Type: Mixed, Snow, Alpine, 800 ft, 4 pitches, Grade III
FA: Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan, Winter 2010
Page Views: 1,794 total · 17/month
Shared By: Chris Sheridan on Jan 24, 2010
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This is perhaps a new route in what seems to be an ever growing sub-genre of mixed climbing. As Scottish winter climbers have learned to embrace rime covered rock, Colorado climbers have extended the expression "It doesn't have to be in, to be in" to discover a whole set of enjoyable winter climbs with little to no ice.

Typical to this style of climbing, Chockstones Of Unusual Size climbs steep gully snow separated by drytooling cruxes past, as the name would suggest, very large chockstones. Though not as sustained as its neighbor Brain Freeze, the route has some really fun climbing.

Kick steps up to a deep and sheltered cave below the first chockstone.

P1: climb the vertical rock on the right side of the cave up to the bottom side of the chockstone, then traverse out and around the lip of the roof and exit on ice (I had to hang a few times, but this pitch will likely go at M6-7). Later in the year, it forms a more substantial pillar and may allow you to skip the drytooling all together on what could be a stellar, WI4+ pillar.

P2: simul-climb steep snow for a few hundred feet up to a second cave below yet another very large chockstone.

P3: chimney up the very back side of the cave till you reach the top, then work your way out towards the chockstone until you can squeeze through a small opening behind the chockstone (M4). When we climbed this section, Andy tied into the middle of the rope and led through the opening, clipping just one side of the rope. He then used the other side of the rope to haul packs through the opening. Set a belay anchor in another cave about 20 feet above the top of the opening, but you may want to extend the anchor down to the top of the opening to facilitate hauling packs. This pitch is lots of fun.

P4: exit the cave on the right and climb one last enjoyable drytooling section to the final snow slope (M4).


The route is on the south face of Otis Peak, between Zowie and Wham. Descend by walking off right (same as the Wham Couloir) or by rappeling the route. The walk off can be hard to find in whiteout and may require a rappel if you get off route. There are currently no fixed anchors on the route, but it wouldn't take may rappels as the middle of the route could be downclimbed.


Stoppers, cams to a #3 C4, 2 knifeblades, 1 Lost Arrow, 2 baby angles, #11 hex (or a #4 C4), 1 stubby screw. If the ice pillar on P1 is in better shape, you might want more screws.
Congratulations, boys! People have been eyeing that line for a long time, but I don't think anyone else has ever braved those chockstones.

For a first-person account of this climb, see Colorado MoJo: coloradomountainjournal.com…. Jan 25, 2010
Kevin Landolt
Fort Collins, Wyoming
Kevin Landolt   Fort Collins, Wyoming
Climbed it today via a fat dripping pillar over the first chockstone. The second chockstone was entirely iced up as well. Really fun climb. May 22, 2010