Type: Trad, Alpine, 1600 ft, 6 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Ben Capelin, Kreston Johnson: August 11, 2013
Page Views: 936 total · 14/month
Shared By: BCapelin on Aug 17, 2013
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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This route is a stunning venture into the spirit of San Juan alpine climbing. With a backdrop of views that will have even the most sunset-seasoned climber digging butterflies out of his stomach, this route features extremely solid quartzite, exquisite sections of splitter finger and handcracks, respectable runouts, chimney shimmies, a few roof jigs, and more than a few tantalizing, yet committing, moves.

From where the north face surges upwards from the talus, six technical pitches will bring a climbing team to the upper slopes of the peak. Each pitch is like a different climb. Original, creative, and flirtatious, each one has its own distinct crux and flair. From the last technical pitch, 500-700 feet of simul-climbing through 3rd, 4th, and low 5th class rock reaches the summit ridge.

Pitch 1: this is severely shortened by rope drag. Climb into the corner located about 75-100 meters east of the colossal couloir that splits the north face. An exposed, and possibly wet, move pulls out above a roof and into an excellent finger crack in a dihedral. (5.8)

Pitch 2: follow the dihedral, then move right onto the buttress for some exposed and runout routefinding. Upon reaching a grassy ledge, traverse left (beneath a band of rotten rock) and find a nice lawn to belay from. Beware rope drag. At the point where the traverse begins, it is possible, and tempting, to move right. That dihedral looks ravishing, but was wet when we passed by (5.9+).

Pitch 3: a few bouldery moves in a corner with an superb fingercrack brings you to a chimney. Despite the excitement, remind yourself Santa isn't coming, and continue. Stir you sauce and enjoy! This is an absolute CLASSIC pitch! Belay on a huge flake on the right side of the dihedral. It is an excellent position, despite the stack of rubble sharing the ledge just to the left (5.9).

Pitch 4: routefind upwards, the line is more or less direct.... Belay somewhere above on a little ledge towards the left. (5.8?).

Pitch 5: move back out onto the face to the right, and enjoy the buttress until it funnels you into a small corner adjacent to the main dihedral to the left. This little corner has a bomber, fractured fingercrack. It will be tempting to move right out of this corner on a horizontal rail, but whoa pardner, cool your heels. Continue left to a what is a veritable golf course perched serenely on the precipice. Around the corner to the right isn't quite as good as the allure it exudes. Belay from the corner; rope drag from where you would belay on the golf course is worse than a bear with allergies (5.9).

Pitch 6: !!!this pitch! It is one of the most flustering and goofy set of moves I have found in Colorado alpine. So, depending on your disposition, you will want to as well. Move directly out of the corner above the golf course. Pull through a few powerful moves on a small roof and good holds and punch into a larger roof above. A wild, swinging move will toss you from beneath the roof and back into the dihedral. From there, find a good belay and cruise (5.10-).



-We did this with a 70m rope; however, pitches were shortened more by rope drag and lack of gear. A 60m will suffice.

-The rock is phenomenal; however, there is the inevitable, occasional loose rock.

-The cruxes on pitch six can be circumnavigated by following a nice hand crack flake into the dihedral. It is essentially a campus move, and because the rock was wet, we opted out of that course of action.

-We had doubles up to 1 and 1.5 sets of nuts. Doubles up to 2 or even 3 would not be missed.

-Bad weather, or lack thereof, will greatly alter the psychological crux of the slick, sloping, sloppy, lichened quartzite runouts.

-Between the long route, delicate routefinding, and tedious descent, this is a long day, perhaps more.


Serpentine Son Rise scales the north face of The Guardian, the easternmost vertebrate along the spine of Grenadier Range. It is essentially the direct route from base to top of the east summit of the Guardian. It starts roughly 75-100 meters east of the biblical couloir in the middle of face. Begin in a shallow dihedral and navigate through a short roof section into a more defined, steeper corner. Unfortunately, there were no obvious landmarks, and neither of us had a camera. We are attempting to acquire a beta photo upon which we could operate to show belays and the route itself.

-We descended by the east ridge. This is totally feasible but not without convoluted routefinding. Figure in at least 2-3 hour to do this. The more user-friendly, but perhaps longer route would be the south slopes/gullies. Rockfall!


-No fixed protection.
-Doubles to 2, possibly 3, if you want to carry the extra weight. Finger sizes are guaranteed to make you giggle with excitement more than once; if not, feel free to return them to me.
-1 or 2 sets of stoppers. We used every single BD 4-13 at least twice.


- No Photos -
jcast   Durango
Best description ever! Nov 11, 2014