AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak, Lower East Face, Babies 'R' Us

Longs Peak, Lower East Face, Babies ‘R’ Us. Babies ‘R’ Us (III 5.12a) is a five-pitch route on the Lower East Face of Longs Peak that offers steep slab climbing on mostly high quality granite. It starts 250 feet right of the North Chimney, immediately right of a conspicuous black streak, and eventually crosses the black streak several times. Because the black streak is often wet, the best times to do the route are either late May/early June or late August/early September. The first three pitches weave their way up discontinuous weaknesses and when these features end, you can expect some difficult thin edge climbing with bolt protection. The first pitch is 5.11a and requires some route-finding skills at the bottom, but four bolts steer the climber to a nice belay perch. The second very difficult pitch involves a fair bit of 5.11b face work with an improbable 5.12a crux sequence and eventually crosses the black streak. The third short pitch traverses leftward to an arête (5.11a) and reaches a comfortable belay. Pitch four traverses back right across a tenuous face section to reach a welcome crack system (5.9+) that leads to another good belay. The last pitch traverses rightward to avoid easy cracks above, and gains a nice corner. When the corner fades, the route forces the steep wall above, protected by small wired nuts and two bolts (5.11a).

The route took Randy Farris and I seven days to establish over the summers of 1997 and 1998. All bolts were drilled on lead except the last two. Progress was slow, and on some days we would merely place one or two bolts. In the summer the route can stay sunny until around 2 p.m. and is well out of the way of the usual rock fall hazards from the North Chimney and Diamond. We rappelled the route in five rappels; there is one fixed station at each belay.

The name of the route derives from the fact that we both had newborns at home—perfect training for those alpine starts.

Bret Ruckman, unaffiliated