Mountain Project Logo

Routes in The Guardian

A Prayer to Earl and Valerie: The John Joline Memorial Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Serpentine Son Rise (AKA The Sunrise) T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Theory of the Leisure Class T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Weather Window Waltz (The Guardian NE Face) T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Type: Trad, Alpine, 1800 ft, Grade IV
FA: Michael Crouch, Jay Bachhuber, 7/4/15
Page Views: 869 total, 30/month
Shared By: Jay Bach on Jul 6, 2015
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

1 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


Theory of the Leisure Class is a directissima climbing a large dihedral and prominent buttress on the Guardian's northeast face. If it were in the Front Range, it'd be a trade route, so while we're claiming the FA, I would not be surprised to learn some 1940s hard man picked this plum and just kept it to himself. Cheers to you, theoretical hobnailed tough guy, this climb is awesome.

Expect some loose rock from kitty litter to microwave-size death blocks, because, duh, you're in the alpine. Overall, though, it's a clean ride with good pro, comfy ledges, and easy navigation. All pitch lengths are estimates as we largely simulclimbed and forgot the tape measure.

Begin on the east side of the Guardian's massive, glorious north face, and find the large, off-vertical dihedral that screams “Climb me!” The easiest way to reach the dihedral's crack is to climb the blocky pillars slightly to the left, and traverse over. Layback and stem the dihedral, belaying at any of the numerous comfortable ledges. When you reach the pillar that caps the corner, move right to keep the party going (360', 5.7 – 5.8).

Above the pillar, locate the broad black streak up and left. Head towards that and onto the prominent buttress above. There's a short section of 5.7ish climbing off the deck, and then it turns into a low-mid 5th class romp with a steep, 5.7ish bit to hunt down if you've got the eye for it. As you move up the buttress, you'll eventually see a fatty, boombatty, hand crack splitting a clean face up high. Aim for this friendly fellow, and set up a belay on the ledge below (800' low-mid 5th and maybe a bit harder in spots).

Climb the short, wide, 5.8 hand crack that zig-zags up the face. After that, there's more low-mid-5th, a twenty foot 5.6 face with Gunksy edging, and then more low-mid-5th. That'll take you to a vertical corner with a wide crack on the right and a hand crack on the left. Climb this, then continue up the 5.8 finger crack above (500' 5.3 to 5.8).

Rally up more mid-5th fun times to the finish (140').

Continue to the summit if you've got the weather window and desire for a few hundred feet of 3rd classing it (we didn't have either), and/or descend the east ridge.


Head to the east side of the Guardian's north face. You can't miss the dihedral.


A single rack to 4 and lots of draws. Gear options are plentiful and varied. A 60m rope is plenty long.


Michael Crouch
Boulder, co
Michael Crouch   Boulder, co
Yeah, if you've ever taken a gander at the meat mitts Jay swings around, you'd understand why we called it 5.8. Glad we kept it exciting for you guys, we're psyched that people found it and did it! I felt like the crux for us was the drive in on a crazy dirt road from Creede. Nov 2, 2016
Jay Bach
Denver, CO
Jay Bach   Denver, CO
Hey Jeremy and Don,
It's awesome to hear you guys climbed the route! Didn't mean to sandbag the route (too bad), but the cruxes were definitely a good fit for my hands. Thanks for adding all the pictures and detail. Oct 12, 2016
Great route, thanks for putting it up. This was a long challenging climb with lots of variation. The rock was pretty good for the San Juans, but we did have the rope (during belay) pull a couple of big ones off that went zinging past the 2nd. Be careful.

It definitely seemed harder than 5.8, I say at least 5.9 and probably a bit higher.

Sep 6, 2016
Really nice route, it's good to have more quality alpine routes in the San Juans. Thanks for putting this up and posting it, fellas! Awesome adventure indeed.

I am very confident that this is significantly harder than 5.8. Up high there are options and one could probably keep it 5.8 and below, but the first couple of hundred feet (in the big dihedral, which is great climbing) felt more like 5.10, or 9+ at the very least. The "fatty boombatty" also felt harder than 5.8. I would not recommend this climb for a 5.8 leader and probably not even for a 5.9 leader if you don't want to fall in the alpine. My partner TR-on-sighted a 5.10 the week before but fell multiple times following on the big starting dihedral (albeit carrying a pack and at higher elevation, but still). This is definitely sand-bagged at 5.8.

There is definitely some loose rock, more than a lot of the rock I've climbed in RMNP, Winds, Tetons, and The Valley, for example, but for the San Juans it is quite solid and clean. To my limited knowledge, the Grenadiers were formed differently than the rest of the San Juans and are significantly less chossy, as with this route.

I did long pitches, mostly 200+ feet with a 70m rope, so I was glad to have a double rack of cams up to #2 and I brought 1 #3, which was nice. I did not bring a #4 and never missed it. I would much rather have doubles of the smalls than a #4. Sure there were places I could have placed it, but within a few feet, I could always get in something else instead.

We took the East "ridge" (more of a broad mountainside) down, and it goes at class 4, but I would not want to do it in the dark. If you're trying to get back down to Vallecito Creek, this is a good way to go, just budget a couple of hours of daylight.

The last part of the approach requires navigating the bergshrund (snow field-rock interface). In late August, it was very hard snow and steep. We did it without ice axes, and it was fine, but we had to crawl through a snow tunnel to get to the start. Earlier in the year you might want an ax, but then you'd have to carry it. Sep 6, 2016
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands
Way to go, guys.

What a great adventure; I love that Trinity Creek drainage.

Seriously, no matter earlier pioneer dirt-bags/trust-funders may have done this face like you, and perhaps criss-crossed your line (yes, there are a few cleaner-looking dihedrals that have been done by COBS staff at the base - which ones, FA, IDK. Old rap slings are tell-tale indicators...).

Way to describe your line (great diction) and what a great name!

BTW, Storm King's N. face has only one documented route, I think.... Jul 9, 2015