Beginning Feb. 1st each year, a seasonal wildlife closure will be in effect on Redgarden Wall in Eldorado Canyon State Park to protect nesting and roosting sites of the canyon’s falcons. The closure is in effect through July 31st unless lifted early due to early fledging or inactivity.
The closure includes the following climbing routes: The Naked Edge (last 3 pitches only), The Diving Board, Centaur, Redguard (last 3 pitches only), Red Ant, Semi-Wild, Anthill Direct (last 3 pitches only), and The Sidetrack.
This is a famous route, not often done these days because of the dreaded word - "Offwidth". The name is a play on words of the even more famous Grand Jorasse in the Alps. It protects well with some big gear and is not at all runout like some of those Yosemite monster cracks.
P1: This route starts from the top of the lower ramp, from the same place as Ruper. Head up the start of the Rover dihedral, until an obvious crack shoots off left before the Rover dihedral becomes hard. There are some pins in this awkward crack (as I recall), which is 5.9 for a short section.
P2: This is an easy pitch (5.4) which follows a ramp and wide crack leftward to the base of the dreaded, right-facing corner of the Grand Giraffe (which breaches the roof left of Art's Spar).
P3: This is the crux, and the difficulties start immediately. As I recall, there is a piton right away. At the start you can chimney the crack, with your back against the left wall, but soon the footholds on the right disappear. If you are a weenie like me, place a big Camalot above you at this point, which gives you a toprope for the crux. Struggle up through the crux and place your other big piece.
Although the upper part of this crack looks intimidating, I found the crux to be the first 15'. Near the top you have to climb the main part of the overhang, but there is good pro and holds here. Belay at the Upper Ramp.
From here the route continues above the Upper Ramp via two more fun pitches (5.7, but mildly runout). Cross the upper ramp to the upper end of a huge cave, 4th class (lower end is the start of upper Ruper and Alice in Bucketland).
P4: Head straight up for 75', then traverse right and then up to a belay below a roof line.
P5: The final pitch angles up and left, crossing the roofline at it's left edge, then continues up and right to the saddle between T1 and T2.
Standard rack to 3", plus some big gear will make this route comfy, say a #4.5 and a #5 Camalot.
Starting with Slimy Spoon to the Lower Ramp and then the Grand Giraffe to the Upper then Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors makes for a great yet moderate link up with a huge variety of climbing from juggy face to fingers to offwidth.
I think a #3 Camalot is plenty for the crux of this route, the pin offers good pro and then there is a good spot for the #3 about six or seven feet above. If I had brought a #4, I don't think I would have even used it and I suck at offwidth...
I think I'm comfortable doing this pitch without any offwidth gear because I place a #3 Ballnut where you exit the crack and move onto the face. I've fallen out of the crux a few times (onto the pin) and still don't ever take a #4 Camalot when I do this route knowing full well that I will probably fall off of it again. It is all a matter of person comfort level. A #4 or #4.5 would definitely make it feel safer, I wonder what Layton Kor used on the FA in 1960?????
I would not head up to onsight this pitch without a #5 Camalot unless you are very comfortable in offwidths. It is conceivable that once you know the moves, rests, etc. you could do it comfortably without it, but (for me anyway) it is a daunting and awkward climb and having the #5 to essentially keep you on TR is reassuring. The pin comes just before the crux OW moves, and does seem solid. The #4 goes in a little below it, just in case. A few moves/grunts into the crux you can get the #5 in over your head and bump it along with you all the way to the bulge 20' above. If you are tall like me, you can also get a #4.5 deep in the crack a few feet above the pin, as you move into the crux. All told, singles of the #4, #4.5, and #5 make this pitch as comfortable as OW can be.
This route is fantastic and should not be avoided because of the OW. The lower pitches are great, the exposure is thrilling, and the OW is not that bad (I actually really enjoyed it).
I recommend placing some gear right away, then run it out of you like. Or, place a big cam, whatever. Just don't trust that pin, it is old and awkwardly driven. No telling how good it is. Beautiful route. Have Fun!
Bring one #4.5 Camalot, or like size. You don't need anything else other than a #4.5 for the crux to back up the pin. Nothing bigger than a Tech Friend #3.5 or Camalot #3 is needed for the other pitches. Double TCUs and stoppers are ideal. Be wary of the expando flake below the first pins on pitch 2. This is a seriously huge chunk of rock fixing to go -- tread lightly through this section!
Great route. I thought the best pitch was actually the 5.9 left angling crack pitch (that breaks off from the Rover dihedral), though it's all excellent. The upper pitches are fun and also make a good alternative to upper-Ruper if crowded.
The crux was desperate for me and I was glad to have a #4 and #4.5. No Grand Giraffe onsight for me... Dang-it!
We did Grand Giraffe's first three pitches to Body Tremors to Smoke and Mirrors. This combo makes for a stellar day.
P1. 5.9 - There is a parallel crack just to the left of the upper part of this crack. I stayed in the crack on the right, but using the other crack might make it a bit easier. I really enjoyed this pitch.
P2. 5.6 (5.4 according to Rossiter) - this must've been the toughest 5.4 I've ever done. More like 5.6.
P3. 5.10a - my partner, Mike Flanagan, led this with a #3 & #3.5 Camalot. He fit the #3.5 below the pin for a decent (although not ideal) placement. He used the #3 higher in the constriction. It did not walk (though could have). Look for high footholds out on the right face as you move through the crux. At the roof, a blue Alien fits decently.
Not bad, but not my favorite Eldo route. Even though I am a Vedauwoo offwidth fan I would recommend saving this one for later. If you want the beta on pro, the above comments are terrific!
By L. Hamilton Nov 20, 2004 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c
The 1970s gear beta for the crux pitch, back when this was a classic 5.8, was to trust the pin (and don't fall) for the first crux, then bring along one #10 hex for the upper part -- where it slotted in place "like a key in a lock." No worries about that walking out.
Has anyone used BigBro's to protect the OW crack? If so, what size? I am guessing they may get in the way while climbing, or the crack might flare too much. They would be easier to carry than large cams.
In 1968 the Grand Giraffe was rated 5.8 and I climbed it with Pat Ament and Royal Robbins. Royal announced that we were going to take no pitons and use only chockstones that he had brought back from England. This was to be the first time nuts were used in Colorado. After thinking over the fixed pins already in place, I thought it would be OK and joined them. We never protected the 5.8 offwidth at that time and it turned out to be Royal's lead. He stopped in the middle of the crux, turned around and looked down at us, and said " this is the hardest 5.8 I have ever done." He then turned back around and finished with no problem. I believe the gear we had were mostly Pecks and Moacs as stoppers and hexes were far in the future.
By BWpete Aug 22, 2005 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
In reply to the coward. Yes you can use a bigbro, I think it was the blue, but it may have been green. I didn't lead it, or cleanly second it, (it is "harder than Pete") but in desperation and humiliation, I grabbed the big bro and used it like a big old ladder handle. It worked well for then, and now that I am a little better I will say that it is actually good to use a big bro if you are going to bring someone that isn't good with offwidth. What the leader of my party did was had a big bro, and then the old number 5 BD cam, and bumped them up so he didn't have to carry too many pieces. It worked well, and you can protect the whole OW with 2 pieces if you bump them.
Did this the other day and thought it was great. I approached this thinking that the OW was going to a desperate grunt, but found it to be quite good. One thing to keep in mind with the GG is that the crux is very short. Overall, a stellar climb and well worth doing. I would recommend a #4.5 Camalot instead of a #5 and a #3 works well five feet or so below the roof. As for it not being popular (as described in the intro), I started this at 11:30 am and was the third group on it.
I would bring more than a #3 Camalot for the crux pitch if you're a 5.10 leader such as myself. I backed up the piton with a #4 Camalot (old one) which was a hindrance because I had trouble squeezing into the 'crack'. I managed, though, probably because of my guttoral screams while getting through the crux.
Anyone that just brings a #3 Camalot is on the wrong route or crazy! After you clip the pin you can place a #5 Camalot that works well but a bit tipped-out. You can walk this up the entire route to the top. A big green Friend would also work well here.
Don't overlook upper Grand Giraffe above the Upper Ramp. The climbing is much easier but very fun, and the routefinding is complicated with funky gear. The rock is solid although covered with lichen. Also, on the last pitch it is really nice to climb up and right out of the belay in a dihedral that is much harder looking than it is, instead of up and left according to the route description. Above is one of the nicest easy pitches on hueco jugs imaginable.
By Ian Wolfe From: Fayetteville, NC Oct 16, 2006 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
I felt the 5.9 pitch was harder than the offwidth pitch. The offwidth looks intimidating from below, but it is really only hard for the first couple feet off the belay. I was expecting something longer and more sustained.
Was able to link the first two pitches described here (First three guidebook pitches) into one, stopping just shy of the normal belay ledge. This was with a 70 m rope, which is long enough to make it to the regular belay (a 60 m might work?). Plenty of runners help, although I ended up with a fair amount of rope drag on easier climbing.
By Dr. Evil From: Boulder, CO Nov 10, 2007 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
Great route, and easier than I was expecting. I did much more chimneying than using pure offwidth technique.
Gear beta: a green Big Bro fits well in the wide section.
I brought only a #4 for the OW, and I still had it on my harness when I finished the pitch! You're better off bringing a #6 cam and walking that up; since a #4 Camalot doesn't fit anywhere above the (good) pin. Great route!
By Sergio P From: Idaho Springs, CO Apr 12, 2009 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
An old style #5 Camalot works great, and a C4 #5 works ok.
Went up to do this route on the 3rd. Anyone who says you don't need a 5 or 6 for that matter is basically free soloing the whole off-width. I went up with 2 4s and could not find spots for them and was looking at free soloing the whole off-width. I declined and went and cruised Art's Spar which in retrospect is a lot better climb anyways.
Yeah, I am not a good climber but a happy and grateful climber! I was soo happy to be off to climb GG!! The offwidth section I followed!! [Like most pitches I climb!!] This was verry hard and I'm worse on sport 10s then classic 10s, I think!! The entire route was great!! The offwidth does demand respect!! Unless 5.12 face is a good redpoint for you!! Still a worthy and legendary route!! Thank you climbing Patriarch Jim Logan for your comments!!! They inspired me to say this precautionary tale! Aspiring Eldo 5.10 leaders this is 5.10!!
That offwidth pitch is tough! I brought a number 5 C4, and I wish that I had brought two. I placed one at the low crux, and then I had to climb back down and get it so that I could use it again to place it for the upper crux. The upper crux is definitely easier, but it's fairly run out above a good #3 Camalot that I placed way back in the crack. There is a fixed knifeblade to protect the lower crux and a yellow Alien in an expanding flake that kinda protects the upper crux, but I was happy to have the #5 C4 to back up these dubious pieces. I can see how people can do this pitch with only #3s, but I would recommend two large cams unless you're feeling especially lucky.
The FFA was done by John Thomas (physics student at UW in Laramie.), sometime around 1962-63. I was still in the Army when it was done. When I climbed it ~ 1966, it still had an awesome reputation for being the ultimate "hard man" climb in Eldorado Canyon.
You may be able to booty a cam (clean up litter) if you drag a coat hanger up to the offwidth crux. There appears to be a hand-sized Friend laying uncammed in the back of the 5-6 inch crack. It's probably 4 feet beyond arm's reach.
By Sagar Gondalia From: Golden Jun 9, 2014 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
The cam has been cleaned. It was an old, rigid stem #2.5 Friend.
P1 is 5.9 for more than a short section. Felt pretty sustained to me, with at least two and maybe three distinct 5.9 cruxes.
P4 and P5 can be run together in a very long pitch. If you are comfortable simulclimbing a bit, it works with a 60 meter rope. We stayed left and ascended a chimney-like feature with a few old funky pitons. This is a wonderful pitch! A bucket-fest dessert after eating your offwidth veggies.