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Free Willie 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Greg Hand and Bob D'Antonio
Page Views: 17,329
Submitted By: Peter Franzen on Apr 26, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (488)
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Unknown climber on Free Willie. Photo taken from B...

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  • Description 

    A classic sport climb on the Lower Animal World crag, the route lies on the wall on the far right face of the lower Animal World rock. Well-protected moves on jugs lead up an ever-steeper wall to a fun mantle move just below the anchors.


    Draws for 6 bolts and a 4 bolt anchor.

    Photos of Free Willie Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down from the Onsight on Free Willie (5.11...
    Looking down from the Onsight on Free Willie (5.11...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The rope shows the locations of the last 4 bolts a...
    BETA PHOTO: The rope shows the locations of the last 4 bolts a...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Danny missing the jug and getting beached on Free ...
    BETA PHOTO: Danny missing the jug and getting beached on Free ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: To the left of the last bolt.
    To the left of the last bolt.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Bacon on Free Willie.
    Dave Bacon on Free Willie.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Brad redpointing Willie 4 free!
    Brad redpointing Willie 4 free!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lenny pulling hard on the block marked "X&quo...
    Lenny pulling hard on the block marked "X&quo...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lenny on Free Willie which looks bigger than it is...
    Lenny on Free Willie which looks bigger than it is...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Brian Rolfson using that disadvantageous height.
    Brian Rolfson using that disadvantageous height.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Halfway through the crux...Mico Alejandro dodges t...
    BETA PHOTO: Halfway through the crux...Mico Alejandro dodges t...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Bruno preparing to tackle the crux at the last bol...
    Bruno preparing to tackle the crux at the last bol...
    Rock Climbing Photo:
    Rock Climbing Photo: From Sleeping Beauty.
    From Sleeping Beauty.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Mico Alejandro...reloading at the last good rest b...
    BETA PHOTO: Mico Alejandro...reloading at the last good rest b...

    Comments on Free Willie Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 17, 2017
    By Jeff Lockyer
    From: Canmore, AB
    Oct 4, 2001

    An excellent route for those of us 5'8" and taller. The reach past the 4th clip may almost be a dyno for some, but once past here the last moves will flow together. You can cut right at the matle or reach high for the chalked hold straight above to the left, have fun. I give this route 3 stars.
    By Don Reago
    Jul 22, 2002

    As of Saturday (7.20.02) someone chalked two "X" marks on the blocky hold that facilitates the mantle to the left (see previous comment). Although I couldn't make the block move, you may want to be sure to pull or push down on the block and not pull outward. Either that or work the mantle up and right to the anchors avoiding the block entirely.
    By Craig Quincy
    Aug 18, 2002

    The rock below the first bolt is crumbly and breaks unexpectedly. I know because I broke off a substantial foothold and fell ten feet to the ground and then another fifteen feet into the talus. So, be careful out there! And, I would recommend always wearing a helmet, as they are rather stylish when tumbling through talus.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Jun 27, 2003
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    The mantle up top is easy to the right. I did this yesterday & saw the Xs on the block, so I skipped it and went further right, to the edge of the upper face, just below and to the right of the final anchors. To my surprise, and I mantled up there was a huge, brown, UNCHALKED jug to the right, which made the move somewhat trival if you have the armspan to reach it. I suspect this route derives its name from the "beached whale" move that people do rather than mantle. It's pretty funny to watch, and bound to happen to shorter climbers more often. As for the height-dependency, my 5'4" partner did it, but had to use funkier footwork at the reach to get it, but not dyno at all- look at the slopes be the cracs (sic) to the left and for a good black "eyebrow" sized positive edge just below. This adds a crux to the route, I am sure.
    By Darren Mabe
    From: Flagstaff, AZ
    Jun 27, 2003

    I do the same thing, Tony. Further to the right, there is a better right foot; making the high step/heel hook with the left foot easier, and keeps you from stepping over the rope. The jug you speak of is good, and makes the move more elegant than the 'knee step-whale mantle'.
    By Matt Juth
    From: Evergreen
    Jul 24, 2003

    I'm a short guy, and had no trouble with any of the clips. I couldn't reach that nice jug up top as soon as I would have like though, leaving me to do a 'not quite beached whale' move in order to reach it.
    By Bruce Pech
    Mar 31, 2004

    The anchor shuts on Free Willie are beginning to show signs of serious wear. I didn't have any quicklinks with me today -- but two are definitely needed before summer.

    PS. There's a new bolted route around the arete about 30' left of Free Willie and 20' right of Jaycene's Dance. It starts up the slightly overhanging left wall of a block-capped, left-facing corner. .9+ (?) past the first two bolts, .9- to the fourth bolt, .7 or so up the slab above (with a 25'-30' runout between the eighth and ninth bolts; small to mid-sized gear optional). 9 bolts total; 80'-90'. Judging by Rolofson's guidebook, the route is a few feet to the right of Familiar Strangers (unless Familiar Strangers has been retrobolted with a new start). [Eds. This is Unfamiliar Strangers.]
    By TBlom
    Aug 29, 2004

    Last time I did this route the block with the X held my 200 lbs. Going from the block then up right to the jug Tony mentions above, you do not have to mantle or belly flop (both of which I tried on my non-onsight). Pretty easy if you trust the block (or the bolts). You can rest in the mungy stuff off left before the crux ending, or stay to the right and make it more direct. Pretty cool way to air out yer ass for sure.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Sep 11, 2004

    I managed to not have to mantel at all. Look up above the shelf thing and reach for a good, postive hold about 4 feet up, sort of on a mini arete.

    One of the best routes I've been on in the canyon, simply because of the steepness and bountiful positive holds.
    By Aaron Wilcher
    May 18, 2005

    RE: Free Willie and the crux bolt:

    As of May 15, 2005, the hanger at the crux traverse, just under the platform before the anchor, is spinning on the bolt. The bolt looks as if it has wiggled out of the rock a bit. There's a narrow quicklink there now where it looks like somebody bailed out before the anchor.

    I fell off the platform moves and the hanger held, but this bolt/hangar should [probably] be replaced.

    Also: the infamous flake at this crux has been reinforced with epoxy (had time to look while gritting my teeth avoiding it). After the fall I gave the thing a test pull or two and it seems to be pretty solid. Still, better safe than sorry and there's a couple different ways to get up the thing, so might as well avoid it. Just my two cents.

    By SirVato
    From: Boulder
    May 15, 2006
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Awesome route!! The traverse to the anchors was sweet!!! I went to the right and still had to belly flop a bit but, saved the onsight!!
    By Bruno Hache
    From: Longmont, CO
    Jun 3, 2006

    A 4 stars and very fun route with an exquisite mantle just before the top anchors. Awesome!
    It's a little discrimatory for those that are less than 5'8", at the 4th bolt half way up the climb before the corner break, the move is reachy in nature.

    Other than that, it's a must do at Animal World.
    Pure fun, I had a blast!
    Will do it again, that's for sure! :)

    By Charlie Fried
    From: New York, NY
    Jun 19, 2006
    rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    This route rocks, I'm 5'4" and had to dyno for the hold above the fourth clip, but I made it. It's a hell of a jump! I couldn't reach the chalked mark up left so I had to do a little crawling myself. The anchors left bolt is kinda weak (I wouldn't TR it from the anchors).
    By Ken Leiden
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 22, 2006

    I have climbed this route many times doing the beached whale mantle. Today I was short on gas so instead of the mantle I continued the hand traverse to the right where I was able to stand up casually at the right end of the ledge. Highly recommended.
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Oct 2, 2006

    I fixed the anchor problem by adding 2 bolts with chains.
    Funding for this was provided by CSRS. CSRS is Civil Service Retirement System.
    By Mark Griffin
    From: Boulder, CO
    May 2, 2007

    Thanks Greg! Anchor is bomber.
    By Kat A
    From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
    Oct 20, 2007

    Thanks to Greg and the "Civil Service Retirement System" for the new bolt anchors.

    Short person beta for the getting the hold above the 4th bolt... left heel hook in the rectangular incut; right foot not far from that; left hand on good hold. Then stretch for the jug with right hand. Unless you're brave enough to just dyno for it (I'm not).
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Apr 24, 2008

    We replaced the crux (last) bolt today.
    By Kevin Neilson
    From: Boulder
    Jul 14, 2008

    I've always been confused as to why this is called "Free Willie". The movie to which the name refers was called "Free Willy", so am I missing some pun or euphemism besides the "beached whale" allusion? A minor quibble, I know. I've never used the block marked 'X'; is the route easier that way? Avoiding it and using the traverse isn't that hard but seems harder than 10. The difficult part about the traverse is that the feet are fairly nonexistent and you have to commit to the ledge and cut your feet loose. This is the best part of the route and this is the point during which the famed ECB--Euro Chalk Blow--should be executed. For those not familiar with the maneuver: after cutting the feet loose, hang casually with one arm, radiating insousiance, reach back and chalk up, grabbing a fistful of chalk, then blow through your fist to create a chalk cloud. At this point, for best effect, a photographer, preferably situated at the anchors of an adjacent climb, should snap a shot in pure 80's style. Wearing spandex improves the effect.
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Jul 14, 2008

    When I first TRed the line before placing the bolts, I did the "beached whale" move when the feet cut loose on the traverse. Hence the name.
    By John Kearney
    From: Boulder, CO
    Apr 8, 2010

    I did this route on gear today (looking for a little adventure, and definitely got it!). I was wondering if anyone else has done that before?

    PS. I'm not proposing to tear the bolts out, I definitely think they should be kept in, this route is too fun to exclude it from people without a rack.
    By brain damage
    Jun 29, 2010

    This climb is super pumpy on lead. I have never done the mantel, I just put a heel up then THROW to a left hand jug, or if I can't make it, there is a good sloper there that I work with then pump. Stand up, and you're done. There is a cool little dyno in it as well, which totally makes the climb. I'm 5'6".
    By noah gostout
    From: Iqaluit, Nunavut
    Aug 9, 2011

    Dropped one of my Evolv Talons at the base and left it last night (8/8/11). I went back to get it, but it was gone. If you found it, I'd really like it back. It was brand new!
    By Tyler Currie
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 8, 2012

    Climbed FW yesterday. The anchors chains are getting worn, apparently from too many people TRing directly and lowering off.
    By Ben Hall
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Feb 14, 2013

    Best warm-up in town!
    By John Dubya
    Jun 21, 2013

    Bolt 5 right below the traverse right is looking pretty beat up.
    By goingUp
    From: over here
    Jun 26, 2013
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Great route and incredibly sustained. The big flake marked with an x seems fairly stable (epoxy?); however, making those traverse moves without the use of it seems to make the finishing moves substantially more difficult (still very doable). Either way, a must do!
    By B. Smith
    From: Denver, CO
    Mar 16, 2014

    I am 6' tall and had no issue with the first reach, but it felt a little like cheating. I was able to move around the "X" block with no problem. On a less cool note, I did the "beached whale" style finish and then pulled on the anchor. Not my best moment, but I was pumped. Great climb!
    By Kevin Gillest
    From: Arvada, CO
    Aug 25, 2014
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Rock Climbing Photo: Garrett Gillest on "Free Willie" age 8, ...
    Garrett Gillest on "Free Willie" age 8, not quite to the crux.
    By Skyler B
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Mar 21, 2015

    Has anybody climbed the bulge in between Free Willie and Days of Future Past? It looks like a really cool sequence off of a foothold on Free Willie to more small crimps. I would love to hear if others have done this line!
    By Greg Miller
    Aug 1, 2015
    rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

    This makes for a sweet trad line for those wanting to not use the bolts. Offset cams are nice, a #3 Camalot protects the traverse and mantle up and left and the beginning of traverse.
    By Jake Dickerson
    From: Lander, WY
    Feb 26, 2016
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Awesome fun climbing. It totally goes on gear to! RPs and cams to 0.75. It's an exciting unprotected traverse until you clip the chains!
    By James Cranston
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 23, 2016

    I left a draw (Petzl Spirit) on the last bolt before the anchors on this - it got too dark and I had to lower because no headlamp :/

    I left the draw on September 22, 2016 in the evening. I don't have a chance to get it today (Th 23rd). If you snag it, could you please send it to me? My cell is 914.364.6142 and my email is

    By D. Scott Clark
    From: Boulder
    Jun 30, 2017
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13

    I disagree that this is nicely protected. Not an issue for me, but I'd imagine someone breaking into 11s this could get super heady. I'm surprised that for how much traffic this route gets that the ancient looking spinner bolts have not been replaced. Also, isn't it time to remove the "x" on the block. It's been yarded on by all sizes of people and has yet to move. Cruel joke to say the best hold on the route is off, just because.
    By Logan Collins
    Jul 17, 2017
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Very fun route. The crux for me was clipping the last bolt, and then that mantel was so awkward for me. I tried the "beached whale move", but that mantel is too small to make any progress upwards. I eventually fell and then started from directly below the last bolt and made the final move up to the last hold before the anchors. I thought it was going to be a crimp, but it was an OMG jug.

    I also did not see any blocks marked with an X.... Did it fall down or did I just miss it?

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