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Cathedral Wall
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YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 600'
Original:  YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Dan Bradford, Angelo de La Cruz, 1985.
Page Views: 2,377
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Jul 26, 2002

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Looking down while on Pitch 4. There are three mai...

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Here is another obscure backcountry RMNP route whose description from the guidebooks leaves you wondering. Though certainly not a classic, this route may merit your attention for a short adventure with a mellow approach walk, and modest walk/scramble off descent. Ultra-early starts are not required...brainbuckets are. The original ratings may reflect utlizing offwidth techniques in the chimney that we may have neglected to use.

Approach: Hike from Glacier Gorge parking lot to Loch Vale, continue past the Andrews Tarn/Glacier turnoff to near the waterfall below Lake of Glass. Cathedral Wall is obvious. This route is on the 1st buttress, one buttress left of the Tourist Tragedy route. The big dihedral/ chimney is the prominent feature on buttress and is followed for the upper half of the route. Contour in to the base. 1 hour 15 minutes utilizing the climber's cutoff.

The 5.4 start of this route described by Rossiter and Gillett is not obvious to oafs like us. The description from both guidebooks describe starting right of the obvious dihedral/chimney of the upper 3 pitches; however, as far right as these describe the route, you find terrain that seemed too steep to be 5.4 this side of the Gunks. Both authors describe going up and right, belaying beneath the black stained roof, crossing the black stained area to a tree on a ledge and belaying, and following cracks to another belay ledge below the chimney. So, if you can decipher the description, climb on, or use this alternate start described here.

P1. There is an obvious, featured area a short distance to the right of the dihedral/chimney section that we started up. At some points this felt 5.6. Aim up for a small, right-facing dihedral, left of a wide black groove, perhaps 25 feet up. Continue up on a slab to a small ledge behind a big block. Move R and up, then angle left to the dihedral/chimney. Continue up to a ledge with a #3 Camalot slot above. You are just short of a few short trees here. Beware of rope drag. 5.6, 200 feet.

P2. Traverse right briefly, head up before you get to a tree, angle R up the dihedral/chimney or slab on the R. Belay in the chimney or link the next bit. 5.6, 150 feet.

P3. Work up the chimney. There are optional #4 & 5 Camalot slots in here. Rope drag exiting this chimney require a belay here. There is a perfect #11 hex slot and black (0.33) Alien slot for the belay. 5.6, 40feet.

P4. Here comes the exposure. Move up the dihedral for perhaps the crux moves, move R below a large block and jam the crack with stems out L. Briefly move to the L crack and back R. Gain a stance. Move up to a large ledge. Beware of a precarious block hanging off this ledge. You could link the next pitch. 5.7+, 120 feet?

P5. Chimney facing R up this large slot. Many moves can be done sans hands and no offwidth moves are required. However beware of objects hanging off your back like camelbacks, cams. Small pro plus a #4 Camalot. There is another loose block R and below the "chockstone". Encounter a mini-forest and belay. 5.7, 40-120 feet depending on your belay tree.

If anyone has done the upper chimneys, please post & we can incorporate the info into the description.

From here, you can see the wall could continue up perhaps 3 pitches or more chimneys to the right. If you've been chimneyed out use the descent described here.

Descent: Traverse on a treed/shrubbed ledge left perhaps 300 yards to an obvious scree/boulder slope and head for Lake of Glass. Do not cut off early or risk being cliffed.


Single wires, single set of cams (0.33 to #4 Camalot), some hexes (include #10, 11), optional #5 Camalot, optional 2nd #11 hex (for 2nd to last belay). No big bros required. Long runners.

Photos of Blackstar Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: From Tim, traverse right and head into the chimney...
From Tim, traverse right and head into the chimney...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tim on P1.
Tim on P1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Me entering the lower chimney.
Me entering the lower chimney.
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of lower chimney.
Start of lower chimney.
Rock Climbing Photo: Black Star (5.7+)
BETA PHOTO: Black Star (5.7+)

Comments on Blackstar Add Comment
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By Legs Magillicutty
From: Durango
Sep 17, 2007

For the choss tolerant, this is a really fun route. The chimneys were rocky but you could find places for pretty good gear. The descent is straightforward and more mellow than most RMNP routes. I would like to go back and do the upper chimneys. Anyone done them? What do they go at? Any chance in adding the information to this page?
By Stich
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 17, 2007
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The first pitch we did took us through a small, black, water-stained roof as you can see in the photo. Then I went left around a bulge and up a slab to some small trees on a ledge with a large overlapping crack to the left. Rope drag dictated I belay there. The large black-stained roof described in the above beta is up and left. Fortunately, the dripping water from this roof does not completely soak the route.

The descent follows the large ledge with all of the trees that is visible from the ground. You walk down to Glass Lake and get on the hiking trail there. The short chimney on Pitch 5 is just the right width to do back-to-the-wall-no-hands-rest technique, which makes it quite manageable to get around the short roof. As described above, there is a loose, rectangular stone near the top and to the right on this pitch. It moves from side to side and is attached at the top like a stalactite, so don't go and grab it.
By Ben Collett
Jul 31, 2011

This may be the worst rock route I have done in the park. That said, it's still rock climbing and therefore fun.

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