Type: Trad, Aid, 1200 ft, 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Ken Trout, Scott Visscher, September, 1979
Page Views: 5,180 total · 54/month
Shared By: Ken Trout on Jan 16, 2011
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

8 Opinions

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Introduction, Description, & Equipment


For climbers who like long routes, wild places, good granite, and for whom a little A0+ is acceptable, this could be the best 5.9+/5.10- trad route in the San Juan Mountains.

On the other hand, none of the pitches are as beautiful as Honey Pot on Ophir Wall (or as hard). Even worse, the short stretch of A0+ on funky bolts is in serious need of re-drilling. Morning shade can make for a chilly start too.


The route climbs the left side of a Yosemite-style pinnacle on the central buttress. Above the block that forms the summit of the pinnacle, there is only a little A-zeroing needed to connect with the next crack. That bit should go free and will be much harder than the rest of the route.
Photo by Mountainproject contributor SamP.

This is a very rough route description. There are no fixed belays and no consensus yet on where to belay, so please be ready to make adjustments.

Pitch one: start a bit left of the toe of the buttress in a short chimney (5.7 or worse). There is a bigger chimney/crack to the left to avoid. The short chimney leads to face climbing past some horizontal seams. The pitch can be stretched with more crack climbing up to good ledges.

Pitch two: aim for the easiest way to connect with the left side of the pinnacle. A moderate pitch that can be ended before the climbing increases in difficulty (5.6?).

Pitch three: I trust Sam P's photo below more than my memory (5.8?).
Pitch three photo by Mountainproject contributor SamP.

Pitch four: a quality crack pitch that may not be obvious, aim left. It starts steep and beautiful and gains entry to the main corner (5.9).
Pitch four.

Pitch five: from the sloping stance, climb the excellent corner (5.9 or maybe 5.10). This pitch may stretch all the way to the belay below the A0 bolts (or not!).
Trout Man belays pitch five. Photo by Mountain Project contributor SamP.
The leader may be about where SamP took his downward shot of Trout Man.

Pitch six: continue up the corner and belay as close as you dare to the top of the pinnacle (5.9+). The best stance for good anchors may be uncomfortable.

Pitch seven balance up onto the top of the pinnacle and aid past two bolts. A hard moves off the high bolt gains a crack. At the top of the crack, a short traverse left ends on a ledge (5.9?, A0+).
Trout Man. By Mountainproject contributor SamP.

Pitch eight: an obvious crack leads to the big horizontal crack that cuts across the top left side of the Pope's Nose (5.7).

Pitch nine: a long crack that starts nice and then get wide at the top (maybe 5.7). The Pope's Nose page has some beta for the hideous descent.

1985 Route topo
Central Buttress.


I barely managed to drill the holes deep enough to hold body weight with our funky drill. Maybe bring the heavy tools until someone comments that better hardware is in place. Alpine aiders help a lot on the A0+. Bring full rack of gear up to a #5 Camalot, not more than doubles of each size for most of us.
SamP Piper
Truckee, CA
SamP Piper   Truckee, CA
The Central Buttress is an all time classic up a wilderness dome with an alpine feel. Straightforward route finding via a natural line easily spied from the Fish Camp below. The first bolt in the last section of aid is the worst bolt either of us had seen. Bent and hanging mostly out of the rock, this bolt desperately needs to be replaced.
Props to Ken Trout for the first ascent of this visionary line. Jul 8, 2011
Did this route in 7/11 and found it to be half excellent (splitter dihedrals) and half terrible (big, loose blocks I wish we had kicked off/bushes and grass). We did it in 6 pitches and went off route on our pitch 4 (the right side of the dihedral - don't do it - it was very scary, wet, loose, 5.8 climbing with some 5.10 moves and a 5.12- crack we aided). I presumed there was going to be a 5.10 OW but the only offwidth section we found was more like 5.8 and no problem unless the OW section is on the "5.8" pitch above the stellar 5.9 roof crack that is pictured here. We brought doubles from blue TCU's up to new C4 #3s and a #4 and #5. Both of the big one's came in handy on pitches 1 and 4 (for the OW). This was a big adventure and fun, but brutal to do in 3 days. If I knew anything about replacing bolts, I would have replaced "the worst looking bolt in the world." I remember it being a Star drive an inch and a half out of the rock. It held me stepping onto it and needed to aid up to it and through it to the next bolt (pretty airy!). The walk off was brutal and we could not walk down to the bottom - we made it within 20 feet and left a sling and biner - wet, tall bushes, rocky - we were spent at the end of the day and did not enjoy the flat hike out. I will rent horses the next time I go out there...but it was a great adventure. Sep 5, 2011
Andy F
Durango, CO
Andy F   Durango, CO
Awesome adventure climbing!! We had the intention of replacing the "worst bolt in the world", but lightning and rain made us bail on day one of climbing. Day two we just wanted to get to the top of the route and descend before it got dark. We cleaned some huge loose blocks off the route, but more still needs to be done. I thought the pitch off the pedestal was kinda hard. Props to the FA party on an awesome line. Aug 20, 2013
Durango, co
eggman   Durango, co
Word is the sketchy bolt is now replaced. Jul 18, 2014
Nolan Robertson
  5.10 A0+
Nolan Robertson  
  5.10 A0+
I did this route with Ben Griffin in a 19 hrs 51 mins car-to-car. We thought it would have been useful to have had more clear beta on the aid pitch. It is the most exposed section of the route, and there are 2 secions to aid: one at the beginning of the pitch with a drilled angle and 1 bolt, and another 2 bolts once the crack turns into a seam.

This might go free for a very motivated and experienced climber, you would have to be able to climb some thuggy face above gear and clean off some of the crumbly surface layer. Upon reaching the ground, I didn't think I would ever be motivated to do it, still thinking about it though.

Curious about anyone else's input on free climbing this. Jul 26, 2015
This is a great route in a beautiful place with awesome rock. However, I want to clear a few things up for future ascentionists while still keeping the adventure high.
For starters, unless you are a competent 5.10 leader in all disciplines of climbing, bring the aiders (possibly even jumars for the second depending on ability). You will definitely want the aiders on the crux pitch, but most will find them handy on other pitches as well.
There is a fair bit of offwidth climbing to be had. Were I to do this route a second time (doubtful...but maybe), I would certainly bring the #4 and #5 again.
The topo provided doesn't offer much help. Basically, once you locate the start, the route is fairly obvious. Just keeping trending left, aiming for the left side of the pinnacle. There is a nice belay inside of a large chimney, but a better belay is another 50' up on top of the pinnacle at the base of the crux pitch (pin and bolt for first aid section). This position allows the belayer to better watch the leader.
Yes, the worst bolt in the world has been replaced (thank you to whomever made that happen).
The lower aid section could possibly be free climbed, but I can't see the upper part going. I hope to be proved wrong.
The Fern Gully descent isn't too bad.
Depending upon water levels, there is a fallen tree across the creek about 100 yards up from fish camp that may be helpful for those wanting to keep their feet dry. Jun 10, 2016
Fritz Nuffer
The Western Slope
Fritz Nuffer   The Western Slope
Good route and well-worth the investment of time. I'd do it again next year.

Hike: intrinsically worthwhile.

Approach: crossing via the downed tree resulted in some mandatory swamp-mucking and willow-whacking in June. We would've been better off hiking the trail to directly across from the boulderfield then fording the creek at knee-deep. This worked well on the descent.

P1: we scrambled to the base of the "chimney" and combined the first two pitches with some rope drag. There is an ancient bolt at the base of the third pitch.

P4: fun open-book corner with some hefty tombstones. The topo marks a .10- offwidth, but there was unfortunately nothing of the sort. Flared handcrack into a tight chimney into a wider chimney, ending at the pedestal. We belayed there off a dubious block. Ten feet below in the chimney would be a more better spot and still close enough to communicate on the first A0 bit.

P5 (and 6?): easy A0 --> stellar dihedral --> harder A0, I aided for a few pieces below the bolts --> heady revert from aid to free. The good bolt is good. The next one is not. When the second bolt blows, the ensuing mandatory free move will be forbidding.

Walkoff: casual.

Gear: #5 was dead weight, won't bring again. #4 was handy. #0.2 helped with the last aid section. Etriers were crucial. Jun 21, 2016
Rowan Hill
Durango, Colorado
Rowan Hill   Durango, Colorado
Here's more beta in case anyone wants it. Did this on August 20 and took these notes the next day:

Highlights: great climb, easy route finding, mostly good rock, descent is not bad! There are two sections with 2 bolts each. We freed the first section but not the second.

Approach from camp in Flint Creek up towards the lowest part of the center of the cliff. Scramble up about 50 ft to a ledge with some aspen saplings and rope up.

P1. Up left to a right-leaning slot, and climb up this (5.8, bring #5). Step around the roof on the right, and then angle up and left. Belay where convenient.

P2. Climb fun and steep cracks and flakes up to a ledge below a roof (5.8).

P3. Climb a hand crack through the roof, and exit left into a splitter. Clip a bolt to keep the rope out of the crack. Pull through a steep corner, and switch into the left crack to gain the huge dihedral. Continue up and left to a ledge with a bolt in the dihedral (5.9+ fantastic).

P4. Climb the dihedral to the top of a pillar. Fun and varied crack from fingers to chimney. Belay on top of the pillar, which is right below two bolts (5.10-).

P5. Either aid (A0) or free climb (5.11+) past two bolts (I stood on a sling to clip the second bolt and then came back to the ledge and climbed it.) Move left and up into a corner, follow this crack (5.10). Build a hanging belay at any point or link with P6 for a long pitch.

P6. Climb (5.11) up towards the first bolt. Pull through the two bolts (A0), and pull a move to reach a jug rail that leads to a ledge around the corner to the left. (Note: we are guessing that this pitch could go free at ~5.12+.)

P7. Climb up a large dihedral to a large ledge. Walk left along ledge, and belay below final pitch (5.7).

P8. Either climb straight up here (we didn't do this so no comment) or head up and left on mostly easy terrain with a few steeper sections to the summit (5.7 with some easy simul-climbing for the left exit). Oct 13, 2016