|Shirt Tail Peak
BETA PHOTO: Shirt Tail Peak, high above Eldorado Canyon.
Shirt-Tail Peak is comprised of two main walls split by a massive dihedral/gully, which is climbed via "The Mountaineer's Route." The left hand wall contains the popular classic Gambit, and the Right hand wall is generally the less solid rock.
Starting from up into the Mountaineer's Route, you can reach a very large pine tree after some distance. This is obvious from the ground below. About 40' past the big tree, up the gully/dihedral, you can see 2 small pine trees side-by-side on the left hand wall, 15' from the big dihedral. A left-leaning crack and seam leads up to these. This is the start of two great routes, [Moriarty's] Mistake and Moriarty's Revenge.
Climb the seam up and left (5.9) to reach the trees. This slanting seam/crack is 5.9 and would be difficult to protect, so make sure the belayer has been firmly anchored into the great dihedral. Sling the right-most tree and then head up the fun and interesting handcrack (great jamming in Eldo- a rarity) for about 30' before its abrupt end. This is 2-2.5" cam sized, which you will need again later. Take extras in this size.
From the end of this crack look up above. There are two options across a section of unprotectable vertical face. Either one will reach a new seam or crack after 10-15' of 5.9 face climbing. Either one could produce a spectacular fall if ill considered or executed. This is the route's physical and mental crux. I chose to aim for the left-most of the two cracks, as the right most had some dirt and grass in it. This paid off, as after some insecure moves I once again placed gear and moved up on good stone, continuing on easier moves up and occasionally stepping left or right before reaching the roof. There were a few other runouts, but none were severe. With extra 2.5" cams, it would have been less exciting.
If you have a 60M rope, you may continue. If you are bound by a 50M rope, belay under the roof in an uncomfortable and dubious position.
Place a few good pieces under the roof and work up through it's apex on the right hand side at a crack, grabbing one of several solid chockstones. Again, this is solid 5.9 climbing, and the pro will come and go. The moves are fun and [exciting], and not always just above protection. As you move up you will start climbing on chockstones frequently. I tugged, tapped, and pounded at the critical chockstones that I wanted to use as holds- they did not move. What a head-game! A heavy rack will benefit the leader now, as you will have little pro left if you've both carried a light rack and run the two pitches [together]. Move up over on several fun sections until you reach the summit and belay your partner from the huge boulders there. You can see the ski lifts [of Eldora] from this position.
I would have given this route 3 stars as a single pitch, for it's uniqueness and mind-games.... but not everyone uses those same standards, but it would be hard to give it less than 2 stars for sure.
[Descend] by 3 raps as for Gambit.
The route is fairly runout in a few sections, particularly between the cracks, as described below. I would advise only SOLID 5.9 leaders to attempt this route. The crux move was about 8' above decent gear and was insecure. There were several other technical moves without nearby protection. The best way to do this route by far is in a single long pitch, so perhaps you should even carry a large rack overall. Take a standard rack with several hand-sized [pieces].
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