Avg: 3.5 from 6 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 650 ft (197 m), 6 pitches, Grade III|
|Page Views:||630 total · 91/month|
|Shared By:||adamsc on Jun 30, 2020|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC|
For additional information about raptor closures, please visit the Rocky Mountain National Parks area closures website.
This route, which I heard about on a trip report on stephabegg.com, is a link-up of the three primary routes on Zowie and takes an amazingly direct line to the summit. The first pitch is 5.8+ and the price of admission for the rest of the route. The technical climbing is broken up by two bouts of 5.easy but allows for linking pitches with a touch of simuling while the second is on easy terrain. When I climbed the route, we combined pitches 2 and 3. There are many great belay opportunities on this route, especially on the lower half. I feel like the route is PG-13 because of the lack of pro pulling the roof on P1, especially if you don't clip the block of death. However, the holds are huge, and a fall would be unlikely.
It seems a lot of people compare Zowie to Petit. In my opinion, the average climbing quality on Petit is better, but no single pitch is better than pitches 5 or 6 on this route. The easier approach and descent to Zowie make this route a great entry park tower in my opinion, but the first pitch should not be attempted by someone only claiming to be a 5.8 leader.
Descriptions below include approximate pitch lengths. Any updates with firmer numbers would be greatly appreciated.
P1. Climb a prominent, left-facing dihedral system that arcs to the left at the mid-point of the pitch. As it arcs, face climbing becomes the name of the game while you protect in the crack system. This pitch is 5.8+ which lines up with what I heard about + ratings meaning "it's harder than 5.8." After pulling onto a ledge with a giant death block with rap slings (do not use this), traverse around left to pull a small roof on huge jugs. Work up to a large belay ledge on 5.easy terrain on the right side of a gully (~150 feet, 5.8+).
P2. Traverse climber's left across the gully and work up to the base of a prominent chimney. The crux of this pitch is getting across the gully, maybe 5.3, maybe 4th Class (~120 feet, 5.easy).
P3. Climb the chimney working up to a heinous squeeze. Drop your pack, and wiggle up the squeeze, finding easier ground above. I've seen descriptions that rate this pitch 5.6, but maybe they weren't taking the squeeze. In my opinion, it's every bit of 5.7 (~100 feet, 5.7).
P4. Work up more broken 5.easy terrain to the base of a small roof and corner system. This pitch is forgettable, but the rock quality is good, and the climbing is a fun easy break from the squeeze you just finished (~100 feet, 5.easy).
P5. A stellar pitch! This is what climbing on Zowie is all about. Some descriptions claim this pitch is 5.9, but I don't believe any single move is harder than 5.7. Work up to a roof, and traverse out and around to the right, regaining the corner system and climbing a stellar hand crack to the next belay on a ledge with a giant leaning death block. The exposure at the back side of this belay is amazing, don't forget to take in the views (~100 feet, 5.7).
P6. This pitch is maybe better than pitch 4 depending on your preferred style. There are two options here, taking the offwidth to the left or a face/crack climb directly up the center of the face. Take the face option, trying to not put too much torque on the death block as you work up from the ledge. Work up the face enjoying excellent holds and great movement, belaying at the rappel anchors at the back side of the summit on climber's right. Some descriptions say this is 5.8, but compared to the first pitch, there is no comparison (~80 feet, 5.7).
Descent: rappel from bolts on the summit down to a ledge (80 feet), and walk to the north end where you will find another set of bolts. Take this rappel (80 feet) to the top of the descent gully, working down very exposed but secure 3rd Class terrain with a short scramble in the middle. A pair of brown rap bolts will be skier's right at the very end of the gully where it cliffs out. Take this rap to the ground (80 feet).