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Ridge 2 aka Satan's Slab
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Satan's Slab 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R

Type:  Trad, 8 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R [details]
FA: Layton Kor and Pat Ament, 1963
Page Views: 7,978
Submitted By: George Bell on Oct 7, 2001

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Sunrise on Satan's Slab and Stairway to Heaven as ...

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  • Description 

    This is the longest climb in Skunk Canyon and took us 8 full pitches with a 60m rope. It is a bit runout in places, but mostly where the climbing is easier. It is not as serious or unprotected as the East Face route (called Purgatory on this site).

    You can begin in two ways. Best: start a few feet above the lowest point of the rock, which is just where the gully between Ridges 1 & 2 hits Skunk Creek, or about 100' farther up Skunk Creek. Getting to the farther start involves complex bush whacking and going around a large boulder. In either case you are heading for a belay under the left side of a huge, obvious roof 200' up.

    P1: From the lowest point, head left and up a slab (tricky moves near the start, then easy but unprotected), stretch a 60m rope to a belay 10' under the roof, on the left side. If using the higher start, climb a slab past a tiny tree to the same belay at only 50m or less.

    P2: Head up towards the left side of the roof. Clip 2 pitons (neither looks great, you can back them up with a cam) and crank over the left side of the roof. There is maybe one 5.8 move (well protected). Head up and left until an undercling crack leads back right to the ridge crest (5.7 tricky). Run up an easy (5.4) but unprotected slab to a belay to the left of a small roof with good pro and a nice pod to sit in. The higher and larger roof 30 feet higher has poor pro and is not as good a belay.

    P3: Head up to the left of the next big roof. This involves 5.7 friction climbing with sparse pro and requires careful routefinding. The rest of the route is now easier. Continue up the easy face for a full 200' and belay on a spacious ledge with a fixed piton (left side of main arete.

    P4: From the ledge, move right back onto the main arete and climb easy face and climb 190', belaying on a flat spot just past a bulge with a large horizontal crack (5.6 moves). Good pro on this pitch.

    P5: Continue up and right on easy ground, heading for a seam. Look for a small bush and belay just past it using good cracks. You will not be summitting the subsidiary tower - pass it on the east face. 5.5, 190'.

    P6: Climb almost straight horizontally, heading for a large tree in a major break in the rock. There is one tricky step down (5.7) move. That gets you to the gully with the large tree. Easily go up the gully until you run out of rope.

    P7: Optionally unrope. Walk north, in and around some large boulders. Head for the east face of the summit tower. Set up a belay on a nice huge flat boulder with easy access to the east face.

    P8-9. Easily climb to the summit with decent pro. Two pitches of 5.5 or simuclimb in one 300' pitch.

    Alternate finish: the last two pitches can also be done more directly via a cool crack 50' west of the crest. The crux is about 50' up, climbing a black face which leads to the start of this crack (5.8+ s).

    You can bypass the summit pitches by scrambling down the gully heading west from the giant boulder to a 50' dropoff, where there is a sling for a short rappel.

    To descend from the summit, climb down into a chimney to the west, and exit on a ledge which leads north to hiking terrain.


    Standard rack to 3".

    Photos of Satan's Slab Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo:
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the the crux roof.
    Looking up the the crux roof.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The last pitch.
    The last pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Our third belay.  Comfy!
    Our third belay. Comfy!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the second pitch.
    Looking down the second pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Our 4th pitch....
    Our 4th pitch....
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down our 3rd pitch.
    Looking down our 3rd pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb negotiates the crux Overhang of the clas...
    Tony Bubb negotiates the crux Overhang of the clas...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Moore at the crux of Pitch 7 (hard variation)...
    Andy Moore at the crux of Pitch 7 (hard variation)...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Moore climbing the bulbous tower mentioned in...
    Andy Moore climbing the bulbous tower mentioned in...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fun slabbing at the top of Pitch 4.  The end of St...
    Fun slabbing at the top of Pitch 4. The end of St...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Moore leads pitch 3.  Get lots of gear in her...
    Andy Moore leads pitch 3. Get lots of gear in her...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Moore on the tricky moves of Pitch 1.  Above ...
    Andy Moore on the tricky moves of Pitch 1. Above ...

    Comments on Satan's Slab Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 4, 2013
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Dec 6, 2001

    To get off the ridge from the vicinity of the house-sized boulder, sneak west through the gap just north of this giant boulder. Climb down an easy gully to a drop-off, then do a 40' rap over this drop-off to reach the gully between Satan's Slab and Angel's Way. You can scramble down (or up) this gully.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 11, 2002

    This is a really cool route, it has clean rock an almost mystic atmosphere and feels like mountaineering towards the top of the ridge. I descended a chimney to the West near the top of the 6th pitch, it involved 1 rap and some easy down climbing...........
    By Anonymous Coward
    Sep 15, 2002

    Rossiter's description is a little off. He says to climb this in 4-5 took us 6 to reach a gully that we descended to the east. Downclimb to a tree with rap rings, be careful on the downclimb a fall would be very nasty. There are 3 raps off of the east gully until you get to solid ground between Ridge One and Two.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Feb 25, 2003

    A few comments based on further experience with this rock: (1) Generally closed Feb 1-July 31. (2) With the high start, pitch 1 is quite short, 100' at most, and follows a crack with a tree about 20' up it. (3) Be careful where you belay at the top of p. 2, there are really only 2 places where you can get more than one piece in (lower one is better). (4) Better protected than the east face route (called Purgatory on this site), but still expect 20-50' runouts on 5.5. (5) The last pitch done the easiest way is also very runout, but only 5.4 or so.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 12, 2004

    I feel that neither Roach nor Rossiter describe the route that we naturally contoured to, but it is the one in this picture. It is my least favorite Flatiron route and the most runout. With a 50m rope, we had to simulclimb about 30 feet at around 5.6 on friction. Better to just turn around and explore more of the terrific backside of Stairway.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 13, 2004

    Interesting to read all these comments on Flatiron routes, thanks for the feedback. Your experience here sounds more like mine on the East Face route (called Purgatory on this site). The main problem I've had with this route is it falls within the bird closure, once I hiked all the way in just to read the sign.
    By shad O'Neel
    Oct 31, 2004
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I found the crux to be different than described here, more where Rossiter shows 8+ on his topo, that is just after you haul yourself over the first roof. I think I traversed at back right at the appropriate time, there was a small undercling like crack, but for me this was tricky and balancy. If I were an inch taller, or had longer arms, this may have been trivial, but I was way above my last piece thinking, damn, don't fall! The rest of the route is great, spicy enough to keep you on your toes, and just keeps going and going......
    By XOG
    Nov 14, 2005

    I agree with the comment by Shad; the trickiest move is 10' after you pull around the roof, and the pro is lacking at that point. I remember that either a pink or red tri-cam came in handy there.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Aug 28, 2006
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

    Made for 60m or 70m ropes. The best belays are more than 50m apart. Great rock and great position though. A favorite.
    By Joshua Merriam
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 21, 2008

    Somewhere up near the top of this outing we encountered a 20ft tall, 40ft wide boulder with a completely isolated top. The back corner came within ~5ft of the main wall, with a Do-or-die gap jump between you and it. We called this "Satan's Leap" and thought it added to the adventure significantly.
    By Guy H.
    From: Fort Collins CO
    Nov 22, 2008
    rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c R

    I second the 70m beta. We stretched the rope a number of times with a 70m and still belayed 10 pitches. The upper pitches could be simul-climbed by a strong party, though.

    Great position in the canyon....
    By Aaron Martinuzzi
    Aug 8, 2009
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

    Climbed this today and followed what we thought was a pretty natural line up the ridge from the lowest point of the slab, but there wasn't a roof-pull or a right-angling crack, just loads and loads of awesome friction. A couple arbitrary variations along the ridge made for some fun 5.8ish boulder problems along the way. Belayed 6 pitches, some with simuling, on a 70m rope, and estimate about 1400 ft of climbing, including the house-sized boulder belay-moving section. Great route, even with us getting off route a bit.
    By jcntrl
    From: Smoulder, CO
    Sep 4, 2009
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

    Climbed Satan's Slab today; finally got to finish the route!

    Beware of Poison Ivy, it is present on the approach and damn near everywhere on the descent.

    Freesoloed the first pitch, then climbed six more with a 70m rope--stretching to its full length a few times. Got some "style points" for the P2 crux: bomber handjam, then swung my feet off and around for a one-point-of-contact swing into a kneebar to pull the move. That was a fun way to do it, although I admit it was not how I had originally intended to. hehe.

    The rest of the route is pretty easy, just keep your wits about you as it is common to go 10m or more with no gear on easy but slabby terrain. Routefinding is straightforward--just go up and follow the gear! Protect where you can, we did a few 70m pitches with just 2-4 pieces in....

    Bring your bushwhackin' knickers.
    By Nic Harnish
    From: Durango, CO
    Sep 18, 2011

    Just climbed this thing. Thought it was worth it but probably won't do it again. Pulling around and getting to the top of the first two roofs are the hardest moves. We simuled everything else. I read that lots of people are rapping off the top to get down. This is unnecessary. Descend down the left side of the chimney that splits the large summit boulder and the ridge proper and scramble down the gully climber's left of the ridge you just climbed.

    On a different note, does anyone know what those short sport/trad routes are towards the end of the descent back to Skunk Creek? They look very hard (some holds looked chipped)? Just curious.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Sep 19, 2011
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

    I can't say specfically whaich routes you refer to, but the descent down there goes back down the back side of what is known as "Ridge 2" in Skunk Canyon, and that is covered in the several Flatirons guides. I imagine a quick look there will help you ID what you were looking for. If on the other hand you are referring to just before hitting the creek and having already left the Ridge 2 rock, you'd be at the base of Ridge 1, near The Guardian, with Armed Forces way up above that. I don't recall anything being chipped there though.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 19, 2011

    Nic, if you went down the gully W of Satan's Slab those climbs may be "Doric Dihedral" and "Beware the Future" which are listed under the rock Satan's Slab. The Guardian is possible too, but I always have trouble seeing the bolts on that route from the creek.
    By Nic Harnish
    From: Durango, CO
    Sep 26, 2011

    By Tim Fleming
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 13, 2012
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R

    Climbed this for the third time and still enjoy it. But it has been years since I've been on this route and the description could use a few extra points:

    Approach for this climb:
    Once you leave the Mesa trail, look for the cairns that keep you in the creek bed and to the left side about halfway through. The path is pretty good if you stay on it up to the climb. Minimal bushwacking.

    Pitch 5: I did not see any bush (it may or may not be there) and was confused with the belay location. The most obvious route goes up the face and stays near the arete until it levels out and belay at a big ledge with huecos on the wall.

    Pitch 6: When you leave the belay, stay on the lower crack that steps out onto the face. Don't climb the large crack above the belay stance. The 5.7 step down into the gully (the second gully traversed) by the big tree actually steps onto a block that is about 30 feet above the tree. Don't descend towards the tree as it seems to suggest in the description. After you step onto that block, the route continues up the ramp and belays at a ledge at the top and right of the ramp.

    Pitch 7 & 8: Walk right around the large boulder from the belay, then down, and up to the right to the south side of the final slab ridge. This large ledge with flat broken rocks is the belay. The standard finish (5.5) climbs a crack angling up and right on this southern wall and steps onto the face. The most obvious belay is after a good crack on the middle of the face that angles right and connects to the large gash through the center of the face where there's a stance and good pro.

    Pitch 9: Don't bother with the last extra 15 feet of climbing to the true summit, after climbing 1400 ft., it's not worth it. The chimney and ledge descent is fun.
    By fossana
    From: leeds, ut
    Nov 18, 2012

    I soloed the upper section from the Omen. The bush on P5 is there, though more accurately described as a diminutive fir tree, which lies fairly flat against the rock. It's right on the arete.

    Also, not sure why you would skip the summit when you've covered that much ground and it really doesn't take that much extra time.
    By Cornelius Jefferson
    Sep 4, 2013
    rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

    Just climbed this was one of the first routes I did way back in '91 when I was just learning. I had a cool mentor. Been up it a few times since, and it always gets me smiling. Well worth the effort.

    With a 70m, you can easily fire the first couple of pitches as one nice long one. Just start around the corner above the canyon choke on a nice platform with no ivy. Slab it on up to the left side of the roof (low angle but unprotected). The roof is a one move wonder, feels easier than 5.8 for me at 6'. You can stem out left and toss for a great flake. Some museum-quality fixed gear right at this move, easily backed up with a large stopper. The nice scoop above this takes a micro unit, probably a black Alien or smallest mastercam. 5.7 and quality rock gets you to the lower angle slab.

    The rest of the route is runout but reasonable, this thing actually does take good gear more often than not. You probably won't need to stop and place it though as the climbing is moderate and rock quality is excellent.

    The 'hard' variation to the final pitch is pretty fun, more direct, and casual (if a bit runout) at around 5.7. The crack you follow (you're actually face climbing to the left of it) is easily located from the giant blocks in the cool notch at the top of the ridge.

    Stellar adventure route, what amazing position. Almost feels like wilderness until you look east and realize you can see your house.

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