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The Metamorphosis 

YDS: 5.10- French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Pat Ament, Gordy Ryan, 1967. FFA: Jim Erickson, Art Higbee, 1973
Fixed Hardware: 2 Lead Bolts, 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 10,110
Submitted By: Patrick Vernon on Jan 1, 2001

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  • Description 

    This is a total classic. Do either The Yellow Traverse or Diffraction to lead into this climb.

    The climb begins in a right-facing dihedral halfway up the south face of the Wind Tower. Place pro, then pull left out of this dihedral onto a face with some left-trending jugs, crank onto these jugs (poorly protected .8) and up to two bolts. From the bolts, begin a rightward, rising traverse on flakes and jugs. The crux comes at a pull past a small, A-shaped flake with little in the way of feet. This move is well-protected with a good stopper. Here's the scary part. After pulling the crux, move up and thirty feet right on good holds to one last move onto a left-trending ramp. This move is solid and insecure 5.9 with your last piece thirty feet below you. You can get a small stopper in at this move, yet it would barely hold your body weight. This route is steep, exposed, spicy, and a hell of a lot of fun.


    This route is pretty spicy; bring a selection of small cams and stoppers.

    Photos of The Metamorphosis Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Photo of the south face, with this route marked.
    Photo of the south face, with this route marked.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Joseffa deciphering the last of the harder moves o...
    Joseffa deciphering the last of the harder moves o...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Joseffa follows P1 of Metamorphosis, just below th...
    Joseffa follows P1 of Metamorphosis, just below th...
    Rock Climbing Photo: At the last move of the pitch.
    At the last move of the pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Wade starting the pitch.
    Wade starting the pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo:  Unknown climber in between the trees wearing oran...
    Unknown climber in between the trees wearing oran...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Orange climber 20 feet out from the belay.
    Orange climber 20 feet out from the belay.
    Rock Climbing Photo:  Climber stemming in orange.
    Climber stemming in orange.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the perplexing final 5.9+++ move. The ...
    Approaching the perplexing final 5.9+++ move. The ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pulling over the hang onto the runout 5.8 face.
    Pulling over the hang onto the runout 5.8 face.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The initial corner. I took this and the next few p...
    The initial corner. I took this and the next few p...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Just below the crux
    Just below the crux
    Rock Climbing Photo: Getting gear in the initial corner.
    Getting gear in the initial corner.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The Metamorphosis.
    BETA PHOTO: The Metamorphosis.

    Comments on The Metamorphosis Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 23, 2017
    By Patrick Vernon
    From: Estes Park, CO
    Jan 1, 2001

    From talking to other people, I think I may have screwed this pitch up, I believe I missed a cam placement after the crux. This would eliminate a 30ft runout and make it about a 10ft runout. I also meant to say "angle up and right" after the crux in the description. Whatever the case may be, be prepared for a relatively bold route, and a total classic. I don't often see people climbing on this wall, if you are up for these routes, they are among the best in Eldo.
    By Josh Janes
    General Admin
    Jun 12, 2002

    There's a good stopper in at the crux, then, about ten feet past the crux there is a hidden cam placement (0.75 or 0.5 Camalot). At the mantle near the top, there is a bomber nut placement (#4 or 5 BD wire?) up in the corner formed by the ledge you have to mantle onto and the wall.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 19, 2002

    This is an awesome route and if it were not for the funky approach it would get climbed everyday. The gear is all there but takes some looking around. I got some great ballnut placements that kept this route from ever getting very spicy. The fixed nut above the layback section was removed on 06/13/02. Do this route, it's great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    By Chris Dawson
    From: Denver, CO
    Dec 7, 2002

    This comment is about the "Urine Trouble" variation described by Steve above. I found the hardest moves to be getting established at the base of the corner, which are protected very well by a drilled pin and a cam. The runout above is pretty long but the climbing never exceeds 5.9 after the initial leftward traverse. Also there is some questionable rock near the top of the corner including a big loose hold, so be on guard. Great alternative ending to a kick ass pitch. Who added that drilled pin anyway? For a while there was an old shitty bolt there and now there's that pin. Almost takes some of the fun out of things.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    May 17, 2003

    Spectacular. More so in my opinion than climbs like Outer Space or Rosy Crucifixion.Gear: Bring lots of runners. I used 6 full length runners and needed more plus 11 draws. Big cams would be useful (didn't have them). #3 and #3 1/2 Camalot. Maybe even a #4. As of today, there was a fixed nut at the crux (downward pointing flake), but that's no big deal. It's easy to place. The second crux (final bulge) protects well with a big brass nut. It's easy to climb past the cam placements Josh mentions above without seeing them. If you're at the final bulge, step back down a move, and there's a crack down and right that takes about a .5-.75 Camalot and/or a big cam. I was freaked on the "5.8" exiting left out of the initial corner. Downclimbed, then back up and got in a bad ball nut, and an interesting sidways HB offset (#9? aluminum). This was just before the move where you lean out on the big black horn and move left.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Sep 12, 2003

    All this is good beta. One thing that really helped me on this climb was my determination to just climb until I found the first bolts. Stopping to look for pro is a waste of time and energy on this section. Just grab those big, but funky, strangely insecure feeling holds and crank - you will be clipping those bolts before you know it. Gets the adrenaline flowing though, I'll admit.
    By Jim Collins
    Oct 7, 2003

    I last did this climb for the first time since I last did it 25 years ago, today. For whatever reason, I did not find any good placement at the final crux stepping into the rotten band, and was run out quite a ways (~20 feet) from the big cams. The moves are insecure, and it would be really good to get a piece in for the final exit. Does anyone know what piece goes in at the final crux, and if it is any good? Or do you just need to risk a 40+ foot fall? Just curious.

    Stupendous route, if you are solid on 5.10. If not, then have someone else lead it. Best to start with King's X -- a great link up. This combo is about as "Eldo Trad Funk" as you are ever going to get.
    By Charles Vernon
    From: Tucson, AZ
    Oct 8, 2003

    Jim: you should read the comments! Specifically those of Josh and Ivan. I personally did not feel that the stopper placement they speak of was very good, but I didn't spend much time fiddling with it. However, I do know of someone who has fallen on it--and it held.

    Since I'm entering a comment, I suppose it's worth mentioning that this is my favorite pitch in Eldo.
    By Jim Collins
    Oct 12, 2003

    Thanks, Charles. I knew I must have missed something, because I really didn't remember it being so run out from years ago. I was rushed for time, and I suspect I just totally missed the placement Josh found.

    One question for those who do the route regularly: what do you think is the best approach link up -- Kings' X, Yellow Wall, come in from West Face, other?
    By Richard Rossiter
    Nov 12, 2003

    I am responding to Jim Collins. I have done this route about a zillion times. It was one of my favorite short climbs in Eldorado. I tended to favor the Yellow Traverse for an opening pitch. I combined these pitches in my guide books and named the combination XANTHOMORPHOSIS. Xantho is, of course, a combining form and means YELLOW. I recall that the crux can be protected by a #4 RP placed at a blind reach. Joyce and I first did this climb in the late twilight, fourth of July, 1981. I could hear fireworks going off, but I couldn't see what the hell I was doing.
    By Keith Leary
    Apr 30, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Bring a number five Camalot. I did this last week and the only section that had me rattled (besides the final crux) was after the first crux/roof/corner. I made it up to the 5.7 vertical face and saw that my last piece was a ways down. I stuck in a number 4 Camalot that might have held. I then committed to the moves. They were easy, but it was scary to make them onsight and did not know if I was on route. A number five should fit nicely. On the final crux, I put in the RP and a 00 TCU about it in the same tiny crack. It had only two teeth cammed. I put another RP in a flake to the left. The flake was probably not good. I equalized them and up and down climbed until I was sure I could make the move. A great route, but the rope did get caught in the tooth flake at the crux and I had to rappel from the belay and get it unstuck. We started by soloing one of the easy routes and then down leading to the belay at the start.
    By nolteboy
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Jun 2, 2005

    One of THE finest routes at Eldo for its grade.
    By Michael Amato
    May 11, 2006

    Climbed Diffraction to this route last weekend, got off-route at the crux and ended up going for a ride. Had to re-climb the crux and finish the climb with the payback... bumps, bruises, a cracked helmet and a well-sprained ankle. Climb this one with a clear head (as opposed to a hangover) and remember to go the right way at the crux, or the payback can be a bitch.
    By Guy H.
    From: Fort Collins CO
    Sep 25, 2006
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

    With a 70m rope you can link Diffraction into Metamorphosis from the ground. If you have a 60M rope, you would need to start on the upper bench as Steve suggests. Make sure you bring lots of 2 ft slings and consider putting a 3-4 ft runner on the bolt on Metamorphosis to reduce rope drag. You might also need to belay from the finger crack right after the "5.9" exit move to prevent rope drag.

    A fun 200+ ft endurance pitch. Thanks for the recommendation, Steve.

    (Additional Comment) There are now 2 new bolts at the end of the 5.8 traverse left. I guess you could belay there now, but it would break up the good stuff. The drilled pin is now a big fatty, also.
    By Olaf Mitchell
    From: Paia, Maui, Hi,
    Apr 11, 2007

    This climb has every thing that you want in an adventure pitch!
    For best results don't over beta it. Place the gear that you find and climb!
    Art and Jim may have had EBs in '73, probably not. They were climbing with only two inch webbing wrapped around their waist (no harness) and probably waist belaying as well. There gear was not even from the same universe as the modern climber. Nuts were around, but they hadn't evolved.

    There is a special image in my memory of a soft afternoon breeze across a shaded, very steep,intimidating pitch of rock with a pinch of desperation right at the end.

    Since you only get to do a climb for the first time once, I would recommend traversing in via 3rd class from the west side and savor this gem as a stand alone route. You will probably repeat it numerous times by a variety of link ups and variations.
    By Rob Kepley
    From: Westminster,CO
    Apr 15, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    This is one of my favorite climbs in Eldo. The climbing flows really well with just enough spice to keep your attention.
    By Hank Caylor
    From: Glenwood Springs, CO
    Apr 15, 2007

    Kep, if that was you I saw up there today, nice job. You made it look casual.
    By Rob Kepley
    From: Westminster,CO
    Apr 16, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

    Yo Hank, that was me with my bud Joe V. Thanks... I was checking out Sheer Terror when I was over there and got sweaty palms just thinking about you up there! Nice one dude... I was actually thinking about getting on "Scotch and Soda" sometime soon. Sounds pretty exciting!

    By Alan Searcy
    From: Pine, Colorado
    Jun 13, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

    Great moves! All but two pieces of gear seemed a waste of time, but the climb was phenomenal. Woulda been a long ride!
    By Danny Inman
    From: Arvada
    Oct 4, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

    Absolutely classic Eldo....
    By Brian Weinstein
    Oct 4, 2007
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

    Probably not the best intro 10 for Eldo. I did not find the 0.75 or 0.5 Camalot placement before the final bulge...thus a 25 foot runout on a bomber!!! #3 HB offset...probably would have held. Exciting pitch that provides enough discomfort to want it again and again.
    By FCJohn
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Oct 12, 2007
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

    ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC!!! This might be the finest face pitch of 10 in the Canyon. It's an exercise in mind control and keeping a cool head way above marginal gear. The bolts provide a little bit of assurance that you won't deck if you come off, but Meta is classic Eldo spice in the most delicious and tasty way!

    BETA: Look carefully for the third bolt before entering the crux sequence...I somehow missed and climbed way past the cammo'd third bolt on while zoned out on the moves. But did find a great #1 BD Camalot down and right of the crux in a rotten band and an upwards bomber orange Alien/0.75 BD in after the last bulge.
    By TomM
    May 17, 2008

    Soulful pitch, soulful Eldo. This is one of the best. Trad skills required.
    By climberKJ
    From: Holderness, NH
    Jul 18, 2008

    Really awesome climbing. Beta on descent?
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Jul 19, 2008

    Descent: From the one bolt and gear anchor at the top, stay roped and angle left and through a notch onto the west face. Traverse straight horizontally across a slab at about 5.5 to the cave with the bolts above Recon, etc. Two raps to the ground.
    By max seigal
    From: boulder
    May 7, 2010

    An excellent climb indeed, but I'm not sure about all the hype of it being runout.... The only part I found to be runout was the 10 feet of 5.8 before getting to the anchor bolts. After that, the 10a crux was very well-protected, and then at the final bulge there is a bomber nut placement before committing to the moves. Spicy? Somewhat. Runout? Not so much... nowhere was I ever 6 feet above a piece except for that first 5.8 I explained (yes, I was plugging gear in where I could anticipating the runout, but never found it). Anyways, that's just my 2cents. A great climb, especially if combined with King's X at the first pitch.
    By Gregger Man
    From: Broomfield, CO
    Jun 1, 2010

    Climbed King's X to Metamorphosis today.
    FYI: I recall a wide stem to a right foot at the crux. I stepped there and a brick-sized foothold broke off under little pressure. My friends in the party behind us and my partner both found the crux to be more difficult than they remember. I've only been on it once before, so someone more familiar with the route should climb it and give an opinion on whether the grade has changed....
    By Richard Radcliffe
    From: Louisville, CO
    Nov 4, 2010

    Maybe it is harder now. This was my first time on it, but I found the crux very difficult with no right foothold anywhere in sight. And believe me, I kept heading over to the right looking hard for ANYTHING to put my right foot on....
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Apr 16, 2011
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I did it today and had some runouts. I remember thinking twice "this is where a 4" cam would have been nice" and several other places for 2-3.5" cams. 2 sets of Camalots from 2" up would eliminate most of the runouts beyond a few meters, as they can be placed somewhat solidly between rails and in pockets, much like on Alice in Bucketland or Body Tremors. But I didn't have them, so run-out I was.
    By Tommey-James
    From: Boulder,Colorado
    Jul 25, 2011
    rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b PG13

    Finally did this the other day, man oh man is it good. The first pitch is more spicy than the 2nd in my opinion. A fall on the 5.8 above the roof would suck balls but probably be safe. The 2nd pitch does not require any big cams IMHO, I carried up a 2, 3, and 4 and didn't use any of them. I probably could have used them near the 0.75 slot neat the top but there was already a good 0.75 there. Were I to do again, I would take a full pack of nuts and one set of cams from blue TCU to #1 Camalot, but that is just me.
    By Steve Annecone
    From: boulder
    Jul 25, 2011
    rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

    Two pitches? Should go easily in one pitch if you're careful about using long runners on the corners. I think a big cam (#4 Friend) can be used to reduce the runout on that 5.8 section to the double bolts. This has got to be among the top 5 best 5.10 pitches in Eldo! Kudos to you for doing it in this heat, I can't imagine what the grease factor was like!
    By SeanKuus Kuusinen
    From: Steamboat Springs
    Dec 13, 2011

    This wouldn't happen to be named after a Franz Kafka story of the same title, would it?
    By YDPL8S
    From: Santa Monica, Ca.
    Dec 14, 2011

    Only the cockroach knows for sure.
    By Tom Hanson
    Dec 14, 2011

    Ament's old guide references the author you mention in the description of this route. "As Gregor Samska awoke one morning he found himself transformed into a giant insect".
    By kiff
    Mar 14, 2012
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

    Linking Diffraction into Meta into a single pitch really makes this a superb 10, just bring a bunch of runners.
    By Ivan Rezucha
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Mar 14, 2012

    I TR'd this on self belay "in a single pitch" a couple of years ago using the bolts above Recon as the anchor and a 70m rope. The rope reached to just below the starting hard moves of Diffraction. It was spooky rapping down to the tail of the rope and then starting back up on the 10a Diffraction moves.
    By 1rsties4life
    From: CO
    Apr 8, 2013

    Great route, just the perfect amount of spice to keep you on your toes. There is a great brass nut at the top of the bulge at the end. Wish I would have found it before pulling the moves instead of afterwards.
    By Jeff McLeod
    Apr 21, 2014
    rating: 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b R

    I don't know, I've done a lot of climbs in Eldo now, and there haven't been many that are this good. Just amazing. This climb engaged me physically, mentally, and spiritually. It really requires you to face your fears. As a link up with Diffraction, many long runners (15 or so) and a 70m rope does the trick. I did it with a 60 and was feeling fat at the top. Being dragged down at the final run-out move was pretty terrifying. Regardless, I feel like I have to say that this climb is a quintessential Eldo experience at its grade, right up there with Outer Space, Rosy, and the Yellow Spur. You feel like a God damned hero at the top.
    By Dan Mannix
    Jun 27, 2015

    Here is the trick way to link Diffraction and Metamorphosis on one rope without rope drag: tie into both ends of your 70 meter rope - a 60 meter won't work - lead Diffraction normally clipping all gear into one tie in - no need for long slings - place three bomber nuts at the base of Metamorphosis, and drop the rope you have been leading on - yes drop it - feels weird at first, but now you can climb Metamorphosis with zero drag on the other end of your rope - use lockers on a sling at the bolts for added safety.

    Dan Mannix
    By Jon Oulton
    From: Boulder, CO
    Feb 20, 2017
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R

    Absolutely spectacular route. One of my favorite pitches so far in Eldo.

    There is a bomber #6 BD nut placement at the crux. I found that the spot others have spoken about (up and left from the crux ) was perfect for a #1 BD. Additionally, the seriousness after the crux was tempered by a fixed, small BD stopper (#3?) before the 5.9 move. That said, I didn't test or fall on it, and it didn't look super bomber, but it was a nice confidence boost.

    Following advice from the comments above I brought some large gear (#4/#5). The #4 was useful to protect your second from a pendulum after the final 5.9 move, but I didn't find anywhere to place the #5. Lastly, however many runners you plan on bringing... bring a few more.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Apr 23, 2017
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Perhaps I can help decypher the mystery of where the 'old #4' or new #5 Camalot goes.

    In this picture, from the first belay (the one that breaks the climb up), you can see just in the top of the photo, a '#4 C4' Camalot. It is tipped out. You can see a long way with no gear below that. The climbing is not hard, but it is slightly insecure, and you don't know what you are going to hit at each move. Turns out it is fine, but if you don't KNOW that, then a #5 C4 or an old #4 size would be comforting there.

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