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Big Bro's Watchin' (Luebben Memorial Route)

5.11-, Trad, 450 ft, 6 pitches, Grade II,  Avg: 3 from 19 votes
FA: D. Mabe / D. Lawrence, Aug. 2009
Colorado > Golden > Clear Creek Canyon > Creek Side
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures & Rockfall Mitigation Project Details


A month ago, the community experienced the tragic loss of Craig Luebben. This route is a personal memorial for our friend, husband, daddy, partner, and local hero. I scoped this route several years ago, wondering how to access the overhanging stem corner at the top. During my guidebook research, I spotted some evidence of an ascent on the first pitch. Over beers one night, for some reason, Craig and I were discussing this wall. To my surprise, the ratty anchors I saw in the first hundred feet were his from a few years prior. He also had the vision of going all the way up but back-burnered the idea due to bigger and better things. Once I took an interest, however, he sparked, wanting to complete it with me, ground-up. Unfortunately we never got around to it...

This route and the style in which we established it, was inspired by Craig, and his seize-the-moment attitude… because someday may never come.... As far as the route name goes, well, I will just say that there were several special occasions we felt Craig was climbing with us on our FA. Thanks, Craig, for your help....

Getting There

Big Bro Watching (BBW) starts left and around the corner of Solid Gold, identified by a green lichened slab. Park in front of the Doghouse, west side of Tunnel 5 (though you can see the route across the creek at the creekside parking). Approach as you would for Solid Gold. Once at the base, continue with the 4th class Perverse Traverse over the water. Follow the line of least resistance and watch for loose rock. After some exposed moves, a brushy ledge ramp continues to the slabby base of the route and comfortable staging ledge with single belay bolt, or belay in the gully at the base of the bolted route at a two bolt belay.

Route Description

FA and FFA pics are here and here.

P1. (5.9-, 100'). Scramble up to the start of the unknown bolted route. Continue up and left of the first two bolts (you don’t need them, you can get in gear), to a fixed pin and move left into a blocky, left-facing corner. Climb through the corner, onto the face and then back left into the left-facing flakes. Laybacking and positive edges lead you to a bolt when the crack disappears. Classic! Mantle to a two bolt hanging belay.

P2. (5.9, 80'). Delicate face moves lead above the belay to a bolt, and up to a crack weakness in an overlap. Crank over (5.9ish) and cruise up blocky terrain (5.5-5.6) to a great belay ledge. Definitely reasonable to link P1 and P2.

P3. (5.11-, 115'). Head for a left-facing, cube-like dihedral. An awkward pull onto a ramp and bolt follows. Continue up the finger crack, steepening to a sequential crux that is well-protected. At the top of the crack, traverse over loose broken ledges past two bolts (5.6) and up to a wide crack splitting a bulge. Thuggish moves (5.10, bolt) and crumbly rock! Once over the bulge, hand traverse 30 feet left, smearing the crumbly ramp-of-sorts to an exposed hanging belay (aka the Kidney Killer). Good pro can be found for this traverse, and your follower will be grateful.

P4. (5.11, 75'). Step up and left off the belay. Surprisingly tricky and spooky, but you will soon get a bolt. (EDIT: a #3.5 Camalot can protect the starting moves). Incredible position! Continue traversing the ledge left (ignore the directional-rap-bolt above your head) to a powerful right-angling finger and thin hand crack through the bulge, (loose block out left!) (5.10+) . Two bolts protect the thin, steep face 'skidmarks' crux (5.11 slightly height-dependent) with sharp but strangely solid edges. You may have to brush off some bird poo. Continue up easier terrain to the Loft. Belay left on a comfortable ledge and love-seat.

P5. (5.10+, 50'). "The Loft". There are lot of moves packed into this little pitch. This follows an overhanging, stem corner to overhung jamming and traversing. Pro is mostly thin and somewhat tricky to place mid-pitch. Fantastic stemming movement, especially if your legs are long and/or flexible! Keep moving through the slimy hand crack in the roof (#3 cam) and pull around to the most airy belay perch in the canyon.

P6. (5.4, 25').  Top out, enjoy the top, and walk to Solid Gold raps.


(RECOMMENDED) top out, walk to the NE, and rap Solid Gold. Best to have previous knowledge of the SG rap location (they are right underneath a lone bonsai). Advantage of this is you don't have to reverse the perverse-traverse, but you would have had to stash your stuff at the base of SG.

For retreat or to rap the route, the rappels are a bit complex and borderline acrobatic. Pay attention or you could have an epic situation. A 70m rope is necessary.


A multi-pitch adventure mindset, helmet, 70m rope, rack up to #3 Camalot including small wires, selection of stoppers, a few extras in the small to medium cams. Offset nuts and offset Aliens/MCs are helpful. There are a couple of spots I used a #3.5 Camalot, but it is not necessary. All belays from bolts except for the top.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

George in Bird Poo.
[Hide Photo] George in Bird Poo.
SJ following p. 3.
[Hide Photo] SJ following p. 3.
Starting out P4 on the FA. Derek at the exposed "Kidney Killer" belay.
[Hide Photo] Starting out P4 on the FA. Derek at the exposed "Kidney Killer" belay.
unique pro placement at end of P2
[Hide Photo] unique pro placement at end of P2
4th pitch bulge.
[Hide Photo] 4th pitch bulge.
The crux of the awesome 3rd pitch.
[Hide Photo] The crux of the awesome 3rd pitch.
A bit airy.
[Hide Photo] A bit airy.
Crazy stem on the 5th pitch!
[Hide Photo] Crazy stem on the 5th pitch!
Derek finishing P1, on the FFA.
[Hide Photo] Derek finishing P1, on the FFA.
Looking down into the "Loft", from the middle of P5 (FA).
[Hide Photo] Looking down into the "Loft", from the middle of P5 (FA).
SJ on p5.
[Hide Photo] SJ on p5.
Pitch 1 and 2 detail.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 1 and 2 detail.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Looks like an excellent tribute. Sep 9, 2009
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] Thank you Derek for sharing such a special and memorable route with me and all your patience, help, and hard work! Sep 10, 2009
J. Thompson
denver, co
[Hide Comment] "You will pass by a bolt at the beginning of the traverse (unknown abandoned route?!)"

Raises hand....that was me. I too envisioned a route going up and through those roofs....that bolt was the belay for my first pitch. I abandoned the project....

Anyway this route is now at the top of my list...anyone want to go with me soon?

Good stuff, boys!

josh Sep 10, 2009
Derek Lawrence
  5.11 R
[Hide Comment] First off - Big kudos to Darren for spying this line and putting forth the idea of continuing Craig's initial route. While I might have provided some direction (i.e. can't you just push through that next roof... it doesn't look too hard...) The main impetus was all Darren! Thank You for bringing me in on your idea!

Second - Re the rating.... It seems that exposure adds a couple of letter grades to me. (I don't think that's the case for Darren....) It sure felt to be on the + side of 11 (but still 11). Looking forward to hearing what others think.... (I have left my rating at just 5.11 until I can go back up and check it out again....) Sep 15, 2009
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] Just to clarify the R rating further, there are no runouts harder than, say, 5.6. So, calling the route "5.11 R" is a little misleading (and only temporary), BUT we just want to emphasize in any way possible the seriousness involved with treading lightly over loose rock in spots, descent logistics, as well as familiarity with trad climbing and placements in Clear Creek stone.

And as Derek noted, I can see the overall difficulty rating being anywhere from 10c to 11b. Subsequent ascents will nail that down. Sep 21, 2009
[Hide Comment] My buddy Dave and I climbed this route today so I thought I'd help with the ratings:

P1 5.9-
P2 5.9
P3 5.10c/d
There's a slight advantage if you're taller and there's a
fixed nut that takes away a pumpy gear placement that helps a lot
P4 5.11a/b
The roof before the crux is a little dirty, but the moves are really good and really exposed probably 10d. The actual crux is straight forward if you're tall and tricky but no tougher if your not (mantel).
P5 5.10c/d
This pitch is really cool great moves, and there's another fixed nut that makes the gear easy and staightforward and the finishing hand/fist traverse is awesome, too.

Overall, great route. It will be 4 stars if it cleans up.
The descent is no problem and was set up very well. Just follow the directions. Wear a helmet and climb carefully. Sep 26, 2009
[Hide Comment] This is a super tribute & I love the name of the route. Out of curiosity...any Big bros placed? ;) Sep 28, 2009
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] Hi Ida! glad to see you checked out the description.

Ha! I did indeed come prepared with a Big bro on the FA in case the overhanging crack dihedral looming on P5 turned out to be wide. I judged from the ground it to be at least hands but imagined it to be wider. Would it not have been fitting if there were some heinous overhanging OW to cap it off!? But we were pleased to discover once we got there that the crack doesn't get much wider than #3 Camalot. But nonetheless, our Big Bro's presence was there for our ascent, and I would like to think of him grinning along with us about how each pitch manifested.

-darren Sep 29, 2009
Derek Lawrence
  5.11 R
[Hide Comment] Hey Ryan - glad you & Dave enjoyed the route!! You seem to confirm my belief about how exposure affects my ratings - but I'm fine with that! :)
Mostly just like hearing how you think it is a great route. As I'm sure you know, that matters way more than ratings! Thanks Sep 30, 2009
Alan Searcy
Pine, Colorado
  5.11a R
[Hide Comment] This is really, really, great with a smattering of stellar all over it. Very few places and routes in CC hold a 4 pitch climb of this quality. Yes, my partner pulled off 20" x 8" block leading pitch 3, held it against his chest and then launched it away from me. I like him. The route is actually pretty clean and takes great gear. Well done, Darren! The loft alone is worth the price of admission. Nov 16, 2009
Alan Searcy
Pine, Colorado
  5.11a R
[Hide Comment] It was indeed, a stellar route! We tied pitch 1 & 2 together (5.9 and clean as a whistle. Pitch 3 was 10+ and we cleaned it up a little. Pitch 4 has some really sharp edges in the right-angling crack that could be a problem for some. Face climbing at the end of pitch 4 was definitely 11 in my opinion and the loft was surprisingly solid rock in the hard 10 range. Thanks again for putting it up, Craig would have loved it. Nov 16, 2009
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Multipitch trad in Clear Creek! I had to give this a try... and it didn't disappoint. Lots of good climbing on a cool mixed route high above the river. Linking P1 & P2 works really well. As does a single 70. A single rack from blue Alien to a #3 and a set of offset nuts felt sufficient to supplement the bolts. From the anchor atop P2, we rapped to the end of a 70 and downclimbed a little to avoid the extra rap. Some loose rock in spots but as this thing cleans up it will get even better.

Thanks for a great addition to the canyon! Even better that it's a tribute to Craig! Nice work guys.

Approached from the tyrol and thought that it's pretty chill in approach shoes, especially if you leave the pack at the car. Maybe not a great idea if wet but fine when it's dry. Apr 18, 2010
Golden, CO
  5.11 R
[Hide Comment] This is "THE" adventure route of Clear Creek. Great position and CRAZY exposure. Pitch 3 is rad. Pitch 4, the crux pitch, made me want to contribute more "skid marks" to the all ready plentiful pigeon poo. Great work guys! 2 stars for now, more once it cleans up.

Don't expect a casual day out in CCC if your hoping on this one. It feels more like a wild Black Canyon Adventure. Props for finding a line up this intimidating wall, especially in the style you did it.
Cheers to Craig Jun 19, 2010
Ross Keller
Parker, CO
  5.11 R
[Hide Comment] A real adventure route. Plenty of looseness remains!

Moving off the belay on pitch 4 is no big deal and you can plug in a big cam (C4 #4). The real business is a bit higher.

The traverse over to the Solid Gold rap anchors is easy. That descent is very straightforward.

It's hard to compare this route to other CCC offerings, so I'm going to say 5.11 and a soft R, but it felt pretty burly. Jun 25, 2010
Angela Mabe
[Hide Comment] Climbed this w/Darren on Saturday, and I have to say it was awesome! Seems like from previous posts a lot of the looseness has cleaned up. Pitch 1, 2, 3 are simply classic and pretty clean except for some occasional grittiness, pitch 4 (burly) was the hardest for me on the roof and those thin slab moves, pitch 5 was sweet except the birds in the crack this time of year freaked me out. We rapped down the Solid Gold anchors. Awesome vision for this line guys, and Craig would of been ohhhh soooo proud! Cheers! Aug 16, 2010
[Hide Comment] This is more Black Canyon than Clear Creek, and if you love the Black, you'll love this route. I'd have given it four stars except for the bird shit on the crux of pitch 4, as well as some potentially nasty looseness on the pitch 4 roof. We thought the first, third, and fifth were the money pitches, though the fourth was the hardest. The third is one of the best pitches in CCC (I'd give it 5.11-), and the fifth is brilliant and well-protected, and not has hard as it looks, though it's still pretty hard (5.10+). Two bits of advice:

1) Bring a 3.5 or 4 Camalot-size piece for the move off the belay at the start of pitch 4. It was also nice to reach back from the belay at the end of pitch 5 and place this piece for the second (the leader just wants to keep moving at that point!).

2) Rap Solid Gold. The top-out is simple, and it's actually quite cool to stand on the rim of Clear Creek Canyon. The SG anchors are easy to find under the tiny pine near the tip of the next point to the east on the rim. We placed a piece and long sling to protect the reach down to the anchors, but once there, it's five totally straightforward single-rope raps to the ground.

If you like adventure climbing and can climb 5.11, do this route. Mar 20, 2011
[Hide Comment] If you don't have substantial height or wingspan, I believe that the pitch-four crux is excrementially more difficult than 11-. Otherwise, reaching the key sloper is an iron-cross to the left from bird land's slippery sloughing (and that's only the beginning). The crux's bolt, nesting in crumbly rock, could be upgraded to a half-incher, for humans emulating violet-green swallows. Jun 8, 2012
[Hide Comment] Excrementally... I like it. I'll have to add that one to my vocab, particularly when describing Eldo routes. Jun 8, 2012
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] George, cool to see that you and David checked out this rare adventure! Despite early cleaning efforts around the time this route went down, I think that skid marks pitch may always have grafitti left by the swallows.... Regarding the crux bolt, though a 3/8" stud, I am pretty sure I sailed in a longer one despite the tedious drilling stance, if that gives ya any kind of piece of mind. Jun 9, 2012
[Hide Comment] Darren -- Good to hear you put it in deep. I wasn't leading, but I was still stretching for excuses... maybe it (the bolt) would blow if I stepped on it. Jun 9, 2012
[Hide Comment] Darren, thanks for the hard work in putting this up!! This route was fantastic, each pitch with varied climbing and amazing exposure! Offset Mastercams worked great on the third and fifth pitches, a #4 was handy protecting the first bulge on p.3 and p.4

Route is well protected and not really any seriously loose rock (did knock something off p2). Has a great feeling of adventure, despite being right off the road and bolts where you want them! Mar 17, 2013
Noah McKelvin
Colorado Springs
[Hide Comment] I think this is my favorite route in CCC now. I thought I was in the Black for a while there. I don't think it can get much more exposed as far as CCC standards. We pulled off no loose rock. Great adventure. I'll have to do it again. Thanks for the route, guys!

Still a fixed nut on P2 or P3 (depending on how you link it) which also felt like 5.11a but we'll say 5.10 and call it good. :) No fixed nut on the last pitch which was kind of physical and you had to work for your gear more then normal. Jun 22, 2013
Brett Merlin
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] The best purpose for the #3.5 or 4 Camalot was extra weight make each move feel harder. Our team didn't really feel like it was necessary. If you want to carry even more unnecessary weight, I might recommend a #5 and 6 Camalot too. Jun 17, 2016