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Sentinel and Specimen Rocks

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Sentinel Rock 

Sentinel and Specimen Rocks Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Lauren D. Hollingsworth on Sep 15, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: The Wing formation on Sentinel Rock.


These secluded, east-facing granite cliffs are visible from High Drive. This area is definitely an adventure climbing area as there is no established trail and no known routes.

From a forum about this area from S. Green: "Sentinel Rock on the right and Specimen Rock on the left. Both have a bunch of routes. The Directissima up Specimen is classic. The other routes, put up over the last 40 years by a bunch of locals including Harvey Carter and Harvey Miller, are variable in quality. Tenney Crags, named for Colorado College's first president, is a great crag, too, but the approach is very long and the cliff is above 10,000 feet. Lots of trad routes have been done up there. When I've been up there I've always camped in the canyon below since the hike is so arduous. Other nearby cliffs include the summit knob on Mt Arthur, slabs on Cameron's Cone, Aiguille de Almalgre on the upper slopes of Almalgre Peak, and Stove Mountain's big multi-faceted east face. Lots to explore. Like so many of the great Pikes Peak crags, these are strictly adventure climbing areas where almost every route, even if it's been done, feels like a new route."

Additional information 

In R&I 95, there is a good mini-guide by Stewart Green.

Climbing Season

For the Colorado Springs area.

Weather station 4.1 miles from here

1 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Featured Route For Sentinel and Specimen Rocks
Rock Climbing Photo: This shows the meat of the climbing and the two va...

High Noon and Hour Passed 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c CO : Colorado Springs : ... : Sentinel Rock
This begins from the nice rock perch below the tombstone formation on the left side of The Sentinel. Pitch 1. 5.9R, 20 feet. Do a boulder problem with micro-gear to gain the nice belay ledge below the obvious corner with splitter crack running parallel to it. This pitch could land you in the hurt, but some creative small gear might hold you off the ledge and a piece of medium-sized gear for the belayer will keep both of you from tumbling off the perch.Pitch 2. 5.11-, 80 feet. Climb the beautifu...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Sentinel and Specimen Rocks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the southern crag, Specimen Rock, and it i...
BETA PHOTO: This is the southern crag, Specimen Rock, and it i...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sentinel Rock from High Drive.
Sentinel Rock from High Drive.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sentinel and Speciman Rocks in morning light.
Sentinel and Speciman Rocks in morning light.
Rock Climbing Photo: A look at the back side of Sentinel; basically a w...
A look at the back side of Sentinel; basically a w...
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is a shot of Directissima taken from below th...
Here is a shot of Directissima taken from below th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Moving right on Sentinel Rock.
Moving right on Sentinel Rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Closure info.
BETA PHOTO: Closure info.
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the northernmost, Specimen Rock.
BETA PHOTO: This is the northernmost, Specimen Rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Took this pic of Tenny Crags with a digiscope I bo...
Took this pic of Tenny Crags with a digiscope I bo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Long Range shot of the main formation at Sentinel ...
BETA PHOTO: Long Range shot of the main formation at Sentinel ...
Rock Climbing Photo: A topo of Directissima, on Specimen, using one of ...
BETA PHOTO: A topo of Directissima, on Specimen, using one of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lower left face of Sentinel Rock.
BETA PHOTO: Lower left face of Sentinel Rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: North Face of Specimen.
BETA PHOTO: North Face of Specimen.
Rock Climbing Photo: Large crack on Sentinel Rock.
BETA PHOTO: Large crack on Sentinel Rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sentinel from the approach.
BETA PHOTO: Sentinel from the approach.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking southeast from Sentinel Rock's base.
Looking southeast from Sentinel Rock's base.

Comments on Sentinel and Specimen Rocks Add Comment
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By loc
From: colorado springs co
Sep 16, 2006
Take it it's trad climbing?
By Stewart M. Green
Sep 16, 2006
This area is not called Tenney Crags. Tenney Crags is the summit of the mountain high above. These are Sentinel and Specimen Rocks. There is a climber trail to Specimen and there are many established routes that have been done in the past 50 years. So, it is not a great unknown crag or area. The directions to access the cliffs are way off. It is advisable to approach by parking lower on High Drive, and hiking up the Palmer-Red Rock Loop before cutting up a long steep ridge on a climber/mineral collector trail. The area, besides climbing, is also renowned for its excellent smokey quartz specimens dug from pits below the cliffs. Before posting information like this on "new areas," it is probably a good idea to ask around and see what's been done. If anyone wants beta, contact Pete Gallagher or myself for route info.
By Rob Powell
Jul 21, 2007
Stewart, could you give more details on where the trail breaks off the Palmer trail? Is it down low at the 1st hair pin turn on the Palmer trail or up high off the ridge straight away? I ride that trail a lot and the only turn I've ever noticed was way down low. Still looks like a grunt to get to it, but the rock looks beautiful from a distance. It's calling me....
By Michael Murphy
Nov 9, 2007
Reuben Gershin and I climbed Directissima on 27 July 2007. There is a sign at the base that states the rock is closed from Apr 1 to July 15th for nesting. Judging by the amount of birds flying around the rock and the cries from the falcons, it is probably a good idea to stay off the rock during nesting for your own safety. Stewart Green has a great topo and route description on his website. All in all we thought the route was a bit sandbagged, however not out of the norm of other old school routes in the area. We did a different variation for pitch 2: we lied back and stemmed outside of the chimeney. It is probably around 5.10a and you need a #5 and #6 C4 Camalot to protect. The roof on pitch 2 that you can clearly see in the picture felt like 5.10+, but it protects well with a #4 Camalot and is a clean fall if you blow it. We took the easy way out on pitch 5, so I cannot comment on the crux offwidth pitch, but if you try it bring some big bros. Classic Route!
By Jake Carroll
From: The Springs
Nov 22, 2008
I did a hike to Specimen this summer. I found the trail after some searching. To answer your question, if you wait for the first sharp turn on Palmer trail, then there is a blocked off clearing that continues straight ahead. Look in the clearing and up to the left on the hillside for the trail. I left a small cairn, but I don't know if it is still standing. If all else fails, then just start climbing the hillside and follow the ridge up to the rock, you'll find it eventually. I was thinking about climbing it later next year. Does anybody have any other info or be willing to climb it with me?
By Kurt Ross
From: Boulder, colorado
Jul 17, 2011
I'll climb it with ya, Jake. Stewart G will give you a route description if you contact him.
By Logan Berndt
From: Colorado Springs
Oct 5, 2011
Lee Rittenmeyer and I ascended Directissma on the 3rd of October 2011. What a true test of ones ability and endurance! The entire route is exposed and classic! A true adventure climb in every way possible, make sure you are prepared (Micro nuts to #6 C4s provided some bomber pro). I read somewhere that this line was one of Layton's favorites in the Pikes Peak area and I can see why!! We worked for every inch on this one!! Classic!!
By Julian Smith
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 25, 2012
Climbed the North Ridge of Sentinel today; basically the right hand skyline in Lauren's photo of Sentinel Rock. Boy, this sure is a crag that looks better the further away you are from it. What a piece of junk when you get up close; even by my standards. Beta for the approach is spot on as per taking the trail straight up the canyon from the 1st big switchback on the Palmer/Rec Rock Loop Trail as described by Stewart Green below. There are some interesting cabin remains just as you get on the approach trail. Not really worth the hike up to climb Sentinel's north ridge. Didn't really get a chance to form an opinion of the main face. Hike up to the Tenny Crags is pretty long and brutally steep, but well worth ticking the summit. There are some short and interesting looking cracks on a small crag half way between the top of Sentinel and the Tenny Crags, but is it worth hiking the gear all the way up there?
I have hiked up to the Specimen a couple of times, and always just headed uphill from the Bear Creek Canyon trail/drainage from directly beneath the crag. Not so sure if using the approach beta for Sentinel is the best way for getting to the Specimen, as you would end up way on the north side of Sentinel, and far away from Specimen. Raptor activity is very obvious at Specimen, but I didn't see any sign of raptor activity at Sentinel.
By Stich
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
May 6, 2015
I climbed the north ridge of Sentinel on Nov. 8th, 2014 as well, Julian. It was quite the chossfest but still interesting. I would have continued up to the highest point, but I got a rather late start and so headed down before the sun set.

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