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Medicine Man 

YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b [details]
FA: Andy Petefish and Tom Bratton, FFA Alan Lester and Pete Takeda
Page Views: 14,494
Submitted By: Michael Schneiter on Nov 7, 2002

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Spread out at the top of pitch 2.


Awesome route. Exposed and steep! This has got to be one of the most classic splitters in the desert. If you don't climb 5.12 you can easily aid the crux pitch and toprope it. The rest of the pitches are very doable and offer some great desert crack climbing on a sweet tower. First free ascent by Alan Lester and Pete Takeda.

Piz's comments were pretty much right on but thought I would try to add some more detail and add the route to the database._

Approach: Two options: 1. Go to the campground and head to the rim. There's a viewpoint building right above the spire. Fix a rope from a tree which you can back up with a good stopper. This is the preferred approach and definitely the easiest. 2. Hike in from the Monument Canyon trailhead, approximately 2 hour approach.

Medicine Man is the obvious line up the center of the east face.

Done in 4 or 5 pitches. Intermediate belay on pitch 2 is probably a good idea but not necessary, I like the way it gives you a rest before the 5.11 section. Described here as 5 pitches.

Pitch 1: (5.10) Obvious start up crumbly bottom layer into nice handcrack in left-facing corner.

Pitch 2: (5.10+) Continue up crack in corner and exit roof to the left to intermediate belay or continue. Tread carefully on the death block that is mysteriously lodged in roof.

Pitch 3: (5.11)(Using intermediate belay or can be combined with P2). Layback flake with bad feet. Watch for loose stuff above flake (gone?).

Pitch 4: (5.12b) The crux pitch. Jam obvious splitter through small roof. Nice kneebar in roof for no-hands rest before pulling crux.

Pitch 5: (5.10) Up corner and traverse left through roof. Continue up crack to summit. Watch for loose stuff before and immediately after roof.

Descent: Two raps from Fast Draw anchors and jug back up your fixed line to the rim.


Camalots 1 #0.3, 1 #0.4, 2 #0.5, 4 or 5 #0.75, 5 or 6 #1, 2 #2, 2 #3. Runners/draws. Two ropes.

Photos of Medicine Man Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Sweet air looking down the overhanging last sectio...
Sweet air looking down the overhanging last sectio...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bryan jugging up the crux pitch, which we aided.  ...
Bryan jugging up the crux pitch, which we aided. ...
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: Resting on the crux pitch.
Resting on the crux pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Steep.
Rock Climbing Photo: High on pitch 3
High on pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Sentinel Spire is the central spire in this image,...
Sentinel Spire is the central spire in this image,...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kat up on lead on the way to onsight of the thin h...
Kat up on lead on the way to onsight of the thin h...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kat follows the final pitch of Medicine Man, the w...
Kat follows the final pitch of Medicine Man, the w...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the crux pitch just before the bulge....
Looking down the crux pitch just before the bulge....
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up pitch 4. Traverse left under the roof t...
Looking up pitch 4. Traverse left under the roof t...
Rock Climbing Photo: P3, a rare shot of BD himself.
P3, a rare shot of BD himself.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pulling the roof on p4 instead of traversing left ...
Pulling the roof on p4 instead of traversing left ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitches 1, 2, 3 can be seen.
Pitches 1, 2, 3 can be seen.

Comments on Medicine Man Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 23, 2017
By piz
Dec 20, 2002

You're looking at Medicine Man, 5.12b, on the south face of the spire.

Pitch 1 - 5.9/10 kinda sporty with some face holds down low. belay on nice ledge with existing anchor. nice warm up pitch (~90 ft) possibly tricky gear placement down low gear- purple cam to a yellow cam

Pitch 2 - 5.11+ (maybe) thin layback corner straight up, chimney moves and out left side of roof to a beautiful lieback finish. great pitch! (~90 ft) gear- purple to yellow cam probably two of each

Pitch 3 - 5.12b thin hands straight up in a perfect zig zagging thin hands splitter rest comes at mid height then more thin hands to a small roof and final move to belay, awesome! (~90 ft) gear- about 8 red cams and 1 or 2 yellow, if you don't use them all on the pitch you can back up the pin with the extras (reds).

Pitch 4 - 5.9 weird but good, up and left at roof, follow awkward moves to the summit, good pitch for the thinker. belay on summit from giant chain rap anchors. two ~90 ft raps to base of fast draw. Gear- bring what you have (not the 8 red cams) maybe a finger-size piece or two up to yellow cam

  • *Note it is possible to set up a traverse from the top of Sentinel Spire to the cliff line (~40 ft), just climb Fast Draw after rapping in from there and proceed). I didn't use it to get off but my partner has seen it done.
By Jesse Zacher
From: Grand Junction, Co
Feb 6, 2007
rating: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Bolts have been replaced. Everything is bomber. Especially on pitch two, a bolt was added around the corner. Great Route! Too much fixed gear. 3 stuck cams. Anyone have a hacksaw? 5 #1 Camalot and 2-3 #2's for pitch 3.
By stevecurtis
From: Petaluma California
May 27, 2008

One of the best. There is no longer fixed gear on the route. Belays all solid. I found the last roof as hard as the second. We used 4 green, 5 red, two yellow, 2 blue Camalot.
By Bryan Gilmore
From: New England
Sep 3, 2008
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

I think pitch 2 is actually harder than pitch 3.
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Mar 18, 2009

I updated the gear list on this after climbing it again recently. Not sure how we ended up using (or thinking we used) so much gear the first time. It was nice to see someone had replaced those old bolts and pins and the anchors. Have fun.
By eric whewell
From: Longmont, CO
Nov 5, 2009
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

There was no fixed gear on this route as of October 2009. I recall placing maybe 6 #1 Camalots on the crux and a #2. I also found it hard to find a worthwhile "kneebar" before the crux. Pretty soft for .12b, more like 11+. Great tower route nonetheless!
By Monty
From: Golden, CO
Mar 29, 2010
rating: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

70m rope will get you down in 2 raps.
Stellar climbing the whole way. As for pitch 4, sounds like a lot of people traverse left under the roof, but pullin' the roof straight on is stellar, maybe 10+ish?
Great route just as fun as Primrose.
By Amir erez
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 2, 2011

Great tower route. I would call pitch 2 and pitch 5 11- and the crux pitch 11+. On the crux pitch about half way up the pitch, you can protect with a #0.75 Camalot and a yellow Mastercam in horizontals. This allows you to save your #1 cams.
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Sep 20, 2011

Just to add some beta, there are 2 bolts on the second pitch to avoid placing gear in the death block. We belayed on two drilled pins after the chimney/death block at a hanging stance, but the pins are in great shape. I recommend 5-6 #0.75 cams for this second pitch. The last pitch is a little sandy and takes a lot of hand-size pieces.

Great tower and the jug out is recommended but a hell of a work out after climbing the tower.
By Alison Conrad
Mar 30, 2012

One of the best routes in the Monument. The first pitch goes better than it looks. It is about 9/10a. You can protect start with some 0.4s and 0.5s. It is more bouldery at the start and then ends in a nice crack with anchors. The second pitch (we broke it up in two). I used about 5 or 6 0.75s and a microcam after the flake in the roof. It is about 10+ or 11 depending on where you belay. The crux is going around the flake. There is a belay at two pins, and it is a rather uncomfortable hanging belay. There is a short pitch to get to the next anchor for the start of the crux pitch. The crux pitch is very girl hand friendly. Mostly #1s (6 or 7 - depends on comfort level) with a #2 and #3 thrown in for good measure. The crux is getting over the roof. While I would love to feel the a 5.12 could be so doable, it is probably more of an 11. If #1s are a terrible size, then it could be harder. The last pitch is typical Monument soft, flaky rock with some awkwardness thrown in. Great route and a definite repeat! Our rack was one or two microcams, single set of nuts, 0.3 and 0.4, 2 0.5s, 5 or 6 0.75s, 6 or 7 #1s, 2 #2s, and 2 #3s. Depending on comfort, you could remove some 0.75s and #1s.
By Bob Rotert
Jul 25, 2012

Very beautiful route, and I think it's one of the best in the Monument.

The crux pitch, #3 or #4, depending on how you do this, is a classic example of where individual climber hand size is going to push the grade one way or another. It will be much harder for folks with larger hands and would be much, much, easier for thinner hands. Like most desert splitters this size. The difficulty factor really changes depending on how well your hands fit the crack.
By knowbuddy Buddy
Sep 24, 2012

Amazing. One of the best towers I've climbed. Couldn't get the knee bar and didn't do one finger lock on the crux. Pulled through the roof on the last pitch, and it was super fun but a little spicy due to the poor rock quality above the roof.
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Mar 16, 2014

Pitch 1 - fun, juggy climbing (like Johnny Cat) to bomber hand crack.
Pitch 2 - dump all your 0.75s into the bottom section. You won't need them after the 2 bolts. Chimneying is the ticket up below the block. Why you would stop at the 2 pins in an awful, hanging belay instead of going another 15 feet to a good stance is beyond me. The crux is pulling the bulge past the 2 pin anchor, then it's hands to the anchor.
Pitch 3 - reds, man. All reds. Bring at least 5. Save 2 for the final 10 feet past the roof.
Pitch 4 - it's not over yet. The bulge after traversing left is kinda hard, make sure to have some small cams ready. Pretty fun climbing to the top with mostly hands.
By Kat A
From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
Mar 12, 2017

Gear: recommended rack is good, but if you're wanting to climb lighter, FYI we didn't place any of our #3 Camalots yet found it nice to have doubles in green and yellow Aliens (or 0.3 / 0.4 Camalots).

Grade: the crux pitch is very hand size-dependent. If comfortable on #1 Camalots, it may feel 5.11 or 5.11+. Those with larger hands will likely find it harder.

Women desert climbers with smallish hands - I highly recommend this route to you! Grab the leads on pitches 2 & 3 (the money pitches, esp. for smaller hands). ;)
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Mar 19, 2017
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Why stop at the intermediate belay? Well, I tell you what - the next "pitch" is not that hard, but if you start it pumped, it's going to be a rough ride. I was able to do both free but only after hanging out to recover after the pump on P2.
By michalm
From: Boulder, CO
May 1, 2017
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Amazing route. I won't add to the gear beta clutter, but a lot of the recommended racks here are overkill. I didn't use any 3s... you could place one on the top pitch. The pitches felt like:

P1: 10 face and easy corner cracks. The hard sizes have good feet.
P2: 10+. 0.75 corner slot to chimney roof to a few fingerlocks to thin hands flake. Lots of features make the slot easier than expected for the size. The fingerlocks and flake are probably easier than the slot.
P3: 11 tight/thin hands (for #2 Camalot-sized hands). Most of the crack was pretty generously sized #1s. The bulge has a few thin moves before opening up to #2.5 Friends. If your hands are #3 Camalot size, I could see 11+/12-.
P4: 9 left traverse or 10+ straight out the roof on thin fingers. Lots of hands in flares and through pods. A few fingers and tips pieces are nice for the straight up variation.

P.S. The crux would be 5.10 for Trump if he laid off the coal smoke and cheeseburgers.
By Monty
From: Golden, CO
May 2, 2017
rating: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

It's only 5.11 for those with "Trump hands." ;)
By Ashley Amato
May 23, 2017

The whole route goes into the shade at about 2:30pm in late May.

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