Type: Sport, 100 ft, 2 pitches
FA: FFA: Thom Byrne, 1988
Page Views: 35,501 total · 506/month
Shared By: monkeyvanya on Jul 14, 2013
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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The route climbs up an obvious, arching, right-facing dihedral to the right of China Doll . Residual dirt and tiny loose crystals can still be found in places, but all the crucial holds are solid. The line has moves somewhat similar to those on China Doll and IMO provides a good warm-up/training for later.

I suggest linking P1 & 2, if you are comfortable pulling 5.11a moves above a small ledge.

P1. Climb short 5.9 to a small ramp with a 2-bolt anchor.

P2. Follow bolts past dihedral, get over the ceiling and continue underclinging to chains.


Archangel is right of China Doll and left of Digital Dilemma.


P1: 3 bolts to bolted anchor.
P2: 9 bolts to bolted anchor.
Chris Weidner
Chris Weidner  
Reportedly freed by Thom Byrne in 1988, Archangel remained largely ignored until 2013. Eight bolts and 2 two-bolt anchors were on this route before I touched it. Gear possiblities are limited to very small, flared placements; there was no useful anchor (it was too far to the side); and there were several large, loose blocks that made it a dangerous endeavor.

In June 2013, I spent several days cleaning this route on rappel, removing the old bolts, and adding new ones. I made the first (retro) free ascent on July 1st as a fully-equipped sport route.

Fourteen bolts lead to a two-bolt anchor, 8 of which I added, two old ones that I replaced.
The first pitch (5.9) has three bolts and an anchor (all existing) above a small ledge. From there, clip 10 more bolts to a two-bolt anchor at about 35 meters. Because it's a plumb line down, a 60m cord can work. Knot the end!

Several stray bolts exist beyond the 12c anchor on extremely thin holds with terrible feet. Have at it! Jul 23, 2013
Thanks for fixing this pitch, Chris, and resurrecting a Dream Canyon classic! Was happy to clip all fourteen bolts. Would be a deadly proposition with only two bolts and shaky micro-cams. Four-star 12c: sustained, varied, perplexing, technical, great position. Jul 23, 2013
Ben Lepesant
Innsbruck, AT
Ben Lepesant   Innsbruck, AT
I think you should have asked the first ascent party. Retrobolting is super lame.

supertopo.com/climbers-foru… Jul 24, 2013
T Hocking
Redding CA.
T Hocking   Redding CA.
So ya added a bunch of bolts to an existing route
dumbing down a trad route to a sport route.
I hope you got approval from the 1st ascent party,
if not, that's a pretty lame ass move on your part.
Jul 24, 2013
Interesting how before this guy sprays about the bolting job, he tries to dismiss the FA as possibly never having taken place - more than once. "Reportedly..."; "If Byrne freed it...". Jul 24, 2013
All you have to do is question "if" the route was actually freed, then you are released from the responsibility of looking for Thom to discuss putting 14 bolts on his route. Nice. Jul 24, 2013
J. Albers
J. Albers   Colorado
So let me get this straight. Some guy 'potentially' FA's a route in 1988 on R/X gear, and it gets probably what, close to zero ascents in the ensuing 25+ years. So, a local then comes in and bolts it so that it goes from a never climbed death route to a route that will be enjoyed by a huge number of people doing countless ascents every year, and what does he get in return? Armchair b*tching from people who have probably never been to the LA wall, much less would have ever even tried to get on this route. What a bunch of bullsh*t. Yeah, in its state as an R/X route, it sure was a real cherished part of the local route selection. This ain't the Bachar-Yerian, folks. Get a fricking grip. From my perspective and probably the perspective of a huge majority of the people who actually climb regularly at the LA wall, this was a net plus for the local community.

Don't mind the above arm chair comments, Chris. Thanks for contributing to the community. I can't wait to get on the route.
Cheers. Jul 24, 2013
Someone send this retrobolter a bottle of calcium pills so he can develop a spine... and fer gawd's sake, take his DRILL away....

Never mind someone in 1988 did it with less refined shoes and equipment. Go ahead and fell good about DUMMING it down to the modern level...fekkin' punters.... Jul 24, 2013
Jason Chinchen
Bend, Oregon
Jason Chinchen   Bend, Oregon
Lame as hell. Jul 24, 2013
Narcissism of the '80s?

What the hell are you talking about, man?

Making some pretty broad assumptions about the mentality of the FA party aren't you?

What an odd comment. Jul 25, 2013
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
Phil Lauffen   Innsbruck, AT  
There are a lot of people talking what big and heavy balls they have. If you really have what it takes, go up there and lead it on gear and then spray about what a pu$$y CW is. Until then, it's all talk. Jul 26, 2013
Brent Apgar
Out of the Loop
Brent Apgar   Out of the Loop
Truly amazing, this thread in the route description is the most attention this thing has seen in the last 2 decades.

I'll let Weidner's resume and reputation speak for themselves.
Thanks, Chris, for taking the effort to turn this ignored, junkshow into a nice addition to the Canyon. Jul 26, 2013
The mega clasic Bacher[Yerian, like many other testpieces across the nation is also a "dangerous endeavor". However, out of respect for the FA party, no one has retro-bolted the route, and it stands as a testimony of Bacher's abilities and a goal for many to test their skills. For those who can climb the route, it's a major accomplishment that will stay with you the rest of your life. You won't get that sensation with a fun clip-up. I'd wager, that Thom Byrne put a lot of heart and soul into that FFA and it was his gear skills and commitment to climbing tradition that enabled him to climb this route safely.

By retro-bolting this route without the consent of the original FFA, CW brought it down to his level and proved his disrespect of real climbing tradition. Period. Jul 26, 2013
topher donahue
Nederland, CO
topher donahue   Nederland, CO
Don't get your panties in a wad, guys; now Archangel can repeat the history of China Doll. Some monkey of the future can lead it on gear (in part thanks to the route being cleaned by people clipping the bolts), risking his tail next to perfectly bomber bolts and add to the mystique of the whole thing. The heroes of Archangel can join the heroes of China Doll in wondering if the crack should have been bolted entirely or if just a bolt or two (or none) was enough. In the mean time, we can all have fun climbing it however we want. Probably would have been a good idea to ask Mr Byrne about it though...

These debates always leave me wondering about consistency...how is it that the ethics police don't mind every belay on El Cap being retro bolted with 3 or 4 half-inch bolts next to perfect cracks? Seems like probably 100 bolts have been added to the Nose since the FA and nobody seems to care. Jul 26, 2013
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
What this shows is that people no longer respect much about what happened on the First Ascent, and in fact, the first ascentionists vision means nothing whatsoever and revisionists can come along at will and "improve" on a route if it "makes sense" to them. After all, every punter is just entitled to the route as the narcissistic rubes who first climbed it, right? We don't have to honor their efforts or their ability or their comittment. All we have to honor is our own tastes and degree of acceptable risk, ALL other things, history included, being made meaningless because "I" say so.

The amazing thing to me is that the above shows no sac and no pride at all. That a guy could establish a route 26 years ago and today's climbers could stomach the shame of having to dumb the route down to make it reasonable for today's palate. Man, with 10,000 grid bolted sport climbs in Boulder alone, that's as fucking weak as it gets.

Boldness and sac have been entirely co-oped for a yellow-bellied ethic upon which the most shamless kind of poultroons heap virtue. I try and imagine myself, back in the day, deciding to add a dozen bolts to an old Bob Kamps face route at Tahquitz, say, or to Coonyard Pinnacle on the Apron, and I have to know I'd be a total coward to do so.

But courage and adventure are given little currency here - and we can easily see why.

JL Jul 27, 2013
Chris Weidner
Chris Weidner  
Hey all, this is a comment I posted on the supertopo thread yesterday that I figured I should post here as well:

I should have made more of an effort than I did to contact Thom Byrne for permission before I added bolts to Archangel. I apologize for offending so many people over this.

I did ask many locals and contemporaries of Thom (including Bob Horan, Pat Adams, Bruce Miller, Joe Mills, Taylor Roy, Matt Samet, and many more) about Archangel's history. To everyone I spoke with, it was a mystery, and the one thing that everyone agreed with is that it would be great if somebody cleaned it and made it a safer lead. "Safer lead" is obviously subjective, so by no means am I implicating anyone I named with supporting exactly what I did.

This is what I actually did:

There were a total of 7 bolts and 2 two-bolt anchors on Archangel before I touched anything. The last bolt and top anchor were on a blank wall, too far to the right of the free climbing (at least free climbing that's not at least 13+) to be of use. This is just one reason why I believe that Archangel -- as it was equipped -- was never freed.

I removed the top anchor and placed a new anchor about 15 feet to the left, at the logical end of the 5.12 climbing. I also removed two old (one buttonhead, one old 3/8" with SMC hanger) bolts. I then placed 10 new 3/8" bolts. Ultimately, I added 8 protection bolts and replaced two. This is Archangel.

I also placed two bolts above the Archangel anchor and a higher two-bolt anchor, thinking that I could free an additional 20 feet of very thin rock. After several attempts, I realize it's too hard for me right now. I'm happy to leave those bolts for others to try, but I'm just as happy to remove them and the anchor if that's what locals would prefer. My two additional bolts plus the two original "off-route" bolts are what I called the "stray" bolts.

I easily trundled two very large (100-pound plus?) and loose flakes off the route my first trip down it on rappel, and I cleaned many smaller rocks and flakes. To me, the route seemed unnecessarily dangerous without serious cleaning.

All of the bolting and cleaning was done on rappel.

One commentator asked what was wrong with top-roping, and I say nothing is wrong with it, but even if you rap in from the top of the cliff, Archangel leans too hard to the right to TR it safely (that is, without an enormous swing, possibly into rocks) without at least 6 or 8 protection points. And in this case, most would have to be bolts.

Again, I'm sorry for not trying harder than I did to contact Thom Byrne and ask his permission to add bolts to Archangel. If it turns out that he did free it in the '80s and if my actions are even a fraction as repulsive to him as it seems they are to most on this forum, then I will immediately remove all of the bolts I added. Jul 27, 2013
Neil Rankin
Winston-Salem, NC
Neil Rankin   Winston-Salem, NC
The climbing world is being taken over by pussies and corporatists, only interested in high numbers with as little risk as possible. What a disgrace. Hey buddy, nobody cares that you're "opening up a route" for the masses. Oh wow, another 12c clip-up in Colorado. How original. Jul 28, 2013
doug haller
Boulder, CO
doug haller   Boulder, CO
Bring on the debate!
Apparently, chopping bolts (Kennedy/Kruk - Compressor) and adding bolts (Widner - Archangel) earn the same response.
Even Long and Donahue, perhaps the only climbers commenting with accomplishments equal to Widner, offer contrasting views.
Most importantly, if climbers don't find a way to manage their resources, then the parents (in this case land managers) will step in and settle disputes for us. Archangel is no Bacher-Yerian (no offense to the FA) like Boulder Canyon is no Yosemite. Let's keep things in perspective or we'll end up having others do it for us. Jul 28, 2013
kevin murphy
Longtuckity, CO
kevin murphy   Longtuckity, CO
JL way out of line on this one. When was the last time he has even climbed one of the new routes going in these days? I would say there is a renaissance of hard trad (Rob Kepley crew for one) and sport routes (Samet crew) in the Boulder area right now. Come on down, they are waiting for you, JL. To bucketize what CW did with the whole climbing community as a whole is a joke. The route may or may not have been done in its original state. CW is waiting on Thom to communicate, what else can one expect? 7 bolts compared to 2 is a big difference. Jul 28, 2013
Thomas Byrne
Boulder, CO
Thomas Byrne   Boulder, CO
In the spring of 1986, a friend of mine that I climbed the Zodiac with the previous summer, told me about a large wall in Dream Canyon behind Boulder Falls. He had just climbed an aid line up there which was good wall training. I hiked up from Boulder Falls with a friend through the snow in the spring of '86 and climbed the aid line. This line was put up by the legendary climber Kyle Copeland and ended at an anchor in the alcove. Kyle probably told some other climbers about the wall who told Clay and then Clay told me.

A year later, I was supposed to go to back to the Canadian Rockies with Tom Thomas who had climbed there as well, but I decided to stay in Boulder that summer and the Archangel became my project. Tom Thomas went to the Rockies and died two weeks later soling. Had I travelled with him, he might be alive today and his family wouldn’t miss him. Sending the Archangel was a consolation prize for me that summer.

When I hiked up to the formation in the summer of '87 from Boulder Falls, I figured out the access of off Sugarloaf, and I knew it wouldn’t have to make the hike up from Boulder Falls. I did find an old pin in what is now the Oceanic Wall, probably dating back to the Bob Culp era, respectfully.

I knew I had it good. There were no other routes up there, and there were no other climbers. I took the best line on what is largest wall in Boulder Canyon and poured my heart and soul into it. I could have told one of my early roommates Bob H., or Skip, or Chip, or Sciolino about the potential in Dream Canyon, but then it wouldn’t be mine. I knew climbers would be here eventually anyway. I rapped down and placed two 3/8” bolts by hand, a Lost Arrow at the top of the incipient crack, and a standard angle below that. The word cleaning doesn’t even begin to describe what’s necessary to make the layback section go. Scrubbing is more like it.

I top roped the route all summer: dogging, hanging, and cleaning. I easily did the route 100 times. I found it easier to rap from the top of the cliff to the aid anchor in the alcove and set my rope, than it was to hike down to the bottom. I had a number of different belayers including David Schipper who now lives in Moab, some other climbers, and Carla and Nicole. I joked to Carla the night before that I would have to blindfold her. When we got in the van the next morning and I put the blindfold on her for the drive she said, “You weren’t being serious about the blindfold were you?”

At the time, most of the people that knew me would tell you it was at my limit of difficulty. But if I toproped it all summer, and this was all I did, they would say yeah, he could do it. I am not a great climber, but I have my moments. I sent it with preplaced gear. Went back, got a photographer, and repeated the route for a photoshoot. Then, I called Richard Rossiter who had done some personal training for me, brought him up there, showed him the access to Upper Dream Canyon, added the 40’ entry pitch from the stream to the traverse ledge, told him that I had named the wall The Lost Angel, and pointed out my route, The Archangel. Jul 28, 2013
Thomas Byrne
Boulder, CO
Thomas Byrne   Boulder, CO
Regarding the style of my first ascent, although what is now commonly called “headpointing” has been used hundreds if not thousands of times on first ascents, this is not a discussion.

First off, Mr. Long, thank you for posting, but please don’t in the future. I’m not comfortable with that; I don’t feel qualified to mow your lawn let alone have you comment on my route. I'm embarassed that someone made a comment about you. I apologize.

Regarding the positioning of The Archangel for top roping from the old aid anchors: Chris, if you clip one of my pins for a directional, it’s actually very good.

Regarding my pins? What happened to them? I loved the LA at the top! I fell on it many times and lowered off it using the ¾’ angle below as a backup. You can see it in the pic I’ve posted, and I will dig out some better pics. I can’t believe that the same frost wedging over the past 25 years that caused the formation of the “loose blocks” that you cleaned also caused those pins to fall out. It’s possible that someone else removed them, but I can’t imagine why.

Regarding the loose blocks. I removed some friable rock and small blocks, but I don’t remember any large loose blocks.

Regarding the junk show comment: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. When you stand and look for a route in The Meadows and you see a random bolt up high off to the side, you think that must be a bail bolt. Then you turn in a different direction and see another bolt off in the distance and your stomach turns as you realize these are routes and this is all you get! Those bolts are 3/8” placed by hand, and mine are 3/8” placed by hand. Should the bolts in Tuolumne be replaced on rappel with a Power Drill so they are not a junk show as this poster said? The bolts in Tuolumne were placed on lead, mine were not, which is a substantial big difference. I seem to remember some routes in Joshua Tree being top roped first before being drilled by hand on rappel, then lead. Maybe Chris, you could rap drill those. There are many old school climbs mixed in with bolted lines on Castle Rock.

Yes Chris, the route could use a little more gear. The bolts could have been better positioned for the 5.11 layback section and as many climbing committees in different parts of the country have decided, pins can be replaced with bolts as long as they are in the same place and/or require the same clipping move. I’m Ok with that.

Your anchor and my top pin which I lowered off with one below it as a backup are the same height.

You saw and you took. The bolts on Paris Girl are far apart making it a rather runout sport climb. You could retrobolt that climb. I’m sure Christian Griffith is open to having his route changed. It doesn’t stand for much in the history of climbing. He’s not very outspoken, not very opinionated, but he’s a famous climber and I’m not, so maybe it’s not a good idea. Also, Sunrider is a pretty run out route bolted on rappel. Maybe you could add some bolts to that? I doubt Richard Rossiter would mind. You mentioned that you “should have made more of an effort to get a hold of me”, but you made no effort. I’m not that hard to get a hold of. Would you have agreed to my desire to keep most of the route the same? I doubt it.

Regarding the irrelevance of this to the major issues facing us, some might say that a climb is irrelevant, but it is the nature of how we approach this endeavor and any endeavor that provides us the temerity to solve problems. So, it does matter. Chris, please stand on the Norlin Quad and read the inscription chiseled into the granite at the top of the Library. Jul 28, 2013
kevin murphy
Longtuckity, CO
kevin murphy   Longtuckity, CO
Well, there you have it. It was a gnarly head point ahead of its time. CW, it's your call. Jul 28, 2013
topher donahue
Nederland, CO
topher donahue   Nederland, CO
Ha! Perfect! As I understand Mr Byrne's request, if Chris can finish the route, then it's all good. My hat's off to you, Thom Byrne - instead of grabbing the crowbar, you throw down the gauntlet to say that if you're gonna cheat the game, you gotta raise the bar! Jul 29, 2013
Mr. Byrne, worry not that Mr. Long has spoken up here. This is about more than just one retrobolted route. Jul 29, 2013
boulder, CO
Gaylord.Primrose   boulder, CO
I've always looked at this route and thought it was a pretty line.... I tried going ground up on it last spring, and I will say the crack after the first pitch anchor was very dirty and there was shit for gear. I'd be curious to know if one of the big blocks that came off was at the lip of the roof where the crack meets the overlap? I also read an account on Supertopo that the anchor out right was for Bob Horan's unfinished Fall from Grace?...

Funny people are getting so fussy over one pitch, that no one has ever bothered to climb in such a long time. In my opinion, there are TONS of shit bolted routes that people have done in that canyon, that are desperate cries for making a "name" for themselves, this not being one of them. Jul 29, 2013
John Long
Venice, CA
John Long   Venice, CA
I'm not so much commenting on the route, rather the attitudes that an old trad route is open to revision by way of sport climbing ethics. Those are two totally different disciplines. If you want to keep it safe and merely technical, stick with the sport routes, but don't go supposing to reduce old trad routes to sport climbing specs simply because you want to. You render the trad game meaningless for strictly selfish reasons, and that's not the game as most of the world understands it. If and when the whole shebang gets dumbed down to where everything is grid bolted to be "safe," you might as well just stick with the gym.

And yes, there are fantastic things going on in the trad world today. Good on that.

JL Jul 29, 2013
Steve Sangdahl
eldo sprngs,co
Steve Sangdahl   eldo sprngs,co
Thanks, John Long, for contributing some thoughtful comments in regards to this route and the debate about trad climbing vs sport climbing and retrobolting.
Thank you, Thom Byrne, for providing some details of your time spent on this climb and your thoughts. Peace and Fuk-nes Steve Sangdahl Jul 29, 2013
Brent Apgar
Out of the Loop
Brent Apgar   Out of the Loop
TFB - Thanks for taking the time to post up a full disclosure on the history of the route.
Well played on giving CW the option to take it up a notch, I hope he's psyched enough to do so.

My junkshow comment was not meant to demean your effort but as a reference to the deteriorating condition of the route, since it has sat neglected for so many years. Jul 30, 2013
Chris Weidner
Chris Weidner  
I've enjoyed a friendly dialogue with Thom Byrne. He has asked me to remove 5 of the 8 protection bolts I placed on Archangel and to keep my new two-bolt anchor intact. I will do this as soon as I can, which will be at the end of August (I'm going out of town Wednesday morning).

Admittedly, my logic was flawed and premature, but I approached Archangel with an honest belief that it had never been free climbed previously.

I did not intend to retro-bolt an existing trad route.

I had several reasons that I thought were solid for believing that it had not been climbed, but I stand corrected.

There are still questions surfacing regarding what I called "stray bolts." Here's what I know:

Above Archangel's anchor (at the end of the 12c climbing) were two original bolts, out of reach and heading right to what seemed to be the anchor of the unfinished project Fallen From Grace. I don't know who placed these bolts, but they seemed to serve no purpose for either Archangel or any other possible free climb.

Additionally, I placed two bolts above Archangel's anchor, in line with a potential but extremely difficult free route, that lead to a two-bolt anchor which I placed at the end of the features. When I first rapped down, it appeared that the climbing wouldn't be too hard, so I placed the anchor and the two bolts. Turns out it's WAY harder than it appeared, and I couldn't do the moves. I considered removing my two bolts and the anchor immediately but have, for now, left them as an open project. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I'm happy to remove them.

The "stray bolts" are the two mystery (original) bolts and my two bolts and anchor. I'll gladly remove some or all of them.

After I remove the bolts that Thom has kindly requested be removed, Archangel will once again be a serious lead, though not nearly the X-rated pitch it was when he sent it. Be especially careful above the ledge 40 feet up (5.9 to there and the first anchor). It will be very serious and insecure 5.10+ with ledge fall potential. This is the only spot where I placed two bolts close together, in an attempt to avoid a ledge fall.

I deeply appreciate Thom's kindness and his willingness to work with me on this. His 1988 send of Archangel surely ranks among the boldest ascents in the Boulder area at the time, and it has so far flown completely under the radar. This ascent places Thom among the big boys of the era, and he deserves much notoriety and mad respect. Jul 30, 2013
J Q  
Oh yes, the best of possible outcomes: damaging the rock for absolutely no other reason than to satisfy a personal ethic. Jul 31, 2013
James Arnold
James Arnold   Chattanooga
“All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.”
H. L. Mencken Aug 1, 2013
C Archibolt
Salt Lake City, UT
C Archibolt   Salt Lake City, UT
Let me first say that I have nothing invested in this comment but curiosity. I will certainly never climb this route no matter how many bolts it has or does not have. It's way above my ability level, but I'm curious why this route has been repeatedly called a "trad" route. As I understand it, traditional climbs are put in ground up. The climb was bold. It was R/X, but was it really part of the old school "trad" mentality since it was pre-rehearsed on TR? Aug 3, 2013
I'll preface my comment by saying I've never placed a single bolt, yet I have found myself bailing from (and completing) quite a few new pitches in Colorado and elsewhere. I have a the utmost respect for the history of routes and feel that as a rule, the style of the FA should be respected and the route not altered from the state achieved on the FA without explicit permission from the FA team. That said, this route never had a FA in the current definition of the term.

Pink-pointing a route on pre-placed gear, inspected, tested, and perfected on rappel, and equipped with slings or draws to maximize the ease of clipping is not considered a free ascent of a route. This route was never even aided ground up, just rappelled in on.

This is not to take away from the difficulty, skill, and athleticism required to lead the pitch on pre-placed protection (major kudos to Thom for his ascent - and being honest about the style!), it's just stating the fact that this climb is (as-yet) unfreed as a trad route.

When CW added bolts, he wasn't retrolbolting an existing trad route but adding bolts to a neglected and never-completed project.

Should he have talked with Thom first? Yes, but he gladly suggested as much himself.

In my limited-value opinion, if nobody had ever redpointed or onsighted the route, the route was never lead (on aid, or as a free climb) without all pre-placed gear, and nobody was working on it for a FFA as a trad route, it was a fair game open project.

Leading bottom-to-anchor with no falls while clipping bolts or clipping pre-placed gear (and bolts, and pins) doesn't seem very different to me in terms of difficulty or boldness.

To all the crusty old super-topo denizens that got riled up over the bolts - what was your stance in the late '80s to folks rapping in on a project, TRing it 100 times, and then leading it with all the gear already in place?

I'm guessing that the ascent you all were so eager to sanctify in the comments above might have ruffled your feathers a bit 25 years ago, but ironically you made the same mistake as Chris in your rush to attack him, because you didn't bother to contact Thom and find out the history of the route and the style of his summer project.

If Thom (or anyone) had actually climbed the line without pre-placed protection (even as an aid route!), then I think that person has the right to determine the fixed gear status on the line. Since apparently nobody ever has, I respect Thom's accomplishments but disagree with his assertion that route's protection status is his to decide. Aug 4, 2013
Well stated, Blake. Aug 5, 2013
Paul Hunnicutt
Boulder, CO
Paul Hunnicutt   Boulder, CO
"Boldness and sac have been entirely co-oped for a yellow-bellied ethic upon which the most shamless kind of poultroons heap virtue."

This is from a respected leader and representative of the "sport" called climbing. Pathetic. Charles Barkley was right - fame does not make you a role model. Unfortunately fame does give you influence in the lives of others, often with disastrous consequences.

In the end, maybe there should be something for everyone. Bacher-Yerian has withstood the test of time, being climbed many times despite the risk, but how many times had this section of rock been climbed after the FA, despite being on a now heavily trafficked cliff? Was the FA really put up with boldness and sac: rap bolted, TR'ed 100 times, then sent on pre-placed gear...not even to the anchor, much less the top of the cliff?

Take the "I was here first" attitude and your "ethics" back to the '70s where they belong.

Sounds like a nice addition to the cliff, Chris. Leave the bolts. Aug 5, 2013
kevin murphy
Longtuckity, CO
kevin murphy   Longtuckity, CO
At first I agreed with the bolts being removed but have changed my mind. The route did not go as intended, it was never completed. Just left to obscurity. Which is ok. That being said, looks like a great line and a nice addition. The initial ethics were a bit fuzzy as well. Aug 5, 2013
I disagree with Mr. Stephens to the extent he asserts that this route had no first ascent in 1988, or thereabouts. I don't recall that he was there. I do agree that regardless of your views on style, ethics, history, etc. when modifying a route, it is preferable to reach out to the individual who claims or is credited for the FA. It also cuts down on these insufferable comment strings. Aug 14, 2013
Boulder, CO
pfinnegan   Boulder, CO
Came in to say I climbed this route today, and it was marvelous. I was very grateful for the opportunity to put my hands on this thing in its current state.

I hope the bolts remain. Personally I would love to project this route.

More generally it seems a shame to revert to its previously unclimbed condition. A couple parties on it today; nice to see.

Get on it while it lasts. Aug 17, 2013
Jeff Chrisler
Boulder, CO
Jeff Chrisler   Boulder, CO
It is indeed a shame that a leader in the climbing community chooses to throw drivel at a person who bolted a route that had seen little to no action in 25 years. I'd love to work this route, but it sounds like the bolts will go soon. I'm glad overall that Byrne is working with Chris to see that his input is now respected in regards to what is done with the route. He has shown class while other idiots have not. Aug 20, 2013
Ted Lanzano
Boulder, CO
Ted Lanzano   Boulder, CO
I hope the bolts the stay. I thought Archangel was a fantastic pitch with the bolts. I think it would be a loss if it reverts back to a dangerous climb that few if any will ever do. Aug 20, 2013
This is an ultra classic line! Best 12c I've done, and one of the best pitches in the area. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to climb the route with the current modern hardware. Big thanks to Mr. Weidner for taking the time and effort to clean and bolt this beauty. He did a perfect job. It would be very disappointing to see the bolts removed. All the 'haters' in this discussion should go climb the route in its current state and then form their opinions. I watched a guy attempt to lead the pitch on gear...he was unsuccessful to say the least, and ended up clipping most of the bolts! The extension also looks extremely rad. Aug 20, 2013
J. Albers
J. Albers   Colorado
Before commencing with my useless drivel below, I wanted to make two things clear. First, I don't know Mr. Weidner or any of his friends, so I really don't have a dog in this fight other than the future of the route. And second, what I write below is not meant to offend Mr. Byrne or to take anything away from his initial experiences with this route.

A few weeks ago I went up to climb Archangel to both check out the route and to see if this thing might actually be a reasonable, ground up lead on gear. I brought all of my HB brass and cams down to a black Alien and below is my take on the route:

First of all, this route is awesome and I have to give credit to Mr. Byrne for scoping the line and putting in the initial effort to send it. In particular, the transition from liebacking the edge of the arete to the stance below the roof is classic. That said, I don't believe that this route was ever "sent" (at least not using any traditional metric of what it means to send a route). When I got to the anchor that Mr. Weidner installed, I stepped out right onto the climbing where the route was originally intended to proceed (i.e. to the location that Mr. Byrne placed his anchor). Upon doing so, I feel that it is safe to say that Mr. Weidner's assessment of the grade to Mr. Byrne's original anchor is correct, say something in the 13c/d range. This leads one to the obvious conclusion: Mr. Byrne intended to finish up at his anchor but couldn't, so he lowered off of a fixed pin just before the crack peters out near the end of the undercling section. So what does that mean? That means that Mr. Byrne spent 2-3 months toprope wiring a route and installing some sparse fixed gear. He then led it to the point that he could climb no further and then lowered off. I can't understand how this in any way constitutes a sent route. Moreover, even if one could argue that lowering off of a fixed pin part of the way up a route counts as FA'ing the route, there is still the issue of how this route was put up.

First of all this route was put up top down. Now this of course is just fine, but it clearly negates any argument that folks like Mr. Long have made regarding respecting "ballsy" ground up ascents. I think that virtually anyone with a shred of grey matter would concede that wiring a route on toprope and then installing fixed gear that is utterly inadequate for a ground up ascent is simply not a style of climbing that is common nor accepted amongst a huge majority of the community. So that leads me to address climbing this thing ground up with gear and/or some of the fixed protection.

Beginning at the ledge after the first 30 feet of climbing, here is what you can place using clean gear. At the first bolt you can slot a couple of small to medium-sized brass HBs off to the left. They would lead to a less pleasant fall than the bolt, but you would be okay. At the second bolt - where you really need protection to keep you from breaking your ankles on the ledge - you would have to be a fool to place anything behind that rotten rock (I tried to get a black Alien just to check, but couldn't get it in...the crack is just too small). And this is after Mr. Weidner cleaned out the worst loose rock out of this section. I sort of shudder to think of what was there before because as it is now, I was trying to minimize how hard I pulled on the flake getting past the second bolt. A bolt or two beyond, you can again get a couple pieces of gear (medium-sized nut and a red Camalot), though the two pieces of gear are close enough to each other that it would really only eliminate one bolt at best. After that, there is no more gear until after you pull the crux roof, at which point you may be able to get a couple of marginal micro cams in the flared undercling crack.

So what does this all mean? It means that if the bolts on this thing get removed, the route will become a 12c R/X route that nobody ever climbs. The proof that this is the case is the simple fact this route has not seen a single ascent since it was toproped 25 years ago. And what about doing it the style of the first toprope runs? I guess that means that you need to rap in and toprope the route until you are comfortable soloing it. You then clip the runout gear, which is largely irrelevant at this point because you have it so wired you can solo it. The climbing community actually has a word for doing a route in this style. It's called contrived. Contrived as in, you purposely made the route dangerous with fixed protection despite the fact that you could have done so differently. If you are doing it ground up and placing bolts at the stances, then fine, you did what you could. But installing R/X on rappel? Contrived. And no, this doesn't count as a headpoint because bolts were installed. If Mr. Byrne wanted to headpoint it, he would get the two brass nuts at the start, the red Camalot 10 feet higher, and then perhaps a marginal micro cam to lower off of at the end. What that means is that unless you can onsight solo 12c, you are going to either get totally f*cked up or die trying to do this route ground up. Sh*t, given the suspect nature of the potential flared microcam placements at the "end" of the route, you better also be comfortable down-soloing this thing because if those cams pull while lowering, you are definitely gonna be a sack of slush after you hit the ground. Does that sound like anything other than a stupidly protected X-rated route? And this is what Mr. Long and the armchair SuperTaco crowd are mounting a heated defense over?

In conclusion, I think that it is pretty clear that the bolts should stay. Or at a minimum, all of the bolts minus the two gear placements should stay. And I don't think that I am anywhere close to the only one who thinks this. And to all of the folks above who called Mr. Weidner a punter, etc., how do you explain the words of support that the local crowd has expressed in Mr. Weidner's defense? Contrary to your chest pounding rants, some of us who are defending the bolts are not the punters that you would make us out to be. How about you look into the background of some of the people you are talking down to before you spout off so strongly. Go take a look at the names here and on the Archangel forum thread (see here: mountainproject.com/v/archa…) that are supporting Mr. Weidner: Ted Lanzano, Tank Evans, Pinklebear, Blake Herrington to name but a few...these are not exactly the wanker sportos that your misplaced rants are intended for now are they?

And finally, to Mr. Long. I can't help but express to you how disappointing it was to read your comments. I have always enjoyed your writing and your books. You can weave in all of the big words you want from your copy of Roget's, but it can't change the fact that your machismo laced ball sack statements are embarrassing at best. Aug 20, 2013
topher donahue
Nederland, CO
topher donahue   Nederland, CO
Just climbed this onsight to the anchors at the end of the 5.12, then fell off shortly thereafter. Stellar pitch. On par with the Red Dihedral for quality and flavor - not much else near the grade in the Front Range is comparable. There are only 2-3 solid natural gear placements on the entire pitch, most of them in the first 30 feet of 5.11 before the biz. I can see how it would go with less bolts, some pitons and pre-placed mank with long slings to clip low, but I agree with others posting here who actually climbed the pitch that it would never be climbed ground up in its original form - except maybe by someone comfortable onsight soloing very insecure 5.12 on somewhat flaky rock.

It will be a super shame if the bolts are now removed, restoring the climb to a pre-placed-gear-pseudo-headpoint. I had as much fun on this pitch as I ever have climbing. Full respect to Thom for doing it how he did it, and after climbing it, I can see clearly why Chris bolted it. Aug 25, 2013
Pretty much what Topher said except I can't claim to have onsighted it.

It's really good and fun climbing. What makes it great is the sustained nature, there is a lot of really good 5.11 on this route plus a really cool crux.

If I had a complaint, it's that the bolts were not placed with a shorty in mind. I am not short, so it was fine. My ropegun however is sub 5', and it's not entirely climbable if she needs to hang the draws.

As far as pro, I don't really see anything worth a damn above about 1/3 of the way up. You'd be in excess of 30ft above gear and less than 60ft above a ledge on the crux. You wouldn't get anything for the rest of the route either. Maybe a flared black Alien, maybe.

I could see how it was safer back in the day with a bunch of new pitons right in those spots. Other than the relatively simple 10+ climbing for the first 20', it would have been a fully bolted (piton'ed) affair then too. It was never run out and never trad. You can see the old bolt holes and the old pin scars. Now that they're gone though, there really isn't much for gear. Flared, thin, and not deep enough for ball nuts.

There is no question in my mind that this route will be rebolted if it's chopped. Either with glue-ins or red Loctite on regular bolts. Might as well save the trouble and hand wringing and leave it alone. Aug 25, 2013
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett   Michigan
Climbed this route today; what a nice line. I'd been up to that area many times, but I'd never considered attempting Archangel before now.

Thanks to Chris for resurrecting a fun and unique climb. There aren't too many granite "feature" climbs like this in Boulder.

To add my two-cents to the bolting debate, it sounds like the route never received a true free ascent; pink-pointing doesn't count. That said, Thom clearly spent a lot of time on this piece of rock, so his opinion should carry some weight.

There are some good gear placements, so it should be do-able with 5 fewer bolts, but it'll be exciting!! Sep 30, 2013
An exceptional pitch. Many thanks to Chris W. for his hard work. Oct 13, 2013
I just want to take this opportunity to quote Chris Weidner: "If my actions are even a fraction as repulsive to him as it seems they are to most on this forum, I will immediately remove the bolts I added."

And then, on July 30th 2013, "I have enjoyed a friendly dialogue with Thomas Burke. He has asked me to remove 5 of the 8 bolts I added to Archangel and to keep my new 2 bolt anchor intact. I will do this as soon as I can, which will be the end of August."

So, today's been a year since Weidner claimed he was going to make this right and respect the first ascentionist's wishes. Just a meditation on integrity, my bet is Weidner hit it and quit it and will never go back to keep his word. There are a lot of different kinds of people who climb rocks. Some of them have different understandings of the words honor, respect, and accountability. For the record, I've never climbed this route, but I'd like to have a chance one day to do so without having to dodge retrobolts that the first ascentionist didn't place and didn't authorize. Jun 30, 2014
Curt MacNeill
Boulder, CO
Curt MacNeill   Boulder, CO
Great route and thanks for bolting it, it's a great addition to the sport climbing in the Front Range. Very techy foot smears in the summer are really fun. Give yourself 12d if you can manage to keep your feet on the rock in the intense summer heat, 13a if you can do the route after 3 pm in July when the sun has been baking on it, 13d if you can do it in Reebok Pumps, and 14a if you can do it in Air Jordan's. Michael is the man, LeBron ain't got $hi% on Jordan, and to add to all the people bi$%ing with the peanut gallery, feel free to skip the bolts and aid it like the FA party. Let me know how it goes. Besides, until someone sends the 3 bolt extension the route hasn't really been done. Just saying.... Jul 12, 2014
El Manzano
kirkadirka   El Manzano
Seems like there are many folks going up to enjoy the climb. Here's one more and another vote to keep the new hardware. Jul 12, 2014
Chris Weidner
Chris Weidner  
Last August (2013), Thom Byrne and I had a couple beers and talked about the bolts I placed on Archangel. In person, we decided together that I should remove one of the first two bolts above the first anchor at the ledge about 25 feet up. I placed those bolts relatively close together to prevent a ledge fall, but there are opportunities for thin gear placements in the area of the first bolt.

Earlier I promised to remove 5 of the 8 bolts I placed, because that's what Thom originally wanted me to do. But after our friendly conversation, we agreed that I would remove just one of them. Thom was very kind to settle on this arrangement, and I thank him for allowing Archangel to remain intact as a sport route.

Yesterday, I finally made good on my promise, and I removed the first bolt above the ledge. Take care getting to it. *You may want to bring an extra small cam and/or RPs to protect the moves leading up to the new first bolt. Aug 19, 2014
By Zappatista
Jun 30, 2014

I just want to take this opportunity to quote Chris Weidner: "If my actions are even a fraction as repulsive to him as it seems they are to most on this forum, I will immediately remove the bolts I added."

And then, on July 30th 2013, "I have enjoyed a friendly dialogue with Thomas Burke. He has asked me to remove 5 of the 8 bolts I added to Archangel and to keep my new 2 bolt anchor intact. I will do this as soon as I can, which will be the end of August."

So, today's been a year since Weidner claimed he was going to make this right and respect the first ascentionist's wishes. Just a meditation on integrity, my bet is Weidner hit it and quit it and will never go back to keep his word. There are a lot of different kinds of people who climb rocks. Some of them have different understandings of the words honor, respect, and accountability. For the record, I've never climbed this route, but I'd like to have a chance one day to do so without having to dodge retrobolts that the first ascentionist didn't place and didn't authorize.

Kudos to Chris for keeping his end of the deal up. Chubby Chuffer, how's that pseudo-ethical superiority feeling now? You gonna go send the rig? Aug 25, 2014
Shaun Reed
Santa Barbara
Shaun Reed   Santa Barbara
Great route, Thom and Chris! The bolts seemed appropriate to me. Glad you guys came to a mutual understanding.

Very interesting discussion. I just want to make sure I understand the peculiarities of what I learned about climbing ethics from this thread. It sounds like pre-placed gear is pink pointing, and pink pointing does not count as a send with trad climbing (I assume sport is ok). Would it make a difference if the first ascensionist left his fixed gear for future ascents? I assume that fixed pins and possibly fixed nuts are ok? Maybe the rule of thumb could be that if it can't be removed without a hammer, then it is ok. I think everyone would agree that Tommy Caldwell's free ascent of the Dunn Westbay on the Diamond should count as a send even though he fixed (I believe he used a hammer) the entire crux with stoppers.

Something else that bothered me. Thom sent (pink pointed, I suppose) to the same point as Chris' anchor and lowered off a crude anchor consisting of two pitons. Although he didn't send the "extension" either, it seems to me (if you count a pink point as a send) he should be able to count his send up to that point and have full say in the bolts added. Just my two cents.... Aug 28, 2014
Boulder, CO
MauryB   Boulder, CO
Pink-pointing a trad route does not a send make, particularly when that is used to dictate an X-rated approach to future climbers.

Wonderful route. With the newly removed bolt off the ledge, it's a bit head's up the first time, but if you figure out the proper opposition/stem, getting to the safety of the first clip isn't terribly unreasonable. Big ups to Chris for giving us another BoCan classic. Sep 22, 2014
Boulder, CO
jmidkiff   Boulder, CO
What a bunch of drama queens.
Just climb. If you don't want to clip bolts, then don't.
Hardly anyone talks about the actual climb here, just their drama. This site is for climbing and not bickering about who did what first or who has "rights" to a piece of rock.
Anyone read this:

Guideline #1: don't be a jerk.
Guideline #2: post relevant information about this route.
Guideline #3: limit offtopic posts, rants, or lengthy discussions to the forums.

Who has stuff to say about the climb itself? That's why I cam on this site.... Oct 23, 2014
Tyson Waldron
Reno, NV
Tyson Waldron   Reno, NV
This may be one of the best comment strings I've seen for a route.

Big players have gotten riled up.
FA-ists have chimed in.
The usual (and always entertaining) armchair democracy has ensued.

In total, M.P. has managed to gather a true community consensus on the route. Love or hate the outcome, you gotta have respect for the process. I defy you to find community of people with a more in-sync and democratic way of governing themselves.

The old crusties can say what they want, but the ethics of the community appear to be glowingly intact here.

This route just got added to my to-do list.

Send-on! Oct 25, 2014
Alex Shainman
Las Vegas, NV
Alex Shainman   Las Vegas, NV
Perhaps the master[de]baters of this thread topic have taken this discussion to the point of ad nauseam...laughable HA!

Picked a good time today to climb this fine route for my first time! Cool climbing! More reminiscent of maybe the South Platte or The Valley or Squamish...fun times! Classic! Oct 17, 2015
If there are bolts and you want to use them, then use them.
If there are bolts and you don't want to use them, then don't.
Otherwise channel your inner Mr. Hershey, drink whatever kind of stout you can find, and leave behind the bolts and gear.
However you climb the route DOESN'T MATTER.
ENJOY THE CLIMB! Oct 19, 2015
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
Fact: the vast majority of commenters on this page have NOT climbed Archangel.
Fact: the route is thoughtfully bolted with committing moves required between bolts.
Fact: bolts are at logical clipping stances.
Fact: there are no removable protection opportunities on the route that would protect crux moves from a ledge fall.
Fact: this is one of the most unique and high-quality pitches in Boulder Canyon.
Fact: there is still friable rock and lichen on footholds on this route. It has not yet seen much traffic.
Fact: a 70m rope allows you to lower all the way down to the slab. A 60m rope might as well, but this is unconfirmed.
Fact: rapping down by China Doll with two 70m ropes or a fixed 70m is an easy way to approach these routes in a single rappel from the canyon rim.

Perhaps if the armchair ethics committee spent half the amount of time climbing as they do bitching about routes they have never climbed (nor intend to), the rest of us could find useful route information in the comments section.

Although I am strongly against retrobolting, Chris has overall done a great service to the climbing community. Chris turned a formerly piton-protected sport route which was sussed out ad nauseum on toprope into a bolt-protected sport route which can now be led ground-up. Chris should have contacted Thom first, but that is history.

Archangel will be remembered as a classic, high-quality route and a sought-after tick, while nobody will remember your petty gripes. I have read all of your comments. With few exceptions, they are provide very little useful information. I don't care if you are John Long or nobody, don't comment on the route if you don't have useful information to contribute. Jun 24, 2016
Ridgway, CO
Apezillaa   Ridgway, CO
I second above statements by Michalm. It can be climbed with a true 60m. The route is clean, as of 8/30/16. No reason to rap from top.
Excellent & a must do! Aug 31, 2016
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
What a fun route! Thanks, Chris, for cleaning this up!

Wish Bocan had more climbs like this! Oct 20, 2016
Ben Crawford
Boulder, CO
Ben Crawford   Boulder, CO
Send footie of the route. Nov 15, 2016
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
Wow, not much respect for Largo's comments. Derision is probably a better word. Let those of you who have done a tenth of what he has offer thoughtful rebuttals. Those who haven't, consider your credibility for weighing in. I suppose you would criticize as dinosaurs those questioning a retro bolt of Perilous Journey. The issue isn't accessibility for all; it's about style as a preservation method for the future. Consider if Gill possessed an equal lack of foresight and had chipped problems under what would then been a reasonable belief that no one could climb as hard as he was.

For those tossing around the 'what have you climbed lately' argument as a defense to contrary opinions, .12b/c is hardly cutting edge. Just about anyone with some technique and time to train can get their sport .12c chops honed in short order. I'm glad there has been a community consensus about fixing (for lack of a better word) this route, and that you're able to enjoy what looks like a fine climb. However, there's nothing wrong with respectfully disagreeing with a contrary opinion. Respect where respect is due. Nov 17, 2016
For what it's worth, I respect Largo's decision to keep his comments up and available for all of us to read. Don't know if he still feels the same way now as he did then in light of the more recent agreement between Widner and Byrne, but there is nothing more shameless then offering a controversial opinion and then removing that opinion when it seems it's no longer popular. As far as I can tell, some or all of his living (articles and writers' workshops and such) is dependent on the community's respect for him as a well-known figure in American climbing. Seems like he therefore has some actual skin in the game defending his own personal ethic, whatever that may be, and that he is therefore not a true armchair critic here.

Got on this pitch yesterday, and it is unbelievable. One of the best in the Boulder area in my opinion, felt reminiscent of Yosemite to me. Very delicate granite smearing and laybacking but also VERY powerful (at least for a weaker climber like myself). Can't wait to send this thing, would be one of my proudest. Would never have put in the effort to TR or pink point this route and am thus thankful that an agreement has been made to keep it in its current state. I benefited from that decision greatly, and if that makes me a punter, then I wholly accept that. Feb 12, 2017
Mark Rolofson
Boulder, CO
Mark Rolofson   Boulder, CO
Arch Angel is probably the best climb in Upper Dream Canyon. It would never be climbed if it hadn't been retrobolted. It could even use one more bolt, starting the hard pitch & just above the first anchor. The moves are 5.11a & you will hit the ledge if you fall. A #5 micro stopper (#4 RP) is useful to protect these moves. There are 9 bolts (not 10 bolts) on the crux pitch.

Much of the climbing is difficult liebacking off the arete of the dihedral, but the crux is quite technical & strange. There are several ways to do this section pulling into the dihedral under the roof, but any method is desperate.

In response to Fat Dad comparing this to retro bolting "Perilous Journey", there is no comparison. Perilous Journey was led onsight. There was no toprope rehearsal or previewing. Thom Byrne's ascent of Arch Angel came after numerous top-rope ascents, pre-placed gear & 2 bolts plus fixed pins. I am not suggesting just because a climb was first led after the gear was inspected on rappel or toproped, that it should be retrobolted. Many routes were established in this style & probably most of them repeated ground up.

Arch Angel was not just simply top-roped & led after a gear inspection but led after being pre-protected with some removable protection & some fixed gear. Bolting it was the right thing to do. Thank you, Chris. Apr 20, 2017
Finally found the easy way to the wall. What an Incredible route. The last crack system after the roof was still seeping pretty bad. Climbed it in the shade till about 1pm (5/16). May 17, 2017
Boulder, CO
michalm   Boulder, CO
^Someone took your fixed draw down between now and July. The crux is hard with air temperatures above the 50s. I will have to come back in November. Sep 7, 2017