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This was named "Geezer Highway" in honor of Mike Dudley and Dennis Willis who intended to name it that after putting up the first two pitches in the '80s. If anyone knows the complete first ascent information, let me know and I will edit the route information. Thanks!
This route climbs a long crack system 80 feet right of Otto's Route on the northwest side of the monument. While there probably are not any moves individually harder than 5.9+, it is more vertical, sustained and difficult than Otto’s Route. This route was harder than what I normally lead (I took a few falls), but serious climbers that enjoy sustained, vertical, trad routes may find it more enjoyable than Otto's.
Pitch 1: Climb a right-facing crack to a small belay ledge with two pitons and slings (visible in the photo). In places this crack is fairly wide – I used a #4 cam to protect a few moves. (80 feet, 5.8)
Pitch 2: Follow the crack past two pitons on the right side about 40 feet up, where the crack/dihedral is too thin to protect. Continue up to a sloping belay ledge with one piton and some slings with a couple of stoppers attached. (60 feet, 5.9)
Pitch 3: Climb straight up the crack which varies in width and is a little sandy. The crux for me was about 30 feet up where the crack bulges out to the right. I passed it with a layback, but it's very exposed and challenging to place good gear in the crack. Be careful placing cams here -- I had two blow out on me when I fell. (However, I got a #4 Camalot in just below the crux, and it held me on a couple of falls.) I climbed this pitch to a ledge below the OW/chimney. Not a very comfortable belay ledge, but I was nearly out of gear for setting an anchor. I used a #5 cam for an anchor belay sitting below the offwidth. (60 feet, 5.9+)
Pitch 4: Climb straight up an awkward offwidth/chimney. It starts nearly vertical, then gradually the slope eases back. Not many options for gear, unless you bring something like a #5 Camalot. But once you're up about 15 feet, the slope is such that a long fall is unlikely since you're inside the squeeze chimney. The chimney tops out just below the huge ledge on the right side of Otto's time tunnel. (5.8, 50 feet)
Pitches 5 & 6: Scramble to the time tunnel ledge and follow the last two pitches of Otto's Route to the summit.
Note: strong climbers with a 60m rope could probably combine pitches 1 & 2, and pitches 3 & 4. I kept the pitches short to preserve gear for protection and belay anchors.
To get to the route, go to the start of Otto's Route, then walk climber's right (south/west) about 80 feet. The crack system is pretty obvious. When we climbed it, there was a visible set of slings attached to two pitons about 80' up, then another set of slings 50' above that on the right side of the crack (harder to see from the ground). See the attached photo.
Descent: You could rappel down from the first set of slings on the two pitons. From the second set of slings, one could rappel from the slings, but the single piton anchor and stoppers looked a little dicier -- definitely want to make sure those stoppers are set well. Above that, you’re fairly committed to the top to join Otto's Route.
Double rack recommended. I used cams of every size on this climb, from smaller than a 0.3 to a couple of large Camalots (#4 and #5). Two fixed pitons at first belay ledge. Two pitons right of the crack about 40 feet above the first belay. A single piton (with a sling and some stoppers) at the second sloping belay ledge. Nothing else above that until you join Otto's Route.
While there are many, many options for placing gear in the crack, I rated the route PG-13 simply because in places the crack is a little flaring and the sandstone is soft. I had two cams at the crux bust out on a fall -- but the #4 held! Just be careful setting your protection and back it up.
BETA PHOTO: Pic shows climb in relationship to Otto's Route st...
Proof Brenda made it to the summit!
|Comments on Geezer Highway
From: Aurora, CO
Oct 31, 2011
I agree with your PG-13 rating. There are sections of loose and sandy rock with questionable pro. There is an extremely sketchy, stacked block on the first pitch to watch out for as well.
|By M Dudley|
From: Central Rockies
Dec 28, 2011
LOL! Just ran across this route by chance today. My good friend Dennis Willis and I put up the first two leads back in the late '80s. We never got back to finish the route. We were going to name it "Geezer Highway". If someone thinks they may have claim to the FA, please give it a name.
|By Rich F.|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Sep 30, 2012
Mike -- I like "Geezer Highway" better than NW Crack. Thanks for putting up the first two pitches back in the '80s!
|By M Dudley|
From: Central Rockies
Nov 21, 2012
Hi Rich - Thank you for keeping the name we were going to use.
May your climbs be straightforward and the pro plentiful.
Nov 22, 2012
Climbed it 11/2012 with 2x #4 and 3x #3 and a rack of doubles. Back up the belay after pitch 2 with a #2 Camalot. Anchor for pitch 4 takes your leftover small gear. Offwidths on pitch 3 & 4 protect well with a #4. Definitely, without question, link pitches 1 & 2, 3 & 4. Dirty at times but still an enjoyable time. Excellent way to pass parties on Otto's. Makes for a good sunset climbing experience. Old school 5.9.