You can't miss this area. The Nautilus is named for the large feature on its top, forming a large roof, that looks like - you guessed it - a Nautilus shell. Trust me, if you can't find it, you're not looking. The approach to the nearest climbs from this lot is a mere 2 minutes.
Keep driving past the main area where you turn for the fee camping to the next parking area, also on your left. This is the dirt parking lot with the restroom/latrine (visible from the road). See the description above.
This route is located on the far right side of the Nautilus as you view it from the parking lot. It is a wide right-facing dihedral. To access it scramble up to the ledge at its base. The crack in this dihedral is fat. Suck it up, use some technique and/or lay it back in sections and go. I wish I could give a more vivid description of this generic looking dihedral. I'll just say that it held my attention from start to finish. I jammed, stemmed and did some laybacking.As far as fatties go,...[more]Browse More Classics in WY
The Nautilus is one of the best crags in the Front Range. On it are a wide variety of climbs- both crack and face- at all levels of difficulty. It is a very popular crag, and some areas (in particular the Friday the 13th alcove) can get congested on the weekend with climbers taking turns on the classics. Weekdays you still can have the place to yourself. From the highway the crag looks like a giant submarine emerging from the depths (hence the "Torpedo Tubes"). It is possible to follow sun or shade around the crag throughout the day. The shaded N side can be buggy, but a breeze is usually enough to keep them down. Try to stay on the trails, since the area was reseeded after the fences were put up (you used to camp under the boulders)- I know, there are cows in there at times, and it may seem pointless, but try. There is excellent bouldering to be had in the boulders surrounding the crag, but be prepared to do some crack climbing. Some of the descents are walk-offs, but for many climbs you will need to rappel. Around the W/SW side of the crag (near the outhouse/parking area), there are various tricks for scrambling off of certain climbs, but be prepared to rappel anyhow. One of the local entertainments is to rappel the prominent fin which caps the high point of the crag in this area. At the E prow area (by the Torpedo Tubes) the standard rap route from the "summit" of the prow is down Middle Parallel Space to the top of the large block which forms the Right Parallel Space chimney, then to the ground. One rope only. Many of the other climbs in this vicinity have rap anchors or lowering stations. There is a 3rd/4th Class descent left of the the Friday the 13th alcove (when viewing the crag); this is obvious and requires a short section of downclimbing. The area above this descent is interesting to explore. I can't even begin to list the classic climbs to do- for the most part you get what you see. Look under Baldwin's Chimney and some of the other easy-moderate climbs (5.4-5.8); I put together a fun little tick-list for wide cracks, kind of a "Intro to Wide Cracks 101" course. In the 5.9-5.10 range there is Middle Parallel Space, Lower progressive, Flying Buttress, Baalbek, and many other good routes. 5.11 is a great grade on this crag, and most of the 25+ routes in this grade are worth doing. Look for Friday the 13th, Ghost Dance, Max Factor, Crankenstine, and many others. A double set of cams to #4 Camalot, a few 5" to 6" pieces, and a handful of wireds, TCUs, and QDs should keep you out of trouble, but it's usually pretty obvious if you need more (especially bigger) gear. Have fun!
Actually, the Nautilus is named after the submarine in Jules Verne's novel "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Hence the referential route names like Captain Nemo (who piloted the sub in the book), the Torpedo Tubes (which are perfectly placed on the prow of the "ship"), etc. The thingy on top really doesn't look much like a nautilus shell, but the whole formation really does look a **lot** like a submarine surfacing when viewed from a distance.
Anyway, the Nautilus is a great crag; probably the best at Vedauwoo, with many, many high-quality routes on all sides. My personal fave is Flying Buttress -- short but super aesthetic and fun.
Whipping Boy - 11C, a good OW over by Hello Stupid. Thrust your body wholeheartedly into the overhanging squeeze chimney to get to some hand and fist stacks that are followed by a sorta rest, then do some fists and then hands in a tight corner. Cool route and has not seen a second ascent that I know of. Good fun.
Whipping Boy was actually climbed a number of years ago by Mike Johnson and Steven Alderman. It's still a quality route. What really ticks me off is some of the bolting that locals have tolerated. I noticed this fall that an an old toprope/headpoint project in the Three Sisters Area has become a sport route- bolts next to a handcrack up high. What happened to locals policing each other?
Any good photos out there with routes marked? Nautilus specifically? I see a good pana shot but nothing with the routes marked. Of course if there was a good shot with routes marked, it would probably be on here, huh? Well, never hurts to ask. Thanks!
I am heading out to this area for the first time tomorrow. I have some friends guiding up the climbs but anyone know how the bouldering is in this area? I have heard good things about Vedauwoo in general for bouldering, but how about in the Nautilus area? Worth bringing the pad?
There's some pretty good stuff out there. The easiest to find stuff is on the interstate side, along the trail. Soak'em In Cider, Cupcake, and a few others will jump right out at you. The rest you'll find with just a little bit of exploring. On the other side is the Dungeon, which can be hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for. Most of the good problems at Nautilus are cracks, or bloody hard. So bring tape, or be rad.
I dunno, if you consider Satterfields to be 5.8+, you'll be in for a rude awakening on Handjacker (which I think is 7+, but that's just cause I have the beta). Handjacker is definitely amongst the final climbs for any Nautilus OW101 course, although I feel Lower Slot Right is harder. It feels similar to Mother #1, both good routes to get your wide on. After that, you can graduate to some truly interesting climbs.
The crux on Satterfield's is NOT wide though, so while fun, it really has no business there. The wide stuff on Satterfield's is about 5.7 or so, and made a lot easier with copious face features.
If anyone has been out to the east end of the Nautilus this week, you will have noticed that someone painted a retarded bit of vandalism all over the bottom of grand traverse. I have watched Vedauwoo become increasingly abused over the last 6-7 years, but this really takes the cake. There will be efforts underway soon to clean this up, and complaints have been filed to the appropriate agencies. Nonetheless, I would warn anyone with knowledge of this that local Vedauwoo climbers are going to start getting really short tempers about this kind of shit. Of course, I would have to assume this is not the work of climbers but rather some dumb shit hikers or road side tourists. However, it is becoming increasingly common for large groups of partially clueless climbers to show up at the Nautilus and to treat the area with no respect, so I am losing the ability to give climbers the benefit of the doubt. When you show up at the Friday the 13th alcove as a group of 15 people, with multiple dogs, and gang bang top rope routes all day (and leave behind cigarette butts and bottles of red stripe), you should realize you are wearing out your welcome. Groups with 2 competent leaders and an army of toprope heroes should go somewhere else.