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Sublime Buttress 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c R

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c R [details]
FA: Brent Armstrong, Ryan Jennings
Page Views: 6,323
Submitted By: Ryan Jennings on May 1, 2002

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The first ascent, first attempt. Good times.

Seasonal Closures MORE INFO >>>


Brent and I began establishing this route ground up in the winter of 1998. We aided the second pitch and were forced off the wall after 5 pitches, due to a blizzard during the night spent in our portaledge. I later rapped the headwall at the top to scope a line and clean off some loose blocks (I did not place any bolts on rap as stated in the 2003 AAJ, this was placed on lead). Eventually in May of 2002 Brent and I returned to free the entire climb. Parts of the climb are shared with variations of the Dalke Route.

The journey begins to the left of an overhang/cave with a slab above it at the lowest point of the Main buttress of Cathedral Wall. Here can be found a small tree against the wall which marks the starting point.

Pitch 1. Pull a difficult move behind the small tree to gain access to the slab. Traverse right and head up to a tree in the middle of the slab (the pitches only real pro). From the tree, head up and slightly left to the base of an overhanging crack system that splits the wall to roof above. Belay in slab just below the crack (5.6R).

Pitch 2. Jump onto the crack system and get ready for a pump. Awesome climbing pulling the lip. Don't mistake this pitch for the overhanging corner system to the right. This pitch goes straight out the middle of the roof to another tree above (5.11).

Pitch 3. Start up the wall to climbers RIGHT of the tree. Meander straight up and gradually slightly left following any protection possibilities you can (5.8R). Eventually you will end 60m out at a bolt below a white roof.

Pitch 4. Head straight up into the white roof and climb out it's left side and up a crack system to the top of a small pillar right on the prow of the buttress (5.8+).

Pitch 5. Avoid the temtation to head right onto easy terrain. Instead, go directly left 5-10 feet and then straight up (no pro) eventually gaining a ramp system that takes you left. When the ramp levels off and cuts across the entire wall, traverse left under the small roof it forms then surmount it, and climb into the headwall. Follow a non-descript crack into the middle of the wall. At its end, just as things get steep, you're forced to climb out right and up to the big ledge. Fight the rope drag to the back of the ledge and a bolt (5.9).

Pitch 6. Climb onto the upper wall over or around a couple hanging blocks to access a left-leaning ramp, heading towards a large roof above. At the top of the ramp, lieback out the left side of the large roof to gain the main headwall. Above the roof, travel up right then straight up over a flake and up more until a hand traverse ledge takes you right, to a bolt and the belay (5.10+).

Pitch 7. Now that you've gained the best view in RMNP (other than the Diamond), get ready for some fun. Go straight up through a crux section then left to a large flake system that takes you back right to a final, left-leaning, overhanging, hand crack that finishes off the climb (5.10).



Standard free rack with extra TCUs, micronuts, and a couple Lowe balls are useful. Bring a 60m rope.

Photos of Sublime Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2 on first attempt.  Before the snow storm. ...
Pitch 2 on first attempt. Before the snow storm. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo - our thoughts on the route.
Topo - our thoughts on the route.
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo originally submitted by DavidB on Main Cathe...
BETA PHOTO: Photo originally submitted by DavidB on Main Cathe...
Rock Climbing Photo: The line.
The line.

Comments on Sublime Buttress Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 20, 2017
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Dec 26, 2004
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

This route is one of the BEST routes Ive done in the park. The buttress is huge and steep, the pitches are interesting and zesty, and the belays are's really one of the longest routes around, at about 1000'. These boys really found a gem, and it was done in great style. The 5th or so pitch that busts out right onto nebulous and steep 5.10 with no gear, is one of the raddest in RMNP.Watch out for the crux 2nd pitch though, Its sick hard. On our first attempt, I climbed the corner to right that Ryan describes. After we realized our mistake, we went straight back there and Jason Seaver flashed the real crux.
By Nate A
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 9, 2005
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Pitch 6: Lieback up a left facing flake, right off the belay, heading towards a large roof directly above. Climb up to the roof and out the left side, then angle right, following discontinous cracks, to the small ledge with a bolt. 110', 5.10+ R/X, with some dubious rock quality. Don't go out the right side of the roof. My partner attempted this, after much deliberation over Ryan's route description for this pitch, and found extremely bad rock, no gear and difficult climbing. Overall, good route, bold effort by Ryan and Brent (especially since this was primarily put up in winter), but be prepared for big runouts and some marginal rock near the top.
By Ryan Jennings
Aug 10, 2005

Sorry! Should have been more specific about heading out the left of the roof. This pitch protects a little better with a set of Lowe Balls (or at least they let me think it was safer!). Thought the second pitch was 11a huh?
By Adrian Weaver
From: Buena Vista Co
Jul 5, 2010
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Awesome route! It actually goes through the middle of the red head wall for the last 2 pitches, which were the best pitches on the route. Other routes on the wall avoid this section which is the most striking on the cliff. For me pitch 2 was rather strenuous and felt a little harder than 11a. Ryan's description of the route was great and we were able to follow it perfectly using only this description... much easier route finding then other routes on the wall.
By blakeherrington
Aug 19, 2010
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

What a great route! I added some other beta we found useful, plus a ton of photos visible here.
By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Aug 20, 2010

I'm pretty sure I ended up on what is now pitch 5 of this route years ago, lost after starting on one of the older routes. I recall the poor rock and runout business, with only a 2-wheeler cam in 40 or 50'. Despite being temptingly close to what looked like easier terrain, I reversed the pitch and we rapped. Even the rappel was exciting as the main rappel block began to shift during the rappel. It good to know that the pitch I backed off of was 10+ R/X as it seemed sort of hard to me.
By Drew McWilson
May 2, 2011
By eric whewell
From: Longmont, CO
Jun 27, 2012
rating: 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a R

Great climb. The crux is much more difficult than any of the other climbing on the route. There are some serious runouts on this in the 5.8-10a range with some slightly friable rock in places. Didn't bring or feel the need for Lowe Balls on this. Standard free rack otherwise, with RPs and extra small cams. There was one fixed wire in the crux as of July 2011.
By Mark Ferguson
Jun 29, 2015
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a R

A few comments:
Pitch 2 is a harsh warm-up (p1 is super casual), and I feel 11c is right on. The gear is good but can be pumpy to place due to the overhanging nature and irregularities in the crack. No fixed wire.

Pitch 6 has a 10- runout after the layback that my partner was able to reasonably protect with a micro BD offset and a purple c3, awesome pitch.

Pitch 7, the final pitch, has bad rock quality, I broke a number of holds and there are blocks just waiting to go. It is a bit unnerving and very steep, save a #2 and 3 Camalot for the final section.

Overall a great route, but there is a bit of loose rock and friable holds, so be careful. Following the 6th pitch I broke a foothold and with rope stretch almost hit the ledge.

The runouts are very manageable and mostly on easy terrain. Enjoy.
By Noah McKelvin
From: Colorado Springs
Jul 12, 2015
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a R

I really think this is one of the cooler routes in RMNP. So varied, great belays, steep, and great exposure. Like others previously stated, p1 is hardly a warm-up for p2. So get ready for a flash pump. Pitch 6 was definitely the rope management and maybe mental crux of the route but also the best pitch on the route I thought. So good! The last pitch was so much fun as well.

I found brass offsets were way better than RPs. Using them multiple times, including protecting the 10a R runout near the top. Loweballs are not really necessary. One #3 was nice. Bring lots of alpine draws as the route wanders.
By Abel Jones
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 27, 2016

I suggest taking two ropes and cord and bail biners to make the raps. The party ahead of us casually rapped while we did the nerve wracking, choss hike off the back side. We eventually found a gully that was marked by a bail sling which we didn't use since it was extremely weathered. We were able to hike around the start of that gully to the side opposite the bail sling and downclimb into it. It is a good marker for an okay way down.
By John Carney
Jun 20, 2017

This is an awesome route! I concur with the comments already made and except for the fact I was following the pitches I would agree that is is a bold and intricate lead and a fantastic line through the face. The last two pitches in particular are worth the detour, shame that the hardest climbing is on the warm-up pitch two as it takes a while to get into the style of the climbing, and P2 is definitely a wake up call for both technique and forearms. The 'easier' pitches are pure pleasure, but as always, it is a cerebral route to navigate, protect, and manage drag. We also experienced very strong gusts of wind that buffeted us while climbing, but this rather accentuated the awesome position and exposure of the route. I particularly enjoyed the frequent traverses into the steepest terrain, the hand traverse L on P5 over the small roof and the traverses on the final two pitches were spectacular. Thanks for pioneering this excellent and memorable climb, and in winter at that!

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