Type: Trad, 12 pitches, Grade V
FA: Jonathan Schaffer, Lindsey Schauer, Fall 2011
Page Views: 3,852 total · 50/month
Shared By: Vic Zeilman on Sep 18, 2012
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: Rockfall potential closes some routes! Details


El Padre (named in honor of former Climbing Ranger, Brent Mims) is an excellent route that takes a series of crack systems right of Crystal Vision on the west face of South Chasm Wall. For those who enjoy crack climbing in the Black Canyon, this route should be high on the list. It has it all - chimneys, squeeze slots, offwidths and finger cracks. Although it still has some definite South Rim fern gully funk and dirtiness to it, this route will likely clean up to be one of the classics in the Canyon.

Almost every pitch weighs in at 5.10 to 5.11. Generally speaking, the cruxes of the route protect well and the OW is manageable. Depending on one’s climbing style it’s hard to say where the true crux of the route is, but you'’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

The original topo is more than adequate as a description of the route. There are very few places to get lost Basically, climb the first two pitches of Crystal Vision to the massive terrace above. The start of El Padre’s pitch 3 is a beckoning hands to wide crack almost direcly above (although on the right side of the massive terrace). The start can be kind of wet, but it quickly goes to secure hand jams, finishing with burly OW.

For the next handful of pitches, follow this obvious crack system, which is really the left side of an enormous pillar/buttress. Pitch 4 avoids a huge chimney with an awesome, wavy splitter that appears out of nowhere on the left wall. At the top of pitch 5, move the belay about 100 feet right, past some giant blocks, to belay under a pegmatite-ish corner that looks like crap but actually climbs well and is definitely one of the cruxes of the route.

Pitch 7 pulls through an airy bulge and leads to the base of another splitter hand crack. Pitch 8 takes this crack for quite a ways to an ominous, slightly flaring OW. Bump your #6 and finagle gear into the back. Exit and move right to another splitter OW and end at a ledge. Pitch 9… you guessed it… another splitter. Punch it up the beautiful 5.10 corner for a shorter pitch. Pitch 10... locate the right leaning crack in some orangish colored peg. Climb this and up through a bulge. You’'re almost done.

From the ledge at the top of Pitch 10, choose your own adventure to the rim. There'’s a corner that leaves from the far right edge of the ledge, generally trending back to the left. Follow the path of least resistance until you’re on the rim. It'’s probably worth breaking this up into a couple of pitches.


Park at Painted Wall Overlook. Descend the SOFB Gully rappels. After six double rope rappels, descend the gully to the start of Crystal Vision. Look for a massive boulder with a split in it, just after the enormous chasm in the wall. El Padre shares the first two pitches with Crystal Vision, then branches off right, in the beckoning wide crack system on the right side of the terrace.


Standard rack plus (1) #4, #5, #6; a couple small TCUs (purple, grey Metolius type of size), and optional RPs…. You can get a few in on pitch 6.


Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise   CO
Amazing splitter action. Classic, like Kurt Russel in Tombstone. Sep 19, 2012
Jay 1975
Jay 1975   Bonedale,CO
Can someone provide a topo of where these damn rap chains are!?
Never found them! Sep 20, 2012
Steven Lucarelli
Moab, UT
Steven Lucarelli   Moab, UT
It took us about an hour to find the rap anchor and the discription for finding it is way off (we used the description for Crystal Vision)! For one, they are not in a gully and they are about 80' down from the rim, not 30' to 40'. The best way to find them is to head towards the Painted Wall View Point and then break right off the trail once your close to the rim. Follow the rim for about 100' to 150', and look for a cairn and a worn climber's trail heading down a gap in the rim. Downclimb about 80 vertical feet to a flat rock with a chain anchor on its edge. If you get to a "gully", then you have passed where the anchor actually is.

The rappelling is mostly straightforward except for the 4th rap. On this rappel, there will be a large gully/chimney to you left (climbers left) that's about 40' wide. Rappel into this gully, and after about 150', you will need to climb back out of the gully on the left side to find the next anchor. I'm pretty sure it would be impossible to get to this anchor without some easy 5th class free climbing. We also never found the bolt/stopper anchor for the 5th rappel, but there is an old anchor built out of stoppers that's pretty easy to find. Expect to get your ropes caught up in a lot of vegetation when throwing them down, but all the pulls were clean.

The route itself is about 50/50 good pitches and ok or bad pitches. I don't think it will ever be a classic, but with some more traffic, it might fall in the 3 star range. I thought the recommended rack was sufficient for myself, but I would guess that most climbers would want an extra #5 for the 5.11 OW. The topo was mostly correct, but we had trouble finding the last 10+/11- pitch. We climbed something that looked similar to the topo, but I'm pretty sure it had never been climbed before? The final pitches to the top were typical Black Canyon wandering up the path of least resistance. May 15, 2013
Jay 1975
Jay 1975   Bonedale,CO
Really physical route. Pretty much all cracks from tippies to ow. 1-5, 1-6 only. Not much exposure tho. Oct 21, 2014
erik rieger
Sheridan, WY
erik rieger   Sheridan, WY
Nice climb. Physical is the right word. Sep 29, 2016