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Death and Transfiguration 

YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 75'
Original:  YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Roger Briggs and Luke Studer, 1972
Page Views: 19,512
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on May 31, 2001

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Dylan cruising to the O.S. Picture credit: me.

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  • Description 

    Twenty years ago, when we did not have as many bolts or as many routes, a few omnious lines stood head a shoulders above the rest, challenging, defiant, and implacable. Death and Transfiguration was one of these routes. The old Erickson guide, and tattered Bible, describes climbing DT as a "renaissance of extinguished arm strength", and I have never forgotten that turn of phrase. The photo of Roger Briggs stemmed under the roof could leave us sleepless and in a sweat of anticipation the night before. The history alone would be worth the walk to DT.

    Perhaps more like 75 feet than 100 ftee, DT fires up the middle of the GMP yellow West facing wall. Mostly 5.10 climbing through an irregular right leaning crack takes you to the roof at 60 feet. Most of the guides will describe pulling the roof as the strict technical crux. I thought that the traverse right under the roof was more cruxy and harder to protect, done mostly on wires. Load up the roof crack with Camalots and it will feel very secure. It is not a big roof by Rifle standards, but around here it is pretty husky and it does keep going on and on. The upper section of the crack through the roof will take some Friends in the #2 - #4 range. Swim on up over the roof and into the sun and just revel in a brilliant line.

    While "only 5.11", DT still earns its reputation among climbers of every generation. This is a full-on classic single pitch line and as great a piece of climbing history as Boulder has to offer.


    Bring a full rack. Some hardy souls walk off, but a trashy old anchor (now updated with new bolts & Metolius rap hangers) will let you rap safely West about 70 ft or so.

    Photos of Death and Transfiguration Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Above Boulder.
    Above Boulder.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Around the first crux.
    Around the first crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Moving off the first ledge Dane climbing, Dave bel...
    Moving off the first ledge Dane climbing, Dave bel...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dane Transfigured.
    Dane Transfigured.
    Rock Climbing Photo: D & T.
    D & T.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Probably the hardest move on the route.
    Probably the hardest move on the route.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The rest at the end.
    The rest at the end.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Kurt in the upper section.
    Kurt in the upper section.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Before the 2nd crux.
    Before the 2nd crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Death and Transfiguration's roof.
    BETA PHOTO: Death and Transfiguration's roof.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Where's me?
    Where's me?
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dan placing gear in the upper section.
    Dan placing gear in the upper section.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Just before the 1st crux.
    Just before the 1st crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: After 3rd crux but not over yet.
    After 3rd crux but not over yet.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Vern Stiefel leading 'Death and Transfiguration (5...
    Vern Stiefel leading 'Death and Transfiguration (5...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Jason Haas on the first half of 'Death and Transfi...
    Jason Haas on the first half of 'Death and Transfi...

    Comments on Death and Transfiguration Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 10, 2017
    By Scott Hudson
    Jul 11, 2001

    Great climbing and great protection. I thought the technical crux was right near the end where there are some thin moves protected by small stoppers. Well worth the walk!
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 12, 2001

    Actually I thought there were probably 6 individual cruxes starting with the traverse right to the first roof that are each 5.10+ or harder. Near the top there is a good handhold to the left of the thin crack; it is awkward using this hold as it pulls you left away from the crack, where it is more overhanging. I thought one crux (perhaps the hardest) was inching my butt up onto this hold. After that you have a no-hands rest, and it is mere "easy 10" to the top. Needless to say, I only seconded the route, and was hanging all over the place! It is desperate!
    By Kristo torgersen
    Aug 8, 2001

    Well worth the hike!! This line is steep and sustained, with only marginal rests along the way. I found the lower portion ate meduim and small sized nuts, while the moves along the base of the roof up through the double overhangs inhaled Camalots from #1-#3 (bring 2 #2). The final crux would not be difficult on its own but becomes quite strenuous after the sustained climbing before hand. George, I too enjoyed a no hands rest when I inched my ass up onto the jug on the left side of the final slot! Let's all thank Mr. Briggs for taking one of the best aid lines of his day and transforming it into one of the best free Flatiron testpieces of all time!
    By Bill Wright
    Sep 9, 2001
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    Actually, Kristo, I believe this route was put up, on-sight and free by Roger Briggs. He was equipped to aid the route and kept thinking he'd start aiding after the next move, but he kept going. An absolutely brilliant on-sight first ascent and a landmark climb for Roger. This route marked his turn to free climbing almost exclusively.

    What an enduro route! No move is that super hard, but it is so continuous. One of the hardest parts for me is turning the big "10a" roof. Not! This roof alone is harder than Tombstone (11a) in Eldo.
    By Carol Kotchek
    From: Louisville, Colorado
    May 1, 2003

    Haven't done the route yet, but I was hiking up there today. We got on top of the rock and there are two very new Metolius rappel bolts up there. No more old manky bolts to rap off of. Hooray!
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Sep 12, 2003
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    This route is steep, juggy, and mostly secure. It climbs kinda like a sport route, although it's trad. There are a few moves that can be either hard, or tricky- you get to choose. I climbed this just last night and Josh Janes followed in fading light (starting from the ranger station at 5:45PM). We both agreed the climb is 5.10+. In my opinion there were 3 cruxes of 5.10c-10d. The hardest move I thought I'd have to do (looked like 5.11) I skipped after finding a hidden hold around a corner.

    Gear: 1 full set of stoppers, 1 full set cams .5"-3" with a few extra 2.5". It seemed to me that each crux was right by a gold Camalot placement. I doubled down on them just before what I though was going to be a crux and then I didn't have any for "the business." I would have been happy with 1 of everything, but 3 gold Camalots.

    The quality of this route? CLASSIC. Too bad it's not 4 pitches long! Still, if it were a sport climb, it'd probably be one of the best ones I've ever done, anywhere.

    Easier for the people who like steep juggy routes, harder for the slab masters.
    By Brian Milhaupt
    From: Golden, CO
    Sep 16, 2003
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    I thought there were two spots that were at least 5.11a. The initial traversing move to the right and just after the first overhang. I thought everything between was hard .10. I'm not the best at overhangs, but I've done easier 11b in Eldo.
    By Charles Vernon
    From: Tucson, AZ
    Oct 30, 2003
    rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

    I don't think the quality of this route can be overstated. We wallowed around in the brush for an hour and a half, totally lost, trying to find this thing; it was the only pitch we did all day and I'm still beaming 2 days later--best single pitch I've done in the Boulder area. The final roof, in particular, has some of the coolest moves I've ever done!

    I was amazed at how doable the route was after looking at it from the ground, which conjured recent memories of being spanked to varying degrees on numerous easier rated roofs in Eldo--Art's Spar, Guenese, Vertigo, Le Toit. I agree with Tony that it could even be as easy as 10+, but for opposite reasons--creative stemming and unusual moves make for better than expected rests (or just do 3 knee-bars like my partner, who frequents Rifle), and sequences that require thought and finesse rather than pure arm-blowing jug-yarding. In fact on the final overhang, it seems easiest not to use the jug at all (except for the butt-rest).
    By Bill Wright
    Oct 31, 2003
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    I really like this route, and I've climbed it five times, leading it twice, and always getting spanked. Steep routes like this are not my strength (hence my interest in it), but I've climbed a lot of routes around this grade for for someone like me, this is solid 11b. Plus, if you come off at the big roof while following, it might be impossible to get back on. This happened to me once (almost twice) and to my second once.
    By Joe Collins
    May 4, 2004
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    I actually find it very difficult to believe people are downgrading this route. Maybe move for move there's no single 11 move. But on lead, after climbing up to the lip of the overhang clean, the crux felt like very solid 5.11. The pump factor's very high, so I can see this feeling easier if one is on TR, or if one hangs before the crux.

    Incredible climb. The left to right traversing crack seems to be a staple of harder Flatiron trad climbs.
    By Chris Archer
    May 4, 2004
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    Roger is not known for over grading routes. Nor, might I add, was Jim Erickson, who also assigned the solid 11 grade in his classic guide, Rocky Heights. This route has been one of the pitches in the area that has been used as a standard for measuring "solid 5.11" for over 25 years. It's about as consensus as a grade gets within a climbing community. The fact that a few others are downgrading it, merely speaks to their inability to accurately judge difficulty. Nothing to get worked up about. Apparently 60% of the public still thinks Saddam had WMD.
    By Charles Vernon
    From: Tucson, AZ
    May 5, 2004
    rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

    Bill, Chris, Joe--For my part, I think you're all probably right. I was comparing this to other roofs of the same or easier ratings that I had done around the same time, and when D&T felt easier, I assumed it was was! When I thought about it a little more (after submitting the above comment), I realized it was actually because, despite being a roof, the climbing on D&T fits my style and strengths more than on those other routes that I mention above. Of course, ratings are also somewhat subjective, and I was probably having a good day.
    By Kre
    From: Colorado
    Jun 15, 2005
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    STELLAR!! This route is amazing!! The location, the climbing, the history, and the beauty of the rock make this climb one of Boulder's best single pitch routes. I placed a full range of gear, mid range stoppers, small to medium aliens, and lots of hand size pieces. There are several cruxes, hard to say which one is the actual crux as I was pretty fatigued by the final roof. I placed an anchor immediately after the last roof so that I could belay (and watch!) the second. Save a 1 - 1.25 inch cam, and mid range stoppers for the belay anchor. Rappel off of fat Metolius rap anchors on the West side of the face, made it easily with 70-meter rope. Enjoy!
    By XOG
    Jul 5, 2005
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    Cleaning Recommendation: Set a belay on the E. Face just over the lip and belay the 2nd up to clean, i.e. multi-pitch style. Don't try to lower off to clean, this climb is so steep that it is hard to do. We tried to do this and it turned into a bit of a fiasco. If you want to work the route you can lower off a piece in the exit dihedral, pull the rope, and re-lead, and then for the final burn have the leader go up to belay the second / cleaner from the E. Face belay mentioned above. Also, the upper anchor is not really in a great position for the belay, e.g. there will be a lot of rope drag by the time the leader gets up there, and communication will be more difficult. I personally don't see why there couldn't be chain anchors for D&T but I can see why people would want to preserve it as it always has been also. Along those lines it's neat there's absolutely no fixed gear on the climb itself. Absolutely incredible route, and a great Summer climb.
    By StanL
    From: Louisville, CO
    Aug 28, 2005
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    In my opinion, this may be the best single pitch trad climb in the Boulder area.
    By Rob Kepley
    From: Westminster,CO
    Apr 24, 2007
    rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

    Did this last year with my bud Joe V. Long approach, but worth it! One of the best trad lines around Boulder. You won't be disappointed.
    By Patrick Pharo
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 20, 2007

    This is a fantastic climb, and as has been stated numerous times before, well worth the hike. Just a point of clarification, though. I was expecting the bolts to be right above the final roof, while in fact they sit just west of the summit of the Pinnacle. It is no problem to rap off with a 60 meter rope, but don't expect to finish the climb and lower back to your belayer. You will need to bring your second to the summit before descending.
    That said, this is a wonderful, continuous route with great pro, and certainly worth doing.
    By eric whewell
    From: Longmont, CO
    Jul 19, 2009

    Fantastic climbing! Right now, there is a long cordellete extension from the bolts reaching down to the top out of D&T.

    While there are no stopper moves on this route, it definitely warrants the .11b rating. Its steep, sustained, and pumpy. It's just as strenuous as anything on the Naked Edge.
    By Aaron Martinuzzi
    Sep 30, 2009

    An excellent line. If you're a budding trad climber with a lot of sport climbing experience (up to the mid/hard 11s) and know how to use a cam you'll rock this thing - I'm currently 1 for 2 on 5.10c trad climbs and this was my first 11; it went surprisingly well, one fall about halfway up, well before the cruxes, when I wasn't paying enough attention to where my rope was at (doh!). That said, bring your footwork game and you'll find plenty of rests and good stances to plug in gear. Did I already say that this is a great line?
    By Devan Johnson
    Aug 10, 2010
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    Yeow! What a line! Without a doubt an honest climb for the grade, still haven't climbed a Briggs or Erickson route that was soft for the grade. Couldn't believe that 1 80 ft pitch would be worth the long walk, but it most definitely is.
    By Jeff Ludwig
    From: phoenix, Az
    Mar 28, 2011

    I have been nowhere near this route. The closest I've come to Boulder was some dude trying to get me to give him a ride from Hueco to Boulder. Yeah right. I first saw this route in the climbing film Cloudwalker, where Jeff Lowe and Mark Wilford were attempting DT. Awesome! It is one of my dream routes.
    By michalm
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 10, 2017
    rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

    The approach to this route was quite the warm-up and felt like the crux to me. The climbing is excellent, but the rock is a little blocky and hollow for the first third of the route. I definitely trust med-large nuts more than cams in those wedged blocks. There is an excellent horn to sling that added to the fun.

    The moves on this route were pleasantly thoughtful for how steep it is. Finesse definitely trumps power, but one needs both to succeed.

    A good rack for me was a full set of offset nuts and singles to #3 with double yellow Alien/0.4, red Alien/0.5, and #2. This includes anchor gear. A dozen draws and slings are very useful due to the meandering nature of the line. Next time I would bring 3 #2s and skip the #3. It wouldn't be unreasonable to bring doubles to #0.75 or #1.

    A 60m rope reaches the ground with plenty to spare on the backside rappel. This morning was probably the furthest I have ever walked for one short pitch of climbing.

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