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West Ridge - part C - Pony Express to Long John
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Sister Morphine 
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Think Quickly 
Unbroken Chain 
variation to Mail Ridge 
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Who's Holding 
Wind Tunnel 
Zeros and Ones 

Sister Morphine 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 5a

   
Type:  Trad, TR, 1 pitch
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Harrison & Brooks - 1981
Fixed Hardware: 2 Anchor Bolts [details]
Page Views: 2,567
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jan 9, 2002
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Gene Ellis cruising up Sister Morphine.
Climbing reopened after flood MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is in the Pony Express area. When facing Mesca-Line, this route is immediately right of the dihedral that is just right of Mesca-Line (the dihedral is Dandi-Line). It follows a thin crack with some grass sticking out of it (but the climb is very clean) to a tree.

Begin by ascending the ledge system to a pedestal. Climb the pedestal either on the left, right, or up the face of it. I found that the left is not good due to rope drag problems and the right is much better, but you have to navigate around a tree. Going up the face (which I did) was by far more fun, but it is unprotected. Once atop the pedestal, step to the face and climb the thin crack to the summit. I didn't find a discernable crux, and it felt easier than some other 9s on the West Ridge. It is a very enjoyable climb.


Protection 

The pro looks sparse from the ground but you can sew it up. Bring a set of stoppers and mostly small stuff.



Photos of Sister Morphine Slideshow Add Photo
Routes on the right side of the Pony Express area.  Sister Morphine takes the pedestal and thin crack right of Dandi-Line.  The climbing is much better than it looks.
BETA PHOTO: Routes on the right side of the Pony Express area....
Comments on Sister Morphine Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 26, 2011
By Ivan Rezucha
From: Fort Collins, CO
Nov 10, 2002
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

This is a very nice route with great gear. It is also very easy. I can think of a bunch of 8's that are harder. This would be a good first 5.9 lead. It is steep, but not strenuous, and the holds are very positive, with good gear at every move.

Rather than scrambling to the base of the pillar, you can start directly below at a thin crack at about the same grade, 5.8 or 5.9.

To get off with a 60m rope, you can climb left, up, and down to the bolts on Mescaline. Put in gear so the rope doesn't rub on the small trees. Make sure your belayer is tied in (!) and lower off. You might not make it to the ground. As your belayer starts climbing up, you can downclimb the last few feet.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 11, 2002
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

I was able to protect the move off the pillar with a brass nut and a Lowe Ball nut; I wouldn't call it great gear. The pro on the rest of the climb is OK, and the climbing is better than it looks from the ground.

By Ivan Rezucha
From: Fort Collins, CO
Nov 11, 2002
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

There's nothing wrong with the bigger brass nuts. I'd trust a good brass nut better than a fixed pin or an old bolt for example.

By Shane Z
From: Colorado
Jan 28, 2003

Sister Morphine is short and sweet. Small gear is all one needs to protect it. Positive holds, steep, and fun. Look for small gear placements to protect the step from the pedestal onto the face. My belayer and I scrambled to the bolt anchors on Mesca Line and rapped down.

By Art Veenendaal
Mar 9, 2003

Ivan - it's hard to believe that you consider this climb vey easy...even easier than 5.8? The crux of the cilmb is clearly soon after leaving the pedestal and it comes with tenuous moves with thin feet. Sure it's only one move to a money hold, but it's a relative "hard one" (thus 5.9), and you know it only takes one move to throw you off! The rest of the climb is easy.

By David Houston
From: Boulder, Colorado
Jan 10, 2004
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

I'd have to call this 5.8 as well. The area was crowded today so we left a sling and rings on the small tree at the top.

By Jason Shatek
Mar 7, 2005
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Led this one yesterday. I thought this one was more like 5.8. It was pretty easy with good gear. The crux comes right off the pedistal with adequate protection the whole way. FYI, bring bigger gear to protect before getting on top of the pedistal. I made the mistake of leaving my big gear in my bag. I had to run this section out but the climbing is very easy.

By Edward Jenner
Apr 17, 2005
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

1-2 starts, devinitely worth doing - I had a lot of fun and would definitely consider this for a warmup in the area, perhaps over Mesca Line which I find somewhat tricky for a 7.

The climbing is easy and postitive as you go higher, but gear is perhaps non-trivial for a budding 8 leader (who should be able to cope with this no problem) with soe questionable rock (nothing unusual for Eldo).

By Matt Richardson
Administrator
From: Fort Collins, CO
Apr 28, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

This must play to Ivan's strengths. Yeah, the 9 section is probably about 10' on a 80-90' route, but it's still 9. I'd be hard pressed to find an 8 easier. And I think that Ron is spot on regarding his assessment of the gear - the crux protects well, but I would by no means suggest that you can sew this route up (the guy that led this before me also said you can sew this up, but had only about 4 pieces for the whole route; I used a similar number of pieces, but felt comfortable). The whole discussion about the grade just seems to echo Crusher's comment on Positively Fourth Street - people just differ in their climbing strengths.

By Adub
Dec 7, 2008

Great route!
Knocked down some loose pebble at the top by the anchors. Belayer beware.

By Ron Olsen
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 18, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

Interesting, Dave. I didn't see a rap anchor for Sister Morphine in any recent FHRC applications. I wonder if this anchor was officially approved by the park. I don't think Eldorado Canyon State Park would approve cutting down a tree either...

By jcntrl
From: Smoulder, CO
Jun 26, 2009
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI HVS 4c

Whether or not the anchor was "legally" installed, it is good to have it there. The tree that is at the top of SM isn't going to last forever, especially if people are consistently using it to rap/anchor off of. Granted, the anchors for Mesca-Line are in a good place and not inconvenient to scramble to from here, nevertheless this does allow more options.

I thought the crux moves were a bit hard for an 8, but relatively easy for a 9, so I vote 9-. Small gear, but small falls if you take the opportunities to protect. Committing, rewarding moves throughout the climb. I enjoyed it and will climb it again.

By Cale Farnham
Sep 7, 2009

I felt this was a decent starter route in and around the Pony Express area! Super clean and great moves up the seam!! Great views!!

By AOSR
From: Wherever we park!
Mar 26, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c

Good warm up for Pony Express or Iron Horse. Definitely not a 9 by Eldo standards. If only it were a bit longer, I think it would get an additional star.