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Routes in The Black Wall

Ant Farm, The T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R
Cannonball Corner T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Cary Granite T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Coffee Achievers T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Emerald Highway, The T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Escape Route T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Espresso T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Good Evans T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Harry Cary T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
High Variance T 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Old Rappel Route T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Parallel Universe T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A4 R
Phil-a-Guster T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Rainbow Highway T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Road Warrior T 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Rusty Dagger, The T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Seven Sins (linkup of S.O.A.S into H.V.) T 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b PG13
Sinners On Sunday T 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a C0
Undertow T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a A4- R
Undertow (free) T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Unnamed Bolted Face T,S 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c A1-
Type: Trad, Aid, Alpine, 700 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Scott Sinor, Dan Godshall, Greg German, Jackie Kuusinen
Page Views: 7,610 total, 186/month
Shared By: 303scott on Aug 5, 2014
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This route takes a line between Rainbow Highway and High Variance. It is on excellent rock and generally protects quite well. It shares the 3rd pitch of Rainbow Highway and the last 15 meters of High Variance.

Pitch 1. (5.9 PG-13, 55m) You are aiming for a wide-looking crack to the right of the start of Coffee Achievers and High Variance. At nearly the lowest point of the Black Wall, find a cairn and climb easy but interesting slab past a small flake with pro on its right side, up to a small roof that takes pro. Continue straight up and then angle left on the path of least resistance to the base of a large flake. This is somewhat runout slab and should probably be avoided if wet. If wet, take the obvious 5.easy ramp/crack starting 20 meters left of the actual start up to the corner. Climb the flake up and right into an overhanging corner and pull through on a thin hand crack. Climb up and right to the anchors on pitch 2 of Rainbow Highway.

Pitch 2. (5.10 C0, 35m) Climb pitch 3 of Rainbow Highway as follows: from the belay head up and right on grassy/slabby terrain to the corner. You are aiming for a handcrack and left-facing dihedral. At the top of the dihedral, leave Rainbow Highway and traverse straight left on three bolts (C0) to a bolted anchor. Unfortunately, the holds that previously enabled this traverse broke off. It goes at C0. Fortunately, the clean aid is only about 15 feet and is all on bolts.

Pitch 3. (5.12- or 5.11 C1, 35m) Climb the splitter finger crack for 35 meters. Don’t take anything larger than a 0.75 on this pitch. The difficulties start directly off the belay, with some tricky 5.11 finger crack. After 5 meters, clip a bolt where the crack pinches to a seam and fire the crux (5.12-). Alternatively, clip the bolt, place a piece or two, and aid the crux, which is relatively short (about 2-3 meters). Then hold on for 25 meters of fantastic 5.11 fingers. Belay at bolted anchors.

Pitch 4. (5.11+ or 5.10+, 35m) Look directly up from the anchors and identify the large, left-facing weakness that goes through a wide-hands roof 25 meters up and to the left. Climb off the belay up left on unprotected 5.8 slab to gain a grassy ledge, or go around the corner farther left and climb a crack that will accept gear. Placing gear in the corner will significantly increase drag. Traverse back right and test the first, left-trending flake you come to, and decide if you trust it for gear (note that the flake flexes but has not come off on multiple ascents - including some fairly intense prying to try and get it to come off). Good gear can be had after the first 2 meters with supplemental gear available earlier in the Rainbow Highway corner to the right. Continue climbing the corner up to the final, horizontal roof and make a choice. Heading up and left through the roof is burly and incredibly exposed 5.11+ climbing with good protection. The route originally went through the roof, but the hand-traverse right around to the face is also fantastic and goes at 5.10 (keeping the pitch at 5.10+). In either case, belay at bolted anchors on the left side of the arête (hidden if you take the 5.10 exit).

Pitch 5. (5.11-, 35m) Take the obvious bolt line up 7 meters of slab, place pro, and pull through the roof. After the roof, traverse left towards the arête and then continue up to a bolt. Clip the bolt and pull up to an undercling (crux?), clip a bolt and pull through the second roof. Rejoin the last 5 meters of Rainbow Highway and belay at that route’s bolted anchors.

Pitch 6. (5.11-, 25m) From the Rainbow Highway anchors traverse 6-7 meters straight left on a grassy ledge. Climb 3 meters up the face to gain a smaller ledge and continue left to the arête. Climb the arête past a bolt, up to the roof, and bypass the roof on the left. Climb the right side of a flake, clip a bolt, and climb the arête to the anchors of High Variance. This pitch shares about 15 meters of the last pitch of High Variance. A special thanks to Matt Wilder for allowing us to add the upper bolt to his route.

Pitch 7. (5.10, 10m) Climb straight up through the roof if dry or climb out right through the easier weakness to the final anchors on Rainbow Highway. This pitch is very short.


This route is immediately left of Rainbow Highway and immediately right of High Variance. Rappel either Rainbow Highway or Good Evans. Sinners on Sunday starts at essentially the lowest part of the Black Wall, approximately 20 meters left of the start of Rainbow Highway. Look for a cairn below some easy slab to a hanging flake 7 meters up that takes pro on the right side. A small roof directly above it (5 meters) also takes small pro. You are heading for the crack in the corner, and then up to the pitch 2 anchors for Rainbow Highway.


Double rack from .5 through #3 C4, 1-2 each grey and purple Mastercams , 2-3 orange Mastercams, 3-4 each blue and yellow Mastercams, 1 #4 C4, and a full set of stoppers from RPs on up. Quickdraws (5) and long runners. All bolts are 2 ¾ inch x 3/8 inch stainless steel with stainless steel hangers- all bolts were hand drilled. Double ropes are nice on pitches 1,2 and 4.
Corey Flynn   USA
Totally bitchin'. The crux isn't really finger-size dependent as you are kinda face climbing on the crack when it pinches down. I thought the hardest part was trying to find a stance to fiddle in something decent once I stood up above the bolt, hard. About what I would expect 12- fingery crack slab to feel like. The last two 11a pitches have some exciting runs between the bolts. Not for the faint of heart.

Edit: as of 7/24/17 I have been up this route three times and was finally able to free the whole shebang. Some notes: the face traverse is nails hard but easy to work out the moves and sweet once it comes together. The finger crack currently has a fixed wire at a small "stance" right above the bolt eliminating the need to fiddle something in right there, I did not fix the wire but was happy to clip it. Seems like a pin would be awesome right there. On my first time up the route I avoided the 11+ roof on pitch 4 in favor of the 5.10 but now having done the roof twice i think its the way to go as the 5.10 variation is mad boring. The roof is well protected and feels a little soft if you are used to the style. Also this probably isnt the best route to "project" on the weekend as it is fairly popular. Me and my buddy had to wait FOREVER for the party in front of us to dog up the finger crack and then I had to climb the last pitch while it was wet and snowing which was not that fun. Fairly competent parties should be able to fly up this rig. Aug 21, 2016
dameeser   denver
I thought the finger pitch was 12b, but it depends on the size of your fingers. My fingers are average I guess, 0.4 is a good lock for me.

The traverse pitch into the finger crack felt to be around 12c. Clip the first two bolts, and then downclimb a little before you traverse. Skip the last bolt. Once you get to the anchor, clip the last bolt for your second. Aug 30, 2015
Colorado Springs
ejesse   Colorado Springs
BETA: the traverse goes free again at around V5/V6. Thanks, Josh Wharton, for brushing it Saturday morning.

The crux pitch is very finger-size dependent as I could just squeeze my pinky finger in at a couple points but nothing else. The pitch is stout for those with anything other than small hands - finger diet? The route as a whole has a lot of rock still exfoliating. I took a couple rips off the crux pitch as footholds disintegrated or the edge of the crack ripped off in my hand. It probably will get better with time or later in each season. Aug 17, 2015
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
Giving this a conditional 4 stars, as I think it just needs more traffic. The route stays on you the whole time, the upper pitches really make it worth it.

The rock is still flaky, hence the traffic comment. I didn't send the crux pitch, but one of my falls was due to a foothold blowing.

Great job on an awesome route. All belays are bolted.

GET ON IT! Aug 10, 2015
What a stellar route. Holy moly the "finger crack" is hard. The first half is quite thin (purple Metolius or smaller), and every move felt like 11+ or harder. I placed a single #0.5 Camalot, a single #0.75 Camalot on the crux pitch, and wished I had more purple and silver Metolius pieces (0 and 00 I think?).

On pitch 5, the move getting into the undercling in the second roof felt a bit dicey with ledges below (even though the bolt is at your waist).

Go get on this rig! Four star mega classic. Aug 9, 2015
Jay 1975
Jay 1975   Bonedale,CO
Sick hard route. Swing leftward on last rap w a 70m and down walk/climb the "coffee" trough to the ground. Not sketch. I also thought the 2 cruxes were "full on" hard....and 5.12 even if they were lower altitude. Aug 20, 2014
Hey Monty, glad you liked the route and thanks for posting that sweet pic! Regarding the C0 versus A0 rating, I know next to nothing about aid. However, my understanding of clean aid is that if a party can ascend the route without a hammer it is clean aid (even if bolts are present). Of course, that could be completely wrong, and I will be happy to change it if that's the case! Aug 18, 2014
Golden, CO
  5.12b C0
Monty   Golden, CO  
  5.12b C0
This is an excellent rock climb, thanks so much for putting it in! We found the grades to be about right on, though the crux pitch is very thin and would be harder for fat fingers. I attempted to free the A0 (not sure how if pulling on bolts is C0 or A0), but I gave up about halfway. I definitely think that it is possible, but it will certainly require some patience.

We rapped the route with 2 70m ropes, but next time I'll just bring one. All the raps would be fine except the last rap to the ground where your 10ft shy with a 70m. I think you could possibly swing over to the ledge at the base of the first pitch of Emerald or add a long cordeltte to the anchor to extend your rappel. With all that said, it is probably not a good idea to rap down the route if there is another party below you (it always sucks to be that party below). It's easy to look and see, and if there is another party, be respectful and use the standard Black Wall raps.

Fun climbing, great belays, and excellent rock! Aug 17, 2014
Dan, the take away point is that the route is fantastic. Aug 14, 2014
Dan G0D5H411
Colorado Springs, CO
  5.12 C0
Dan G0D5H411   Colorado Springs, CO
  5.12 C0
Sorry for any unintentional sandbagging! We worked the route to death and probably lost sight of how difficult it would be to onsight. As a concensus is reached, we'll be sure to update the individual pitch ratings.

Thanks to Josh, Ben, Doug, and Matt Wilder for the prior exploration and work on this part of the wall!

As an aside, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to work the C0 traverse. With a little ~help~ from the rope, I was able to work every individual move. When I tried to get it clean, the extra weight was just enough, that I started popping off the crucial nubbins near the third bolt. There are a surprising number of good feet through that section, but the hands go from small to dime-sized edges. What holds are left appear to be very solid, and I suspect a semi-mutant slab climber may be able to free this section, although at what grade I can not speculate. Aug 12, 2014
We inadvertently did most of the route today. We had a slower party above us, and we jumped on something they weren't on.

Anyway, it was fantastic the pitches we climbed (did not do p1 or p4). Coming home and reading this topo though, I might be inclined to call shenanigans on some of the ratings. Each pitch we did felt harder than ratings here. Of course I haven't been at altitude for over a year, and I haven't climbed much this summer. Still, I've been around awhile.

I'll make it a point to go back to this one. It is amazing.

The finger crack is reminiscent of Bishop Finger Crack before the crux. The crux of this thing is a thin, pumpy seam. If you took time to work the hard 15' section, maybe more holds might reveal themselves.

Again, great route. Aug 9, 2014
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
I'm super stoked you guys climbed that crack!
I noticed it back in 2010 when we first climbed Emerald. I spent months zooming in on pictures trying to find a line that would be worthy of that crack.
I decided the only way to know for sure would be to rappel down and have a look.

That recon ended up being Rainbow Highway. I rapped down the finger crack on SoS and couldn't find a good way to negotiate the slab to get there. With the climbing we'd found above and the effort cleaning and equipping Rainbow was going to take, I gave up on that crack.

It's super cool that you guys found a way to climb it and spent the time to clean and equip it! Good stuff!

As to new routing on the weekends....let 'em whine!


Josh Aug 8, 2014
Jackie K.
Steamboat Springs
Jackie K.   Steamboat Springs
I agree Mike - the finger crack is absolutely incredible. Also, every pitch has a different character and the whole route is stout. This is the best alpine route I've ever done. Aug 8, 2014
Thanks, Mike! I believe you can rap with a 70m to the anchors at the top of p1 of the route (p2 of Rainbow Highway) based on another party telling me my ends reached - I have not done it. However, you can't get to the ground (although you could probably build an intermediate anchor and clean it on the way up). I have rapped to the bottom of the crux pitch (pitch 3) on a single 70m. A few of the raps are pretty close, so watch ends. It is in prime shape right now, so let us know what you think of the whole route. Aug 6, 2014
Nice job! I checked out this line earlier this year when Rainbow Highway was soaking wet. The finger crack is amazing - in my opinion right up there with some of the best finger cracks in Colorado. I was curious if the C0 traverse went free, too bad some holds broke. Seems as though the new anchors also facilitate rapping the line with only one 70m rope? Aug 6, 2014
As a follow up, I have not given this route any stars. Much like a proud new father, I would likely find it beautiful no matter what: 5 stars on a 4-star scale. Thus, we will wait to see what the community thinks. Enjoy! Aug 5, 2014
Thanks, Joe! As you know it was a bit of work. Here's the history: This route first caught my eye on September 16, 2012. Rainbow Highway had just been completed, and the reviews from friends were that it was spectacular. My cousin and I rappelled in on that day, and, on the rappel from the top of the 4th pitch, I noticed what appeared to be a very dirty, splitter, finger crack in slightly less than vertical rock on a perfectly clean face. It was love at first sight…. The entire route was built around this single pitch. Unfortunately, Mt. Evans closed for the season shortly thereafter, and I had to dream about the line for the next 10 months.

In 2013, I convinced Dan Godshall that it was worth his time to help me out with the “likely 10+” route. There may have been representations that it would be one of the best finger cracks in Colorado. Regardless, Dan was up for the challenge. On our hike out to the Black Wall, we passed two parties and told them we would be cleaning a route near Rainbow Highway. Although we were first on the wall and advised them that the only interference with their climb would be fixed lines near the upper pitches (and didn’t actually start cleaning until they were above us), they still grumbled about people putting up new routes on the weekend. Sadly, both Dan and I had full time jobs, and we had no choice but to commit this sin on a Sunday. A dirty 10 hours later, pitch 3 was in good shape.

Greg German, and his insatiable appetite for all-things climbing, joined the crew later that summer and helped work the moves on pitch 3 as well as scope out the line for pitch 4. Despite several more days of hard work, the route was not to be completed in 2013. Thus, another winter was spent agonizing over the line.

In late June of 2014, Dan and I returned for a 3-day cleaning bonanza, figured out pitches 2 and 5, and hand-drilled all the bolts and anchors for those pitches. Greg also rose to the occasion and ventured out for more cleaning and climbing. By the first of July, 2014, the route was in good shape. Jackie, who is clearly the wisest of the group, joined for the first ascent.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Dan and Greg, without whose help this route would never have happened.

Hopefully, this contribution to climbing will atone for our sins that Sunday. Aug 5, 2014
Joseph Crotty
Broomfield, CO
Joseph Crotty   Broomfield, CO
Great work, Scott, and some serious perseverance. Looks like sweet new product, can't wait to check it out. Aug 5, 2014