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Astro Dog 

YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, 14 pitches, 2000', Grade V
Original:  YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Robert Warren, Peter Gallagher 1986
Page Views: 23,632
Submitted By: Anonymous Coward on Sep 2, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (59)
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Double exposed at the Two Boulder Bivy. From a &qu...

2016 Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


Astro Dog is considered a mega-classic route in the Black Canyon. Reading this, I was wondering why we only saw chalk on one pitch of the whole climb! The rock on Astro Dog is generally of very good quality except for the last couple pitches. The route offers stunning views in every direction, especially of the North Chasm View Wall.

The climbing follows cracks mostly and some face pitches to give your hands and feet a rest. The route is very sustained in the 5.10 grade and expect a number of 200' pitches. Also, expect an occasional runout and wide section. Route finding is a little tricky, but you more or less wander your way up the major weakness of the buttress. The two boulder bivy ledge located conveniently in the middle of the climb is a good place to spend the night. It sleeps one very comfortably and the other spot is slightly less comfortable. The ledge is big enough to unrope and cook dinner on, although I wouldn't recommend playing frisbee on it. The rappels wander back and forth quite a bit and they are easy to miss. Some are very difficult to reach while rapping with a haulbag. It is possible to rap to the Two Boulder Bivy Ledge and climb up from there for a shorter day.

To do this route in a day, I would recommend being fast at back to back ropestretcher pitches of 5.10. Fortunately, the route is only in the sun for a couple hours in the morning. Enjoy!!!


Double set of cams up to #3 Camalot + 1 #4 Camalot. Double set of stoppers, and some RPs or offset nuts very useful for crux pitch. Two 60m ropes will get you to the bottom in one piece.

Photos of Astro Dog Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1 variation. Pitch 1 & 2 variations have to ...
Pitch 1 variation. Pitch 1 & 2 variations have to ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Frosty sorting gear on Astro Dog.  9/88.
Frosty sorting gear on Astro Dog. 9/88.
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting off pitch 11.
Starting off pitch 11.
Rock Climbing Photo: Astrodog topo used on 1986 2nd ascent.
BETA PHOTO: Astrodog topo used on 1986 2nd ascent.
Rock Climbing Photo: Traversing with the pig across the base of the Sou...
Traversing with the pig across the base of the Sou...
Rock Climbing Photo: Waiting to be rescued from the ledge below the cru...
Waiting to be rescued from the ledge below the cru...
Rock Climbing Photo: Before the fall.
Before the fall.
Rock Climbing Photo: Frosty chillin' at the Two Boulder Bivy.  9/88.
Frosty chillin' at the Two Boulder Bivy. 9/88.
Rock Climbing Photo: Morning Coffee on the smaller side of the Two Boul...
Morning Coffee on the smaller side of the Two Boul...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lyle following pitch 8.
Lyle following pitch 8.
Rock Climbing Photo: Beta topo for Astrodog.
BETA PHOTO: Beta topo for Astrodog.
Rock Climbing Photo: The return of the "lost" Astro Dog topo.
The return of the "lost" Astro Dog topo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Fun, little hand traverse. The belayer is obviousl...
Fun, little hand traverse. The belayer is obviousl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Low on the route. The second pitch I believe.
Low on the route. The second pitch I believe.
Rock Climbing Photo: All this with no approach? Heaven!
All this with no approach? Heaven!
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1, above the boulders...
Pitch 1, above the boulders...
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris setting up the first rap.
Chris setting up the first rap.
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris on the hand crack above the 2BB. You can see...
Chris on the hand crack above the 2BB. You can see...
Rock Climbing Photo: Got the pig to the top of the wall!  Jason finishi...
Got the pig to the top of the wall! Jason finishi...
Rock Climbing Photo: We weren't setting any speed records. P5, getting ...
We weren't setting any speed records. P5, getting ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The stellar handcrack on pitch 7, leaving the bivy...
The stellar handcrack on pitch 7, leaving the bivy...

Comments on Astro Dog Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 25, 2017
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 5, 2002

Moderate meaning 5.10?? Almost every pitch of this route untl the exit slabs checks in at 5.10 or harder. Sure theres some munge, but there are those beautiful cracks above the bivy ledge..
By slevin
Sep 5, 2002

For those of you with a copy of Jeff Achey, Dudley Chelton and Bob Godfrey's revised "CLIMB! The History of Colorado Rock Climbing", the crux pitch of Astrodog is pictured on the cover.

The name derives from the FA party's discovery at the base of the climb of a decaying poodle carcass- the remnants of a poor little pooch who had taken the big dive from the rim.

Astro Dog belongs to the "Astro" series of routes (all must-do routes) including Astroman in Yosemite, Astro Hulk in the Sierras, Astro Elephant at Elephant's Perch, Astro Monkey at Smith, Astro Yam at Yamnuska, among others.

A compelling 3-level quality rating system for the Black Canyon is simply "worth repeating", "worth doing once", and "not worth doing". Astro Dog is certainly worth doing once. It would be up to each climber to decide, once they have done the route, whether it is worth repeating.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Sep 5, 2002

Can anyone comment on how runout/dicey the 5.11- face climbing on pitch three is? I'd heard of people french-freeing the .11+ pitch (although Steve's comment makes that sound really hairy, maybe that was before the fixed piece pulled), which would make the .11- P3 the apparent free-climbing crux.
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 5, 2002

Also, I'm curious about the non-rappel options for approaching the wall (I hate rappelling!). The new guidebook and Rock Climbing Colorado give sharply conflicting beta for this. Some vague notes in the visitor center binder make these approaches sound really dicey, but with no details.
By Jason Nelson
From: SLC, UT
Sep 5, 2002

Well, looks like I stirred up quite the controversy! I think some of you guys might monitor this site a little closely. As to the 5.11- pitch. There is a fixed head and an old bolt protecting the crux. The head looks OK, and the bolt belongs in a museum. It's a rusted out leeper hanger (remember those got recalled), with what looks like a nail holding it in. My partner led the pitch a totally sowed it up. Following the pitch, I wasn't sure what kind of weight the gear would hold, but I don't think it would all rip out.

As to the 5.11+ pitch, I think you could probably french free it if it were a concern. The climbing is a cool palming a pressing leaning corner that shouldn't be missed.
By Danika
Sep 5, 2002

When I did this route last fall (late Sept.) there was a somewhat dubious looking fixed nut in the lower section of the 11+ crux pitch - essentially just when you're getting into the "fun stuff".Since then, I've also heard that it may indeed be gone. There is gear to be found however. My partner did an excellent job through the crux, calmly placing a small TCU mid-way through the toughest section of the flare. Have to admit though that I'm anxious about this section when I head back to do this route again (Steve, does that mean this is a 3-star route in my book?). I definitely had a good leg burn going from the stem by the time I exited onto the crumbly rock at the top of the crux - double the burn for stopping to place gear on lead. We had slightly different belays than noted on the topo, with a belay just after exiting the steep groove.

As for the non-rappel approach, this is the way we decided to go. It makes for a long day (or day and 1/2...). We went down the Cruise Gully, across the tyrollean (very nicely rigged last fall), then up the slope to the base. Pretty straight forward, but longer and more involved.

The raps are relatively straightforward, but require some careful attention to find a few. Topo on these looks good. As I recall, the 4th rappel requires some work to get to the anchors for the 5th. Stay hard left while rapping - and I remember having to do some swinging around to get back up to the ledge (top of pitch 8). From there down, the raps were uneventful. Rap anchors were a mix of bolts and fixed gear, and all seemed solid then.
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
May 25, 2003

Just a general plea to the Canyon gods and all nice climbers. On Sat. May 17, I fell about 50' on the tenth pitch of the Astro Dog. Despite being one of the stupidest and scariest events of my climbing career, I am o.k. thanks to the heroic rescue efforts of the Gunnison Posse, the Western State Search and Rescue and the Park Service. If anyone does this route soon, or has already done it, they will find the crux corner and the rotten shit above laced with about half a rack and two skinny ropes. The ropes are beat, but if you have pity on a jacked up climber, I would love the gear back. It actually belongs to my partner Jason Seaver. I fucked up and would love to return HIS gear if possible. I can be reached at or 970 577 0209I will no doubt be home all day every day as I am recovering from a broken sacrum and other minor injuries.

Thank you much, Justin DuBois
By Anonymous Coward
May 27, 2003

What do I know? But I think that this is one of the best routes in Colorado. I have done it three times with Eric Johnson and we had a blast! As for bad rock, maybe I'm used to the "Black" but I thought the rock was fine. Don't remember anything loose. We have done 2 new variations to the route. #1 Start with the flakes route about 2 pitches up you get to a ledge. Go to the right side of this and "down climb" the hand crack about 30-40 feet then do the wildest traverse on finger ledge leading right, the only gear is at the end of the traverse, a med.nut, make crux moves up a shallow obtuse corner, (remove nut after passing it) then right to bolt anchor on Astro Dog 3rd pitch. Rated 5.11 s

#2 After crux dihedral, belay, then instead of moving left, follow leaning corner system to the right for 55m. to grassy ledge on rap route.5.11+ Escape left to join Astro [Dog] behind huge flake. Hard and sustained. Chip Ruckgaber
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 23, 2003

Awesome photo, Seaver!!!!
By cole taylor
Aug 3, 2003

Justin D.--glad to hear that you are ok. I was in the canyon that day (I think you guys must have been rapping in right after us--remember the guys who couldn't find the rap anchors). Anyway, we had a true Black adventure that day, and it was midnight by the time we topped out, amid floodlights and fire trucks. The rescue crew all wanted to know if we had seen you guys, but until then we didn't even know anybody was still down there (we thought they were waiting to ticket us for not signing in). They had not yet sent anyone down in the Canyon by the time we took off, and as we later enjoyed our beer and burritos, and all of the other comforts of the rim, we couldn't help but think of someone having a terrible night down in that canyon. It rained all the next day, and we couldn't find out anything about the rescue, so it is good to finally hear that you guys made it out ok. As for your gear, I'm sorry to say that I can't help you, but I hope that works out for you, and good luck healing.
By Andy Johnson
Oct 13, 2003

As of 9/10 there are two fixed stoppers right next to each other in the upper crux. I personally didn't think that the crux was all that hairy. I found the portion immediately after the crux in the rotten dihedral to be far more spicy. Save a 00 tcu for the rotten section. Also there is a lower crux which I have been told is the original route. It goes at .11+ and should not be missed. After pitch 4 break right on easy terrain, climb a pocketed face and aim for a dihedral with a thin crack going through a small roof. Belay at the base of the dihedral at a bush and "fixed hex" (I pulled it out easily with my fingers, but put it back). The dihedral is very high quality and one of the best pitches on the route. It also allows you to get to the bivy ledge in 6 pitches. This pitch may also be part of the Goldberg Special.
By Anonymous Coward
May 27, 2004

Hi...this post got me thinking. My partner and I are wanting to do either Stoned Oven or Astrodog in the Black and are trying to decide which. These are the 11+ routes that you hear the most about. The alleged classics. You hardmen out there...which is the better quality route (I notice Stoned Oven isn't even on the site), and which overall is the harder route? Which is diceir and spicier?! easier to do in a day?? We've done a few grade Vs down there like Cruise and Southern Arete, so it's not like we don't have Black Canyon experience, and we're looking to step it up a notch, but it's not like we noramlly cruise 5.11s either, we lead them but we certainly don't cruise them! And sometimes we whip, etc.

Thanks for your help
By Anonymous Coward
May 30, 2004

Stoned Oven is a much better route than Astrodog, and it is also significantly more sustained, with some hard crack and face on it. I give it 3 stars easily. Either of these is quite a step up from the Scenic Cruise or S, Arete, but of the 2, Astrodog is probably closer to the "next step" than Stoned Oven.
By Anonymous Coward
Jun 13, 2004

Note that the rappel topo in BC Climbs contains a significant error: the 5th rappel is shown as ending (at the anchor for the 6th) directly climber's left of and even with the "Two Boulder Bivy" ledge. In reality, the anchor is about 50 feet above and left of the bivy ledge, and is hard to spot from above. This is espcially significant if you intend to swing over to the bivy ledge in order to leave anything there--you should do this while making the 6th rappel, rather than at the end of the 5th as the topo would indicate. Also, the anchor for 5th rappel is shared with the belay anchor on route at the top of pitch 9 (on the guidebook topo)--the 10+ flare.
Jul 19, 2004

For you Front Rangers who are a little bit disgruntled with this routes quality, might I suggest the Flakes Route? It kinda has somewhat of a reverse paradoxsimilar to A.D. but it goes the other way - It gets a bad rap in several publications (ow, runout, rotten/crumbly crux) but it is actually quite good! The ow aren't that bad (5.9) and just about every B.C. route has some runout. The right leaning rotten crux up high however is quite fun however and maybe just a little terrifying. The best way to do the route is to start the first two pitches of A.D. then scoot left and cruise an awesome fingers/ hands crack up to the off widths. These ow pitches ascend clean rock and have [decent] pro (you can lug a #4 expando tube for the crux squeezer if ya want). Anyway this is a good route and after doing a half dozen S.Chasm routes it is probably my favorite. I'm sure this line is the first one everyone notices from the north side then they get all freaked out about it's reputation. The BLACK is a beautiful place.....Cheers!!!
By Kevin Stricker
From: Evergreen, CO
Jun 13, 2006
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Anyone who has ever wanted to do this route but has been scared by the grade, just go do it. All except 2 5.10 pitches felt like easy 5.9 (compare to the Cruise or Journey Home). The 5.11 pitches felt more like 5.10+, especially if you are good at chimneying. The 5.11+ crux can be chimneyed almost the whole way and is pretty cruiser, especially if you step left and get a rest 1/2 way up. All in all, I thought the route was great, although next time I will probably approach from the Cruise gully and have a ride arranged on the South rim. The rappels just take too long, and the first couple are in the dirt, impossible to keep crap from flying and the only people who would hear your screams of "ROCK" are the tourons at the rim.

Definitely a do again route in my book.....
By Thom Engelbach
Jul 2, 2006

I did this route with Jim Donini last year. He's the same age (within a day) as Mick Jagger, 62. In fact, a lot of people think of Mick Jagger as the Jim Donini of Rock 'n' Roll! I was only 44 at the time, which brought our team average to 106/2=53.
We fixed a few quarts of water at strategic locations on the way down. Recommended!
By Jim Donini
Jun 11, 2007

Was Matt Samet climbing the same route I was? I've climbed a fair amount in the Black and think Astro Dog is one of the best. Harder cruxes than the Scenic Cruise but not quite as steep overall- you burn about the same number of calories. The raps are straight forward. It's on the south rim but doesn't go into the shade until mid-day.
By Jim Donini
Jun 11, 2007

Just noticed the missive from Tom Englebach about our climb on Astro Dog. Tom, thanks for flattering me with the comments about Mick Jagger. But, the truth be known, those harsh alpine bivouacs have taken there toll, it might be better to compare me with Keith Richards.
By Dave Vaughan
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 20, 2007

Did A-Dog last weekend - a fine adventure. If it's warm, be sure to take advantage of the H2O stash possibilities at the top of P8, P6 and P3! Raps are pretty straight forward with only the 4th rap to the top of P8 requiring some sideways trickery. A new long sling and some clean up on the large flake rap station just above the 2 boulder bivy ledge would be nice. A #4 Camalot is worth its weight for a couple of pitches. The last two pitches are degrading, but make the cold beer at the top taste that much better!
By stevecurtis
From: Petaluma California
Oct 22, 2009

I couldn't pass up the chance to put an entry in from our ascent in 1999, since the other oldest ones are '02. Anyway, I did this with Walter Huber, an ex pat Swiss in Evergreen. At the time, there was a really decrepit #2 Loweball protecting the opening moves on the crux. Walter weighed in at about 110 pounds, and led the thing. The other 11s were mine. We got off route to the right some for a pitch or two below the big ledge. Decent 5.10 climbing, with one runout section. The rest of the route went well, and we topped out as the sun set, with a concerned ranger peering over the edge.
By Owen Lunz
Jun 6, 2010

I did this route last week. We rapped in and left bivi gear at the Two Boulders Ledge. The pitches up to the upper crux are really sweet with mostly excellent rock and good protection. The lower 11+ pitch (below the bivi) is substantially easier than the upper 11+ crux and can be led all the way to the bivi ledge. We climbed with a #3.5, and two # 4 Camalots and used them all on several pitches. A #5 would be a nice luxury for pitch 1 but would not be needed anywhere else. There are good fixed copperheads on pitch 3 (below the bolt) and on the upper 11+ crux (off the ledge). We climbed right of the sloping ledge above the upper crux and encountered hard 5.9 climbing on loose rock (but with good gear) for about a pitch until we hit easy terrain below the top chimney. All in all we felt it was very worth doing and the two boulder bivi is a great place to spend an evening.
By blakeherrington
Sep 29, 2010

It's hard to believe we even did the same route as some of the folks bad-mouthing Astro Dog.

Jason's topo (minus the rappel distances) is great.

Apart from the last two pitches of scruffy scrambling to a short chimney topout, the route is ~1,500' of excellence. Lots of long 5.10 cracks and corners, with 3 short 5.11 sections which protect well. P3 (5.11a with old bolt) is a sideways move, good gear available at foot level, junky bolt in your face.

P5, just below two-boulder bivy, is listed as .11+ (or a 5.10 variation out left). This 5.11 pitch is stellar fingers in a corner, with a crux roof move more like 5.11b.

The final 5.11 pitch protects will with small gear, and features memorable body-tension climbing for ~25' off a belay ledge, then really amazing easier moves up an overhanging chimney/corner. The chossiest 'real' climbing is a 5.10 corner below the crux pitch, but gear and holds are both better than they appear from below.
By Bryan Gilmore
From: New England
Oct 3, 2010
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

The fixed gear is gone from the crux pitch, but if you get on it now all the holds are ticked- why do people need to tick-mark everything?
By Scott Bennett
Oct 3, 2010

Sorry about the tick-marks, I made some of them while I was standing on that ledge nervously thinking there might not be gear for a while (there is). Should have had my partner brush them off.

I posted a movie of Me and Blake on the climb:

By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 11, 2011

What's is the usual pitch count for Astro Dog? Thanks!
By topher donahue
May 13, 2011

There is a mega quality variant start to Astrodog: A 300' splitter that goes from hands to fingers just to the left of the normal Astrodog start. You can reach it by either starting up the first ramps of the Flakes, or via rappel from the awkward rappel anchor in the middle of the big flake (rappel #11 on Jason's topo) a pitch below the first short 5.11. Angle upriver from that rappel and start climbing below the sickest hand crack in the canyon. 2 pitches of perfect splitter.

We approached via rappel as described above, but it should be possible to climb left of the right facing flake that is the normal astrodog start and approach from below. To approach from below, go towards the Flakes Route, but watch for the 300 foot hand crack instead.

First pitch, Perfect hands for 130', 5.10.
Second pitch, Hands to fingers 170', 5.11.
Then step right to join Astrodog for the first 5.11 pitch.
First climbed with Vera Schulte-Pelkum in about 2005.
By chris Kalous
May 14, 2011

Yo, Topher. I'm confused. "You can reach it by either starting up the first ramps of the Flakes", but the Flakes topo says to do the first two pitches of Astro Dog. If we are approaching from below, can you just climb out left a ways from the base of AD and find this thing?
By Ben Walburn
May 18, 2011

You can reach this alternate start via the rappel atop P2. My buddy Adam and I climbed this last weekend, sort of. Rap to a hanging belay in the hand crack just above a roof. This is just atop and out of the gully where the crack originates. I went into the gully another 60 ft. or so for a seemingly comfortable belay stance. Instead, I just got rained on with smaller choss, and the climbing is poor and vegetated. Once we gained the "clean" hand crack, it was fantastic. The second pitch being the 5.11 finger crack was undoubtedly the nicest pitch on the entire route. Unfortunately 30 ft. into the pitch the clouds opened up and I had to aid the majority of it.

FYI, there is some seriously loose and teetering blocks at the top of the final pitch, literally as you step up onto the rim. Adam did a fantastic job at leading this pitch with the utmost care. Only small chips and debris escaped his efforts. However, all of the debris funnels right onto the belay. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL when exiting this route. What is the local etiquette on moving some of these precariously stationed blocks, about the size of small TVs? Maybe the local climbers could asses and act on this?

000 C3 and 00 C3 gets you off the belay on the crux pitch. No fixed hardware is required.
By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
May 18, 2011

I've got to second Ben on the two pitch alternate start being fantastic. Once they clean up a bit, they will be considered two of the best crack pitches around. The first pitch is beautiful hands and the second pitch is fantastic finger locks that go on forever! I would happily rappel 2000 feet any time to climb those two pitches.
By noah gostout
From: Iqaluit, Nunavut
Jun 5, 2011

Great route, the pitches before the two builder ledge are all pretty easy, the 5.11 face is still protected with a copperhead and really more like 5.10 the only really hard stopper moves are on the upper crux where things get totally ridiculous! It is possible to French free the first moves if you have small, offset stoppers or perhaps a 000 c3.
By mike1
Jun 14, 2011

Did this guy on 06/14/11. The alternate first two pitches are perfect splitter. Like climbing at The Creek but granite for 200 plus feet. 5.10/5.11+.
By Drew Thayer
From: Denver, CO
Jun 19, 2011

Climbed with Noah Gostout. Friggin awesome route, do not be intimidated by the grade, lots of the 5.10 climbs like 5.9 and the first .11 crux felt like 5.10 and is not sketchy. Second .11- crux is all there and well-protected.

You do NOT need a #5 for the first pitch, I had a bomber #0.5 Camalot at head-level for the hard moves (chim/undercling). You can climb the route with one #4 Camalot if you save it for specific places: top of p1, roof in p2, top of p7 (stellar pitch - hands in a corner).

You can easily simul pitches 5 and 6 if you take the left variation. 5.9.

Pitch 10: run it to the base of the crux, makes for an amazing, delicate, technical pitch.

We found the crux extremely difficult. 000 and 00 C3s would have been useful, we aided on some sketchy nuts.

We tried to find the right variation for pitches 5 and 6, but we couldn't discern one lichen-covered groove from the next. Where is the .11+ groove? Worth doing?
By blakeherrington
Jan 10, 2012

Hey Drew,

You probably didn't veer far enough right to find the first of the 5.11+ sections on p5 or p6. That pitch is excellent fingers in a corners, pulls a small roof into a slot, and then can be linked up to two-boulder ledge. The rock and climber is great an it's more straightforward and easier than the second 5.11+ pitch.
By notmyname
From: Sandy, UT
May 22, 2012

Be careful on the pitch that guy broke his back on, I had a peg hold break while clipping and decked myself. Got a disgusting puncture wound on my shin but was able to climb out ok (actually it was just an elaborate plan to get my partner to lead the cruxes above!). That same pitch is also a bitch to rap to the anchors.

The copperhead is gone from first 11- pitch, btw.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
May 23, 2012
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

Just climbed this yesterday, and it is the best route I have done in The Black, especially if you do the alternate first two pitches to the left! You can easily scope out the alternate start from the last two rappels and get to it by going left from the last rappel to a little stance just below where the hand crack starts. The first pitch is 5.10 hands, and the second pitch probably clocks in at about 11c fingers and is one of the best pitches I have every climbed anywhere! No extra gear is needed for this variation, but I thought the second pitch was also the second hardest pitch of the route. Not sure how pitch 6 got the grade of 11+, I thought it was mid-11 at the most.
By mike1
Oct 2, 2013

Just climbed this yesterday, and it is the best route I have done in The Black, especially if you do the alternate first two pitches to the left! You can easily scope out the alternate start from the last two rappels and get to it by going left from the last rappel to a little stance just below where the hand crack starts. The first pitch is 5.10 hands and the second pitch probably clocks in at about 11c fingers and is one of the best pitches I have every climbed anywhere! No extra gear is needed for this variation, but I thought the second pitch was also the second hardest pitch of the route. Not sure how pitch 6 got the grade of 11+, I thought it was mid-11 at the most.

Does anyone have pic of these two pitches. They were amazing and should get some press. I was in such a hurry to reach bivy before dark I did not get pics. Wow. 200'+ feet of splitter granite. Did not see that coming!
By Robert Warren
From: Ridgway, Colorado
Sep 8, 2014

To get to the base of the route without doing the Astro Slog rappels, use the SOFB. This is the gully directly across from the SOB. The route is marked on the Landsat photo from Google earth. This is the approach I used on the first two tries and on the first ascent. Gallagher went down the Cruise, and I made a rope toss to him to set up the tyrolean.
Rock Climbing Photo: SOFB aproach to Astrodog in the Black Canyon near ...
SOFB aproach to Astrodog in the Black Canyon near Montrose Colorado.
By scott rourke
May 11, 2015

Climbed this excellent route in May 1993. We did the raps, got off the rap-route somewhere in the middle and ended up making two new anchors using some extra gear we brought for just such a situation. We stashed some water(not enough!) at some places where we could tell we were on route.

Getting to the bottom took up a bunch of daylight.

We arrived at the 2bldr bivy at dusk where we settled into our one space blanket and enjoyed our remaining quart of water. We had I think another 2 quarts hanging on the route above us. Our buddy waiting for us at the top lowered a big jug of water over the last pitch which was much appreciated!

Looking at the topo, it seems I got funneled into the left variation leading to the 2 bldr bivy, which I thought was the chossiest pitch we climbed. Overall, we thought the climbing to be fantastic and from what I hear, the route has cleaned up considerably.

For me, the scariest part was looking down at the churning Spring run-off, knowing that retreat would be a problem as there was no tyrolean set up at the time.
By Noah McKelvin
From: Colorado Springs
Jul 7, 2015
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

Definitely my favorite route that I've done in The Black, just for the overall experience. Couple things though. The rappels are shitty, kind of like the Diamond rappels, except with more things to get your rope stuck, especially the 4th rappel. Next time, I'd have a ride arrangement and take the Cruise Gully. Second, take the two pitch variation. That should be the normal way to go. Really, really good. P2 is almost 200 ft of 5.11cish. So good. The crux for JJ and I was burly. Easy to get lost at the top. Whoa!
By Moritz B.
Sep 14, 2015
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

Here are a couple of thoughts after climbing this route.
1) I highly recommend to do Topher´s variation to the start. High quality crack climbing. Next time I would bring triple 0.3s though and 0.4s just for that second pitch.
2) The following 11a pitch (where the rusty bolt is) felt easy for the grade, there is good gear besides the bolt.
3) The harder 11 variation that leads to the two boulder bivy is fun, and I would recommend it. The easy climbing afterwards got me scared. See for yourself.
4) The ledge is awesome! We had it to ourselves and enjoyed the night there. Breaking up the route into two days makes it really chill. Take full advantage, and bring beer, tunes, and sleeping pads.
5) We stashed water at every rap station that we would encounter again during the climb. We stashed a LOT of water and drank it almost all. 5 gallons for two days and two people. By the end, we had 1.5 liters extra - what a luxury.
6) The 5.10 pitch before the crux is great and engaging. I would recommend to run it all the way to the base of the crux. The first dihedral you encounter looks intimidating but is only 5.10. Seriously!
7) At the top, we did the original 9+ dirty chimney, since it was easier to haul that way. The climbing was pretty good. Some gardening was required but not a bad pitch after all.
By CraigKnyn
From: Custer, SD
May 10, 2016

Uploaded a 1986 topo from 2nd ascent to help with details of the original route.

Eric Doub and I repeated Warren and Gallagher's impressive route soon after it was completed. We copied their new topo from a notebook in the Visitor Center and had help from a lady ranger who showed us the exit point. For some reason we figured rapping down to the start of the route was the best option, though a rather committing one. I remember the pitches above the Two Boulder Bivy got progressively steeper and harder as the afternoon turned to evening. Caught by dark above the crux pitch, we spent thirsty hours on broken ledges until the moon came up. Out of water... we pressed on as moonlight turned to dawn, pulling over the rim about the same time we started the morning before. Be ready for more than a day's effort on this steep, shady wall.
By Jay 1975
From: Bonedale,CO
Sep 1, 2016

Alt. start the best!!!!
By Mr. Stevens
From: Boulder, CO
May 14, 2017
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

This is an amazing route. Anyone bad-mouthing this thing needs to find another hobby ;-)

The alternative start is amazing, but there is a loose death block on the first pitch at the small roof (maybe 20' off the belay, assuming we started from the right spot?). If it comes out, it's coming down on your belayer. I trundled a loose block just next to it but didn't want to try for the bigger one. Use caution.

Mid-May, the bottom of the route actually goes into the shade just after 12 pm. We had an "accidental" late start due to rappelling shenanigans but actually lucked out and climbed in the shade all day, doing the last 400' of easy climbing by headlamp.

The gear at the crux is incredibly small at the start (i.e. aid-only sized pieces) but gets better as you go higher. I'm glad to have followed this one. My partner chimneyed the whole thing left side in (how?!?), and I chimneyed the whole thing right side in. If you make this a short pitch (i.e. start from the ledge and belay at the end of the crux before the final 10+ roofs), you can lead the pitch with very minimal gear on you, and then tag up the remaining gear and/or pack so that you're leader is light and your second has nothing on them. Sweet!
By michalm
From: Boulder, CO
May 15, 2017
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

A few lessons learned from the Dog:

Go straight down after the rap before the 2BB. Do not go left. You will have a rap epic on The Flakes and spend 4 hours rapping instead of 1.5.
If you are fast and don't want to roast in the sun in May, start rapping late. 9-9:30 would have been a good time to start rapping to climb only a few pitches in the sun.
Always bring big nuts and a double length sling.
The variation start is the best. I have hardly climbed a better pitch on granite. The 2nd pitch is no harder than 11.
Don't bother bringing triples for the variation 2nd pitch. A set or two of yellow through red alloy offset nuts (HBs) and double cams is plenty.
The #4 is optional if you are comfortable on wide.
A grey/purple Mastercam or black/blue Alien and a 000 C3 are very useful on most of the spicy pitches.
Make sure the wall cools down before freeing the crux. We got on it late in the evening and it was fine.
If the temps are warm, you will drink any amount of water you bring on the route. We brought over 8 liters and drank it all. Stash water at the highest shared bolted belay 2 guidebook pitches before the crux, at the 2BB, and at one of the lower shared Astroslog anchors.

The crux pitch protects reasonably well with gear that gets better the higher you go. Make sure the gear and tagline are clipped to the appropriate side of your body. Clip nuts to single biners.

Here is a comprehensive crux gear list if you want to sew it up:

Purple/blue Mastercam or blue/green Alien at chest level to prevent nuts from zippering.
#2 RP around head level.
#1 or #2 HB brass offset a couple feet higher.
000 C3 a few feet above that. Slotted. Bomber.
Sideways blue alloy offset a few feet above that. Shallow but good.
#5 stopper just above the blue nut. Totally bomber.
Go for it until you get a 0.5 C4 or red Alien and a blue/yellow Mastercam or green/yellow Alien when the corner gets steeper and leans harder left
Go for it again and get a 00 C3 near the top of the corner in a small seam overhead.

As a final comment, if you climbed the Dog and didn't have fun, I might suggest this fine route for your next adventure. There is no choss, no dirt, no bushes, and no ledgefall potential. Astro Dog is up there with the most classic routes at the Black in terms of quality and fun climbing.
By WadeM
From: Golden, Co
1 day ago

Super fun route!

Raps took about about 2 hours with one minor rope mishap (Rap where topo says to hook on flake or swing hard left) - we swung hard left and the rope got stuck while pulling. Took about 20 mins to fix

It is possible to rap straight down the alternate start as there is currently a fixed anchor atop p1. So from the second to last astroslog rap, swing over to the splitter. It is a fixed nut, grey alien and #1.

Timing: Started climbing just after 8am, made it to 2 Boulder Bivi about 11:30. Short lunch break and back climbing at 12. Topped out just after 4pm. Doing it in a day is very reasonable for a semi-quick party.

Every pitch except the crux felt true or easy for the grade. Crux pitch is some voodoo stemming/chimneying. P10- black totem cam keeps you off the deck. Its bomber.

Excited to check out more on the South Rim!

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