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

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Tom Gries, John Byrd, Larry Hamilton, July 1975
Page Views: 4,072
Submitted By: L. Hamilton on Apr 5, 2003

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BETA PHOTO: Warhead, showing the route we took. The ratings ar...

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About seven pitches of mostly moderate 5.7-5.8 climbing on good granite make Warhead well worth its approach hike. This 1975 route was the first to ascend Arrowhead's sweeping south face. Warhead somehow got lost over the years, misplaced in several guidebooks and eventually rediscovered as a "new" route (see Bernard Gillett's comments on Watership Down). The original FA route description is given below.

P1) Starting from a huge flake lying on a ledge at the slabby base, climb an easy slab pitch to a good grassy stance.

P2) Climb shallow grooves on the steepening slabs above until they end (5.9). Move right to a lieback flake, and climb right and up from it into the wet leaning corner formed by the first of the huge arches blocking the lower face. Follow the corner/arch up and left until a belay ledge appears on the right.

P3) Step left and climb through the arch at a vertical black flake. Follow the slabs below the second arch up and left.

P4) Continue on these slabs for another ropelength, belaying below a rotten area.

P5) Ascend the left side of this rotten area and the much cleaner chimney and jam crack (now in a large, right-facing corner) above to a grassy ledge.

P6) Follow the continuing corner for a ways, then move out onto the crystal-studded face to its right. Belay at about the level of some huge, projectile-like pinnacles that appear out to the left.7) Go up to a small inset dihedral with an overhang at its top, then continue up steep rock to the summit plateau.

The name "Warhead" refers to the large missile-like pinnacles to the left of the 6th belay. The newer "Lost Arrow" route is named for this same feature.


Slightly runout friction on pitch two; otherwise well protected by a standard trad rack.

Photos of Warhead Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Tom Gries leading pitch 2 of Warhead (FA).  The cr...
Tom Gries leading pitch 2 of Warhead (FA). The cr...
Rock Climbing Photo: John Byrd follows the last pitch of Warhead (FA).
John Byrd follows the last pitch of Warhead (FA).
Rock Climbing Photo: Tom Gries on the summit pitch of Warhead (FA).
Tom Gries on the summit pitch of Warhead (FA).
Rock Climbing Photo: Warhead climbs from lowest to highest points on Ar...
BETA PHOTO: Warhead climbs from lowest to highest points on Ar...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4 of Warhead, in the large curving corner (F...
Pitch 4 of Warhead, in the large curving corner (F...

Comments on Warhead Add Comment
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By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Jul 20, 2003

Climbed this last weekend.7/19 Awesome climb, maybe worth three stars. An improbable and rewarding journey up the longest section of the wall. Pretty bad-ass for 1975. I went a slightly different way on pitch 2. The grooves and friction section as pictured below looked WAY harder than 5.9. It seemed better to go right up into the corner/arch from the grassy ledge. I gained the ramp/slab via an awesome steep layback flake uphill from where Larry and party went. The rest of the route offers killer climbing and staight-forward route finding. Arrowhead is the best.
By T Bauck
Jul 21, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Good climb - fairly clean for how little it gets done.

Be careful on your routefinding for the first 3 pitches. After the 3rd pitch, the route fairly obvious.
By Mitch Musci
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 28, 2011

I found this route to be highly enjoyable climbing on mostly excellent granite. The P2 crux felt sandbagged and runout...perhaps a modern grade of 10b R, but that's just like my opinion, man. Shameless beta: stuff in a #0.75 Camalot in the undercling flake, then step up onto the polished slab and make fairly desperate friction moves up and right into the corner. A fall here would send you swinging down onto the slab below. Sounds like Justin found a nice variation...still, the original line is worthy. Mad props to Larry and crew!

On the second half of P2, I went straight up an incredible steep corner with jugs (see photo). Did not see the "black flake" anywhere, and I highly recommend this variation.

The last pitch is very memorable with fingers in a corner to hands through a roof. Overall, I would give 2.5 out of 3 stars.
By L. Hamilton
Nov 29, 2012

Mitch Musci's topo/photograph accurately locates the original line, although it sounds like our 1975 ratings might have been a bit off. If you look closely, the "5.10a lieback" section in Mitch's photo is same corner (with 2 flakes to its L) seen at closer range in my photo of Tom Gries on P2 of the FA. Below Tom in my photo is the route's slab crux, which we called 5.9 but Mitch suggests should now be considered 5.10b R.

We thought Warhead was a fine outing at the time. Adding to our excitement and speed, we were racing against weather but caught a nasty hail & lightning storm at the top.
By Guy H.
From: Fort Collins CO
Aug 18, 2013
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13

Pitch two is a rewarding lead, it is harder than COAM, Loose-J, or High Plains Drifter at Lumpy! You are looking at a 20-25 footer if you mess up the high steps at the end of the slab. It looks like you can bypass this difficulty on the right as Justin mentions above, though.

Bad ass for 1975, indeed!
By Mitch Musci
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 6, 2013

Thanks for your input, Larry, nice to know that the topo I made is accurate. What a memorable route!
By Chris N
From: Loveland, Co
Jul 26, 2015

Larry, a great set of photos from the FA. These photos look like they were taken yesterday - COOL!

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