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River Wall II
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Arresting Arete S 
Big, Big Gunky Man T,S 
Big, Big, Monkey Man T 
Box, The T,TR 
Brother From Another Planet S 
Dihedral [River Wall] aka Shades of Murky Depths S 
Escape from Alcatraz S,TR 
Introducing Meteor Dad S 
Le Diamant E'ternal S 
Livewire T,S 
Neurosurgeon T 
New Horizon S 
Pocket Hercules T 
Redneck Hero S 
Surround Sound  S 


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

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 70'
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a R [details]
FA: Mark Wilford and Steve Mammen, 1985
Page Views: 3,872
Submitted By: Jesse Ryan on Oct 20, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (22)
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Climber on Neurosurgeon.

CLOSED for 2014 MORE INFO >>>


Neurosurgeon climbs the stellar fingercrack on the far right side of the 'central' River Wall (after the bouldering approach in from right), just right of the steep 'slab' Le Diamant E'ternal. The only reason this climb doesn't receive three stars in my book is the scary finishing options. One must either climb difficult to protect direct 5.11 PG/R finish or move right around the arete as the crack fades in and out and finish on loose scary 5.9 R climbing. The lower portion of the climb, the meat of it, is beautiful and can be worth the scare above, or better yet TR the line.

Start with stellar fingerlocks. Just before the roof the crack widens to off-fingers and thin hands (cruxy). Polish off the roof above and climb several body lengths of pumpy crack. Good footwork here will make all the difference. On the lead one must choose here as the crack fades in and out to climb right to the arete and up (5.9 R) or directly up the 5.11 (PG/R) finish. A TR will follow the 5.11 finish.


A rack heavy on small medium gear up to 2.5 inches, and a double sets of TCUs or Aliens are useful. You can use the anchor to the left atop of Le Diamant E'ternal (LDE). It is possible to toprope via these anchors with some well-placed directional gear.

Photos of Neurosurgeon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Neurosurgeon, 12b.
Neurosurgeon, 12b.
Rock Climbing Photo: Resting after the crux on Neurosurgeon.
Resting after the crux on Neurosurgeon.

Comments on Neurosurgeon Add Comment
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By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Apr 5, 2002

Be careful if you lead this one. One climber I know nearly paid the ultimate price for this climb. Belay diligently, place good pro, & climb carefully. You want to gain from the experiences of others.
By Malcolm Daly
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 16, 2003

Mark Wilford discovered this crag in the mid-eighties when Jeff Lowe's company, Latok, was located downstream in Lyons. Four of us (Jeff, Mark, Steve Mammen, and I) went up one afternoon to climb here, and we all epic'd. Mark and Steve took the thin crack line of what is now called Pocket Hercules, so Jeff and I got the Neurosurgeon line. I got the lead and put the line up to just over the roof where I pumped out and fell. We were climbing under the "3 strikes" rule, so after a couple more falls, I lowered off and Jeff got the lead. He pulled through the roof and was in the rest stance above when we watched Mark and Steve have the most hilarious epic I've ever witnessed over on what was to become Pocket Hercules. We were laughing so hard and Mark was so wet, we all bagged it and went into town for beers.

The next day I told Piana about the epic, the crag, and the lines, and by the time we went back, he had bagged the FAs on both lines.

To read the epic, go to the Pocket Hercules comments. Malcolm
By half-pad-mini-jug
From: crauschville
Mar 30, 2010

Such an amazing line! One of the best 12a's in Colorado!
By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Jan 8, 2015

Nice story and historical contribution, Malcolm.
By Mark Rolofson
Jun 27, 2017
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R

According to a old Mountain magazine, Mark Wilford led the first ascent of this route calling it 5.12. My understanding is that he did the 5.9 indirect finish (that traverses right where the crack ends & climbs face on the right side of the arete). Paul Piana was the first to lead the climb with its scary direct finish up the face. Paul told me this in a conversation, this is scary 5.11 R/X face climbing with very little pro. It is not PG/R.

I climbed the route numerous times between 1986 & 1992. I have always done the indirect 5.9 R finish, often with double ropes. Having two ropes helps because there is a lot of rope drag once you turn the arete. The finish is 5.9 & easier with a few places for good pro. The indirect finish is what detracts from this climb, but don't let it scare you. If you can lead the beautiful, .12a, thin crack & make the 5.11 traverse to the arete, the finish is casual & has much more good pro than the 5.11 direct finish. I have only top-roped the 5.11 R/X direct finish. It seemed pretty hard, & I saw very little places for pro.

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