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37th Cog in Melvin's Wheel aka Melvin's Wheel, The T 
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Unsorted Routes:

Backflip 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

   
Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 16 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Steve Shea & Dick Jimmerson, 1968
Page Views: 10,002
Submitted By: Charles Vernon on Jan 1, 2001

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Below the 5.9 crux on P4. It's runout but relative...

Season raptor closures MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is a route with a couple of superb corners but also some rather questionable sections. Hike around to the east of the 100 foot high flatiron that leans against the face. Backflip begins in the long, clean right-facing flake near the narrow gully which separates the main rock from the Bookmark Pinnacle.

P1 - Climb the 5.8 flake with excellent liebacks and hand-jams, and belay at its top.

P2 - Ascend an easy corner on the left to a long ledge.

P3 - Take the right of two clean, thin dihedrals (the other being Romulan Territority). After 30 or so feet, undercling out right where it turns into a roof. Belay on easier ground at some flakes. (5.8) Variations: 1)-turn the 5.9 roof capping the dihedral, belay, and then continue in a crack to the end of Romulan Territority; 2)-after the undercling, continue up an attractive looking but very thin 5.9 dihedral and arrange a belay at its top.

P4 - Climb up and right, then back left to a broken area, and continue to easy ground and the eastern descent. 5.8 or so, but a much lower quality pitch. variation: directly above the belay is an absurdly thin and shallow 5.9 "crack" that apparently was the original line of the route.

Protection 

Standard rack.

Descent 

Eds. You can go right down and around Bookmark Pinnacle. There are 1-2 raps that can be used (one is off a huge tree).

Eds. Apparently, a new descent has been added (caveat emptor): First, rappel to the east off the slings around the big block. Then, used the rappel station at the bottom of this first rappel to rappel south (not east!) into the bushy gully (Donít stop at an old intermediate station with ratty slings in this gully, but continue to a level stance. Then, traverse L (west) for about 15 feet on the Bookmark face, where a rappel station around some large flakes using 5.5 mm cord and a steel rappel ring. From here, rappel to the bolts atop p1 and from there to the ground, which landed us exactly at our packs. 60m rope recommended.


Photos of Backflip Slideshow Add Photo
Looking up at pitch 2 from the belay.
Looking up at pitch 2 from the belay.
Chis right before the traverse...
Chis right before the traverse...
Backflip.
BETA PHOTO: Backflip.
End of the traverse....
End of the traverse....
Starting the second pitch (the traditional 3rd pitch).
Starting the second pitch (the traditional 3rd pit...
Chris just starting the traverse....
Chris just starting the traverse....
Paul on the first pitch.
Paul on the first pitch.
End of the traverse....
End of the traverse....
Scott Conner starting up the first pitch.
Scott Conner starting up the first pitch.
This pitch is awesome, until it all falls off....
This pitch is awesome, until it all falls off....
Ted Handwerk at the undercling traverse on the second pitch.
Ted Handwerk at the undercling traverse on the sec...
Heading up the dihedral on the second pitch.
Heading up the dihedral on the second pitch.

Comments on Backflip Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 8, 2014
By Errett Allen
Jul 29, 2002

The "absurdly thin and shallow crack" mentioned in the description of P4 is excellent climbing as good as the rest of the route. The guidebook topos show a fixed pin in this crack which is now gone, however you can sew it up with small stoppers.
By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 30, 2002

Backflip is a three-star Lumpy Ridge classic if done by the most interesting line. It can be done in three pitches with a 60-meter rope.

Pitch 1: (5.8+, 170 feet) Climb the layback flake and a steep corner (crux) to a good ledge with two bolts. Continue left and up to a good ledge.

Pitch 2: (5.9-, 70 feet) Climb the right-facing corner above, make a delicate step right (crux), up to a roof, then undercling right and continue right to a small belay stance by some flakes and grooves.

Pitch 3: (5.9, 170 feet) Climb right and up an easy runout face to a thin crack. Climb the crack to a steep headwall and make a dicey move at the top of the crack (crux) gaining a ledge. Continue straight up a short steep right-facing corner (5.8), and angle up left to another short steep corner. Layback up this corner (5.8) to a ramp. Go up the ramp, then step down right to a hand crack. Climb the hand crack to a ledge at the top.

Descent: Downclimb (4th class) to a rappel anchor (slings around a block). Rappel 95' down behind Bookmark Pinnacle to another rappel station (two slings behind a boulder; no rap rings on 7/29/02). A short rappel and a traverse left takes you to the descent gully.

Protection: standard rack through #3 or #3.5 Camalot. Extra Aliens, an extra #1, #2 Camalot and some extra runners are useful for the long pitches.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 30, 2002

Hmm, maybe I had my eye on the wrong crack there (I was looking for a pin, I guess that's gone), or maybe this is one of those many Lumpy 9s that I would find harder/scarier than Wolf's Tooth ;)
By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 30, 2002

The pin on the third pitch is indeed long gone. I placed a small Alien and then a red Lowe ball to protect the crux move at the top of the crack. There's a great jug on the lip of the ledge right of the crack that you're shooting for; it's an easier move if you're tall. Most people I've climbed with have more trouble on the first pitch crux than on this move.
By Mark Morehouse
Oct 13, 2002

This is a 3 star route.The only exception is some hollow sounding rock on the 3rd pitch and some exciting gear on the fourth pitch. There is good gear at the crux, but it's a little runout with questionable nut placements for the first 1/2 of the pitch.
By Scott Conner
From: Lyons, CO
Aug 9, 2003
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Fabulous! We did this route exactly as Ron describes above and it's superb. I think it's as good as Pear Buttress and Loose Ends, and the difficulty falls between the two.
By Eli Helmuth
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 14, 2003
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

One of my favorite routes on the Bookmark, it can easily be done in two 60m pitches to the horn rappel anchors or add another dirty 60m pitch to the top of the formation.
By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Aug 28, 2003
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

You can combine P2&3 with a 60m rope. From what I've been told, it's better than combining 1&2 which tends to get the rope jammed in the crack. There is a face climbing alternative to the undercling of P3. Go up and protect the moves with a #1 Friend in the undercling, downclimb, foot traverse R. You can get at least 5 wireds in the P4 thin crack.

Excellent. Better than Melvin's Wheel.

Easier than it looks. Soft at 5.9. Felt easier than Melvin's Wheel.
By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 28, 2003

I upgraded the first rappel anchor (slings around a big block) with a new triple runner on 8/24/03. The three slings on this anchor were all seriously bleached by the sun. The dark blue runner I removed was completely white in places. Anyone climbing Backflip in the near future should bring a triple runner (and a knife) and replace another one of the old slings.
By Cale Csizmadi
From: Colorado Springs
Apr 6, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Climbed the route this past weekend as described by Ron (above). Had a great time under perfect spring conditions. Great way to start off the Lumpy season.

Gear- P1: Good gear mostly stoppers and camalots (0.75-3.0). P2: Mostly small stuff. We used stoppers, green and yellow aliens up to the undercling with 0.5 and 1.0 Camalot protecting the traverse. P3: BD swedges and stoppers with one red alien for gear up through the crux. Then med. stoppers and camalots up to a #2 worked fine.
By Luke Clarke
From: Golden
Jul 10, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Climb this as described by Ron Olsen above, as it's described in the Gillett guide book, and it's a three-star classic. With the exception of the easy second half of P1, most moves are consistently in the 5.8 to 5.9- range with a crux on P3 in fine position. Don't miss this one.
By rob.calm
From: Loveland, Colorado
Sep 20, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Mike Duncan and I climbed the route yesterday. We added a new rappel station. First, we rappelled to the east off the slings around the big block. Then we used the rappel station at the bottom of this first rappel to rappel south (not east!) into the bushy gully (Donít stop at an old intermediate station with ratty slings in this gully, but continue to a level stance. Then we traversed L (west) for about 15 feet on the Bookmark face, where we a fashioned a rappel station around some large flakes using 5.5 mm cord and a steel rappel ring. From here, rappelled to the bolts atop p1 and from there to the ground, which landed us exactly at our packs. 60m rope recommended.
By Matt Richardson
Administrator
From: Longmont, CO
Jul 3, 2007
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Did this route yesterday - I definitely think that the first pitch might be the most demanding. It is definitely the most sustained. On the fourth pitch, after the run out to the thin seam I got a small Alien in at the base of the seam. I am not certain how you might 'sew it up' as the seam is thin and flaring. My Alien placement was not so great, but I think I could have gotten a better placement a little higher; however, I did not want to clutter up my jams with gear (although I think this seam is straightforward enough that this was not necessary). I had previously done the fourth pitch to the top, but I think that I would bust out right after the steep headwall (in line with Bookmark Pinnacle) over the easy fins and rap from the fin around the corner. From there, it is three raps (or two and a long walk off) down the Pinnacle descent chimneys to the base of the pinnacle. 60 m ropes get you to the ground and you miss some of the less impressive climbing on an otherwise excellent route.
By - - -
Jul 31, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Great route.

We took a slightly different descent that I think is worth noting. From the big blocks at the top, we rapped down and then scrambled SOUTH (into the bushy gully between the Bookmark and the Bbookmark Pinnacle) another 15-20 feet to a rap station on a big chockstone. We took this down a FULL 30m (60m rope) to another rap station in the gully. Make sure to tie the ends of the rope, because it takes the WHOLE rope to get there. From here, we rapped straight to our packs.

Neither of the two rap stations in the gully had rap rings - both had carabiners. This is as of July 31, 2008.

Although a little overgrown, this direct line down to our packs was hard to beat.
By Scott Bower
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 23, 2008

The "thin seam" can be well protected. I put a 0.3 or 0.4 Camalot low in the crack followed by 2 smallish but solid stoppers at 3 foot intervals above it. 2 pieces would have been enough, but after the runout (it wasn't bad with very positive holds), I wanted some redundancy.
By Cale Farnham
Sep 10, 2008

The small crack below the roof to the traverse is the most stimulating move on the climb! Kinda blind going around the corner! Excellent line definitely recommended! The name says it all!
By W. Spaller
From: Boulder
Dec 9, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I did the #2 variation of pitch 3 and thought it was very good. If planning on doing this bring extra thin gear. C3s worked very well for me.
By Jay Eggleston
From: Denver
May 15, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

This is the "softest" 5.9 I have ever done at Lumpy. Although easy for the grade it is a great, fun climb and I highly recommend it.
By Aaron Martinuzzi
Jun 10, 2009

While a bit easier than most of the 5.9s I've done at Lumpy, I think Backflip is more challenging and sustained than either Melvin's Wheel or Pear Buttress. Giving this route a 5.8 would be a sandbag - I think easy 9 or full-value 9- is more accurate, on par with Mainliner.
By Nat Thiem
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 1, 2009

Just a note on descents. The rob.calm descent no longer seems to exist. The 5 mm cord was nowhere to be found August 20, 2009. There seem to be plenty of alternatives, though.
By Larry Marquardt
Jun 29, 2010

Climbed this today with Matt Reeser, who lead everything but the first pitch which we broke into two on a good stance with good gear. If you're thinking of breaking into the 5.9 grade on this climb, I wouldn't recommend it. The cruxes are not very sustained, but everything else is and it is a challenge to place gear (though if you can, it's very solid for the most part). Ron Olsen's description is what we climbed with the exception of breaking the first pitch into two. I give this a solid 5.9 rating for technical difficulty.
By JessicaY
Aug 7, 2010

Climbed this route on August 7, 2010. We also did not locate the rob.calm descent noted by Eds. We did find the descent noted by Robert McGibbon in the gully, and unfortunately we can't recommend it. The scramble to the second rap is exposed, and leads you to a rap station with ripped slings. The gully has a number of large loose rocks, and is filled with vegetation. Next time we'll walk down.
By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 5, 2013

Personally, I didn't think this route was amazing. The first pitch is excellent. The rest of the route had a bit of loose rock. Especially the flakes under the roof. I couldn't believe how much chalk was on the big flake in the roof. I foot traversed the slab underneath without even touching the thing (at 5.8/5.9)... and never even thought about placing gear in it.

Above there, I didn't realize that the route went right, so I stayed in the dihedral. Ok climbing on ok rock but not great. Also, I messed up and linked from the P1 bolts all the way through the whole dihedral (where end of p3 meets back up). Not really recommended, too much drag. Belay from the long ledge is probably best.

For the standard descent to the east, do a rap to the bench between The Bookmark and Pinnacle. The normal descent goes east (not the bushy gully towards your packs but the left side of the formation). If you downclimb the first 15' section, there is a tat anchor on the under-side of that boulder (which you can't see from above).
By Ross
From: Pinewood Springs
Dec 1, 2013

Variation after P1:
P2. From the ledge, proceed up the broken crack and flakes closest to the 2 bolt station. At small roof, traverse right 15' to crack below bush, climb crack and face to stance, 5.9-.
P3. Trusting instinct, traverse up & right with no pro on easy face until reaching finger crack with good pro, up this to a hand traverse right and scary mantle. Continue up cracks until its possible to traverse right to easier ground, 5.9-.
P4. Continue up large cracks tending left and up arete to summit blocks, 5.8.

At the top of P3 after cracks above mantle, we tried to push straight up but came to orange ramp and dihedral. Since the dihedral had no pro, we downclimbed until we could traverse right to large cracks then back left setting belay at top of dihedral.
--Ross
By steve shea
May 26, 2014

Dick Jimmerson and I did this in summer '68. We thought it was 5.8 not 5.9, and we had the Kronhofer penalty. The last pitch did go straight up the crack, we used pins for pro.
By kyle lefkoff
Jul 8, 2014

Backflip is a beautiful route, among the best in this area of the Books. In honor of Shea and Jimmerson's ascent 47 years ago, Steve Levin and I climbed it on July 6. We're old enough to remember those days past, but because we were both 9 years old, we were watching the Flintstones on a black and white TV instead of banging pins into new routes at Lumpy.

Levin had guided it before; I had never climbed it, and we did it in four pitches. While Shea's rating is reflective of the extraordinary standard of his generation of Lumpy hardmen, everywhere else in the world this climb is 5.9.

The thoughtful runout on pitch 4 is on easier ground, but you better have your game on for this section and the well-protected crux move above it.

We upgraded the top sling rappel anchor into the gully, and were glad to have a 70m rope for both rappels.