American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Pope's Nose, Southwest Face, San Juan Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1971

Pope’s Nose, Southwest Face, San Juan Range. As we stood there sheepishly at the confluence of the Flint Fork and the Los Pinos River in the southeastern San Juan Range, I thought the 1000-foot unclimbed southwest wall of the Pope’s Nose looked much bigger, much steeper, now that I had returned to climb it. On the bright blueing morning of June 21, Mike Burdick, Jim Yurchenco and I, after an hour’s bushwhack, sat at the base of the wall, 100 feet left of the overhanging central dihedral. Then I struggled up a leaning F8 crack to a spacious belay perch atop a giant’s tooth. I looked up at the dark roof, three-quarters of the way to the top. Mike, Jim, I and Mike again led: nice cracks, a big craggy block, a questionable chockstone, drifting along natural lines, into a big dihedral, a thin traverse. There we 'were, three furry fellows hanging in a hole as a combination of sun and light rain fell down on day’s end. The night was cold. Three chilly pitches in the morning, one for each, were nicely mixed and sling-belayed. For the crux eighth pitch Mike pendulumed right, into the arms of the main dihedral and climbed beautifully free. Before I could leave my bolt belay and follow the big swing, the Colorado sky turned violently against us. The thunder warned, then hail began, then downpour- ing rain. I crashed into the dihedral and jümared frantically towards my friends, above, in the shelter of the roof, behind a curtain of ice-water. Mike led up another pitch to the right and belayed under the roof. Outside it had settled down to drizzle. I traversed right in the prominent groove which slashes the entire rock from upper left to lower right and belayed beneath a promising-looking exit crack. The rain stopped. The promise was kept as I sailed up the next two pitches and Mike led the happy last. Then three tiny freaks scrambled to the top of the Pope’s Nose at 7:30 P.M. NCCS V, F9, A2, or UIAA VI.

James Galvin, unaffiliated

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