H-E Ridge is a relatively hidden and quiet place somewhat like the West Ridge in shape, but it is smaller, with fewer quality lines, and a less desirable approach. Some very good routes do exist here but only a dozen or so. The pros are that it's not crowded (at all), shady, and protected by the wind and noise.
The cons are the approach, lack of lengthy routes, and good rock interspersed with lesser quality rock. Expect rather steep hike that ranges anywhere from 15-25 minutes.
Hike as you would to Wind Tower all the way up the hill past the start for Wind Ridge to the point where one hits the downclimb trail. Don't head toward Wind Tower at this point--instead, find the East Slabs descent trail on the west side of the gully (near Redgarden) and follow this up steep steps. Some scrambling is required to pass through a slot over a boulder on the east side of the gully a short ways after the start of the trail.
Continue on up vegetated gully until you see a prominent roof with a finger crack splitting it. Some fixed gear may be in the crack. This is basically the start of H-E Ridge. To reach the upper sections, continue following the base of the ridge on the right side of the gully (the upper section isn't very visible from this vantage point). Some sections of the trail are loose, and steep so be careful in wet conditions.
Per Clint Locks: There's also a super-quick walk-off option that works for everything from "Howard Placebo" to "Peters Out". The walk-off meanders north then west, hugging the cliff, and deposits you right back at your packs.
If this route were anywhere else in the Canyon (other than the Rotwand) it would be incredibly popular. Unfortunately it is 2/3 of the way up Hawk Eagle Ridge, an area which has fallen desperately out of vogue despite being home to some forgotten Eldo classics, such as DOA (5.11); Cinch Crack (5.12); Jupiter (5.9); Tombstone (5.11-); and Die Heeda Rule (5.11). If one were to brave the steep hike up the eroded and vegetated trail,...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Although This crag has plenty of "not worth it" routes, it also has good craging. All of the routes are fairly short, but some, such as Tombstone (11a), Die Heeda Rule (11b), Brother Jug (10a), and Self Abuse (10c/d) deserve a try when you want to do some gymnastic trad climbing.
I was up at the end of Hawk Eagle Ridge today dinking around helping on a project. It was decided to rest by sliding down the ridge top roping.
I believe that in the haste of the early 80's to "fill in" that some ratings are severely flawed, specifically the roof piercing variations for Peter's Out and Siberian Khatru....Perhaps the grades below strong, first-ascender standards blend and become difficult to differentiate. Although a small corner of a major crag I submit for review by the community a resampling of these minor routes so that the record can be corrected in future editions of the local guides.
Otherwise, the upper most H.E.R. (peaceful...) has many excellent, two-three move (easily top-roped) test pieces for whatever grade they should be rated. An excellent local playground for solitude and nature appreciating, aspiring climbers.
By Joe Huggins From: 666 Rue le Jour-Edge City Sep 17, 2002
I'm curious, "AC", how you can ascribe haste to people you don't even know. When I was with friends doing lines on upper Hawk Eagle in the early 80s we weren't in a hurry to "fill in". We were there to have fun; perhaps you should try it. As for the ratings, what is the complaint exactly?
As for the grades here, they seemed fine to me. I've climbed both Peter's Out and Siberian Khatru (as well as almost everything else there below 5.12) and I thought that Siberian might be a little bit tough, but arguably reasonable. In my opinion it isn't a total sandbag- 5.9, I thought. Having done 500+ other routes in Eldo, I believe that most of the rest of the grades on Hawk-Eagle are fair by comparison.
Since you did not sign your name, AC, I have no idea where you are coming from, what your point of view is, or what your agenda may be.
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Sep 25, 2002
Beware, perhaps you already know. There is an awful lot of poison ivy here from about 1/3 the way up to the top. If not, steroid creams and/or prednisone work.
Be aware that many of the moderate 5.7-5.9 routes on the slabs on the lower half of Hawk Eagle ridge are hard to find using Rossiter's guide and look like they have poor pro. There are many similar climbs close together, and may of the climbs follow very thin or closed off cracks.
I second Ivan's assessment. Beware in particular the route "Stranglehold, 5.7" (left of Cinch Crack). In Rossiter this route does not have an "S", but it definitely deserves one. That is one scary 5.7, assuming we went the right way! I would add this route if I could remember more about it ...
What do people think about a ladder to get past the big chockstone leading to Hawk Eagle Ridge? This is also part of the East Slabs descent. It's very dangerous on either side of the chockstone although you could, of course, belay it. The west side of Redgarden has those major wooden steps and a metal ladder, but that's for erosion control. Seems like a ladder here at the base of Hawk Eagle Ridge would be justified.
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Mar 7, 2004
I agree with Matt on this one. Bad idea. Unjustified. Not dangerous unless you don't know what you're doing. The other ladders mentioned were put in due to a washout of the prior trail by a rainstorm. As you say, it can be belayed if felt necessary. It would be another example of a convenience item that would detract from the natural beauty of the location. No, please, no.
I'd have to agree with the 'no ladder' stance. I jam and stem down the right side of the boulder in tennis shoes with a full sized pack on. I've seen 2 dogs make it up the slabs to the left, so all in all, I'm going to have to say it's not that hard.
I too would vote against the ladder for a couple of reasons. First, it is neither the hardest nor most dangerous part of the East Slabs descent. The upper slab part where it is "easy" is probably the most dangerous part as a slip would likely be fatal, and it is not so easy when running with water and threatened with lightning. Second, the chimney past the chockstone is pretty easy when dry and is somewhat protected from getting wet in storms. The slab on the left is hairy when wet. Third, a ladder would be hard to conceal and you might even be able to see it from the parking lot.
It does seem like the chimney side has grown smoother over the years, there are some huge handholds at the top of the chimney but they're pretty rounded. Perhaps a discrete rap anchor would make more sense for when there is a storm. I think if the chimney was wet there wouldn't be anybody wanting to go up it.
Before I knew one could downclimb the chockstone side (first time down the East slabs descent) I tried to descend the slab side (Downclimbing right). That time of year, I found it covered with slime and seeping with water so we rapped the slab (I think from a tree that had slings).
As we were rapping, we saw a couple of climbers downclimb the chocksotne side and realized it was not as hard as first thought.
So, in case you are not feeling like downclimbing the chockstone and the slab is wet, you can still rap it. No need to add bolts or ladders.
Now if you are caught in a strom, you better head for higher ground and wait it out cause either way of descending could get you killed.
I have heard that there are some awesome rockslides in this gully when it rains...
We traversed left of the chockstone and thought that was an easier way up - on the way back down someone has placed some new cord around a tree that you could rap with if you don't want to downclimb the chockstone, etc. - could use a rap ring though.