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Classic Crack of Calico 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 310', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
Page Views: 2,142
Submitted By: Matt Kuehl on Nov 26, 2011

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BETA PHOTO: Classic Crack of Calico pitches 1 and 2.

RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone in Red Rocks is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>


A fun climb that starts crumbly but becomes more classic with height. Good crack climbing with a few balancey moves on occasional face holds.

Pitch 1: Scramble up the gully to reach the corner. Climb the corner with help from a series of cracks out left with occasional face holds. Move left over easier ground below a varnished corner. Pull the roof and belay on top of the large ledge. 200'

Pitch 2: Move right and climb a long left facing corner with a series of cracks and some face holds. 110'


Head right traversing the base of the wall and find a large left facing corner.


Single to 4.5" inches. Double .5-#2, Stoppers and extendable slings.

Photos of Classic Crack of Calico Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Gigi comes up p1.
Gigi comes up p1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonny is cruxing. Photo by Gigi.
Jonny is cruxing. Photo by Gigi.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3 of Classic Crack of Calico.
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 3 of Classic Crack of Calico.
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux section of Classic Crack.
BETA PHOTO: Crux section of Classic Crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Classic Crack
The Classic Crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonny on P-2.
Jonny on P-2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Route starts bottom right in photo, go up crack an...
Route starts bottom right in photo, go up crack an...

Comments on Classic Crack of Calico Add Comment
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By Cunning Linguist
Jan 2, 2012

Fun route. Chossy first section in the gully is a solid deterrant for anyone looking for a Birdland type experience. Best done in 3 pitches, Dow's Summitpost page on it has it dead on, with the exception that the third pitch is more like 125'.

P1 200' Gully unfun to ledgy, crumbly crappo with (new)#5 walking for a ways (there's other pro but the 5 feels nice walked above as you step on old sugar cookies repeatedly). Rock improves after a ways and then gets fun before getting ledgy and annoying (watch drag just under roof) as you head to the anchor ledge below the splitter OW. Lots of anchor options here, all comfy.

P2 45' The crux gets in your face right away, but safe as houses, a little crack boulder problem that is awkward but fun to figure out. Short crux to nice but brief varnished corner to ledge. I anchored further back and belayed at a stance below the lip of the ledge, comfy on medium cams. My partner has small hands and had to do a few fist stacks where I made quick work of the crux; actual offwidth technique not a bad idea to have under your belt if you're little.

P3 The money pitch. Long, fun, pretty, funky. Worth every minute of hiking and chossaneering. Anchor on top is more crunchy than I had wished; looking around more than I did might give better results.

Dow's beta on the walkoff was right on. Going for the second gully was money, most was cairned but still ledgy downclimbing here and there. Probably a 20 minute walkoff, puts you a couple hundred flat feet right of the start.

I took a 6 and never used it; the doubled cams to 3 were very useful, and there were a few realy money wire placements as well.
By Patrick Mulligan
Mar 16, 2013

Just did this yesterday and what a route. Killing's description is right on, but I found the first pitch to be pretty fun. The wide crack and crumbly sections were serious and kind of sucked but the 25-30' of finger crack was technical and make you earn the first belay. Both the roof on the 2nd pitch and the money 3rd pitch are funky. I thought to myself on more than one occasion, "I've never done a move like that." The roof move was over with a knee bar and a long reach for me. 5.9 climbers might be more comfortable on the 3rd pitch with several cams smaller than .75 camalots and should definitely remember the mantra "its only 5.9". Jugs where you need them keep the climbing at the grade.
By Kevin Dahlstrom
From: Fort Worth, TX
Feb 11, 2014
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I can't believe this route doesn't get more hype. Easy approach + fantastic, varied, well-protected, and somewhat exposed climbing on mostly bomber rock = 4 stars. In fact, the 3rd pitch may be the best pitch of 5.8/5.9 I've done at Red Rocks.

Some beta that may be useful:

- Per the other comments, this route is much more enjoyable if broken into 3 pitches. If you try to do it in 2 you'll have rope drag for the crux roof and will need to move the belay at the large ledge anyway. Also, I'm not convinced a 60m will get you to the ledge above the roof without simulclimbing.

- A #4 Camalot protects the crux roof if you reach high/deep into the crack - no need for a #5.

- On the descent, traverse north (climber's right) quite a ways until you run into cairns. It's an easy scramble down with a couple of short 4th class sections.
By dseltzer
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 28, 2014
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

When you are about level with the second belay (if you did this as three pitches) there is a single bolt with some cord and a quick link. This is about 20 feet climbers right and down from the start of the third pitch. We didn't place the bolt but we did add a new piece of cord. A double rope rappel makes it nicely to the ground. We got lost and used this single bolt to rap... use your own judgment and be safe etc etc.

As others have said, do this in three pitches. We had an old #5, which is a bit big for the first pitch (the new #5 would be great). A (new)#4 was fine for the roof (an orange master cam fits around there as well). Both me and my partner wished we had brought doubles of finger sized and a bit smaller.
By Ben Townsend
Nov 30, 2014

What a great climb! Sunny all day, and pretty sheltered from the wind until you top out. We did it in three pitches, plus moving the belay to the base of the last pitch. The descent gully is very intuitive, and extremely well cairned as soon as you find it.

I saw one bolt on the attractive face to the right of the first pitch; seems like it would be worth exploring.

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