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Big Dog 

YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.12a/b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Mark Rolofson/Alan Nelson, 1999
Page Views: 5,543
Submitted By: Nate Weitzel on Jan 1, 2001

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In the dog house.

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Big Dog ascends the right overhanging arete on this formation. The big landmark is a very overhung start, up to a big volleyball-like sloper midway up the first section.

This route has fun overhanging moves and leads to an interesting vertical face for the second half. The grade has settled in at 12 a/b with appropriate beta. The entry moves to gain the Volley ball hold are a blast. This leads to fun and varied face climbing on the headwall up to the anchors. Overall a stellar route. Kudos to Nelson and Rolofson for equipping this route and having the vision to establish this formation.


10 bolts and a two bolt anchor.

Photos of Big Dog Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Trying to get the send before the rain hits!
Trying to get the send before the rain hits!
Rock Climbing Photo: Mark Rolofson fires for the bowling ball on Big Do...
Mark Rolofson fires for the bowling ball on Big Do...
Rock Climbing Photo: Le on Big Dog.
Le on Big Dog.
Rock Climbing Photo: Big Dog.
Big Dog.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ben Lindfors Climbing Big Dog.
Ben Lindfors Climbing Big Dog.
Rock Climbing Photo:

Comments on Big Dog Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 28, 2017
By Quinn Stevens
From: Denver, CO
Aug 1, 2001

BTW, there most certainly IS beta without the manufactured undercling pocket or the suspiciously smooth face pocket. I would agree with you, Alan, that Viagra Falls is solid 12c. Other good 12c's are Sucking at the Primo Wall, the Great Escape, and the New Polution (hard 12c). To me Big Dog seems easier than any of these. The holds are all positive and the rests are quite kind. I'll call it 12b. Perhaps it's a beta thing. Rolof. is pictured doing this route on the cover of the CC guide. I go up with my opposite hand. Also, when I try using the pocket, I always fall. This botches my whole sequence. In my opinion, a route's grade should be based upon the best beta possible, used on redpoint. The majority of routes that have been downgraded in the canyon were routes that were put up very close to publication date. The assumption was that these routes needed more time for consensus. If anything, that's what's so great about this site. We can hash it out! Don't necessarily assume that the routes just 'feel easy' because we're mutant youngsters. Over 90% of my climbing time is spent outside, not training like a banchee indoors. We are trying to be honest, collaborative, and comparative.
By Nate Weitzel
Aug 2, 2001

I would submit that there are a number of climbers who have flashed the route, or done it on the second try. I know of four people who have onsighted the route (without any beta), and I know a couple of others who did on on try number 2 (myself included). I am not a climber who is able to send a 5.12c or 5.12d on the second try, hence the rating I wrote in. I discussed the rating with a number of climbers in town and everyone feels it is a 12b if you are generous, but not 12c. I think that this is another situation of trying to arrive at a consensus rating based on many people climbing the route. All of us will attack the route different and find different beta. The final ratings should be based on a redpoint attempt with the best beta, and the best conditions. Sure it may be harder if you switch the sequence, but that doesn't mean there isn't an easier way.
By Nate Weitzel
Aug 2, 2001

Alan: I was told that the large undercling midway through the overhung section was the "enhanced hold". If this is true, then it certainly can be done without using it as I myself, and three others I have seen have done the route without this hold. Maybe I am mistaken about the actual "enhanced" hold.
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Aug 17, 2001

Grades are always going to be subjective, and Big Dog clearly has at least two ways to do it, making the grading even more up in the air. I thought the original beta made for a very difficult route, however, the beta Greg Purnell used when he and I jumped on it was quite different, and one could imagine easier. Regardless of the different means discovered to solve a problem, it seems, in my opinion, that once the route is in, chipped or not, it is best to leave it alone. We all agree that chipping is to be avoided, but let's not elevate this issue in the context of Big Dog to any higher degree than it already has been. It is a high quality route and it is worthy of the atention that serious climbers can give it.
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Aug 17, 2001

I concur with Steve that chipping does not solve the problem that nature gave us, and gave all of us, and this ALL OF US is a big emphasis here. I can anticipate a cycle of chipping and repairing that does no one any good. I think we are best off simply to avoid the process in the first place. If the route has been chipped, then make note of it. If it has been climbed without the chipped holds, then make note of that as well. A cycle of chipping and repairing over-reaches what is important, doesn't it?
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Aug 20, 2001

Perhaps you are right, Steve. However, repair seems like a touchy process. It's difficult to restore rock to its natural state, and that is why I feel it better to leave the artificial chips and pockets alone. Furthermore, and I won't start dropping names, there are many routes in the Front Range that are fully artificial, so where does the process of repair start and stop? And where does the process of condemning the chipper/driller start and stop? Personally, I believe that chipping and drilling is anathema to our development of routes on natural rock. We have lots of gyms where fully artifical construction can be exercised. It seems to me that we are better off urging our colleagues to respect the medium and either solve the problem that nature gave us or leave it alone. Frankly, I for one am ambivalent. You can fill in a pocket, but you can't fill in a chipped edge. Furthermore, some of the routes created by authors who have on occasion chipped or drilled are brilliant natural lines, and I for one, have no interest in castigating these people.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 25, 2001

Ok it may just be me, but it appears that there is a large skull shape made by the features of the rock, the eyes are about at the 4th bolt.

Anyone else see it?
Sep 30, 2001

Does it all really matter? It's only a crag, that's rock, ya know? Make the route your own and call it good, or bad if you don't like it. The world is still spinning, and there are many routes to send on many different crags. Marshall.
By Quinn Stevens
From: Denver, CO
Dec 5, 2001

"A route that has modified holds, and then climbed free without using those modified holds, will not be classified as modified."

Sounds like this route's chipped page needs to be removed- especially because the natural beta is easier and IMO, more intuitive.
By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Dec 22, 2001

I love this route! One of the few routes in Colorado to make the "As Good As Maple Canyon, Utah" list. This is a tricky route to rate because it is so steep, with big moves to great holds that redline the fun meter all the way, and a rest that not everyone uses. I always step right, one move, just after pulling onto the headwall above the crux. That way I'd give the route solid 5.12a. Mark's rating is meant to reflect not cowering on the balancy rest sloper.
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 5, 2002

It's .12-. I've done the move without the drilled pocket. Please don't destroy good natural routes because you can't pull them, even if it costs you the FA.
By Colin McGraw
Feb 6, 2002

Cleaning is fine, but it shouldn't involve a finger-size drill bit.

PS- Do you seriously not know what the "climbing community" as a whole thinks of you?
By Jim Redo
Aug 19, 2002

By chris deulen
From: Castle Rock
Aug 13, 2004
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Great beta with the mystery calf hook after the "volleyball" hold.
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 7, 2004

It cracks me up when people see bolting routes as doing a "service" to the climbing community. Climbing new routes whether sport or trad is a self serving and really fun pursuit (though hard work). I'm usually thinkin"wow I wish I had gotten to do that FA" not "O gee thanks for climbing that first". It's just weird when first ascentionts are lauded for establishing routes. They're doing it for themselves. I think "the community" is the last thing on their minds.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Jun 19, 2008
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

It's easy to say "just don't use the manufactured holds" but when your climbing the route onsight like I did yesterday you don't have much choice. Unless your strong enough to inspect each hold before you use it to make sure it's natural.

I don't know if trying to restore the holds is a good option or not because who knows what they were like originally and there is already enough epoxy on the route to make it an eye-sore. But the chipped holds are disappointing especially if your getting on the route for the first time.
By Mark Rolofson
Mar 26, 2016
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

I strongly believe that all the fixed draws should be removed from this route. The last time I was at the Dog House, last year, the draws were very faded. This route doesn't need fixed draws. For many years, this route was climbed hanging the draws. I used to have it very wired & did it many times on the first try hanging the draws. This makes the route feel like solid 5.12. The fixed draws make this climb too easy & invites too many people to try it that would otherwise stay off of it.
By slim
Mar 31, 2016

Not sure why somebody getting on it who otherwise wouldn't is a crime. How does it compare to bolting a bunch of routes you have no hope of ever sending? In the grand scheme of things, neither is a big deal.
By Chad Elliott
From: Golden
Oct 6, 2016

I've enjoyed reading the comments in Dog House area. Somehow I still managed to have a blast on this route!
By aikibujin
From: Castle Rock, CO
Jan 1, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

The fixed draw on the 4th bolt (right at the bowling ball) should probably be extended a couple of inches. Right now when a weakling like myself hangs on that draw, the rope-end biner gets pinched open by the bowling ball and the rock next to it. I imagine the same thing will happen if you fall on that draw, which is a little scary to think about even for steel biners.
By Mark Rolofson
Feb 2, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

Slim, there is a huge difference between bolting a route you can't send & having fixed draws on a route that was climbed for over a decade without them. First, I fixed the chain draws on Mighty Dog in 2006, after 7 years after it was first climbed. Cleaning draws off Mighty Dog was not only difficult, but it is bad for the rope running over the sharp lip of the roof. By contrast, cleaning the draws off Big Dog isn't bad & doesn't put extraordinary wear on your rope.

Secondly, hanging your own draws is far more challenging & fun if you can climb the grade. The clips on Big Dog are off good holds & mostly jugs.

Third, fixed draws raise a maintenance issue, that if not addressed could result in a bad accident. Therefore I believe the practice of fixing permanent draws should be minimized & done only on the odd bolt or the most overhanging routes. The last time I was at the Dog House, these nylon draws looked pretty faded with worn biners.

Fourth, anyone can still attempt a safe route like Big Dog without fixed draws, but many won't because it means they will either have to climb, dog, or aid their way to the anchor or leave bail biners or draws if they can't. Having fixed draws means the number of people who will try a route goes way up. Is that a bad thing? Depends. It is nice to have the route open to people more capable of climbing it, rather than crowding it out with the masses, thanks to fixed draws.

Lastly, your comment seems rather insulting, but I'll address it away. I don't know anyone who has bolted a bunch of routes they have no hope of ever sending. It is true, that myself & others have bolted routes that we haven't sent (or can't send), thus leaving a project often for years or decades until someone finally does. I can think of several routes I bolted & finally sent two to five years later. I can think of other routes, the first free ascentionist was very psyched to finally send & glad that I bolted it. Your comment has nothing do with fixed draws on Big Dog.
By Mark Rolofson
Feb 3, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

I should mention the facts regarding the belief that this climb has two or more drilled holds. There is one drilled hold. The undercling above the 5th bolt was manufactured with a drill to replace a hold that Alan pulled off while first equipping the route. The bottom & most overhanging part of the climb had much loose rock that had to be pulled or pried off. I did reinforce a key few holds so they would not be pulled off.

The pocket above the 8th bolt is 100% natural. No drilling. Some natural pockets do exist in Clear Creek, & this is one of them.

Regarding the original rating of the climb, the start of the overhang past the bowling ball got much easier after the first ascent. Originally, the grainy, sandy nature of the bowling ball hold made it nearly impossible to hang on. It was an intermediate hold. After standing on this hold enough times, it cleaned up to where it became a good hold to hang on. A big change.
By two chains
From: Fucken Zion
Apr 17, 2017

Your old man atittude sucks, Mark. Justifying manufactured hold not only on this climb... but ones at the Sports Wall in Bocan and whatever other route you mod-ed. Saying things like "so what" makes you sound like a first ascent loser, and not to sound like a Royal Robbin's nerd (cuz I'm not), but you also justify bolting cracks (this is all in your comment history).
On a side note.... if you don't like the donated (22 bucks a piece retail) climbx permadraws on "your route", climb the route and take them off yourself! (but let me know the date, so I can watch you pull down on a chipped route that could have gone harder but you made a hold for yourself, and maybe even watch ya hang dog).
What I do respect about you is you are a troll on MP... and so am I.
Will some one please add the FA to Fiddler on the Woof as Mark Rolofson/Alan Nelson, 1999.
By Mark Rolofson
May 28, 2017
rating: 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b

I afraid you're pretty lame & pretty clueless, Two Chains. Nor brave enough to use your real name. First, I was in no way involved with the first ascent of Fiddler On The Woof. Check my last guidebook to the canyon. I was the first to write guidebooks to this canyon. Secondly, I did not establish any of the manufactured routes at the Sport Park.

Third, yes I have manufactured a few holds in 45 years of my climbing career. The last time I manufactured a hold (with a drill) was in 2000. Big Dog was by far the easiest route I manufactured anything on. Alan started it, & I finished it. The bottom part of the route was quite a choss pile.

The term chipping traditionally implied the careful use of hand tools to create a hold. I have even seen what some equippers call cleaning to be what others might call chipping. Drilling handholds isn't chipping it's manufacturing.

Fourth, regarding your permadraws, I am glad that at least there are good safe draws on the climb, even if they are unnecessary. Have fun even if you're denying yourself a greater challenge by climbing the route on the first try of the day while hanging the draws.

Lastly, I don't appreciate being called a troll on MP, especially considering I did the FA on this route & many others, wrote guidebooks long before this website existed. Where do you think MP got many of routes names & FA info plus the original grades? How many routes have you established 2 Chains? YOU ON THE OTHER HAND ARE A TROLL & CONTRIBUTE COMPLETE BULSHIT TO MP. You don't climb .14d. You didn't climb Fiddler On The Woof, & you didn't donate the permadraws to Big Dog.

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