Colorado’s Shelf Road , a network of vertical limestone cliffs near Cañon City best known for sunny moderates, has a new 5.13d pitch and may soon get its first 5.14. On Sunday, March 7, Mark Anderson redpointed a striking, super-technical arête at Cactus Cliff that was bolted in the early 1990s but apparently never free-climbed. Listed in the guidebook as Wild Virus, the newly redpointed climb has been renamed Carnage (5.13d).
Carnage ascends 5.11 ground to a big rest ledge, followed by sustained 5.12 climbing up the prow, with the desperate crux coming below the eighth bolt in the form of an “ultra-subtle V10-ish boulder problem [that] slaps directly up the arête.” Anderson, an engineer who lives in Morrison, spent four days working on the route and sent on his ninth attempt.
At Mountain Project, Josh Janes, one of Anderson’s partners, wrote, “After two frustrating burns on the fourth day of working the route, Mark decided to throw in the towel for the day and give his sore bicep a week of rest, despite having unlocked subtle new beta for the crux. Later in the day, however, it occurred to him that the moves that tended to tweak his arm came after the crux, and it wouldn’t hurt to climb up to that point one more time to reinforce the new beta…. Without any expectation of sending, he crushed the crux sequence and then persevered though the upper section for the FFA—an inspired performance!”
A potentially even harder route is in the works. According to Anderson, Ben Schmitt has been projecting a bulge on the wall between Carnage and Cure for the Common Crimp that is said to be at least 5.13+. “Ben’s been working it for a few weeks, and he’s one-hanged it a bunch, so he could send any day now,” Anderson said.
“I had been convinced that Shelf was climbed out, but now I’m starting to see the crag with new eyes,” Anderson added. “I think there’s still a lot of potential, especially for harder routes, though they may not be of a style that’s fashionable these days.”