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YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 200'
Original:  YDS: 5.7+ French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Bob Jasperson, 2001
Page Views: 5,544
Submitted By: Matt Richardson on Mar 23, 2009

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Brian on the pitch 2 arete.


Toward the middle of the wall lie two long aretes that make their way to the top of The Coliseum. Handcrack-a-rete is the obvious hand crack that splits the arete on the right hand side. Start by scrambling to the base of the crack then proceed through the excellent hand crack to a set of bolt anchors approximately 100' up on a great ledge. The crux lies near the beginning of this pitch; here, the crack itself is angled inward (making the jams somewhat awkward) and the feet are thin. As the crack proceeds upward, the angle eases up and the feet become more plentiful.

The second pitch can be attacked via two paths. The most obvious path is to follow the arete upward past a bolt about 10-15' above the belay ledge. Although Gillett states that the gear is sparse, at 5.6 the gear felt comfortable. Another option for the second pitch (also 5.6) is to head further right to a large flake; although I have not done this variation, it appears that the flake is more readily protected than the direct approach. Either way, the pitch ends with at a set of bolt anchors on another nice ledge.

There is a last pitch consisting of a short 5.6 chimney which will gain you the summit, but we chose to rap off from this point. To descend from the second belay station, simply rap to the first and then to the ground. If summiting, walk off to the west or rap off of an anchor located on the ridge further east.

The first two pitches can be linked with a 60 m rope.


This route is located on the second of two nice aretes which gain the summit. This beautiful handcrack can not be missed as it splits the second arete. You will have to do a little scrambling to reach the base of the route.


A traditional rack (you know, nuts, cams, etc) with extras in the hand-sized range for the first pitch.

Photos of Handcrack-a-rete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the top.
Nearing the top.
Rock Climbing Photo: The crack is up on the right.
BETA PHOTO: The crack is up on the right.
Rock Climbing Photo: A couple of dudes on Handcrack-a-rete.
A couple of dudes on Handcrack-a-rete.
Rock Climbing Photo: Brenda nears the belay anchors of the 2nd pitch on...
Brenda nears the belay anchors of the 2nd pitch on...
Rock Climbing Photo: The steep crux hand crack.
BETA PHOTO: The steep crux hand crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the optional belay. Vrainavore 10a is ...
Approaching the optional belay. Vrainavore 10a is ...

Comments on Handcrack-a-rete Add Comment
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By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Jul 31, 2010

Nice climb, on great rock. After pitch 2, we headed directly up the arete, for a short, so-so 5.7 pitch that ends with a stem across the chimney to easy ground.
By slim
Sep 20, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The crack on the first pitch is stellar. If you are looking for really good, easy cracks on the Front Range, this should be on your list. The 2nd pitch is also very fun. There are a couple pieces of rock that aren't exactly 100% bomber, but they are good enough that it just sort of adds to the fun.
By Kevin Wieczorek
Aug 8, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is a super fun, moderate climb. The pro is good the whole way. I took the right flake on the second pitch, instead of the arête, which looked slightly more run out. The first two pitches can probably be linked. I did it in three short pitches instead. I was learning to use a solo belay device and stuck to the easiest and best protected options in case I had any shenanigans happen. The last pitch chimney has some serious vegetation at the start but looked better protected than the arête. Once past the big bush, I climbed chimney and stemmed onto the face. It was fun, but the bushwhacking was obnoxious and I was stung by a wasp; maybe not recommended. From the second anchor, you can rappel the sport route to the climbers’ right and either lead it back up or top rope it. The rappels from the summit are straightforward. The biggest hassle of the day was crossing the creek; it was still at least knee deep and made for an exciting and very wet, crossing.
By Rich F.
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 30, 2012
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

This was a terrific climb. But with my weak crack climbing skills, I found the steep handcrack crux on this route harder than the 5.8 Hollow Man route one arete over. Highly recommended moderate climb!
By Jim Clarke
From: Cottonwood Heights, UT
Aug 10, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great line to clean up or tune up crack skills for a moderate trad leader. A bit of cleaning on the last short pitch could make for a fun multi-pitch romp.
By Jay Eggleston
From: Denver
Oct 6, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is a great crack climb! On pitch two, there is gear other than the bolt if you wish to place any going up the arête. I placed two small cams and a nut besides clipping the bolt.
By LukeT96
From: Longmont, CO
Jul 24, 2016

I left a green ATC guide belay device at the base of this route. If found, please shoot me a text or call, it would be much appreciated!

By Samsquanch
Apr 16, 2017

Link pitches one and two, it makes for a pretty stellar climb! On the second pitch, if you stay on the arete, you will get a couple opportunities for gear, flake on the right is fun too though and protects well.

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