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Desert Solitaire 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c C1

   
Type:  Trad, Aid, 6 pitches, 350', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c C1 [details]
FA: KC Baum, Andrea Heath, Tom Archibeque, Peter Hollis, March 1989
Page Views: 4,955
Submitted By: aaron voreis on Mar 7, 2004

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (19)
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First pitch of DS.

Description 

Access this stellar route via the Lower Independence Monument trail. The route is located 400 yards up trail from Monolith Spire and 1/4 mile before Independence Monument. Look right for the beautiful lightning bolt splitter 2 pitches up with a left-angling, 4th class ramp leading to it. Approach via drainage after trail passes in between two large boulders. This route is south-facing and very sunny.

P1. Crux pitch. Locate a beautiful left-facing Wingate corner that leads to a left-arcing hand crack. 110 feet of the best the Monument has to offer leads to a perfect 3 bolt anchor with chains, 11a.

P2. Choose your own adventure. Either coil yer ropes and traverse around right or climb interesting 5.6+ choss straight up. Either way requires some 3rd class junk.

P3. Choose a better adventure. Now you have the choice between splitter hands via the lightning bolt crack or another perfect Wingate corner. Bolts with chains at top of corner, 5.10ish, 55 feet.

P4. Climb excellent fingers straight up from the chains with a few interesting aid moves to a new bolt. Belay in a cool pod thing from bolts, 10a C1, 60 feet.

P5. Continue up the crack fingers to excellent tight hands to a large belay ledge with a fixed anchor, 11a, 60 feet.

P6. Climb one of the cracks off the ledge into a chimney below a block. Continue through roof with hands to a 2 bolt anchor, 5.9, 60 feet. Rap from here.

Descent:

One 60m rope will get you off in 2 raps with a 4 class downclimb. A 65m would be better. A note on combining pitches: pitches 3 and 4 can easily be done together with the standard rack. Combining pitches 4 and 5 would require extra small cams. If you don't have a bunch of time, pitches 1 and 2 are sooo good.

Enjoy! Aaron and Eric

Protection 

Your six favorite md-large nuts, six draws. 2 sets cams TCUs to #1 Camalot. 5 #2 Camalots (#3 Friends fit better.) 1 #3 Camalot.


Photos of Desert Solitaire Slideshow Add Photo
Tony leading the final moves of Desert Solitaire (5.11 C1) in Colorado National Monument. Image by Bill Wright, who just happened to be hiking up on top that day...
Tony leading the final moves of Desert Solitaire (...
Joseffa Meir climbing a bit above the aid moves on P5 of Desert Solitaire (5.11, C1). Image by Bill Wright, who happened to be hiking the rim that day.
Joseffa Meir climbing a bit above the aid moves on...
Joseffa Meir leads the original P3, the right-facing wide corner (5.10) on Desert Solitaire (5.11a). Photo by Tony Bubb, 2005.
Joseffa Meir leads the original P3, the right-faci...
Joseffa Meir follows up the aid pitch of 'Desert Solitaire (5.11a, C2)' in Colorado National Monument. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2005.
Joseffa Meir follows up the aid pitch of 'Desert S...
Joseffa Meir looks over across the low angle traverse.  It has some softer rock. Heads up and watch for rope drag. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2005.
Joseffa Meir looks over across the low angle trave...
Tony at the summit belay of Desert Solitaire (5.11, C1) in Colorado National Monument. Image by Bill Wright.
Tony at the summit belay of Desert Solitaire (5.11...
Joseffa Meir follows P3's left variation (5.10+ or 11-) through the lightning bolt cracks on the left side of the open book. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2005
Joseffa Meir follows P3's left variation (5.10+ or...
Desert Solitaire (III, 5.11a, C2) ascends from either of the brown dihedrals at the cliff base left of center, climbing up and right to the brown "open book" corner, (or the varation lightning bolt cracks left of that) and then through a pitch of aid to the upper cracks, leaning left to reach the right side of the prominent skyline rock in this image. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2005.
BETA PHOTO: Desert Solitaire (III, 5.11a, C2) ascends from eit...
Dave moves up the very enjoyable 5th pitch.
Dave moves up the very enjoyable 5th pitch.

Comments on Desert Solitaire Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 19, 2013
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 10, 2004

Great route!!
By mike schlauch
Mar 11, 2004

Chip Ruckgaber and I freed this route in Feb 2000. It involved some hard crimping on friable flakes that may or may not still be there. At the time it felt like Eldo 5.11d, but that will depend on what holds are still available. The free line went left initially past the first bolt, then crossed back to the right.

cheersmike schlauch
By Jason Nelson
From: SLC, UT
May 9, 2007

It still goes free. The holds I used seemed like they'll be around for a while, but were very sandy. The route might be slightly harder now though, hard to say.
By david goldstein
May 20, 2007

Pros:
5 out of 6 pitches have high quality climbing, a very good ratio for CNM.
The last pitch is great, a poor man's version of the mega last pitch of Infrared. Even if you're baking, don't give in to the temptation to skip it.
The fixed anchors are very well thought out.
Mostly comfortable belays.

Cons:
Less than prime rock quality throughout.
Not much of a line -- you can scramble into the route at 1/3 height.
Not a tower.

Notes:
We thought the 5th pitch was the crux, considerably harder than the first.
Rack: We would have been happier if we'd replaced one of the #3 Friends with a #4 Friend or #4 C4 Camalot, particularly at the crux of the first pitch and the start of the sixth which was unprotected w/out a larger piece. We made only one placement w/ our "medium to large nuts" but could have used a couple of smaller (#2-4 Rocks) in the aid section. As far as TCU size gear, we placed at most 1 green Alien size on any pitch (though I could see placing more); we didn't use any smaller cams except in the aid section where we placed both a 00 and a 0 C3, though leaders whose aid mojo was running stronger could get by w/ at most one of those pieces.
With a 70M rope you can rap directly to the start, avoiding the circuitous downclimb, in 4 raps. Combine the raps for the 4th & 5th pitches as well as the 2nd & 3rd but be careful as both combined raps are stretchers.
By Matthew Seymour
From: 1996 Dodge Van, USA
May 31, 2007

The above comments do a good job describing the route, but I'd like to say just a bit more about pitch 4, the old aid pitch.

It is freeable at a grade in the mid 11s, so if you are taking the rest of the route free you should definitely attempt to free his pitch, everything you need is there. The main difficulty might be that the crux here is more of a face climb, where the rest of the route is a straight crack. However, the crux is short, and you have good pro that you can double up on right at your feet. Go for it!

I climbed it 5/30/7. The holds in the crux are probably among the most solid bits of rock on the upper section, but yes it is a sandy route.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Oct 29, 2007
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c C1

Aid section is probably C2. There are a few questionable placements in a row in soft rock. I broke off a few holds trying to free the moves before losing the stomach for it.
Note: you can go up P3 via either way (both are not only worthy, but excellent) and then rap and do the other way to add a **** pitch to this awesome route.
By dbyte
From: Carbondale, CO
Mar 11, 2008
rating: 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a C0

Did this Sunday w/ 2 friends. We all agreed that if you can do the other 5.11 pitches then the aid section isn't much harder & is reasonably protected. We felt the moves (3 of them) to be ~11c & protected by 2 purple Black Diamond C3s (size 00), the highest of which was just below our feet when we reached the bolt.

This route is superb & doesn't see nearly the traffic it could/should.
By Skyeler Congdon
From: his van
Dec 1, 2009

The Lightning Bolt Variation is so friggin' classic. One of the best single pitches in the Monument! But it means you can't link pitches 3, 4. Worth it, though.
By 007
From: cold as it gets, CO
Dec 7, 2011

The C1 section is super short. I would say it goes free at hard 5.11, but it would involve some loose and very thin crack climbing (tips). Awesome route, one of the best I've done on The Monument.
By notmyname
From: Stony Brook, NY
Apr 1, 2012
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b C1

This route is really fun and low commitment. Every real pitch is awesome, albeit short. The 5.11a pitches felt incredibly soft for the grade, and the cruxes are very, very short. Grade II 10b and ten feet of C1. The 5.6 moves off the 1st belay are the crux. 5 #2 Camalots is an insane amount. You can easily get by with two. The #4 is nice on the 6th pitch, but doing the crack to the list makes it unnecessary. The aid placements are bomber, and even if freeing, you only need one 0 Metolius TCU/Mastercam. You get a bomber yellow TCU and even more bomber green Camalot just before the bolt. Throw in a last piece after the lightning bolt crack so you don't freak your wife out with a major pendulum if belaying off the chain anchors. All combination of pitches are easily linkable with a set of doubles to yellow and one blue and grey (#3 & 4) Camalot.

Raps with a 70. Pitch 6, pitch 4+5, pitch 2+3 (watch the ends), pitch 1.

Approach via the slope to the right, not the gully to the left.
By Nathan Welton
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 24, 2012
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c C1

Re: the above comment, no way is this 5.10b! And you need the recommended 5 to 6 hand-sized pieces unless you like extremely sandy 25-foot runouts on moderate to poor quality rock.

That said, it's a fantastic line, with every pitch being awesome aside from the grunge pitch. The funky blocks on the last pitch are more solid than they look, and the final moves onto the anchors are rad.

We brought doubles from blue Metolius to red Camalot, 5 or 6 hand-sized pieces, and 1 blue Camalot, along with the larger nuts in the set. I would have loved to have an extra 0.75 Camalot and would have left the big nuts and taken the smaller half of the set for the aid section. A 0 & 00 Metolius will get you through the aid section with minimal fuss, and would be preferred for sending it free.

Recent rains had turned the route into a sandbox for us, but it was dope nonetheless.

For the descent, we made two 35m raps on our 70m rope (off of P6 chains, off of P4 chains) and then scrambled to the ground. The first rap was exactly 35m long and a total rope stretcher, so beware!!
By Brett S.
May 19, 2013

Fun climb. 2nd pitch sports some pretty terrible choss, more like climbing on dried mud than rock. I would have liked to have had an extra #0.75 Camalot (three in total) for the thin hands pitch. The very short C1 section goes free at .11+ and is well-protected. Leave the aid gear!