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A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010 Climb, Firsts No Comments

The south face of Arrowhead in May 2008. Deborah takes the obvious vertical snow couloir. Photo by Greg Sievers

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake in Glacier Gorge, with almost 1,000 feet of steep snow and short mixed steps (M3/4); some ice might form in the spring. At the top, two exits give a hard or easy finish, and Arrowhead’s superb 12,642-foot summit is just a few yards away. Descend by following the ridge west toward McHenrys and look for rappel anchors near the saddle; rappel to the south. This route may have been climbed before, but no previous winter ascent has been reported. It’s likely in good mixed condition from January through early May. … Continue Reading

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010 Climb, Firsts 1 Comment

Mark Anderson just below the boulder-problem crux of Carnage (5.13d). Photo by Kate Anderson

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. … Continue Reading

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010 Climb, Firsts 9 Comments

Jason Haas entering the crux of Compremetido (5.14a) near Deckers. Photo by Ben Schneider

Jason Haas entering the crux of Comprometido (5.14a). Photo by Ben Schneider

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story.

While researching routes for the upcoming South Platte guidebook through Fixed Pin Publishing, I came across an old aid climb simply named A3 Route on Dome Rock, a few miles from the Cathedral Spires. The formation is similar to a mushroom, with a small stalk on the bottom leading up to a massively imposing roof that actually dips down at the lip, like a crashing wave, followed by a long slab to the summit. Working the route in summer was sketchy due to the deep, pushy river, which would dump you out 100 feet downstream from where you started, making you swim it with dry bags. The winter was heinous—not only was the river scary to cross when it was partly frozen, but also the rock faces north so it was an icebox. Fall was best, when the water was low enough to wade across at about thigh height. … Continue Reading

Fun New Mixed Routes in Vail

February 7, 2010 Climb, Firsts No Comments

The new route Dragons Tongue, left of Spiral Staircase. Courtesy of Rob Ginieczki

Let’s say you’d like to try some sport-mixed routes, but you aren’t into fruit boots and cranking figure-nines. Until recently, your options have been limited at East Vail, the mecca of modern mixed climbing. But this season, several new climbs have been added to the Firehouse West and Spiral Staircase areas, and at M6 to M7 these should be very attractive to experienced ice climbers looking to dabble in dry tooling.

… Continue Reading

Wild New Route in RMNP

January 25, 2010 Climb, Firsts 1 Comment

Chris Sheridan approaching the ominous first chockstone. Photo by Andy Grauch

On Saturday, Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan completed a wild line on the south face of Mt. Otis in Rocky Mountain National Park—almost certainly a new route. Chockstones of Unusual Size (C.O.U.S.) is a three-pitch route (plus snow slogging) that surmounts two stupendous blocks by tricky dry tooling: III M6/7. We asked Andy Grauch to write up a first-person account of this crazy-looking climb:

“Chockstones of unusual size? I don’t think they exist….”

A few years ago, Eli Helmuth at Climbing Life Guides mentioned a surprising fact in one of his regular posts about Rocky Mountain National Park snow and ice conditions: The south side of Mt. Otis had no recorded winter routes. After learning this, Chris Sheridan and I quickly developed a fascination with the gullies around Wham and Zowie spires. In 2008, he and I climbed the improbable-looking Brain Freeze to the west of Zowie. In 2009, Chris climbed the more moderate Wham Couloir. With an increasingly rare two days off and a dubious weather forecast, we decided it was a perfect time to check out the third of these gullies: the one right up the middle, splitting Wham and Zowie. In pictures from previous trips, it looked easy enough except for big, troubling chockstones at the start and finish. … Continue Reading

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Recent Comments

  • Jamie Jones: The secret chute was only a secret top all you easterners....
  • Jeff: Awesome!!!! Are they ever going to be published in book form! These stories need to be made into a movie!!!!...
  • Karen D McCall: What a story, I read every word, absolutely enthralled. As an aging outdoor enthusiast headed for hip replacement, I can...
  • Kirk Miller: New rats in the Platte. Well done sir....
  • Dale: I met Clerin Zumwalt hiking on the Long's Peak trail back in the 1990's. He was with his family and was wearing his RMNP...
  • Ben Collett: Dougald, I miss the updates on this site. Anyway, there is a great route on the 4th Flatiron (see MP.com for details) th...
  • Tim: Thanks for the great writeup. We just did this loop yesterday and had a blast. Do you know if anyone has skied the coulo...
  • 14er Sports: Awesome accomplishment!...
  • Kailas: Yes Wick there are that many people. And they are all from back east or Texass... booooo. I've skied up here for ove...
  • jeff: What amazing experiences Dr. Cook had. I feel so fortunate that I've found this website and have been able to enjoy Dr. ...

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Firsts

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

March 26, 2010

A Fine Line on Arrowhead

Climbers Scotty Nelson and Gil Weiss have discovered (or maybe rediscovered) a great-looking moderate mixed route in Rocky Mountain National Park that might take pressure off overcrowded climbs like Dream Weaver or Martha. The line, which they called Deborah, splits the south face of Arrowhead above the high bench to the west of Black Lake [...]

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

March 10, 2010

Shelf Road’s Hardest Route Climbed

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. [...]

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

February 14, 2010

New Route Likely Platte’s Hardest

Jason Haas, who’s working on a new guidebook to South Platte rock climbs, has just redpointed what’s likely the Platte’s hardest pitch, a roof seam that’s protected with removable pro and might be 5.14a. The new route, Comprometido, took about a year and a half to complete. Here, Haas tells the story.
While researching routes [...]

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Classics

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

March 18, 2010

Brain Freeze on Mt. Otis

In the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, a granite spindle called Zowie protrudes from the convoluted south face of Mt. Otis. Just to Zowie’s left is a zigzagging chimney and gully system that holds an unlikely mixed-climbing gem. Brain Freeze was discovered very recently (early 2008) by Andy Grauch and Chris Sheridan. Several parties [...]

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

February 19, 2010

Lake Agnes–Seven Utes Loop

Kevin Landolt is a skier/climber/student, based in Fort Collins, who writes the fun Alpine Ambition blog for the Mountain Shop. Here, Kevin describes a favorite midwinter ski tour near Cameron Pass offering a little of everything.
Trailhead: Lake Agnes Road, 2.5 miles west of Cameron Pass
Tour Distance: 7.3 miles
Total Vert: ca. 2,900′
Season: Midwinter to spring; two [...]

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

January 28, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Mesa

Two of the wildest and most difficult water-ice pitches in the state are in plain view from Highway 50, en route to Ouray and Telluride from points north, plunging down the sheer face of Grand Mesa. Yet few people notice them, and far fewer have climbed them. The routes are tough, to be sure, but [...]

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

December 28, 2009

East Ridge of Mt. Bancroft

Mt. Bancroft’s rocky east ridge is a terrific mountaineering adventure for Front Range climbers, beginning less than an hour from Denver. The 13,250-foot peak is relatively close to the road, and avalanche danger can be easily managed, making this perhaps the most accessible technical winter summit on the entire Front Range. The east ridge offers [...]

Wild

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

February 5, 2010

Rarities: Wolf Moon, Arapaho Peaks

Photographer James Beissel sent us this fantastic dawn-patrol shot of the full moon setting over South and North Arapaho in the Indian Peaks, shot from Flagstaff Mountain. Said Beissel: ”The first full moon of the New Year is often called the Wolf Moon. The name comes from Native American culture, in which it was associated with [...]

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

January 20, 2010

New Deal for Great Sand Dunes

By Bob Berwyn
Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development, and water exports. Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May.
Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by Congress [...]

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