent, and the little that is mentioned says to go southwest (climber's left at top of route) to rap and walk off. There isn't much to rap off except some trees, and it takes longer to get back to the base of the climb that way. If you go east (climber's right), there is an easy, all walk off descent down a gully to the right of Wigwam Dome. Apr 21, 2013
Colorado Springs, CO
LawHous   Colorado Springs, CO
Also as far as gear goes big stuff is certainly beneficial, but we took double cams from 0.4 to 3 and used all of them more than once. Take everything you've got! This climb likes gear. Apr 22, 2013
Andy Hansen
Longmont, CO
Andy Hansen   Longmont, CO
This is a pretty good route. My girlfriend and I climbed this route yesterday in pretty windy conditions - up to 40mph gusts. Approach took 1h15m at a casual pace and was pretty easy to follow the "trail."

All in all, the climbing is pretty easy with short cruxes thrown in to make it exciting. We both agreed the climbing was no harder than 5.8+. The "finger crack" variation on P4 is really just a couple moves of Lumpy Ridge-esque "crack climbing." I think I locked one time towards the top of the crack. From there, an easy corner leads to an obvious belay ledge. Small cams on P3's crux are helpful. The belay at the Top of P3 (inside the chimney, below the finger crack variation) is tricky. Don't place gear in the seemingly stable flake... it's definitely hollow. Place large nuts/smaller cams higher up instead.

Walk off to the east/northeast and down the gully is really straightforward. The only possible way to get thrown off is if you walk too low and miss the start of the route. Just hug the edge of the dome and you'll get back to your packs in 30-40m.

A single rack of gear seems reasonable for this route. Doubles in 0.5-#1 Camalot would be ideal. Nov 4, 2013
Dan 60D5H411
Colorado Springs, CO
Dan 60D5H411   Colorado Springs, CO
A couple of notes:
1) The route, as described above, is a bit different than what is listed in the Hubbel guide (take a look at the photo with the red line to see where Hubbel shows the route going). I suspect the Hubbel variation bumps up the grade when you traverse left after the finger crack, rather than going straight up the wide flake above.
2) Don't cheat yourself of some of the best climbing on the route by traversing far right on the third pitch. Continuing up the dihedral may be harder, but the low traverse indicated by the blue line in the beta photo is mediocre, run-out and 5.5 at the most.
3) A single rack up to #3 with doubles in the 0.5-1.0 range is perfect for this route. A #4 is definitely not necessary if you take the finger crack (not sure about the chimney variation.)

All in all, this was a nice moderate romp up an impressive dome, lacking only in sustained difficulty. May 5, 2014
I really liked going up the corner on P3, the upper part didn't seem any harder than the terrain below, and the pro was good. Jan 31, 2017
Golden, CO
Jfriday1   Golden, CO
Start early, because storms roll in fast and you can't see them coming. You can bail from the top of pitch 1 if you have to.

Save a couple of your 0.2-0.3 cams for the very top of pitch 3 before you cross over. Pitch 3 at the top was the crux for me, but you can put in a ton of protection. Don't bother with a long traverse on the pitch, ride the crack out to the top - great friction for the feet.

#4 not needed, but if South Platte .8-.9 range is your limit, then it does make the climb more secure on pitch 1 and pitch 4. Take the finger crack. It has better protection and isn't hard at all (think of Flatirons). The crack is only a couple of moves to another laybacking flake.

Pitch 5 was about 190 feet from the cave to the very top. Tell your follower to just start climbing if you're a little short on rope, because you are unlikely to hear each other or feel the rope tugs.

We climbed with doubles from 0.2-3 and a #4, plus a set of nuts, it allowed plenty of gear to have nice long protected pitches plus gear for anchors. Jul 11, 2017
BEGINNERS! (i.e. where 5.10- or below is your limit)

While none of the climbing on this route is harder than 5.9 in and of itself, the vast majority of aspiring 5.10- climbers will be uneasy with the terrain covered.

P1: depending on where you start, you'll encounter a 10-15 section of run-out friction slab (I included a picture of a nice way to start).

P2/P3: the dihedral section depending on how you split it up. If you're intimidated by the weakness in the dihedral (I would be if I was just breaking into 5.9), you're stuck traversing right toward the other cracks. The traverse is 30-40 feet of primarily friction slab with zero pro. This section would be quite heady for anyone just breaking into the grade. (If you're nervous about this section but want to do the traverse, place gear high, down climb, then go right so you're more of on TR, but try to place your next piece high so you don't screw over your follower, remember you can always back-clean.)

P4: the chimney. This is easily a 5.9 chimney, but it lacks gear (unless you have Big Bros or Valley Giants), so you'll be running yourself out 20-25 feet. Every new 5.9 climber I've ever met would rather poop their pants and walk five miles in their own crap than grunt their way up an unprotected chimney on lead. If you're comfortable with 5.9 chimneys, this won't be a problem. We didn't do the finger crack, but again, a 5.9 crack climber would probably not be psyched to do it, especially if said climber isn't used to exposure and shallow 0.5-0.75 cracks.

P5: this is the one where deck-potential is mentioned, and I agree. We took the water-runnel portion because you can get a piece or two (we placed our #4 here), but then there's about 15 feet of vertical, unprotected slab with only small crystals for handholds. Most new 5.9 climbers are nervous top-roping this style of climbing, let-alone leading it.

Descent: climber's right, skier's left of the top.

In summary: I would advise any aspiring 5.9 leader to avoid this climb unless said climber is comfortable leading 5.9 in Eldorado Canyon SP, 5.10s in RMNP, Gallatin Canyon in MT, The Needles in SD, etc. This climb, due to the runouts and chimney/finger crack, would be more suited for someone comfortable climbing mid 5.10s or above. This climb, while straightforward, felt more like a desert-tower or wall style climb since the description doesn't entirely tell the climber what's to come.

Good luck, be safe, and have fun. Hope this helps someone. Oct 14, 2017
Nice additional info on the pitches, but this route really isn’t all that sketchy. We did it in January with snow and very short days. My trad game was as rusty as my aged elbow joints then and I didn’t find the direct dihedral pitch to be a big deal and climbed at a good pace. The chimney was full of ice, so we did the finger crack which was pretty straightforward too. The final pitch involves some thoughtful route finding but nothing scary. A competent 5.9 trad leader should be able to do this in the warmer months without having an epic. Oct 15, 2017
T Dz
T Dz   Golden
FA: John McMullen, Kyle Copeland, Marc Hirt in 1985. Apr 29, 2018
Olivier C.
Saint Pierre d'Allevard, FR
Olivier C.   Saint Pierre d'Allevard, FR
I just want to warn people about some comments I found regarding this route. You don't need big cams! You don't need to be 5.9 climber. The traverse is easy, and I regret not to have follow the entire dihedral up the end ( probably not more than 5.9). The route as shown on the blue line is 5.7 maximum! Don't be afraid by the terrible comments here! We almost change our minds at the foot of it because sky was not so calm. Well tried it full of doubt, and it occurs that we almost simul-climbed all the route except the 2 last pitches. We are climbing 5.9 with difficulty (Yellow Spur in Eldo or Turkey's Grunt in The South Platte).

Nice place. So sad to see all the forest gone in fire.... Jun 11, 2018
Agree with Andy and Oliver here. Easy climbing for the grade i.e., something I'd consider free soloing (as I see some have). You know what they say about crack; once you go crack...haaa, but seriously, stay in the cracks/dihedrals, no need to traverse except briefly on P3 out right to get to a good belay and the last pitch above the cave. P5 go far right at the cave and a you'll see a water runoff section. Nice spot to place a 0.75 then higher a #4; however, as you traverse back left to get to the good crack, there is a brief slab section here, and if you slip, a groundfall back to the ledge is possible, but the slab is knobby and positive. Be quick and commit. Final notes: we combined P1/P2 with a 70m. Also, P4 do the finger crack, it's short and sweet. Aug 27, 2018