Type: Trad, Aid, 1200 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Intergalactic Antiochian Mountain Club, June, 1971
Page Views: 998 total · 17/month
Shared By: Ken Trout on Feb 4, 2014
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

2 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick

First Ascent History

In 1968, a group of backpackers traversing the San Juan Mountains hiked under the Popes Nose. Seventeen year old assistant guide Jim Galvin, well trained by his mentor Tap Tapley, was able to recognize the outstanding quality of the smooth dome.

Jim Galvin and Michael Burdick had already done a lot of alpine rock climbing and recognized that Colorado's mountains were practically untouched. They also knew that part of mountaineering during the Vietnam Era was making the "Easy Rider" crossing of rural 'merica to reach the safety of the mountains.
Chalice Wall bivouac: Jim Galvin (R) Jim Yurchenco (L).
Michael Burdick writes: "We had very little money between us, and the threat of violence was very real in the “heartland” at that time if you happen to have long hair and look like a bum. I know I made light of it in the Climbing article, but our apprehension was based more on personal experience than by having watched Easy Rider. In Wyoming for example, Jim Galvin was yanked out of his car and beat up at a gas station. I was nearly lassoed off my motorcycle in Laramie by some guys in a pickup behind me."

Since traveling alone was dangerous for freaks, a group of five squeezed into a VW Bug. By the end of the drive the VW was only running on three cylinders! Jim Yurchenco was a college friend who came for the climbing. Barbara and Wendy came for the wilderness backpacking.

Of course the climbers didn't really believe Jim Galvin's description of a steep 1,000 foot wall capped by a huge summit overhang. Upon seeing the wall for the first time, Mike Burdick wrote: "I was suddenly afraid. I had not prepared my head for exactly the thing that Jim described."

Route Description

The photo below shows that the Chalice team used an exit crack to the right of the Contraceptive Cracks exit. I'm guessing this is a simple mistake and that both routes share the same exit.

Also, this route has probably never had a second ascent so there are a lot of quotes from the Michael Burdick's narrative from Climbing Magazine #8 and from correspondences.
Bivouac hole marked X. Photo by Mike Burdick from Climbing Magazine #8, 1971.
Pitch one: Mike Burdick described the route as starting 100 feet left of the main corner of the face. This could be the same start as on Central Buttress.

Pitches two, three, four, and five: Climb up and right as in the photo. Pitch five ends in the bivouac hole. One member of the party took a three fall fall out of the hole when an anchor pulled (nut).

Pitch six: This is one of the crux leads. Michael Burdick wrote that after a rainy night: "...a tricky lead up a wet gooey overhanging crack forced using aid." This pitch ends on a ledge with a single bolt. Galvin's first attempt at a bolt failed but a second go was successful and the whole team hung off this one bolt.

Pitch seven: Lower off the bolt and pendulum right into a groove. This pitch ends on a ledge under the summit overhang.

Pitch eight: Traverse right until below the exit crack.

Pitch nine: Escape up the exit crack.

Pitch six by Mike Burdick from Climbing #8, 1971.


Cams up to #5 and the desire to bag the second ascent (maybe?). There is at least one bolt and that was used for a belay.


e Dixon
Durango, Colorado
e Dixon   Durango, Colorado
We went to check this route out earlier this summer and this is what we found:

Pitch 1 – scramble up to a right-facing, right-angling wide corner. Climb this to its top, and exit out right and belay on a good ledge. This is the same first pitch as for Central Buttress. (~150’)

Pitch 2 – continue almost straight up past a variety of cracks, aiming for the main corner system that splits the face. Belay at a good ledge with a slung chockstone. (~200’)

Pitch 3 – continue past more jumbled cracks and into the main corner system. Climb the corner up to an angling alcove and belay. We left two fixed nuts here. (~200’)

Pitch 4 – steep hands and jugs lead out of the alcove and into a section of slightly overhanging twin cracks. Above the twin cracks, continue up the corner and find a belay stance. This pitch was aided on the first ascent at A2. It was led mostly free on our attempt with a little gear tugging and gardening. (~150’)

Pitch 5 – continue up the thin, vegetated corner for about 40-50’ and look for a nice foot ledge that traverses right to a small stance on a prow with bolts (2 old & 1 new). This section required a little more gear tugging and gardening. (~60’)

  • Pitch 4 & 5 may be combined or broken up differently

Pitch 6 – pendulum right (A1) into a corner and follow it to a stance below the large, prominent roof. There is another old bolt and a new fixed pin. (~100’)

  • This was our high point. Because of a good-sized whipper and some falling blocks we bailed. We could see the remainder of the route to the top, maybe another 200'.

Pitch 7 – continue up the corner for a short ways, then traverse right, below the big roof, to below the exit crack.

Pitch 8 – up the exit crack to the summit. Jul 28, 2014