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South Face Direct 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a C3+

Type:  Trad, Aid, 5 pitches, 400', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a A4 [details]
FA: Mike Dudley, Art Howells, Don Doucette - May 1971
Season: fall - spring
Page Views: 2,239
Submitted By: Airbiscuit on Mar 29, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: The South Face.

6/25-6/26/16 Otto's Route, vicinity, and rap will be closed! MORE INFO >>>


This is the aid climb directly in the middle of the South Face of Independence Monument. Locate the start right of the Independence Chimney at two boulders that appear to have blue horizontal stripes on them. Maybe the original Independence test piece (done in 1971). It was still way spicy when we did it back in 2000. I have heard that it has gone clean since then, once by a soloist a few years before we got on her. And again by another solo fellow around 2003 - 2004. For obvious reasons this climb has seen a limited number of ascents, probably less than twenty. I have personally seen a French dude take a "HUGE" whipper from high on the mud band pitch. He escaped unscathed and it appeared, went on to finish the route. I whipped on pitch three trying to free the slabby pockets that link the corners. Things up here are generally pretty poor as far as the stone goes. Another observation is that the piton scars get a lot smaller as you get higher (lots of suitors for the first few pitches but not so many near to the top).

We nailed only near the ground on pitch one (one toucan as I recall) and throughout the crux on pitch four which involved a fair amount of nailing including a few pieces of ice gear, pounded directly into the mud filled cracks. Pretty sporty in general, the last pitch throws a few swings at you too.

It should be of note that the Monument has adopted a current policy of banning the use of pitons in the park.


Park at Lower Monument Trail head and hike for an hour. Descend Otto's Route (better with two ropes).


All anchors have at least one 3/8" bolt, some have two. Bring a full standard aid rack maybe singles from a #4 Camalot on down with extra hands, thin hands, micro TCUs, clean aid gear, nuts, RPs, a hammer (in case any of the fixed angles blow), the top requires a natural belay.

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By Jesse Zacher
From: Grand Junction, Co
Apr 19, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C3+ R

Mike Zeek and I did this over April 18th and the 19th. You would have to be pretty fast and start early and end late to do it in a day as most of the pitches are difficult. We did it all clean, and it probably is C3ish. Aside from the mudband pitch, there is decent rock, great exposure, and fun climbin'. Tricams seem to be the essential piece. We had the new smaller two sizes and they worked like a charm. Two large hooks make the crux pitch easier. I wonder how many more ascents before the last pitch will be so blown out it will be really difficult to climb. Doubles from #0.5 to #2 Camalot, Singles of #3, 4. We had two Hybrid Aliens in the yellow/green and yellow/red size and helped out a bit. All the anchors are in decent condition. I wonder who was the last person to do it before us?

By Jesse Zacher
From: Grand Junction, Co
Apr 19, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C3+ R

Definitely longer than 400 feet....
By tim
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 11, 2014

Good route, I've done it 2 years in a row with Chris Erickson. Anchors all still bomber. Last pitch will probably need bolt or drilled angle placed, since we blew out a crucial "fixed" piece. Wouldn't want to go without a couple beaks and LAs either. You will not wait in line for this route!

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