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West Face
Routes Sorted
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Amber T 
American Beauty S 
Curve of Binding Energy S 
Furious Howard Brown S 
Mercy Drilling T,S 
North Crack T 
Northwest Passage T 
Other One, The S 
Pocket Fisherman S 
Shakedown Street S 
Space Goats S 
Wise Crack S 

Mercy Drilling 

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

Type:  Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 60'
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Chris Alber and Mark Rolofson, March 29, 2000
Page Views: 2,701
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Oct 25, 2001

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Ben Ingman on Mercy Drilling.

Seasonal Closure MORE INFO >>>


This is located on the West Face (Cracks of Surprise Wall) around the corner from the South Face of Surprising Crag. This is the first route left of the chimney (5.8+).

This would be a great route... if only it hadn't been bolted, and if only someone hadn't drilled a mono pocket (denied by Mark Rolofson below) in the crux. Why bolt a perfectly protectable crack?

The mono makes for an interesting balancy move out of the crack, and then head back up and into the crack.

As it stands, this is a 12a. Without the mono, it would be considerably harder.


6 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor, or you can probably trad lead this with pro up to 3 inches.

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 29, 2016
By Greaser
Aug 19, 2004

This mono is not man-made. Occasionally features like these are created when granite is formed and/or eroded. I've climbed this route and have looked for and have NOT found any signs of chipping. Look at the hueco on "American Beauty" next to this climb. It is NATURAL. I have seen these kinds of pockets on granite in many other areas, not chipped. Just because a route is at the Sport Park does not automatically mean that it is chipped or bad. There are some good routes up there.

This is a good route with one very bad jam in the crux.

I think that it would hard to protect the crux and the section above it getting to the good finger jam (where the difficulties let off). At this point your last piece would be below the horizontal seam that is before the crux. A fall here, on gear, would be interesting.
By Joe Collins
Oct 11, 2004
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

When I first climbed this route several years ago, I thought it was chipped as well, but after climbing a few more routes on the cliff, I highly doubt the two solution pockets in the upper part of the route were chipped. At the worst they might have been comfortized, but this section of Surprising Crag has several such pockets, nowhere near the cruxes of routes (you don't even have to use the crux "mono" mentioned above).

This would be an R/X-rated trad lead. It would be an exciting, but relatively-safe mixed lead if one clips only the bolt at the crux.

People who are caught up in the Sport Park hysteria are missing out on a very nice crag in the west face of Surprising. There are several good 5.11-12 sport routes (not chipped) and some intimidating looking trad lines.
By Chris O'Connor
From: boulder, co
Sep 16, 2007
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

I'm glad this route was bolted, because I would never want to lead it trad, and I have led other routes at this crag with trad gear.
By Brent Apgar
From: Out of the Loop
Jul 27, 2008

Really good route. Technical and powerful. My two cents worth: I agree w/ Joe in that I don't think that the route is any harder w/out the mono. -BA
From: Wherever we park!
Mar 21, 2009
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

I don't think that pocket was drilled. If that goes on gear, it would def include a heavy R rating as the crux would be very unprotected.
By Mark Rolofson
Jul 15, 2010

To set the record straight on Mercy Drilling & all the routes on the west face: all holds are natural. Perhaps the person who submitted this route should talked with Chris or me. In fact, the two finger undercling/sidepull pocket would have been very hard to drill like this. This is a beautiful examples of how natural pockets exist in granite. Most of the drilled holds I am aware of at the Sport Park are the larger pockets & jugs. I have ignored much of this site, especially if I have climbed a certain route & have the needed info. I generally just use it to get new route & first ascent info, but I am tired of hearing about this pocket being manufactured. Lastly, if you don't like the bolts on this climb, either don't clip them or go climb Never A Dull Moment, Spin Off, & Englishmen's Home at Castle Rock. Limits Of Power at Blob hasn't seem a repeat in probably over two decades.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Nov 8, 2010
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

This is a really nice route. It's a little short, but it's quite fun.

I would agree with others that when I first looked at the pocket on this thing, I thought it was drilled (and yes, I frowned a little). However, then I started to look around more and there are indeed other solution pockets scattered here and there, and given that Mark has posted up, I think it's best to take him at as his word (thanks for posting, Mark). I think the route poster should consider amending the description.

Furthermore, about the gear... this thing would be deeply 'R' without the bolts. The placements are flaring and marginal at best. A fall at the crux would probably not be super pretty. On top of this, I think it's bad form to climb a route using the fixed gear and then comment on how a route "could" go on natural pro...and clearly the route poster has not climbed it this way, because if he had, he would have noticed that there is no 3 inch (or 2 inch for that matter) gear on this until you are at the anchor.
By Bal Rau
From: Denver, Colorado
Jun 18, 2012

So the route is called Mercy Drilling, but all holds are natural? Me confused.
By Jay Samuelson
From: Denver CO
Sep 19, 2012
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

Maybe because it's a bolted crack? And I'm glad they were there; I wouldn't lead this thing on gear but had a great time clipping bolts and enjoyed the safe crack climbing. I also didn't find a mono on the upper section, just the two finger pocket in the middle.
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Dec 5, 2015

Those monos are all over the place. Mark has earned more respect than to be accused of manufacturing holds by people who probably don't even know him. I've known him for decades, and if he says he did not drill that pocket, I have no doubt in that he didn't. Accusing someone like Mark, without sufficient evidence and whose route-development résumé speaks for itself, is bad form.

If this bolted route isn't your style, there's always RP or Not to Be, in Eldo. It's barely 12a, and you should have no probably getting your pucker factor on.
By Pinklebear
Dec 6, 2015

That pocket is natural, for sure. There are a lot of water pockets throughout Boulder Canyon that occur naturally, and this is one of them, at least from my experience climbing the route. You can tell because a natural pocket will still have a rough, crystalline texture.
By Jeff G.
From: Fort Collins
Aug 29, 2016
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

I led this on gear today, and the pro is actually very good. That being said, it was strenuous to place, and I had to top rope first to figure out some of the placements. It's a little finicky right before the crux. The crux itself is protected with a bomber small stopper. This route feels really cool as a trad line. PG-13 rating with the right gear beta.

I used lots of small cams from the tiniest gray C3 up to a #0.75 Camalot plus small to medium stoppers.

It would be awesome if the bolts weren't there, but oh well. I don't feel that strongly about it, and I certainly do not expect the bolts to get pulled because I rehearsed a gear ascent on top rope.

The pocket seems most definitely natural, and there are several other similar pockets on that face that aren't part of any route.