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Direct Second Buttress T 
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Unsorted Routes:

Direct Second Buttress 

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

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Layton Kor, Tex Bossier c. 1960 of free line, Jeff Lowe, mid-90s
Page Views: 3,746
Submitted By: Charles Vernon on Jun 15, 2001

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Coming up the first pitch! We ended up stepping le...

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This is one of the Park's hidden gems--it never sees any traffic, but I thought it was as good as the classic, well-traveled Culp-Bossier route. Expect a bit more loose stuff, though. Perhaps the crowds are also scared away by the 5.10a rating in all the guides--don't be. The crux pitch is clearly easier (all 3 other people I know who've done the route think it is 5.9 at most, and the line we did exactly matched that of the guidebooks), and on average, with the exception of P1, all the pitches feel about a grade easier than the guidebooks' ratings. Overall it feels a tiny bit harder than Culp-Bossier. The protection is good but not great; practically all the crux sections are pro-at-your-feet affairs. The upper pitches have wonderfully exposed and juggy 5.8 climbing.

Several features should point one in the desired direction to find the start of the route, which is probably the trickiest route-finding of the day. Hike past the start to Culp-Bossier and Jackson-Johnson, to a huge, long, right-facing corner. Several smaller corners exist to the right of this; the route begins in the third corner (all smaller) to the right of this feature. Right of this lies a large white spot in a smooth shield of rock (not to be confused with the much larger site of recent rockfall on the Third Buttress). From here it is quite difficult to tell where the crux pitch goes, but step back well away from the cliff until fixed slings are visible above the P1 corner's top. The crux pitch begins just left of these.

Scramble up to a steep slope below and left of the intial corner and set the belay as high as possible on third class ground.

P1 - climb up rightwards into the corner and follow it, but branch right into another corner(5.8) when possible and continue up nebulous terrain above to the ledge with fixed slings, or just below it (full rope-length or possibly longer).

P2 - moving the belay to the base of the crux corner (past the fixed slings) is highly recommended. The pitch starts up a shallow, RF and right-arching corner, traverses right past a pin (just above a hollow flake) to another shallow, indistinct RF corner, and ascends this. NOTE: the guidebooks indicate this pitch continuing to a ledge, but there are NO GOOD ANCHORS on this ledge. I strongly advise setting a hanging belay just after the crux on easier terrain where there is still good gear! Alternatively, it might be possible to continue into the next pitch with a 60 or 70 meter rope and reach good anchors (but note that the next pitch doesn't have very good pro to start).

P3 - continue up to a large sloping ledge (the belay in the guidebooks--a fixed rappel anchor is also visible off-route, about 50 feet down to the right), and climb nebulous, somewhat dicey 5.6 corners up and slightly right to another ledge. Traverse right along this ledge and set a belay after a long pitch (about 100 feet or so right of a huge, right-facing corner, with a wide crack, that marks the right edge of the huge pillar on Jackson-Johnson).

P4 - traverse up into a right-facing, left-leaning 5.5 corner, and climb that to a belay near its top (above a prominent hollow flake on the right, but still below the top of the J-J pillar to the left)--another long pitch.

P5 - traverse right (somewhat loose) to a roof, and follow the obvious juggy weakness through and up to a belay ledge (100 feet, 5.8).

P6 - nice 5.8 leads straight up before the crack system jogs considerably right to a belay on a large sloping ledge, fantastic exposure the whole way.

P7 - continue up the right-leaning system, 5.7 or 5.8, for a long but not sustained pitch ending in a broken area on the very edge of the Second Buttress (good views of the Slit).

P8 - cut sharply back left on easy but loose ground and finish with neat climbing through an obvious 5.6 notch (the left and larger of two). Belay from boulders on the summit ridge.

Head up the ridge a short ways to find the descent gully.


Bring a standard Hallett rack, meaning an emphasis on small gear. A #3.5 Friend seems sufficient for the largest piece. WARNING: the belay atop P2 as described in the guidebooks is completely inadequate; see the description below for further details.

Photos of Direct Second Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe following an off-route variation to P2.  After...
Joe following an off-route variation to P2. After...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb summits on the Direct Middle Buttress (5...
Tony Bubb summits on the Direct Middle Buttress (5...
Rock Climbing Photo: The real P1.
The real P1.
Rock Climbing Photo: P3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of P2 before the pin.
Start of P2 before the pin.
Rock Climbing Photo: L variation, 3rd dihedral R of JJ variation.
BETA PHOTO: L variation, 3rd dihedral R of JJ variation.
Rock Climbing Photo: Chossy begining of 2nd pitch.
Chossy begining of 2nd pitch.

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 18, 2013
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 24, 2002
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

With little exception in one diagonal pitch, the rock was mostly good. There was some loose stuff in the cracks near the crux, but there is just enough to get your attention, not enough to scare you off. All in all, I found this route to be the finest of the 8 or 10 routes I have done on Hallett.
By Dr. Dan
From: Steamboat Springs, CO
Jul 27, 2002

Did most of the route on 7/14/2002. A few differences from the above description plus one near death experience. P1-Take line directly up the big corner then go up left over some fun, but lose ground to some good features which go past the very questionable fixed belay, to a better natural belay just right of the crux pitch. (180-190 ft)P2-The crux pitch is 9+ with good protection. It is a right facing, right arching crack. At the top of the crux section there is very poorly protected ledge (as noted above). Rather than set up a hanging belay before the ledge, keep climbing to ledge, place a cam there and continue on up. While not well protected, the pro is ok. About 30-40 ft past the ledge is a fairly good belay. (160 ft.)P3-This section is sketchy, but fairly easy (5.6-5.7) and some lose stuff. Set belay right at the base of the wide crack on the right side of the JJ Pillar. (190 ft.)P4- This was the near death part. I climbed up the wide crack until obvious [flake] features angled up to the right (80 ft.). Then angled up right toward the belay described as the start of P7 above (almost 200 ft out with no significant rope drag). The climbing felt easy and I was about to place a cam when ???? I briefly regained consciousness as I was falling through the air bouncing off of rocks. 2 pieces of gear pulled from the flakes (I was a bit run out due to the easy climbing)and after about a 120 footer I arrested on my next piece of gear. I was out for about 3-4 minutes and came to completely disoriented (I didn't even know I had been climbing).To make a long story shorter, in spite of an open fracture of my left wrist, a moderate amount of blood loss (about 4-5 pints), a concussion, numerous contusions and a couple of broken ribs, my excellent partner, Rob, kept his head and we were able to lower off and hike out. 11 hours later I finally made it to Poudre Valley Hospital and was in surgery.An eye witness described a rock the size of a refrigerator and 10 inches thick came from some where above. Some piece of rock hit me in the right forehead just below the rim of my helmet and knocked me from the rock. All in all I feel really lucky!!! Since I don't remember much I don't feel psychologically traumatized and in a couple of months I plan on being back on the rock again.Please excuse the typing since it is being done one handed.
By Ross Swanson
From: Pinewood Springs
Aug 23, 2002

Thought I tried this a couple of years ago but from your description it looks like I was off route. For us P2 started from a ledge below a shattered shallow white quartz flake with zero gear. Tried going up that but without gear I backed off. Then over the next 2 hours tried going around on the right and left but the climbing became hard and/or the gear zero. Finally at 10 o'clock we called it quits, jumped on JJ and scurried to the top getting off at 2 just as the sky opened on us. I'll have to give this another try.--Ross
By Ross Swanson
From: Pinewood Springs
Aug 23, 2002

Ah! We went up the large corner not the third to the right. "And that made all the difference." --Ross
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Aug 11, 2003
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Some suggestions: P1, go 60m up to the questionable 1st belay, traverse L to the less questionable belay off 2 pins, 1 nail-bolt with a pop-top hanger, back it up with a long sling around the flake to the L. P2, traverse L to the pin, up and undercling R (5.7) under the flake, lieback the flake (5.7), go up the indistinct crack/corner system angling slightly R, but don't stop till you are through the 5.6 pitch, 60m. Save a yellow Alien-sized piece for this bit. P4, though 5.5, is quite run out. It is in the shade after about 830a. Anyone know the story behind the rope hanging to the R?

Hmmm... there are better routes on Hallett, 5 come to my mind, IMHO.

P2 is not 5.10a. 5.9
By nolteboy
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jun 21, 2005

I remember the crux on the 2nd pitch feeling more like .10a than 5.9
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 25, 2005

I've done 6 routes on Hallett now and this one is near the bottom, quality-wise. I would have to say that it is worth doing, but it has more moss, lichen, loose rock and soggy wet sections than the other routes (sogginess may just have to do with the time of year we did it). Also, note that this route gets much less sun than the BTL or CB because it is more north facing. The fixed pin mentioned on the crux pitch is gone.
By John Minier
Aug 1, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

We did this route in very late June after a nice dry spell, and found excellent climbing. I thought that this was the best of the routes that I've done on Hallett. Almost every pitch offers up some entertainment, and the pro is way better than other routes such as Better than Love. I would agree with most others in this post that that crux is only 5.9. Don't let the guidebooks scare you away. The pin was still on pitch 2 as of 7-29-05, but in all honesty it's not really crucial. If it wasn't there, one wouldn't miss it very much.
By Guy H.
From: Fort Collins CO
Aug 20, 2007

This route will never become a classic due to the large amounts of moss, lichen, and loose looking rock. It does get high marks for as an adventure climb. There is difficult route finding, simulating run-outs, and great exposure on high angle face climbing. It is a step up in overall difficulty from the Love Route and Jackson-Johnson.
By Kevin McGarvey
Aug 30, 2007

Big thanks for the photo showing the start! Without that & the beta about the two pin, one bolt belay I really doubt we would have found the route.

Combining pitches 2 & 3 is a rope stretcher & you had to fish around to find a belay spot. But the belay was bomber with some slings already there. The run out 5.5 pitch (our pitch 3 after linking the traditional 2nd and 3rd pitch) actually has a couple of 7ish moves 30 feet below the obvious, hanging flake. I stopped short because of this. If you don't stop short, you can go another ~100 ft and reach a grassy belay ledge with a gray sling.

From there, you move up and right 15 feet to a 5.7 small roof, up a 30 foot 5.7-8ish section with little pro & passed the sloping ledge belay & did a semi-hanging belay above the next little roof. At that belay, I found a fixed tri-cam & nut w/sling & shut. Not a bad belay but small with just enough room for 2.

Then you stretched the rope following weaknesses to the right. I remember you face climbing up & right to a nice, right-trending crack system with all those under clings. The right-leaning crack system was obvious, 7ish (6d for sure) & consistent. You ended 30 feet from the right edge of the 2nd buttress. The last pitch goes right to the very edge of the 2nd buttress then up vertical crack systems to a slab that leads to an obvious slot that goes hands to easy off width to the top.

The only thing that was wrong in the beta on the website was the fact that the 5.5 pitch is not 5.5. It has 5 moves of 5.6/5.7 stemming.
By Thom Engelbach
Aug 18, 2013

On the second pitch, I left the crack and face climbed up and left and then a few feet back right to gain a clean, shallow dihedral which led straight up to the left end of the sloping ramp, where I was able to make a decent belay (purple Camalot, #3 Friend, blue Camalot). Super pitch with sporty runouts and great rock, but it doesn't match the description given here.

This is a pretty good route, but it could use some traffic.

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