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The Maelstrom 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 140'
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Reed, Hill, Saure, 1983
Page Views: 3,919
Submitted By: slevin on Jan 1, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (7)
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Near the crux.

Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


The Maelstrom is one of the classic Front Range wide cracks as far as "line", quality, and effort to succeed are concerned, right up there with Crack of Fear and Peaches and Cream (Twin Owls), Road Warrior (Mt. Evans), The Obelisk (The Diamond), any number of routes at Vedauwoo, etc. I give it 3 stars, although some will argue a grunt-fest like this, by definition, cannot be awarded with such a distinction.

The Maelstrom lies on Poe Buttress, between Cynical Pinnacle/Block Tower and the Sunshine Wall. Approach as you would Cynical Pinnacle, but veer up and left below the big boulder jumble below the cliffs. Plan on 45 minutes. If you are at the Sunshine Wall, it can also be approached from there, but this is a bit longer. This route is closed Feb-July for birds. A good winter route. The climbing starts out a bit chimneyish to OW, and hence the gear for the first 50' is sporadic- a fixed sling somewhere low down may exist. Higher, the climbing gets harder, sustained heel-toe, with an arm-bar crux 3/4 of the way up. Since I have a habit of climbing wide cracks the wrong-side in, I will leave it up to you to determine if you want your right or left side covered in road-rash. Rap 140 feet from tatty fixed anchors (updated since with bolts & chains). Good route in the testpiece frame-of-mind.


Up to 6" or larger cams / Big Bros. Bring several. Long slings for those deeply-placed cams. High-top climbing shoes (protect those ankles) and long pants & shirt also help. Taping your hands is not required (no fist stacks...), but may be prudent. Two ropes off; 50m cords work.

Photos of The Maelstrom Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Down low on the route.
Down low on the route.

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By Olaf Mitchell
From: Paia, Maui, Hi,
Mar 26, 2007

When Steve Morris and I did the second assent of this crack I chimneyed for along way up the inside. I thought that I could squeeze out just past the crux.The crack proved to be just too tight so I had to slither back down and do the outside all the way. I did get for my efforts though, a good large piece that allowed me to run it out to the top with out putting in any more gear.
It was a fairly long runout but I was able to do the whole climb with only one piece. In the future I believe that I would do it that way again.
The Maelstrom is definantly one of, if not the most aesthetic crack lines in the Platte. It should be on every off width crack afectianerios, hit list.
By slim
Sep 22, 2009
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Olaf, when I did it I thought about tunneling up through, but I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get back outside without going all of the way back down under the chockstone, which wouuld have hosed me. Stellar route. The crux isn't super hard, but it is long and physical and slowly wears you down. Kind of like wrestling an alligator, but you might bleed more.
By Oliver Hill
May 17, 2010

I have fond memories of this route. Mostly of the great struggle and fight Maurice went thru without much gear. He was intending to climb Wisdom and Naked Edge the following day. He changed his mind! A very hard route to lead and a very easy one to follow. Maurice you are my hero, thanks for introducing me to Colorado climbing.

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