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The Big Dipper 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Chris Alber, 1998
Page Views: 4,360
Submitted By: Peter Franzen on Jan 1, 2001

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James casually warming up on Big Dipper.

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  • Description 

    This quality climb is a good introduction to the steep routes on the Clock Tower's imposing roof. It starts a few feet to the right of the large tree that greets you as soon as you get to the base of the wall by coming up the trail. Ignore the tree placement in Rolofson's new guidebook, as he has it too far to the right. Anyways, the route climbs well-protected 5.11 moves through a small roof before topping out on a slab. Find the handy no-hands rest after pulling the roof and chalk up well so you don't grease off the slab moves.


    9 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor. Quickdraws are all you need.

    Photos of The Big Dipper Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fun jug haul.
    Fun jug haul.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Big jugs, fun climbing. Picture by Ingrid Nelson.
    Big jugs, fun climbing. Picture by Ingrid Nelson.

    Comments on The Big Dipper Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 1, 2017
    By Jeff Lockyer
    From: Canmore, AB
    Sep 25, 2001

    An enjoyable route, although it doesn't look very promising from the ground. The holds are large and the angle is steeper than it looks, if there was no bat shit all over the route, it would be much nicer, but a great line dispite all of this.
    By TBD
    May 14, 2002

    Great route, very fun. Seemed easier than graded for those who are pushing their limits.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Aug 8, 2002

    A beautiful climb! The bat shit, I feel, does not detract from the route at all since it has become park of the rock --- like a black glue. A great workout for more difficult 5.11's.
    By Anonymous Coward
    May 7, 2004

    Easier than Tagger, Outer Space, Grandmother's Challenge, etc.
    By nick spoog
    Jul 20, 2004

    I've been on routes graded mid-5.10 that are harder than Tagger, Outer Space, and Grandmother's Challenge. So, that makes Tagger, Outer Space and Grandmother's Challenge 10- or perhaps 5.9, which means Big Dipper is 5.9 or 5.8 (this is clearly nonsense)..........

    The point: it's difficult to compare trad grades to sport grades. Furthermore, it's hard to compare grades from one climbing area with grades of another climbing area. How about we compare the grade for a climb in one are with other climbs in the SAME area. (i.e., compare Big Dipper to other climbs in Boulder Canyon). The result of within-climbing area grade comparison will of course be that some areas will have a reputation as soft and others as sandbagged.... but who cares.......
    By nick spoog
    Jul 21, 2004

    Yes, the old Spoog-ster does care, and anonymous coward appears to also care. This is good.

    The Spoog-ster cares about consistency in grading/quality ratings within a climbing area...not the actual grades themselves. We climbers should all care and make efforts to continue self-organizing ourselves for the benefit of our sport.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jul 21, 2004

    I totally agree with Nick. I am so sick of hearing how "That route would be 5.6 at the Gunks."And really, who does care if it's a, b, d,q, or f. Did you enjoy the climb or not? And besides, your not 20 years old anymore and the routes are probably harder than you remember! Good luck with your crusade.
    By ac
    Jul 21, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Might as well mention that most of this route could be led on good natural gear. So, it's overrated, overbolted....right on par for Bo Can.
    By Zach Allen
    Sep 1, 2005
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    A joke at .11a. Watch the z-clip crux.
    By Meredith DB
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 23, 2007
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    This climb is fun, and consistently easier than it looks.
    By keith story
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 2, 2009
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    One of my favorite climbs in the Sport Park. I typically stay in the 5.9-5.10 realm, but my brother took me up on this one and I loved it more than some 4-star climbs. A great route for anyone breaking into the 5.11s.
    By keith story
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 11, 2010
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Finally returned to this one and got to lead it! Whatever the grade, it's a great route. Some exciting exposed moves. Check it out if you're in the area.
    By Mark Rolofson
    Jul 19, 2015
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    Let's be real about the grade. Calling this .10a is just plain ridiculous. I have felt this climb could be rated .10d, & in areas where overhanging 5.10 is the norm, it probably would be. That said, I've watched many climbers struggle & hang going past 4th bolt up the short, left-facing crack corner. This lieback, fingerlock section is a real crux with overhanging moves leading up to it. There aren't many other continuously overhung 5.10 sport routes in Boulder Canyon. I have always felt that sticking to Big Dipper's original rating of 5.11a was wise. If you rate it 5.10 or 5.10d, all the more climbers will get on it & flail. It is one of my favorite warm-ups at this crag.
    By Greg Miller
    Jul 23, 2015
    rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

    This can be safely led on gear with a SR and medium nuts, with extra #0.75/#1s.
    By Mark Rolofson
    Aug 1, 2017
    rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

    I have seen it led on gear. If that is how you get your kicks, then have fun. I can't imagine wanting to bother spending the time dicking around with the gear, when I can just cruise up it for a warm-up & not have to bring a rack. 99.99% of the ascents made of this route have used the bolts. I haven't heard any complaints.

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