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The Obelisk 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 600', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: George Hurley & partner?, FFA: Reveley, Roos, 1979?
Page Views: 14,589
Submitted By: david goldstein on Aug 17, 2003

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Bill Karam 23AUG08, a great day.

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This climb would probably be a four star if started via Pervertical, rather than Window Direct. Once you get to the Obelisk, the climbing is three star, featuring cracks than are a little cleaner and steeper than usually found on the Diamond. The route is in a south facing dihedral on the left edge of the Diamond.

The Obelisk itself starts about halfway between Broadway and Table Ledge. There are two standard methods of getting from TL to the first pitch of the Obelisk: via Pervertical Sanctuary or the Window Direct. Either of these approaches is problematic.

The PV approach climbs the first three pitches of PV (excellent climbing) then traverses left to the Obelisk dihedral. The traverse, if done from the 3rd belay of PV is said to be hairy -- 5.11R. [Gillett] writes than he once did this traverse in the opposite direction and it was not bad; he believes he probably traversed lower than PV's 3rd belay. At any rate, this traverse is capable of gumming up the works.

The Window Direct approach, which we did, looks efficient on paper -- two pitches, 5.7 and 5.5. The first pitch starts just right of a huge, right-facing corner at the top of the the menacing snow/ice field which obstructs Broadway below PV; add an extra pitch for dealing with this obstacle. To avoid the snowfield, we traversed on the small ledge system that starts around Yellow Wall and parallels Broadway about 20' above it. We followed this easy traverse for more than a rope length until we intercepted a [vertical] crack system w/ some fixed pins (about 30-50' right of the huge corner). We belayed at the end of the traverse. We climbed the crack system upwards and slightly left for about 100', belaying just below a long ledge system of black rock; this pitch featured supspect rock, intermittent pro and was harder than the 5.9 last pitch of PV. The next pitch went up to the ledge system and traversed right for 200' w/ some up, down, left and right to the base of the Obelisk dihedral; though the climbing on this pitch might be 5.5 it includes bad rock, scant pro (including some Dolemite [style] fixed pins) and a culminating [vegetated], wet, protection-free slab with horrible rope drag. These two pitches of WD rate a Bomb.

The Obelisk: P1 (5.11a, 100') This 3* pitch which utilizes cracks of the right wall and in the corner is strenuous but not too technical. Extra hand size cams are useful. Belay at a worthless 1/4" bolt and a so-so ledge. If this pitch were more accessible, it might be considered the classic handcrack of the [Front Range].

P2 (5.10a, 30') Continue up the corner to a better ledge the base of the offwidth. This pitch could sensibly be combined with the previous, gear permitting -- a second yellow Alien would help realize this linkup.

P3 (5.11a, 80') A slightly overhanging 5-6" crack in the corner which ends atop the pillar, at a good ledge shared with PV. Gear: almost the entire pitch accepts #4.5 Camalots; a #4 Camalot would be next to useless, while a #5 would only be useful at the end. Supplemental gear, ranging from small wires to hand-sized cams, is periodically available in a crack on the left, but placing this gear sometimes obstructs coveted hand holds. Kneepad recommended for left knee. All things considered, this is a very fun pitch; again, if this were at Lumpy or Vedawoo, it would be the classic of its type and grade. Despite the guidebook ratings, I found this pitch considerably easier than Crack of Fear ("10d") at Lumpy.

P4 (5.9, 100') The last pitch of PV to Table ledge, belay about 40' south of rap anchors. This pitch seems like a cakewalk after what preceded it -- if the weather is threatening, you can really motor here.

EXTRA BETA (onsighters stop reading):

P1: Climb the corner for about 10' then traverse into the crack; going straight up the crack is 5.12ish campusing on painful fingerlocks. Extra beta: have a #0.75 Camalot on a quickdraw ready to plug at the end of the traverse. After 30'-40' of solid (if strenuous) handjamming, the crack narrows down, seemingly to thumbstacks; at this point, despair mounts, until you realize it is possible to stem back into the corner and breath a sigh of relief, assuming you have any breath left.

P3: This is probably too obvious to be considered beta, but solid left side knee jams, sometimes with heel toe, can repeatedly be obtained. The right inside wall of the crack contains many hidden edges, particularly higher up. Getting started is kind of tough, but once you're moving the crux is about 1/3 of the way up; at the end of this section there is a a decent foothold on the right face, from which you can rest or at least hang out until gasping subsides; from this point the climbing eases [slightly].


We had: 1 set of stoppers from very small to medium with extra in the 1-4 Rock sizes. 1 each blue, green, yellow Alien; 2 each #1 - #3 Friend equivalent; 1 #3 Camalot; 2 #4.5 Camalots; 1 ea Tricams #1-#6.

This rack was sufficient, but it would have been nice to have a couple of more hand size SLCDs for the handcrack (replace the two biggest tricams w/ a #2.5 and #3 Friend).

Photos of The Obelisk Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave following the first pitch.
Dave following the first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The big reach into the splitter .11 crack on pitch...
The big reach into the splitter .11 crack on pitch...
Rock Climbing Photo: Shaun on the first pitch in the finger crack.
Shaun on the first pitch in the finger crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: P3's beautiful OW.
P3's beautiful OW.
Rock Climbing Photo: Moving left from the pumpy, overhanging .11 crack ...
Moving left from the pumpy, overhanging .11 crack ...
Rock Climbing Photo: A look at moving into the crack from above.
A look at moving into the crack from above.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bernier starting the traverse into the Obelisk cor...
Bernier starting the traverse into the Obelisk cor...
Rock Climbing Photo: There's a Long's story here.
There's a Long's story here.
Rock Climbing Photo: Shaun in the biz-nass of the off-width.
Shaun in the biz-nass of the off-width.

Comments on The Obelisk Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 12, 2016
By Brad Bond
Jul 18, 2003

Three stars if combined with Pervertical and four if you start on the first pitch of Ariana. The traverse left off pitch three of Pervertical is very inobvious; I think it's just below the bolt and in the vicinity of 5.9 or 10a, but the climbing could easily become harder if you go the wrong way.

We brought gear to 3.5" and three #4 Camalots, which worked perfectly. Running pitch one and two (as described above) is tough, as I found myself heli-pumped at the top of the handcrack, but probably better as pitch two lands you on a nice ledge instead of an awkward hanging belay.
By Mark Hammond
From: Eldorado Springs, CO
Jul 20, 2003

Brad, noticed your comment says 3-#4 Camalots. Glad you gave me the right beta instead. #4.5s fit perfectly, I think #4s would be worthless, no?
By Brad Bond
Jul 21, 2003

Wow, that's the worst beta I've ever given in my life! I meant to say three #4.5 Camalots. #4's are dead weight. Sorry about that...
By slevin
Jul 21, 2003

Brad, you are a strong lad to carry all that wide gear up there. The adventurous may consider less wide gear, since there is a crack inside the OW that accepts smaller cams. -SL
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Jul 24, 2003

By Brian McMahon
Aug 15, 2004

I followed Brad's gear beta when I climbed this yesterday. I'd say that the 3 each of #2 Camalots and #1 Camalots (or lighter equivalents) is about right. However, there is no reason to bring up three 4.5 Camalots. I did, and the third one never left my harness. (A # 5 Friend does work, but it's not quite as perfect as 4.5 Camalot. My suggestion for the first time on the route: one # 4.5 Cam and one # 5 Friend) The crack on the left takes bomber pro pretty often; from smallish TCUs to .75 (on even #1) Camalots. For the record, I'd say that the handcrack's pump factor makes it a bit stiff for .11a, whereas the OW is super easy for the grade.

We approached via the Black Death due to parties on Pervertical and Ariana. This way goes quickly, but is some of the lowest quality rock that I've even experienced on the Diamond.
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 22, 2005

Spare yourself from carrying a rack of large cams. The 3rd pitch OW can be protected with a standard rack and ONE #5 C4 Camalot. A sidewall crack on the left wall takes everything from stoppers to a #1 Camalot -- slide the #5 Camalot up the crack as you climb.
By ac
Aug 22, 2005

Hey Dave and Shaun, where you guys the ones aiding the route this past weekend?Sick Photos.
By alpinglow
From: city, state
May 16, 2007

Loved this route. Climbed with standard rack to old #3 Camalot, and one old 4.5 Camalot.

If I went back, I would climb it with no wide gear, as the crack on the inside would suffice if you were in send mode.

I found the OW to be pretty tame with a knee bar. More like 10-?????

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jul 18, 2007

George Hurley and partner did it first I seem to remember.
By Ross Swanson
From: Pinewood Springs
Sep 12, 2008
rating: 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a

Thanks Brian for the tip, one each #4.5 and #5 worked out great, especially at the top.

I've lead a few ow and I enjoy them as much as the next ow climbing guy, but maybe because I'm tall and skinny or just a whimp but even with a knee pad I just couldn't put my knee in that thing and rest my weight on it, nope, no way.

So using laybacks, stems, gaston, crack climbing the small crack on the left, the climbing is not easy. Three falls and a lot of hanging.
Spanked, but I wouldn't trade the memories for anything, a great climb!
The endurance off fingers/hand crack first pitch is awesome plus. Even when the corner is wet.
By kirkadirka
From: Boulder
Aug 6, 2012

Here are my thoughts after climbing the Obelisk.

  • This is a phenomenal climb, and rounds out 3 great routes on the Obelisk Pillar.
  • The traverse from Pervertical is a bit tricky and committing. The bolt is where you want to start heading left. I will leave it at that as part of the fun of leading that pitch is figuring it out.
  • Both the thin hands pitch and the offwidth pitch warrant a 5.11 rating.
  • One new #5 Camalot with other gear in the small crack in the offwidth works great.
By eldoradolocal
Jun 12, 2013

I followed Chris Reveley on the FFA. He did the route completely free and clean, without any rests on gear. His rack consisted of hexes, stoppers, and a single tipped out tube chock for the third pitch. Oh, and he was wearing EBs. Probably the single most impressive leads I've seen.
By Chris Reveley
Jul 16, 2013

Dear BR,

Thanks. I have never been so scared (except maybe with Goss on the South Face of Aconcagua), and I could not have asked for a better partner that day. You made me laugh when I really needed to laugh, and your confidence in me took the place of protection on the off-width. For me, the Obelisk was a transformative experience. That's why I climb.

By Greg Miller
Jul 23, 2015

I heard through the grapevine that Jason Haas has onsight free soloed this route; telling of the gripping experience on a podcast. Amazing! Perhaps the hardest solo done on The Diamond?
By michalm
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 12, 2016
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Fully 4 stars if starting on Ariana. We missed the lower traverse into The Obelisk but found a higher traverse off the sloping ledge 15-20 feet up the crux pitch of Pervertical. Small gear before and after the traverse. Seemed 10+ R to us. Double ropes were handy on the steep hands pitch as there are two parallel crack systems. The offwidth takes new C4 #5s essentially from the start of the crack. Take one if you're are bold, take 2 if you are a mortal. We took a #4.5 and a #5, and the #4.5 became tipped out rather quickly. The side seam in the offwidth occasionally takes decent gear no larger than C4 #1. No need for a #4 on the entire route, and one could do without a #3 as well.

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