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Routes in North Face

Sucking Wind T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Tick-Mark Wall T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Type: Trad, 100 ft, 4 pitches, Grade II
FA: Ken Trout, aid solo, 1977? FFA: Steve Shea and Lou Dawson, 1977
Page Views: 1,162 total, 13/month
Shared By: Michael Schneiter on Apr 16, 2010
Admins: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Description

The classic line at the Fountain Buttress is one of the best trad lines in Glenwood Canyon. It is quality, clean climbing up a steep granite face. Featured in Glenn Randall's 1983 Vertigo Games book, you've probably spied this line when driving westbound on I-70 as it's the striking splitter cutting through the right size of the cleancut north face of the Fountain Buttress.

Sucking Wind was originally climbed in 4 pitches but is most often done in two, or one long pitch, thanks to a variation pitch that avoids the original first two pitches.

The original start climbs the impressive offwidth and chimney that forms a left-facing corner on the left side of the Northwest Corner, left of the Railroad Track Cracks and Penny Dime. A two-bolt anchor is situated at the top of this pitch. From that anchor, you climb right and up a corner to a belay ledge for the second pithch.

The more popular way to climb Sucking Wind is via a face climbing variation. Uphill and to the left of the original offwidth/chimney start and below the obvious splitter that makes up the third pitch of Sucking Wind, scramble up some easy 3rd class terrain to a nice ledge below the clean cut north face. A bolt marks the start of this face variation. The variation traverses right on good face holds where you can also slot some wires or place some small cams before moving up and right to gain the belay ledge that is at the top of Sucking Wind's original second pitch. The guidebook describes fixed pins on this ledge but as of spring 2010, there are no pins to be found.

Above, the wall is split by 100 feet of beautiful fingers and hands intermixed with great, juggy face holds that are created by the broken (but solid) rock. The climbing starts off above the ledge with fingers in a small flare followed by somewhat awkward climbing with more finger jams and small hands in a large flare capped by a small roof. Pull the roof and being the joyful journey on splitter hands, gradually angling up and left.

There is an optional, intermediate belay about 60 feet up on a small ledge. At least one large came would be recommended for building an anchor.

Finish above this optional belay ledge with more wonderful jamming, again gradually moving up and left before passing a small roof by careful stemming and a delicate topout. This brings you to a comfortable ledge with a two bolt anchor.

From here, you can continue on a seldom-done fourth pitch or rappel ~180 feet from the anchor to the ground. With careful rope management, both pitches can be combined for one big, long and glorious lead. You can also rappel this route with one rope by using the anchor on top of Tick-Mark Wall.

Location

The original first pitch climbs the impressive offwidth and chimney in the left-facing corner that makes up the left side of the Northwest Corner, left of the Railroad Track Cracks and Coltrane. The more popular start is uphill and to the left where a face climbing variation uses one bolt to climb the face directly beneath the obvious splitter of Sucking Wind.

Protection

Nuts and cams up to 3.5" with extra finger and hand-sized pieces.

Photos

Joshua Griffin
Glenwood Springs, CO
 
Joshua Griffin   Glenwood Springs, CO
 
I figure it is worth mentioning the traditional start to Sucking Wind requires some very large OW gear such as a C4 #6 and large hex and/or some very small gear smaller than C4 #0.25. I tried climbing the traditional start, but after placing a solid hex 10 feet up, I had nothing big enough to protect the OW chimney and nothing small enough for the holes in the main face further up. I ran it out for 20 feet before downclimbing and going back to the more popular face-climbing start.

Joshua Nov 1, 2015
BITD with Chris Landry and Lou used to climb on this feature fairly often. We had actually spent most of our Glenwood time on ice in the winter. That is when we discovered this granite section and some good crack climbing. Driving back and forth to Aspen, 1973ish. Suckin' Wind stood out, so we did it with the offwidth. We were hooked on crack climbing. We did almost every crack we could find on that thing. Plus a difficult face pitch at the top center. We never recorded or wrote up anything. The only reason Suckin' Wind got any publicity is that it was obvious and Glen Randall was looking for routes for his book, this one came to mind. We rated it 5.10. All the other stuff, crack climbs in the area were pretty good, but the crux was always getting across the river. Suckin' Wind (breathing hard) was the best, not the hardest, but the best. What's with all the bolted anchors? I remember bomber natural anchors and placements. I think we used to walk off which is how we scoped a lot of other possibilities.
One day Chris and I were climbing on the face toward the tracks, that last face pitch, and saw rafts coolers and oars float by. We later found out several people had attempted to float through Shoshone Rapid. All died and washed up on a sand bar near GS. Jun 20, 2014
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
 
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
 
Nice, Ken, well done. What time of year was that? Got a date? Mar 23, 2013
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
I did the first ascent of this route solo, with some aid, a month before it was freed. Had to clean off a lot of fresh snow, but at least the river was frozen and easy to cross. Mar 23, 2013
coop Best
Glenwood Springs, CO
coop Best   Glenwood Springs, CO
Anyone have some pictures? Aug 16, 2010