Perhaps Shelf Road's hardest free route, Flight of the Phoenix climbs a beautiful white wall, split by a short but burly bulge. This climb is quite unique among Shelf's hard routes, climbing almost entirely on full-pad or larger holds. There are no tweaky pockets or razor crimps. The crux involves strenuous compression climbing on relatively big slopers, where strong biceps and core tension are more helpful than titanium fingers and impeccable footwork.
Teeter up a spooky, vibrating tower to an intimidating roof. Some fun, 5.11 finger-locking leads over this obstacle to a sit-down ledge below the crux. A handful of easy moves leads to the bulge, where three or four consecutive slaps, each one more difficult than the last, culminate in an all-out, soaring huck for a flat mini-ledge. After a decent shake on this ledge, one more balancey 5.12 move guards the relatively trivial headwall.
This route was conceived and equipped by Ben Schmitt in late 2009. This route, more than any other, inspired the surge in difficult route development that Shelf has experienced in the last few years, by demonstrating that quality hard plums were still waiting to be snatched, even at Shelf's most picked-over crags. Many thanks to Ben for his vision for Shelf and his effort in bolting this, and many other great routes, around Colorado.
Thanks for posting this, it is still a project as far as I know. I've one fallen on it probably 15 times over the years but never sent. So, jump on it! The crux clocks in around V11, which seems to be the consensus, and the top is about 12c to the anchors up and right, rather than the ones directly up in the middle of the wall. Maybe 14b? Who knows? I had originally dubbed this the "Indolentia" project, which in Latin means "freedom from pain", which is fitting, because the boulder problem is big moves between decent holds, rather than mono madness.
I'm always more than willing to give what beta I've found, I'll write something up here when I have a little more time. The name can be whatever the first ascentionist wants, it was just the one that stuck, so until it's sent, it's probably irrelevant. I'm glad you are excited about it!
Thanks! I will not be the 1st, but I feel the name Venom would be perfect, because it is right by Carnage and would complete the Spiderman enemy duo. But thanks for updating, Ben!
By Monomaniac Administrator From: Morrison, CO Feb 19, 2013
For me, this is by far the hardest route at Shelf. This took me significantly longer to climb than any other Shelf route. That said, I'm not very good at this type of climbing. Shelf's other .14s suit me much better. I wouldn't be surprised if a strong boulderer found this to be easier than the relatively pumpy Apogee Pending or the highly technical 'Paradise'. I also wouldn't be surprised if future climbers decide this is sandbagged. This is one of those weird routes like Dumpster BBQ that seems to get harder the more you try it.
Nice work, Mark! I remember working that crux (a little above my ability) and thinking the same thing, that it was rather Rifle-esque.
By Monomaniac Administrator From: Morrison, CO Feb 27, 2013
I put together a short video of the climb. Check it out here.
By Monomaniac Administrator From: Morrison, CO Mar 19, 2014
In the year or so since I did this, I've had the chance to travel around a bit and try some other routes of similar style and difficulty. Based on those routes, I'm beginning to think this is more like .14b. Time will tell, but for now I've changed the grade here to .14a/b.