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Lisa Nelson on the second pitch of El Sueno. Phot...
This is one of my favorite climbs in Ouray and the location is just spectacular. Gear is only needed for the last pitch. Pitch one and two are bolted. Keep in mind that once you rap in, you're committed to climbing out. Keep in mind that the San Juans are subject to Colorado's afternoon storm systems. The first pitch may get wet in the spring from high water flow and mist from the waterfall. This wall gets late morning sun until about 2pm and then goes into the shade.
Pitch 1 (10b, 29m): Starts at the big trees at the bottom of the cliff. Follow bolts left to a left facing corner and to an anchor.
Pitch 2 (11b, 24m): Step right and climb a broad "S" shaped arÍte to an off balance layback flake.
Pitch 3 (11a, 24m): Climb flake to the right of the belay and up left facing corner. Follow bolts to the top anchor.
Scramble climbers left down a slab (like eldo's lower ramp) and into the gully. There are anchors at the lip of the slab that you can also rappel to avoid down climbing.
If things don't go well, you can continue left from the top of the first pitch to another anchor. Continue left up a thin crack on a slab (5.9 trad; small gear) to bolts. From here, you can easily down climb back to the forest and hike out.
There are other routes on this wall from 5.10 to 5.12. See the guidebook at Ouray Mountain Sports for more info.
Drive S on US Hwy 550 from Ouray (maybe 5 miles?), pass the alpine loop/Engineer Pass turnoff on your left, go another mile and park at the second launcher site sign/pulloff on your right. Directly across the street is a mine shaft. You will be directly across the canyon from the wall and a waterfall. About 20 ft. up the road from the parking, a faint trail will lead down into the trees following a ridgeline. Do a tyrolean across the top of the waterfall, and hike up the other side. You can rap in on a ledge near a giant pine tree (watch for sharp edges! Rap 35m and some down climbing or with 2 ropes) or scramble (4th or easy 5th class) to the top of the wall up a gully (go around the corner at the first tree to a ledge). Do not continue up the broad buttress or you will be nowhere near where you want to climb. Walk around the tree and locate and bolted anchor with chains and rappel the route. These anchors are visible from the parking lot just above the steep part of the all and to the right of a small tree. You will do 3 raps with a single line to get to the base of the route. You'll want at least a 60m rope.
2 med. stoppers, (1) #3 Camalot, several small TCUs (i.e. purple and blue Metolius cams), optional finger size. 12-14 quickdraws. 60m rope.
BETA PHOTO: The circles represent 2 bolt belays.
looking down the first pitch