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West Ridge - part C - Pony Express to Long John
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Side Wall, The T 
Sister Morphine T,TR 
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Wind Tunnel T 
Zeros and Ones T 

Sister Morphine 

YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 16 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Harrison & Brooks - 1981
Fixed Hardware: 2 Anchor Bolts [details]
Page Views: 4,088
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jan 9, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (179)
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BETA PHOTO: Routes on the right side of the Pony Express area....

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  • Description 

    This is in the Pony Express area. When facing Mesca-Line, this route is immediately right of the dihedral that is just right of Mesca-Line (the dihedral is Dandi-Line). It follows a thin crack with some grass sticking out of it (but the climb is very clean) to a tree.

    Begin by ascending the ledge system to a pedestal. Climb the pedestal either on the left, right, or up the face of it. I found that the left is not good due to rope drag problems and the right is much better, but you have to navigate around a tree. Going up the face (which I did) was by far more fun, but it is unprotected. Once atop the pedestal, step to the face and climb the thin crack to the summit. I didn't find a discernable crux, and it felt easier than some other 9s on the West Ridge. It is a very enjoyable climb.


    The pro looks sparse from the ground but you can sew it up. Bring a set of stoppers and mostly small stuff.

    Photos of Sister Morphine Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Gene Ellis cruising up Sister Morphine.
    Gene Ellis cruising up Sister Morphine.

    Comments on Sister Morphine Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 28, 2014
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Nov 10, 2002
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    This is a very nice route with great gear. It is also very easy. I can think of a bunch of 8's that are harder. This would be a good first 5.9 lead. It is steep, but not strenuous, and the holds are very positive, with good gear at every move.

    Rather than scrambling to the base of the pillar, you can start directly below at a thin crack at about the same grade, 5.8 or 5.9.

    To get off with a 60m rope, you can climb left, up, and down to the bolts on Mescaline. Put in gear so the rope doesn't rub on the small trees. Make sure your belayer is tied in (!) and lower off. You might not make it to the ground. As your belayer starts climbing up, you can downclimb the last few feet.
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 11, 2002
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I was able to protect the move off the pillar with a brass nut and a Lowe Ball nut; I wouldn't call it great gear. The pro on the rest of the climb is OK, and the climbing is better than it looks from the ground.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Nov 11, 2002
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    There's nothing wrong with the bigger brass nuts. I'd trust a good brass nut better than a fixed pin or an old bolt for example.
    By Shane Zentner
    From: Colorado
    Jan 28, 2003

    Sister Morphine is short and sweet. Small gear is all one needs to protect it. Positive holds, steep, and fun. Look for small gear placements to protect the step from the pedestal onto the face. My belayer and I scrambled to the bolt anchors on Mesca Line and rapped down.
    By Art Veenendaal
    Mar 9, 2003

    Ivan - it's hard to believe that you consider this climb vey easy...even easier than 5.8? The crux of the cilmb is clearly soon after leaving the pedestal and it comes with tenuous moves with thin feet. Sure it's only one move to a money hold, but it's a relative "hard one" (thus 5.9), and you know it only takes one move to throw you off! The rest of the climb is easy.
    By David Hous
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Jan 10, 2004
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I'd have to call this 5.8 as well. The area was crowded today so we left a sling and rings on the small tree at the top.
    By Jason Shatek
    Mar 7, 2005
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Led this one yesterday. I thought this one was more like 5.8. It was pretty easy with good gear. The crux comes right off the pedistal with adequate protection the whole way. FYI, bring bigger gear to protect before getting on top of the pedistal. I made the mistake of leaving my big gear in my bag. I had to run this section out but the climbing is very easy.
    By Edward Jenner
    Apr 17, 2005
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    1-2 starts, devinitely worth doing - I had a lot of fun and would definitely consider this for a warmup in the area, perhaps over Mesca Line which I find somewhat tricky for a 7.

    The climbing is easy and postitive as you go higher, but gear is perhaps non-trivial for a budding 8 leader (who should be able to cope with this no problem) with soe questionable rock (nothing unusual for Eldo).

    By Matt Richardson
    From: Longmont, CO
    Apr 28, 2008
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    This must play to Ivan's strengths. Yeah, the 9 section is probably about 10' on a 80-90' route, but it's still 9. I'd be hard pressed to find an 8 easier. And I think that Ron is spot on regarding his assessment of the gear - the crux protects well, but I would by no means suggest that you can sew this route up (the guy that led this before me also said you can sew this up, but had only about 4 pieces for the whole route; I used a similar number of pieces, but felt comfortable). The whole discussion about the grade just seems to echo Crusher's comment on Positively Fourth Street - people just differ in their climbing strengths.
    By Adub
    Dec 7, 2008

    Great route!
    Knocked down some loose pebble at the top by the anchors. Belayer beware.
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    Mar 18, 2009
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Interesting, Dave. I didn't see a rap anchor for Sister Morphine in any recent FHRC applications. I wonder if this anchor was officially approved by the park. I don't think Eldorado Canyon State Park would approve cutting down a tree either...
    By jcntrl
    From: Smoulder, CO
    Jun 26, 2009
    rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

    Whether or not the anchor was "legally" installed, it is good to have it there. The tree that is at the top of SM isn't going to last forever, especially if people are consistently using it to rap/anchor off of. Granted, the anchors for Mesca-Line are in a good place and not inconvenient to scramble to from here, nevertheless this does allow more options.

    I thought the crux moves were a bit hard for an 8, but relatively easy for a 9, so I vote 9-. Small gear, but small falls if you take the opportunities to protect. Committing, rewarding moves throughout the climb. I enjoyed it and will climb it again.
    By Cale Farnham
    Sep 7, 2009

    I felt this was a decent starter route in and around the Pony Express area! Super clean and great moves up the seam!! Great views!!
    By AOSR
    From: Wherever we park!
    Mar 26, 2011
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Good warm up for Pony Express or Iron Horse. Definitely not a 9 by Eldo standards. If only it were a bit longer, I think it would get an additional star.
    By William Thiry
    From: Lakewood, CO
    Sep 28, 2014
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    The 5.8 opinions here could be misleading, because two moves above the pillar are definitely 5.9. The rest of the climb is 5.8 or easier.

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