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Unfamiliar Strangers S 
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Unfamiliar Strangers 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 85'
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Dan Hare and Noel Childs, 2004
Page Views: 9,018
Submitted By: Ron Olsen on Jul 22, 2004  with updates from Jonathan Awerbuch

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Deb Rolfson enjoying the route with wild, ethereal...

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  • Description 

    Start at a short steep wall 30' right of Animation/Jaycene's Dance. Climb the steep wall past two bolts (crux), then angle right and up easier (5.7-5.8) rock to the top.

    Less sustained than Animation, but with a harder crux.


    10 bolts to a 2-bolt anchor. The pitch is about 85' long; a 60m rope needed to descend. There is a long runout between the 8th and 9th bolts on easy ground; you may want to bring some small-to-medium gear for this section.

    Per Jonathan Awerbuch: I added a bolt to the route, with permission of the FA. There are now 10 bolts, and there is no longer a big runout.

    Photos of Unfamiliar Strangers Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Brent Pohlmann pulling over the roof and onto the ...
    Brent Pohlmann pulling over the roof and onto the ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers
    Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Dave Bacon on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Chuck Lepley coming down from Unfamiliar Strangers...
    Chuck Lepley coming down from Unfamiliar Strangers...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Chuck Lepley on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Chuck Lepley on Unfamiliar Strangers.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Adam climbs past the crux.
    Adam climbs past the crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Stephen Sandstrom climbing the crux of Unfamiliar ...
    Stephen Sandstrom climbing the crux of Unfamiliar ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Nice view from here
    Nice view from here
    Rock Climbing Photo: Mico Alejandro almost half way up Unfamiliar Stran...
    Mico Alejandro almost half way up Unfamiliar Stran...
    Rock Climbing Photo: A view of the route from the bottom showing the se...
    BETA PHOTO: A view of the route from the bottom showing the se...

    Comments on Unfamiliar Strangers Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 5, 2017
    By Chris Archer
    Jul 28, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    An enjoyable pitch that would rate 2 stars if not for the pointless runout. Exciting in high winds.
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Jul 28, 2004

    Chris, I too led this during high winds, and I also became quite "animated"!
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 19, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    The opening moves of this sucker are tricky to figure out, it seemed to us the easiest way is not really where the bolt is. You can stand on a flake to clip the bolt, but then you have to somehow go back left, maybe even retreating to the ground and starting farther left. From the flake, we traversed and then cranked straight up; this would be a pretty scary sequence without the bolt protecting you ...

    The runout up high was indeed noticed! It does seem odd when there are 3 bolts in like 10' and then a significant gap, then one more and another 4' higher are the anchors.
    By Peter Beal
    From: Boulder Colorado
    Oct 25, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I did this last weekend and would like to suggest that it be retrobolted. The bolts are very close down low and then very far apart up high. The gear you can place is OK but not located in line with the bolts (bring double ropes?) and the last bolt is barely three feet below the anchor. If the equipper could identify him or herself and explain why the route was put up this way, that would be helpful. Otherwise the route should be fixed, before somebody gets hurt on it.
    By Ray Snead
    Oct 25, 2004

    I believe that Dan Hare equipped this route, and I suspect that he wouldn't object to adding a bolt or two.
    By Dana Ernst
    Oct 25, 2004

    I'm in favor of leaving the route as is. If someone is uncomfortable with the route in its current state, then don't climb it. And, as someone mentioned, there are gear options. And, please, don't lecture me on this being "sport climbing area" and no one brings gear. I do agree that a bolt 3 feet below the anchor after a substantial runout seems strange.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 25, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    I agree, the route did not seem overly dangerous to me. The runout part is quite a bit easier than the crux, and you can always bring a stopper or small cam.
    By Peter Beal
    From: Boulder Colorado
    Oct 26, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    My point is that a climber can look at this route at the bottom, think, OK this is safe, then find out, quite a bit higher, that a 20-25 foot runout is mandatory. The next step is go for it or climb back down. Why bother putting in the bolts in the first place?
    By Warren Teissier
    Oct 26, 2004

    Peter, climbing is inhenrently dangerous and unpredictable.

    If you start the route without trad gear and then notice the run out (like I did) you have two choices: run it out (as you and I did) or get lowered and you lose a biner.

    Otherwise we would need to bolt all the run outs in the Flatirons, too....

    At least now, if one reads the description on this site, you know there is a scary run out and that you may need gear.

    Caveat Emptor

    By Anonymous Coward
    Oct 26, 2004

    Clearly outlines the difference between the way a sport climber approaches a route and the way a trad climber would. A lot of routes bolted on lead are runout because the first ascentionist only placed a bolt where he could get a stance and where he deemed it necessary. There are a lot of bolted routes that are traditionally bolted and therefore runout on easier ground or where the FA couldn't get a stance or an aid placement no matter how meager. Solid Gold in J-tree comes to mind; Figures on a Landscape, too. The way it is bolted can sometimes full affect the character of a route. Even when a route is bolted one should read the route for runouts, difficulty of climbing near the runout, etc. Thinking for oneself and not assuming the first ascentionist cared about me or my safety is an important part of being a safe and competent climber. No matter how hard you pull.
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Oct 26, 2004


    I certainly would not object to another bolt in the runout area. This is not Jules Verne we are talking about. I am not sure why people who object to bolts even climb at Animal World. It is a moderately enjoyable route and I think Dan should extend it another 20 feet.The anchors are in a rather pointless location.
    By George Bell
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 26, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    I wouldn't be upset if a bolt was added by whoever put up the route. The runout, in my opinion, is only about 5.6-5.7, and it seems unlikely to me if you can lead the 5.9 crux you would fall on a 5.6. I can think of 10 other sport climbs I have found more terrifying due to large gaps between bolts.
    By Gary Schmidt
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 30, 2004

    I found this route to be a good deal of fun. For me the opening sequence was quite tricky, even for 5.9 and from then on quite easy. In MHO the run-out is not "pointless" (thought it did catch me by surprise) because it adds some spice to an easy section of climbing.
    By Greg Hand
    From: Golden, CO
    Nov 1, 2004

    Gary, I never said the runout was "pointless". I said the anchors were located in a pointless spot. You do the runout and stand on a ledge and clip a bolt. Then you climb about another 5 feet of nothing difficult and then clip the anchors above your head on an overhanging wall. The climbing from the ledge to the anchors adds nothing to the climb other than make a 50 meter rope not to reach the ground. I would like to have seen it extended another 15 feet above the current anchors to add another crux and have a second set of anchors at the ledge to facilitate getting to the ground.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Nov 1, 2004
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    So what are the ethics of adding length and bolts to protect said length to an existing climb? Seems to me it would be the same as adding a "second pitch" and if the climb were a sport climb, it wouldn't change the existing climbing or the nature of the route, it would just add an additional length to it. For my own part, if I had not sent a line to the top of something and someone wanted to add bolts to it to lengthen it, if it already had bolts, then I wouldn't have any question about it at all. Is there an ethic or standard regarding this that I am unaware of? Or could someone (in this case Greg) feel comfortable and beyond ethical qualms in adding another bolt and 15' of climbing to a different set of anchors and call it a hard extension?
    By Peter Beal
    From: Boulder Colorado
    Nov 1, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Thanks everybody for all the reminders that climbing is dangerous. However the bottom of this route is anything but dangerous, while the top is "spicy", climber-talk for don't fall or else. For a naturally protected climb, this makes sense; that's the way Mother Nature intended it. For a rap-bolted moderate, it seems silly. This route could probably be lead all on clean gear, a little "spicy" in sections but no really big deal, difficulty-wise. That makes more sense to me than the current arbitrary set-up now in place, one that is bound to result in some kind of accident, sooner or later. Luring someone onto a route with closely spaced bolts down low and runouts up higher is irresponsible. Make it clear from the beginning what the route is like.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Nov 1, 2004


    It's called an extension, link-up, or variation -- it's legit and done all the time...
    By Gary Schmidt
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 1, 2004

    Greg, I'll give you that one. It does seem a little strange to a bolt so close to anchors after a long run out. My comment about pointless was more directed to the first comment on the site, and that just in general I don't mind when you run it out a bit on a significantly easier section of a climb. But I am also very much for safety and if people think this route lulls unsuspecting climbers into a false sense of security then maybe it needs looking into.
    By ac
    Feb 24, 2005
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Does anybody know what the name of this Dan Hare (?) route is?

    Also: perhaps this discussion is (long?) dead, but I'd add another vote for *not* adding more bolts.

    I appreciate Peter Beal's perspective (the D'Antonio-esque access-for-all ideology, which is great if that's how you want to put up routes), but I tend to agree with the personal responsibility argument.

    "rant" Pro opportunities are a fundamental part of *every* climb, sport or no. Suss things out for yourself, make decisions for yourself using the resources available to you ( is major advantage over what we had even a few years ago in this respect...if you wade thru all the garbage), and climb it or don't. The FA party creates a line (and by "line" I mean the rock/pro combo): assess whether or not this line suits what you're up for climbing, and take responsibility for your own choice. If the FA party added enough bolts to make you comfortable, then great. If not, then this line isn't for you...luckily, there are about 10 thousand other lines within an hour to chose from! Finally, if you can't determine whether or not a line is for you with the resources at your disposal (e.g. eyes, brains, internet, friends, etc.) ... well, that's probably a good message that you might be better off moving to something else."/rant"

    Old fashioned, and Anon by choice...
    By S. Kimball
    Apr 1, 2005
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Semi-pile, the runout is the best part.
    By Cody Munger
    From: Carson City, NV
    Jun 13, 2005
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    The first move was easily done by standing on the flake and stepping up with your right foot on the big ramp. The lead was a bit scary since there was a bit of potential for groundfall on the first move. The rest was so pointlessly easy that I don't even think this route is worth doing. I rated it one 5.8 move with a lot of 4th class afterwards to my partners.

    All the bolts seemed well placed, and the runout didn't bother me. Too bad the anchor wasn't placed a little higher so the last overhang could be part of the climb.
    By Charlie Fried
    From: New York, NY
    Jun 18, 2006
    rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

    The bottom is tricky, but anyone can figure it out pretty fast (you are on the ground). The 30 foot run out is pretty intimidating at first, but whoever bolted the route figured, if you can lead up to it, you should definitely be able to climb a 5.6 to the next bolt, although I'm not sure why a bolt wasn't placed. Does anyone know?
    By Mark Cushman
    From: Cumming, GA
    May 1, 2008
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Just imagine you're climbing at the Flatirons and the runout shouldn't bother you too much. The holds are all there and positive. Fun route! If you like, the route would go mixed with an assortment of thin to hand sized cams.
    By HansF
    From: Jackson, WY
    May 22, 2009

    Caught my buddy on a fall off the beginning of this route last year. Well, I should say the bush caught him. It was pretty fun but even on TR there's a big potential for ground fall. Just make sure you got someone spotting you in the beginning of this one.
    By Phil Lauffen
    From: The Bubble
    May 23, 2009

    How is there potential for a groundfall on toprope?
    By jcntrl
    From: Smoulder, CO
    Jun 8, 2009

    Rope stretch and the amount of slack out by the belayer (some climbers prefer a loose belay) could make a top-roped groundfall a possibility if the climber fell down low.

    The best solution should obviously be to have the belayer keep a snug-to-tight belay for the first 5-10 feet or so, until rope stretch will definitely not be an issue.
    By DamageVic
    From: Coal Creek Canyon, CO
    Aug 14, 2009
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    I used a green Alien somewhere around/between the 5th or 6th bolts and a black Alien between the 8th & 9th ("The Runout") bolts for good measure. The moves around the first few bolts are the hardest part and I enjoyed the rest of it. I did however stand on the boulder to the right and clip the 1st bolt, then started from the ground...a fall off those first moves could be ugly!
    By Crag Dweller
    From: New York, NY
    Oct 4, 2009
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Fun route. Crux is def getting past the 1st & 2nd bolt. Fun, easy climbing up top w/enough run out to keep you on your toes.
    By Peter Sedivec
    From: San Clemente, CA
    Jun 21, 2010
    rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

    First two bolts are the crux, most of climbing above there is much easier. I think the route is fairly well bolted, a bit of a space higher up but on some very easy moves.
    By Scotty Nelson
    From: Boulder
    May 2, 2012

    This would be a good beginner lead, if it weren't for the pointless runout at the top. Who bolted this thing?
    By Curt Hokanson
    May 18, 2012

    Wonderful bouldery start to jug haul/easy climbing. Genuinely enjoyed the runout as the section is very easy and no place for natural protection (granted we had a very calm evening session). It lets you realize your exposure and how high you are in the canyon, adding a bolt would take away from this route (runout is not harder than 5.7). Stay focused and appreciate your zen.
    By JJR
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 12, 2012
    rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

    Not a bad route. Did it while I was waiting for a party to get off of Animation to the left. First moves are the crux. To protect yourself a tad, you can climb up on to the big ass rock right at the base and clip the first bolt, then downclimb and start up left. After maybe the 3rd bolt or so, it's a jug haul. Fun, but a little scary on a really windy day... even though the holds are all super positive, the bolts are faaaar apart... if by some chance you take a fall, it's gonna be a big one. Worth doing once, I'd say, but probably won't go back to it.
    By mrbiscoop
    Jul 10, 2013

    I see that the vast majority here think this is 5.9. IMHO the bottom 2 bolts are 10. Hey but to each his own.
    By Seb303
    From: Denver, CO
    Apr 21, 2016
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    I saw a condition report on this route towards the end of last year that said the anchors were loose and it was not currently safe to climb. That comment is now gone, but I see condition reports automatically disappear after 3 months.

    Does anyone know if the bolts at the anchor's were replaced or tightened? In other words, is this route now safe or does it need some maintenance?
    By Brian Hansen
    From: West of Boulder, CO
    Apr 21, 2016

    Just take a small crescent wrench with you.
    By Mason Roberts
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 8, 2016
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Bring a #0.75 and a #1 to protect the runout if you're worried about 25' of unprotected 5.4 climbing. I'd give this three stars if it was more sustained - it get tremendously easier after the 2nd or 3rd bolt.
    By Jeff Limbocker
    From: Boulder, CO
    Apr 17, 2017

    Fun climbing, but substantially easier after the second or third bolt. This is not the only route I've seen bolted this way. Remission in South Saint Vrain has similar runout, but like this climb, it is over very easy terrain for the grade. There are probably some places to place gear, but I feel it adds to the excitement of the climb. There are bolts where they are likely to be needed - It's just a different bolting philosophy.

    As of this post, all bolts and anchors are in good shape. Lowering hooks can be found at the top. Placement of anchors can make setting up a rap tricky if you don't have long enough slings/PAS.
    By Marc Perella
    Apr 19, 2017

    This is 5.9 PG or PG-13 without trad gear. If the person who bolted this route thought to themselves "Hmm..I'll leave this open for gear placement", then it should not be on Mtn Prjct as a "sport route." As a 5.12 leader, I felt great on it without gear! It was a fun climb!, but most 5.9 leaders will not feel comfortable with this route and should be notified that it is either NOT A SPORT ROUTE, or PG / PG-13.

    It is tiresome to hear opinions that the route should be left 'as is' when it's not described correctly, and some very traditional climbers LOVE their easy run-out terrain for no apparent reason. We all know rock breaks, especially with freeze thaw.
    By Larry Shaw 1
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 14, 2017

    5.9 climbing until the third bolt then much easier. The runout sections felt like 5.4 climbing to me on big positive holds, and I didn't feel the need to place gear even though I brought it after reading the MP recommendations.
    By Jonathan Awerbuch
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Aug 31, 2017

    I just asked Dan for permission to add a bolt to remove the runout, and he said that he is fine with it. I'll get up there some time in the next week or so to do it. I'll post again when it's done. It will be a 3/8" by 2.75" stainless wedge bolt and stainless hanger, torqued to 25 ft-lbs.

    I know some folks enjoyed the runout, but it is a potentially dangerous fall that is not in character with the rest of this climb, or the other climbs in this area. I would hate to see a 5.9 sport leader (or anyone else) get hurt on this otherwise very well-protected sport climb.
    By S. Neoh
    Sep 3, 2017
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Please add the bolt. I climbed this yesterday (Sep 2) and was amazed by the runout on what I think is 5.3 terrain. Still, the fall from the last bolt as it stands now will be big (~ 50 feet, figuring in slack and rope stretch).
    By Jonathan Awerbuch
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Sep 5, 2017

    The new bolt is added. There are now 10 bolts on the route.
    By Jonathan Awerbuch
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Sep 5, 2017

    Also, as someone mentioned earlier, you can clip the first bolt by standing on the big boulder at the start. The moves are 5.9+ right off the ground.

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