American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cathedral Wall, Sublime Buttress

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Cathedral Wall, Sublime Buttress. In May Ryan Jennings and I completed the first free ascent of an unreported route we had established five years earlier on the Cathedral Wall. Climbing the tallest, cleanest piece of Cathedral Wall, this should prove to be a modern classic—seven loooong pitches of wildness, ending in a steep hand crack that takes you to the summit. The second pitch presents the technical crux (5.11+), going over a roof. This pitch was the only one not originally freed onsight. The route has four bolts, all at belays. The first three were placed while we were retreating from a nasty ice storm on a winter attempt; they now serve as cairns to let you know you are on route. The fourth bolt was placed on rappel after the original ascent, to improve pitch six’s marginal anchor, as Ryan inspected a direct finish. The direct finish, which we climbed on our free ascent, pulls a 5.10 roof and is steep and exposed. (Our original finish ducks around the corner, hard left, for two pitches.) No pitch is a gimme; all require route finding and proficiency with natural protection. In Boulder Canyon all the pitches would be R/X, but really, it’s just a good day in the mountains.

Brent Armstrong

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