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This route, which was originally graded 5.12d, somehow worked its way down to 5.12b after Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden and Adam Stack began using it as the crag warm-up and got it ultra-dialed. Luckily, common sense prevailed before it hit 5.12a.
A more realistic consensus seems to have emerged somewhere in the 5.12c/d range, though I've also heard this called harder than The Eighth Day (5.13a) at Rifle and, alternately, 5.12c. I dunno. You be the judge. It's plenty hard.
This is the rightmost route in the Metropolis Sector, and climbs the immaculate black/pink streak on Euro-quality stone. It tips just so slightly past the vertical, but is at a good angle where you can use your feet and work with most of the micro-features on the rock. Start just above the juniper tree and climb up blocky rock to a first bolt left of the big chimney. Run it out to the second bolt (5.9 PG-13) on good holds, some of which are hollow. Above this the route is well-protected and bullet. You may be able to clip an intermediary bolt on the route just left, Shazam (5.12d), between bolts one and two with a long sling to keep you off the deck if a hold broke.
From here the climbing stays tricky, sustained and engaging, with hard-to-find holds, funky laybacks and micro-crimps on bullet black stone. The crux bit seems to be the very sustained climbing above the huge hueco, finessing up the shallow groove (50 feet of stemming and pimping). A final mini-roof caps the action. Two in-situ draws above this roof let you lower off with a 70-meter (a 60-meter just might work) if you've done the route before and/or had enough, as the climbing above is "merely" 5.11. It is, however, slabby, thin, tricky 5.11, so a true ascent goes all the way to the anchors at a no-hands ledge, 40 meters up.
Take in the view, then get down safely.
Many, many quickdraws (18?) and a 80-meter rope, if you want to come down in one lower. Otherwise, with a 60- or 70-meter rope, you can lower twice.
Caution, however: An 80-meter rope just barely makes it back to the ground.
By Josh Janes
Dec 7, 2008
With a 60m cord, it is no problem to lower off the top down to the anchor on Shazam. From here, pull the rope and lower again down to the ground (60m rope just barely reaches). A total of 16 bolts plus the anchor & I'd call this rig 12c tech/endurance (no individual moves are very hard). Are the extensive walls way to the left of the Fortress (highly visible on the hike in) developed? So much potential!