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Grotto Wall Traverse

5.8, Trad, 3 pitches,  Avg: 3.2 from 27 votes
FA: A. Carter, H. Carter
Colorado > Independence Pass > Grotto Walls Area > Lower Grotto Wall

Description

This is a wonderful journey across and up the Lower Grotto Wall. The belay after the 2nd pitch is one of my favorites on the Pass, and the 3rd pitch will have you smiling from beginning to end!

P1: Climb the awkward, often wet, chimney to the slab above and traverse left towards the corner. You will find 2 bolts about 10' from the corner. This pitch is forgettable and can easily be skipped by walking around to the right and traversing back left on the slab to the same belay (starting high and going climbers left on the slab then down-climbing the corner is probably the least risky method). The chimney does has some mildly interesting moves however. 5.8. 50'.

P2: From the anchors, traverse left across a small ledge, ascend a blocky crack to another ledge before reaching the sloping dihedral crux (5.8) below a large birds nest. Be sure to protect your 2nd after completing these crux moves. Traverse hard left, ascend another blocky corner, then scoot around an arete to a black-painted 2-bolt belay on a small ledge. 100', lots of rope drag.

P3: From the belay, walk climbers RIGHT across out on the "diving board" and then up steep but juggy terrain into a right-facing corner. Go above this, traverse right and into a left-facing corner to a 2-bolt belay at the top of the cliff. Incredible pitch!  Around 60', some rope drag.

Descent: Your best option is to walk off to the west (climber's left). Two 70 meter ropes will reach the ground as 1 rappel, but because of the overhanging nature of this section of cliff, multiple raps with shorter ropes is not possible.

Location

From Cryogenics, walk right along the base of the cliff past the smooth shield of rock. The first pitch chimney starts just after the trail turns steeply uphill.

Protection

Full rack.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Third pitch off the belay.
[Hide Photo] Third pitch off the belay.
Arriving at the second belay on Grotto Wall Traverse.
[Hide Photo] Arriving at the second belay on Grotto Wall Traverse.
Heading up off the "Diving Board."
[Hide Photo] Heading up off the "Diving Board."
Grotto Wall Traverse, 3 pitch 5.8.
[Hide Photo] Grotto Wall Traverse, 3 pitch 5.8.
The airy 3rd pitch.
[Hide Photo] The airy 3rd pitch.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Rob Scrivner
Denver
 
[Hide Comment] What a fun route. We went ahead and tried the first pitch, and sure enough it was "forgettable" as mentioned. Just skip it, walk out on the easy slab and find a good belay ledge lower down than you'd expect. Look for a nice easy chimney with some good hand-sized placements. We built our anchor in a totally wrong place, and when I started up P2, I was clipping bolts on what I believe to be Stand By Your Van. Someone else had already bailed from one of those bolts, so I threaded their quicklink, came back down, and found the right way.

P2 was a blast. Fun jamming, and an easy to protect traverse.

P3 was the definite crux pitch but absolutely phenomenal climbing. Big, scary moves on good terrain takes you to a fantastic little hand/finger crack with fun jamming. Another cool traverse takes you to one last awesome crack then the summit.

Really easy, basic descent to the west. Two 70m ropes would probably get you down from the chains, but the drag would be pretty miserable I imagine. Aug 18, 2014
Nick Wilder
Boulder, CO
 
[Hide Comment] The third pitch is just superb. And beautiful. Sep 27, 2015
Pete F.
Carbondale, CO
 
[Hide Comment] I did this again yesterday on 5/28/18 and can report that there was an extremely angry, large raven guarding a bird's nest above the P2 crux. The bird did not attack, but it would repeatedly land 3-4 feet away and scream in my face, making that pitch quite a bit more harrowing than last time when there was no bird conflict. Awesome climb. I think doing the first pitch is a lot more enjoyable than scrambling down the slab to start at the bolted belay at the bottom of P2. May 29, 2018
Ramsey Houck
Fort Collins
 
[Hide Comment] Fun, adventurous route. I thought that the few moves before gaining the hand crack on pitch 1 was the crux. Pitch 2, IMHO, was forgettable and covered in bird shit. Pitch 3 was excellent but much shorter than 100'. Jul 22, 2018