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The Whale's Tail
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New Cambria T,TR 
No Problem T 
Northeast Arete T 
Second Coming S,TR 
Spoof T 
Spoof Roof T 
West Crack T,TR 
West Dihedral T,TR 
West Face [Whale's Tail] T,TR 
Yorkshire Ripper, The T 

West Dihedral 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Layton Kor and Ben Chidlaw, 1959
Page Views: 7,924
Submitted By: Jeremy Gilbert on Feb 1, 2001  with updates from L Kap and 1 more

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (136)
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Enjoying a cool one at the top of the Whale's Tail...

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  • Description 

    This is a great route that receives good winter afternoon sun. It is shady in the morning in summer. It is a good beginner lead. Attain the belay ledge shared with West Crack via a 4th class scramble. Spy the large, left-facing dihedral to the right. Build an anchor and climb the dihedral. When the large obvious flake at the top of the climb ends, then traverse left to the West Crack anchor.

    To descend, rap from the fixed anchor at the top of West Crack. Rap with a 60 meter rope to the ledge at the base of West Crack or a 70 meter rope to the ground.


    Small or standard rack with a bigger piece for last (crux) move.

    Photos of West Dihedral Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo:
    Rock Climbing Photo: Bob works up the Dihedral while Andy acts like he'...
    Bob works up the Dihedral while Andy acts like he'...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lisa's first climb ever, she's just getting into t...
    Lisa's first climb ever, she's just getting into t...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Andy is about ten feet below the crux of the Dihed...
    Andy is about ten feet below the crux of the Dihed...
    Rock Climbing Photo: West Dihedral from belay area.
    West Dihedral from belay area.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Protecting the climb through the crux of this rout...
    BETA PHOTO: Protecting the climb through the crux of this rout...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Blake Collins heading up.
    Blake Collins heading up.

    Comments on West Dihedral Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 6, 2017
    By Barry Gereb
    Jun 11, 2001

    Fun lead, recommended for beginners w/ small racks. You can protect all but the final flake easily w/ stoppers alone. It is nice to be able to place a #4 Camalot behind the flake before you top out but not necessary. The anchor cable is located below the belay ledge, so you might just thread and rap w/ a 60m towards the large ledge. Watch for a rope eating crack and tie knots in the end so you don't get a quick tour of lower Whale's Tail.
    By Matt Rutledge
    Jul 15, 2002

    The top flake can also be protected by a #2 camalot with a long sling. Just bury it deep. In fact, I wasn't very happy with the large cam placement I found under the flake.
    By Leo Paik
    From: Westminster, Colorado
    Aug 17, 2002

    Beware for those with bee/wasp-type allergies: Today, for the first time, I saw a bunch of wasps at the end of this pitch. One stung [a] poor sod as he was reaching up R in the vicinity of the anchor.
    By CharlesR
    From: Santa Fe, NM
    Aug 22, 2002

    Climbed this route last week. At the anchors I was swarmed by wasps/bees. About 10 of them were flying around me, but I downclimbed quickly and didn't get stung. Not a fun surprise!
    By James Garnett
    From: Bellingham, WA
    Jun 26, 2003

    No stinging bugs as of yesterday (25 jun 2003), so perhaps it's a late-summer problem. More holds and opportunities for pro than you can shake a stick at on this one, but careful of the anchor: the steel cable has some burrs on it that might chew on your rope when you pull it after the rappel. Just make sure you're on the non-burr side of the quicklinks. A 60m rope gets you all the way past the belay ledge and to the deck.
    By mary
    Jul 30, 2003

    this was my 2nd lead and it was a very nice one (great pro - mostly stoppers) - so a great beginner trad lead - but if you are used to nice sport anchors or walk offs from your own anchors and see that jumbled pile of frayed cable and D-rings... please believe that you really are supposed to finish there and don't just keep going hoping to run into a magical top-out or bolt anchor (hmmmm......) - maybe bring an extra sling for peace of mind when rapping off
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    May 24, 2004
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    Lots of great gear and good holds make this a great lead for anyone working on their 4th or 5th trad lead. Obscure numbers, but for a good reason. This climb will gently teach your learning leader to place runners on gear, or pay for it. Medium nuts and cams up to a #1 make this route easily protected from 'toes to nose' (heard that one just today and had to use it) all the way up. The "crux" really isn't all that bad, and don't let your leader freak out from the traverse. It's REALLY short and quite easy with great gear overhead. ~Wm

    P.S. No biting/stinging insects as of 23MAY04. Just lots of bugs dodging the swallows who were trying to live up to the moniker...
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    May 24, 2004
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    PPS: Anyone know what the boulder problem is just below the ledge here? It runs from the boulder field up a chute and deposits you directly at the base of this climb. Kind of a highball given the exposure and felt like V2 with Tevas on... Just curious.~Wm
    By Rob Migliore
    Jun 25, 2004
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    This was my first gear lead and felt comfortable. Plently of pro and good stances. Though I must of came around the roof funny b/c I wound up using a micro nut to protect it. Good buckets to just heave over it. Short (but sketchy approach). I've had to wait 1-2 hours to climb it because I've had people run past me on the approach and then teach somebody how to climb.
    By Larry Shaw
    Jul 5, 2004
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    A fun but short climb that is easily protected.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Aug 29, 2004

    Just as good as west crack and similar in difficulty.
    By Anonymous Coward
    May 19, 2005

    Short, dumpy, inconsistent climb. Starts ~4th class and gets progressively harder with two tricky moves (the second is 2' below the anchor). West Crack (just to the left) is much more consistent, gobbles pro, and is longer.-s
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Jun 18, 2005
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    Matt says that a deeply buried #2 at the top is better than a large cam (I think) in the wide spot under the top flake. I disagree. I placed a #3 cam in that vicinity to set up a TR with slings on the fixed anchor and a trad piece or two. This location for a trad-esque anchor alleviates rope drag problems, though it eliminates the crux moves as well. Realistically, they aren't worth it for me and if you're teaching a person how to climb, it probably won't be worth it for you either.

    No buggies today (June 17th). Climb with an unstung happiness! ~Wm
    By Mike Munger
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    May 12, 2007

    The fixed cam at the top of the corner has been removed.
    By Casey Bernal
    From: Arvada, CO
    May 14, 2007

    Todd A (re: Replacing Cable) -

    Is there any reason not to add bolts? They would certainly be less obtrusive, much easier to replace and much easier to use. I don't understand why this hasn't been done earlier.

    If you do go with cable, I would suggest larger than even 1/4". It isn't the strength that is the issue, it is the WEAR from the ROCK. Is there anything wrong with the cable currently?
    By Ron Olsen
    From: Boulder, CO
    May 14, 2007

    Casey Bernal wrote:
    Todd A (re: Replacing Cable) - Is there any reason not to add bolts? They would certainly be less obtrusive, much easier to replace and much easier to use. I don't understand why this hasn't been done earlier.


    Changing the anchor to bolts may be a better idea, but would require approval by the local climbing community and the FHRC (Fixed Hardware Review Committee). Todd would have to submit an application to the FHRC for review at its fall session; see for details.

    One-for-one fixed anchor replacement (bolt for bolt, pin for pin, and, presumably, cable for cable) can be done simply by getting a permit from Steve Muehlhauser, the head climbing ranger at Eldorado. Steve routinely grants permits for this type of work. FHRC and climbing community approval is not required.
    By Bryan Downey
    Jun 15, 2008

    Hey guys, was just up on the West Dihedral last Wednesday. Cable at anchor is worn and shredding in places and should be taken off completely and replaced or different anchor put in. There were about 4 slings there as well so plenty of solid protection but I ended up with a piece of cable in my jacket, I would hate to end up with some in my rope....seeing old/shredding cable didn't make us feel too comfortable.
    By B immele
    From: Louisville, Colorado
    Jul 31, 2008

    I have a permit from Steve M at Eldo to replace the Cable at the top of the West Crack climb and intend to do it this weekend. I sent Steve a photo of the set up which he approved (cable with rings, similar to what was there, but better) and hope to get it installed this weekend. This should eliminate all the slings and other gear often left there.

    By HTP
    From: Longmont, CO
    Sep 4, 2008

    Has the cable been replaced?
    By Mike Pharris
    From: Longmont, CO
    Oct 6, 2008

    Thanks for the nice new cable!
    By Mike Nevko
    From: Currently Charlotte
    Mar 14, 2011

    Climb this this past weekend. The cable is in good condition, and the top ledge can support about 2 parties at the same time while waiting to use the rap rings.
    By Rodger Raubach
    Mar 16, 2011
    rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

    A fun romp in Eldo! Not at all hard, but just good fun!
    By Ryan-T
    From: Edgewater, CO
    Sep 17, 2015
    rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

    This route is awesome! Much better climbing than the West Crack. Lots of good pro, I would recommend up to 4. This climb got me super psyched to climb more in Eldo!
    By L Kap
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 16, 2016

    Has the cable been removed? Neither my partner nor I saw any kind of anchor at the top of West Dihedral today. We ended up traversing over to the West Crack anchor to lower. Luckily there was no one else on it.
    By Rachel Harkleroad
    Aug 8, 2016

    I left a tricam on a ledge leading up to West Dihedral. Please contact me if you are able to retrieve it!
    By L Kap
    From: Boulder, CO
    May 6, 2017

    Please be aware that there is just ONE 2-bolt anchor at the top of the west face of the Whale's Tail. (The steel cable mentioned in other comments has been removed.) The sole 2-bolt anchor is located at the top of West Crack and also shared by West Dihedral, West Face, and Jim Crack. You can build a trad anchor at the top of West Dihedral / West Face, but there is no easy walk-off that I'm aware of, so you will still eventually need to traverse over to use the West Crack anchor to rap down. Yes, there are 4 climbs here, but more than 2 parties crowded on the belay ledge or trying to ascend the west face at the same time is a cluster.

    If there are other parties on the belay ledge before you, please be courteous and negotiate how to share the anchor (or go find another climb). It should go without saying, you do not have a right to TR your second on the same anchor chains that someone else is currently using. You do not have a right to kick another party off the anchor so that you can use it. If you have some urgent need to use the anchor without waiting your turn, try asking nicely.

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