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King's X 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Kor/Dalke, '66?, FFA Cox/Sibley, '71 (P1: FFA - Kevin Donald and Jim Erickson, 1970)
Fixed Hardware: 4 Lead Pins, 1 Lead Other, 2 Belay Bolts, 1 Belay Pin [details]
Page Views: 5,185
Submitted By: slevin on Jan 1, 2001

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Pulling the roof.

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  • Description 

    Hidden in the trees on the lower-left of the Wind Tower S Face, King's X presents bizarre, body-English climbing with some hefty stemming...pure Eldorado. The line is rather obvious, following the weakness between overhangs on the lower left of the South Face and leading to a large V-slot roof.

    Climb easily past a flake to a strange 5.10 bulge (fixed pin, wire placement), stepping left at the bulge. There is a hidden fixed pin after the bulge to protect the second- a thin runner can be threaded through the eye. Move up and left on easier climbing to a downward pointed flake (optional belay). Climb up and right on flakes leading into the roof slot. There are some rusty fixed pins if you want to clip them, a wired nut placement or two, and an inobvious 2" cam placement. Launch into the crux, a short sequential hand switch leading to "no-hands" stemming (good gear). At the apex of the roof there is often a fixed wire. Be extra careful to avoid getting your rope jammed in the constriction at the roof apex. Swing around onto easier ground and belay 15 feet higher at a squirrelly anchor, or continue to the ramp ledge 40 feet above.

    This can be led in one pitch, but you will need to use long slings, and perhaps step back and unclip from the intermediate anchor (if you clipped it). A variation (FA unknown) climbs straight up after the initial bulge, bypassing the intermediate anchor entirely, and heads directly into the crux slot. This is about 5.9 or so, good climbing, but the rock is a bit hollow sounding and difficult to protect. With a 50m rope you can lower off the squirrelly anchor above the crux. There is no fixed anchor at the top of the pitch. Continue with Metamorphosis by downclimbing a bit right, or turn the corner left and downclimb or rap the West Face. Afternoon shade in summer; a bit frosty down by the creek in mid-winter. Once considered a testpiece and a good trainer for the 4th pitch of the Edge.


    Standard Eldo rack including small-medium wires. Long runners to minimize rope drag. Protects well, but take care since this section of wall is flakey and exfoliated. Several museum-piece fixed pins.

    Photos of King's X Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Gearing up for the first hard move.
    Gearing up for the first hard move.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up....
    Starting up....
    Rock Climbing Photo: Steph V. follows down low on King's X (10d) in Eld...
    Steph V. follows down low on King's X (10d) in Eld...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Danny Inman passes the first crux (10c) on P1 of K...
    Danny Inman passes the first crux (10c) on P1 of K...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Robinson after completing the 2nd crux.
    Mike Robinson after completing the 2nd crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Starting the crux stemming and palming.
    Starting the crux stemming and palming.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the 10c crux.
    Approaching the 10c crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the 10d crux.
    Approaching the 10d crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: King's X crux roof...
    BETA PHOTO: King's X crux roof...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Confronting the lower bulge, that some find harder...
    Confronting the lower bulge, that some find harder...

    Comments on King's X Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 17, 2015
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jan 1, 2001

    Stan - There is now a bomber anchor at the top of Kings X. Installed 4/28/01. One can lower down with a 60 m rope.
    By Andrew Wellman
    Aug 13, 2001

    Stan or anyone else, please give full details of the new anchors. I climbed the route on 8/10 and didn't see any anchors. I had to use the "squirelly" anchors that Steve describes. I wouldn't lower off of them, I backed them up with cams to set up topropes for friends, then had to climb up to the West face to clean the anchor. I looked all around and didn't see any bolts or anchors, so if there are some there, please post a message about their exact whereabouts. Thanks!
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Jun 16, 2002
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    As of 6/15/02 there was no set anchor that I'd rap off of up there. We built a belay. You can continue up the diredral and then down and over to below Metamorphasis and rap off. It was quite evident that a 70m rope touched down - a 60m looked probable as well, but I didn't check.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 19, 2002

    I wasn't so inspired by the fixed gear I found at the crux, the pin was good but the piece below (with a fixed bail biner) was not so great looking and the fixed nut above requires some serious blind faith. I found the climbing [to be] awkward and a bit scary, it felt hard for the grade and I got horrible rope drag doing this in one pitch. I found no way to avoid the rope getting snagged in the constriction above the crux, long runners didn't help but perhaps a directional piece would have helped. I did not see any fixed anchor at the top and would not be very happy to lower off the "squirrelly" anchor. I lost a #2 Trango flex-stem cam just above the first 5.10 bulge on 6/13/02, I thought this route was not deserving of more than 1 star. If doing Metamorphosis after this route, it is best to move the belay....
    By Joe Collins
    Jun 20, 2002

    I strongly disagree with the above comment. Yeah, the climbing is funky and awkward, the fixed gear is questionable, and there is a bit of looseness at the easy parts (doesn't that just define Eldo though). That being said, the climbing is great! If you go to the Wind Tower to do Metamorphasis you should certainly do this route too (though don't pick this as your first trad 10+). To alieveate the rope-snag problem, don't place pro once over the A-roof...wait until you climb up and right to belay.Definitely 2 stars, maybe 3.
    By Josh Janes
    General Admin
    Jun 22, 2002

    I also have to disagree with that comment - I would call this a borderline 3-star route.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 22, 2002

    Awkward, questional gear, and loose does not define Eldo to me....
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Jun 24, 2002
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    "Awkward, questional gear, and loose" does not even define even this climb. The rock is somewhat broken, but it is fairly solid, and the gear as as good as you need it- the climb protects pretty well. You can back up any fixed gear along the way if you so desire.

    I think this route depends greatly upon height and flexibility. I found myself a nearly-no-hands rest in the middle of the so-called crux, but then again, I was also nearly doing the splits for both that rest and for upward progress. It was still hard, so I figure a 5'6" climber has a nasty surprise coming if leading this climb.

    King's X is to 5.10d what the Green Spur is to 5.9+. The grade seems right, but you have to see the moves and be tall enough to do them too.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 27, 2002

    From a visiting East Coast climber . . . . Thought-provoking and stimulating, excellent protection just where you need it.
    By Brian Milhaupt
    From: Golden, CO
    Mar 4, 2003

    As of 3-2-03 there is a suitable anchor 15' up and slightly right of the roof's apex.
    By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
    Mar 8, 2003

    The "fixed anchor" above the lip, from which you can rappel after doing the route, comes and goes over the years. There is a fixed pin about 15 feet above the lip, and last time I did the route, a fixed wire and some webbing, making for a funky rap station. I know some folks (as posted here) occasionally leave a rap station as a service to other climbers, and then other folks strip it because it is unsightly, lazy, and it is traditional to climb up to the ledge and wander off left along the ramp round to the west-face mob scene. The crux under the lip is protected by an ancient fixed pin, it supplies overhead pro for the moves gaining the roof. This pin looks nicely buried, but is just a soft steel wafer/knifeblade, a relic of the days when the climbers were aiding, and there is no crack which would take gear nearby. What will happen when this falls out? You will be looking at a real fall onto the fixed copperhead with the epoxied bail biner. Luckily this looks bomber by copperhead standards, and can be backed up, but is getting pretty old too, and takes up a great nut slot (though my memory of this classic Eldo relic is more vague). So, two things for folks to think about:1. For decades climbers have had pretty much overhead fixed gear, albeit not bomber gear, for this whole crux section. (There's usually a fixed wire in the roof too). Placing gear in the section between the copperhead and the roof looks real hard, so when the crappy pin goes, should this be replaced with something, or should the pitch be left as a more serious lead?2. Should there be some kind of permanent fixed belay/rap anchor somewhere above the roof? I'm not advocating anything, just looking for people to post their ideas on what is best for one of Eldo's classic 5.10+ pitches.
    By Rich Farnham
    Oct 27, 2003

    What a fantastic route!! It earns 3 stars for the wild moves through the A-shaped roof, but the tenuous nature of some of the rock along the way keeps it at 2 stars.Since nobody has wanted to be the first to respond to "Crusher"'s thoughts, I'll throw this out. My feel is that if the pin got old and fell out, leaving an open crack, it wouldn't be inappropriate to put a knifeblade back in the same seam. This assumes that the hole left by the pin can't be used by other (removable) pro. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the history and traditions in Eldo can correct me, but it seems there are several classic routes on which the number of fixed pins comes and goes over the years (Vertigo, C'est La Vie, etc.), so it is not a crime to replace a pin that has been there in the past.But if the pin gets old and breaks off, leaving the seam unusable because of the remaining piece of the pin, the route should be left as is, and become a more serious lead. The alternative would be drilling a bolt, or some sort of drill/chisel assisted removal of the piece of the old pin, both of which strike me as inappropriate. It would be not unlike chiseling a large jug at the lip of the mantle on Athlete's feet just because there was one there when Royal did it, which has since broken off. All ethical debates aside, this is a wonderful route with unique and challenging moves. Go do it!
    By steve dieckhoff
    Oct 28, 2003

    I agree this is sort of an Eldo classic in the sense that it is so unique. It always makes me a bit twitchy to think of Michael Gilbert free-soloing this. (I don't know who else has.) I usually think of this as a good 'simulator' for the 4th pitch of the [Edge]..... similar awkwardness.As for the pin (my 2cents)..... First, I'm wondering how often it gets fallen on from any distance.....if it only gets the occasional body weight it might last much longer than we think. Second, if it did fail would the fall really be that bad? Maybe not. I think a bolt here would detract from the route. Granted that the pin may have been better once but there may have been more loose rock etc... so it evens out. If the pin can be replaced now though I wouldn't mind a bit.
    By Craig Quincy
    Nov 5, 2003

    Replacing a fallen out pin with a bolt in Eldo seems like sacrilege. I wish I had a dollar for every X on a topo that now requires crafty RP and ball-nut work to keep fear in check. There are a number of examples - the second pitch of C'est La Vie, the first pitch of [Practice Climb 101], etc. Even though the fixed hardware rules allow for replacing the pins, in most cases, they remain missing. Modern gear makes the leads possible and other decent gear is nearby, so what is really required is that the leader be a better climber than if there was a bolt there. 5.10 and 5.11 usually require a bit of mustard in [Eldo]. I think that's a good thing and makes for memorable leads. No doubt, I'm not rushing back to re-lead a few and I'm putting off leading some others. On the flip side, I pity the fool that pulls the pin on the first pitch of C'est La Vie. It's only a matter of time. I bet that will require a bolt when it goes.

    In the specific case of King's X, when the pin goes I think it should stay out. The fixed nut with the epoxied biner looks like it will be there for the long haul and the fixed nuts above the pin seem pretty good too. But, if there was a bolt there I'd sure clip it.
    By steve dieckhoff
    Nov 6, 2003

    I'd like to second Quincy's comment. Many pitches in Eldo are far more memorable than they would be as clip-ups. I think if you consider a 'climb' as an event rather than just a sequence of moves then you value the ones that give you a lasting memory rather than just your daily pump. Put the 2nd (crux) pitch of the Northwest Corner of the Bastille on the list of things that were quite safe with modern gear after the fixed pins had fallen out. A perfect cam protected the crux but Chris Archer went up and placed a few new fixed pins anyway.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Mar 28, 2004
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    I did this in 77 and again in 78. I remember it as being one of my favorite climbs. Finally got back on it yesterday and had a blast. I was surprised at how good the gear was. Double rope helped a bit. A couple of brass nuts lead to a good pin with a chain link. (It WAS a pin, right? not a copperhead? Maybe I just assumed it was a pin.) Then a bad ring pin, but it's above you for the moves to the apex of the roof. Fixed nut at the apex.

    There were two cruxes for me. The bottom "10c" move, which (see Josh's beta) I did by getting the left foot real high and popping for an edge, and at the fixed pin with the link. Starting to burn there and almost gave up. You have to get your right foot out right and shoulder into the corner. Then you can relax.

    The fixed anchor is there as of today. A good pin, a good thread, and a big copperhead. Good webbing, 2 rings.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Mar 28, 2004
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    I like the older guidebooks with their anecdotes and interesting descriptions. Newer guides tend to have, if any, only brief and factual descriptions. This is from the 1980 Jim Erickson Rocky Heights guide:

    [FFA Ron] Cox called this an "intellectual climb," and leaders with cerebral deficiencies often abdicate. Pitch two offers a series of puzzling, complicated moves and bizarre rests which must be forged into a unified lead. A bit of poor rock in no way debases the majesty and gratification this route submits.
    By Mike Robinson
    From: Worcester, MA
    Mar 14, 2007
    rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    This route is incredible! As for the fixed pin discussed here, I feel it should be left and not removed. When I climbed it, there was a solid anchor with biners on it as well. I believe that Eldo will remain to have a reasonable use of bolts where they belong, maybe an anchor here (when the pin finally pulls), but it would be awful to bolt this route. The pro is more than enough.
    By Mike Munger
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    May 12, 2007

    Bolting this pitch would be a travesty. There is more than enough good gear without the pin. You do need to know how to place gear though or you will find yourself wishing you were back on a sport climb. Also, rope drag can be eliminated entirely if you belay at the lip of the the roof. You have to build your own anchor to do that though so if you need two bolts and chains to belay, stay away or don't complain about the rope drag.
    By 1Eric Rhicard
    May 13, 2007

    I led this route it in 1977 when I was 18. Remember having to keep my wits about me. That is probably why it is still lodged in my failing memory. Don't think bolts need to be added unless they replace fixed pro that earlier climbers used and could trust. Of course with all the new cams and ball nuts, maybe it is not needed.
    By Mike Munger
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Jun 3, 2007

    In '77, as I recall, the bashie below the fixed pin wasn't there and you had to place your own gear. Instead of adding a bolt, I think the bashie with its huge quick links should be removed.
    By Dane Casterson
    From: Boulder
    Jun 6, 2007

    Lots of hollow rock down low but good where you need it. The anchor above and right of the crux roof is bomber.
    By Danny Inman
    From: Arvada
    Nov 8, 2007
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    This is a great route that combines very well with The Metamorphosis. I felt the pro to be good the whole way. In fact, a very good stopper can be placed immediately above the first fixed piece (I think it was a bashie) at the upper crux, from there one has over-head pro for the next couple of moves. The upper crux is memorable and required some very interesting movement. As for rope drag, there is a cam placement to the right a little ways after the apex, placing a cam and clipping short will keep the rope out of the "pinch".
    By slim
    Jul 14, 2008
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

    Only in Boulder would a 60' pile of choss like this get 3 or 4 stars. 90% of it is easy, mediocre climbing on choss. The remaining 10% MIGHT warrant half of a star. Or maybe not. I am really surprised about suggestions to split it into 2 pitches? Nothing like a chossy intermediate belay to split a route into 2 30 foot pitches. Only in Eldo....
    By Phil Lauffen
    From: The Bubble
    Apr 25, 2010

    Pin held a reasonable whip today. Very funky climb. I wish I was better at stemming....
    By Rodger Raubach
    Jan 2, 2012

    Historical comment on this route. I believe this was done earlier than 1967. My recollection in talking with Layton in ~1966 was that this route was done as a free climb, and he had rated it as "really hard 5.9+."
    By Noah McKelvin
    From: Colorado Springs
    Jun 25, 2013
    rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

    Gear is good at the crux. Weird crux for sure. Make sure to watch rope drag or else the rope will get stuck at the lip.
    By kevin donald
    Nov 17, 2015

    Historical note regarding this route: Kevin Donald and Jim Erickson did the FFA of the first pitch in 1970. Jim went up first and after a couple of attempts down-climbed, so I gave it a try and was successful. In fairness to Jim, I must add that he was not using chalk at this time, and I have always used chalk. We did not attempt the second pitch at this time. Ron and Paul free climbed the second pitch a year later.

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