American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Lover's Leap, Wet Mountains, "Dull Roar of the Putterman"

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

Lover's Leap, Wet Mountains, “Dull Roar of the Putterman.” The Wet Mountains are probably the most beautiful Front Range climbing area that remain free of the massive crowds of climbers. In 1986 during a visit to the Crestone group, I got my first glimpse of the 500-foot spire called Lovers’ Leap by the locals. I vowed to return. It took until 1992 for me finally to do a route on Lovers Leap when Ann Robertson and I climbed a four-pitch route on the south face. This III, 5.9+ route had been done before, but it was undocumented. Finally, in April 1994, I got my chance at a new route (IV, 5.8, A2). Brian Takei joined me. We chose a line directly up the prow where the east and south faces meet. The left side of the face had been climbed, but the extreme right side was a little different, a complex maze of overhanging roofs and rotten rock. On the first of six leads, four of which were aid, Bird Beaks were the key. This pitch overhung for half its length. The second lead eased off to vertical: thin pitoning in a seam with a couple of sketchy hook moves. Under a small roof, Brian and I called it a day and rappelled off. We decided not to bivouac at the base and each morning and night hiked two miles of rough terrain to the climb. The second day, we put in another lead and a half. Halfway up the third pitch, we joined an obvious crack system rising from the left, and I found an old “Colorado Nut,” which had been manufactured during the 1960s or early 1970s. The upper part of Pitch 3 had been climbed before. It appears that previous parties had stayed on the center of the south face and so Brian and I launched up a thin crack on the very right edge of the face, placing knifeblades and small stoppers. I took a short fall, smashing my watch and losing eight feet, before quitting for the day. On the third day, we quickly made it to the fourth belay. While I set up a solid anchor, an electrical storm formed over my head. It began to crackle and bolts of lightning hit the summits all around us. We retreated. Day 4 opened sunny and bright and we climbed the two remaining free pitches to the summit. The rock was superb and the setting sublime. Portions of the route (Pitch 3 for sure and possibly Pitch 6) had been climbed previously, but we didn’t mind.

Cameron M. Burns

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