REI Community
Lower Grotto Wall
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Before There Were Nine S 
Coldfusion T 
Crime Victim S 
Cryogenics T 
Engagement, The S 
Espresso Love S 
Girly Man S 
Grotto Wall Traverse T 
Headless Crankin' Chicken S 
Headless Franken Chicken S 
Insurrection S 
Knuckle Head, The S 
Mad Arab T 
One for the Road S 
Pea Brain S 
Scene of the Crime S 
Space Sluts in the Slammer S 
Stage Fright S 
Stand By Your Van T,S 
Star Spangled Dangle S 
Stranger Than Fiction T,S 
Tarzan S 
Tommy's 13b S 
Twin Cracks T 
Under Pressure S 
Under Pressure - Extension S 
Victims of Fashion T,S 
Wire and Fire T,S 


YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Glen Denny, Bill Forrest, 1966, FFA Michael Kennedy?
Page Views: 9,667
Submitted By: Pinklebear on Jun 5, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (103)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Birthday victory whipper!


This is the obvious inset open book to obtuse corner on the left side of the Grotto Wall, highly visible from the parking lot (yes, you will draw a crowd of slack-jawed Bago warriors during the summer months) and highly classic.

Scramble up on the ledge and get a load of this crack! Incut features on the quartzy right wall and sinker jams in the ever-steepening crack take you to a final, pumpy section of finger locks before you gain the ledge (10a). Belay here at bolts and chains, or if you have a 70-meter rope continue into pitch 2.

Move up the bizarre corner above the ledge past a stemmy section, then trend right on an undercut flake (Metolius 2 and 3 TCU's I think), passing a couple of pins to get out to a bolt protecting the bouldery, powerful crux (11+). A second bolt above this takes you through steep but easier terrain with positive grips. Surmount a final, easy roof to reach a double-bolt anchor at the lip of the wall. Double-rope rap from here (you may make it down with a 70-meter cord) or top out on slabs.

The second pitch can be reduced to 10+ by heading left out of the obtuse corner then arcing back right above the first bolt to join the easier finishing section.


Standard rack with lots of hand and finger-sized cams and mid-large stoppers.

Photos of Cryogenics Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Just another roadside classic @ the Pass.
Just another roadside classic @ the Pass.
Rock Climbing Photo: Image by Aspen Climbing Guides.
BETA PHOTO: Image by Aspen Climbing Guides.
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the top, nice no hands slot rest hidden to...
Nearing the top, nice no hands slot rest hidden to...
Rock Climbing Photo: Good fun on p1 of Cryo.
Good fun on p1 of Cryo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Me savoring every move of this amazing route.
Me savoring every move of this amazing route.
Rock Climbing Photo: The route.
The route.
Rock Climbing Photo: 1st pitch of "Cryogenics", Independance ...
BETA PHOTO: 1st pitch of "Cryogenics", Independance ...

Comments on Cryogenics Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 8, 2013
By tobias Nitschke
From: CO
Jul 10, 2002

Great crack climb. Can be a little tricky if it's at the upper end of your ability. My partner led it and left no pro when he moved left, then traversed back right, avoiding the 11+ crux if you climb straight up. I couldn't see his lead, as it was up and over, and got pumped when I tried to follow straight up. I eventually moved left and back right as well, which definitely put me at risk of a serious pendulum had I come off the rock. So, the leader may want to stick that one extra piece of pro in there...
Sep 3, 2002

We didn't do the second pitch, but the first pitch is an absolute must if you visit this area. There are chains at the ledge at the top of the first pitch.
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 27, 2005

Nice climb. I didn't know about the stemming and didn't figure it out up there either. Instead, I laybacked the upper section and ran it out 10-12 feet above the rest stance and took a nice 30 footer onto a yellow Alien. I rested and then went up and ran it out to the top, pumped out of my mind. Next time I do it I'll definitely try the stemming method.
By Steve McCorkel
Sep 2, 2005

For the direct second pitch, I remember the small cams mentioned after the stemming; then a larger cam, a bolt over the small roof and a pin about ten feet after. Nice, challenging, finish to good climb; I think it protects better than the alternate finish, for both the leader and the second.
By dbyte
From: Carbondale, CO
Jun 30, 2008
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

The 1st pitch is mega-classic, probably the best single ropelength I've done since moving to CO. Every placement is bomber & all are set from good stances.

By claytown
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 4, 2010

This route is an all time classic! The first pitch, by itself, is pretty much incredible! The second pitch, straight up variation was excellent as well. If you want the true onsight, stop reading now. If you want gear beta, continue on.

I used the following on the second pitch straight up variation (which is really cool!). In the tips crack off the belay, a larger RP and a blue Alien (a green might fit at one point, too). Good med/lg nut in the corner. Another one from the finger lock on the roof, then a #2 Camalot. Then decide if you want a red Alien / #0.5 Camalot, or you can clip the beefy bolt right there too (I don't know why there is a bolt... maybe because the last placement is in a pod so the cams could move and umbrella.. but there is plenty of gear). There is a crap bolt above the first one and a pin out right (I skipped both, and I'm not very ballzy), then a shallow #1 Camalot and you're onto easier ground after a few more pieces (can place a #3 Camalot but not necessary). Get on the second pitch as it's good gear and pretty easy to aid if you don't want to pull the moves! Walk off or rap. Killer!
By Camster (Rhymes with Hamster)
May 5, 2011

Glen Denny is at my place (Basalt) visiting right now and I just showed him this page on Cryogenic(s). He says he and Bill Forrest climbed it in 1966 while they were getting ready to do an ascent of the Yellow Wall. They hadn't ever climbed with each other, so they wanted to get a feel for each other's style. So they drove up the pass and did this route. Cam Burns
By Phil Lauffen
From: The Bubble
Sep 7, 2011

This route is ok... all right, it's pretty good. I don't understand the hype about it though. The first bit is awkward thrutchiness up a wide, rather rotten crack. Pro is less than inspiring because it depends upon small, cracked flakes.

Then after a squirmy no hands rest, it's a few moves of lieback to jugs. Classic? Maybe the most classic trad 5.10a at Independence Pass. But let's not get carried away....
By BJ Sbarra
From: Carbondale, CO
Sep 8, 2011
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

I'm with you, Phil. If it was actually a good "crack," it would be a much more quality pitch. As it is, it's fun face climbing protected by gear that I agree is sometimes less than inspiring. There are plenty of good trad lines in this area. Check out Cramper at Lincoln Creek if you want a true splitter crack.
By Lynn S
Jun 6, 2012
rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b

3 new anchor bolts/chain atop pitch 1. Hardware courtesy of ASCA.
By scott e. tarrant
From: Fort Collins
Dec 22, 2012
rating: 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a

Howdy Phil (and BJ)

I think the confusion might be due to having only done 1 pitch of a 2 pitch climb? Granted it has been some time since I did it, but I recall the first pitch as being something worth enduring to get to the fun climbing above! (which poses some confusion regarding it being rated as is a solid 5.11 climb with a 5.9+/10- 1st pitch...). The 1st pitch leads to some great and exposed (and well-protected) 5.11 climbing that make Cryogenics a route really worth doing! Besides being in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it has that cool exaggerated exposure, good pro, funky body English climbing...just a cool, classic route IMHO.


By Pink Thunder
From: Lakewood
Jul 8, 2013

Just did the first pitch, not the second, and it kicked my arse. It was awesome, great pro, just pumpy as hell, especially at elevation. I pulled over the last bulge and just laid back, panting.

And for anyone interested, there's a fixed piece in the small, right-facing alcove that's a little over halfway up.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About