This route starts as an obvious thin-hands crack on the south-west overhang of Supremacy Rock. The crack leans right and overhangs significantly. The key to this climb is footwork, unless you have small hands (I do) which make the climb easier. On my first attempt I sliced the back of one hand open, however, and only completed the route after coming down and taping up. I recommend taping up for your first go at it.
Fingers to thin-hands. This can be led on stoppers alone, but will be pumpy without cams. You hang out longer trying to place good stoppers.
The route can be TR'd from fixed anchors and gear if you walk up the rock from behind, to the East end of the South side of the rock. There would be a large swing potential if you fall low, but it seems to be quite safe.
|By Matt Robertson|
Oct 29, 2001
"Pumpy without cams." ??!!!
Steep stuff. Lots of history here for a short route. Candidate for the first 5.11 to go free in Colorado, although some controversy surrounded Ament's initial claim to have freed it. (He subsequently led the pitch without the "few moments' rest" on a piton.) Peter Croft onsighted the thing... free solo.
|By Matt Robertson|
Oct 29, 2001
Agreed. I was able to garner a plenty-sufficient pump on TR. I think of what it must have been like placing slung square-sided nuts back in the day and am reminded yet again how spoiled we are today. Generation SLCD.
Not coincidentally, that day of Ament's "FFA" also saw the introduction, by the visiting Don Whilans and Royal Robbins, of clean pro to Eldorado. Various of Ament's books (High Over Boulder, for one) provide memorable images of that day. A trio of climbing legends on Ruper.
|By Rob Mullen|
Mar 13, 2002
Eldorado Canyon : Free Climbing as Ancient Greece : Western Civilization.
|By Thomas Jensen|
Jul 19, 2003
Definitely tape up before you get on! I took two scary falls and also sliced the backs of both hands as a result. Sharp rock. I wonder if climbs w_ll ever get WT and WOT grades in the future? :) Killer climb though. Inspired by Jeff Acheys book "Climb" to give it a try. First lead was with hammer and pitons according to it.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 3, 2003
The first photo here is hilarious! It reminds me of that famous photo of John Sherman apparently soloing some desperate Aussie line with a full bottle of beer on one hand... Thanks, Mic!
Jan 31, 2006
Being Okies from SoIll with no jamming skills back in the mid-70s we used to layback it.
|By Sam Benedict|
From: Denver, CO
Nov 26, 2006
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Insanely Awesome. I consider myself a fairly strong crack climber, but this thing whooped my ass something proper. This is the first Eldo 11 I've tried to lead, and now is the nostalgic ground of my first real whips on gear. I'll be back for it. I refuse to consider myself a real climber until I can solo this climb in flip flops.
Aug 2, 2007
I was pleased to TR this thing, more years ago than I'll admit, with only one fall down low. The swing was memorable and fun! My one-legged partner, on the other hand, did it free and clean. I still don't have an excuse!
|By Pat Ament|
Nov 27, 2009
I climbed Supremacy Crack one morning in the spring of 1965, soon after Dave Rearick discovered it and showed it to me. I did it with a very loose top rope. I had very little experience with hand-jams, so I really didn't quite know what to do. I didn't much try the crack that day with Rearick, because I was terrified of the big swing if I fell. Soon after, though, I went up there just to show the climb to a few other friends, such as Bob Culp and Tex Bossier. No one really wanted to try it even. Because my biggest fear was the swing on the rope if I fell, I could hardly focus on the crack. But I took Rearick's advice and simply practiced the swing a couple times to get over the fear of it. Then I could pay attention solely to the crack. I soon got the hang of how to jam my hands and went right up that morning with Roger. He belayed me and was surprised to see me go so quickly and smoothly up the crack. That was the first ascent.
In the fall of 1966, a little over a year later, I climbed Ruper with Don Whillans, my legendary British friend, who pioneered so many great climbs in Wales and elsewhere in England. Royal Robbins was with us, and I had the thought one of them might want to make the first lead of Supremacy. We walked up there, and neither wanted to try it, but they insisted I try. I had not thought about it at all, but to make a long story short I led up and made it a full body length past the crux, to the big bomber handjam. Pitons don't go into this crack very well. I had no nuts or Friends or any type of cam... which DO go in very well and easily. But I hung there and tried to get in a piton. It went in part way, but the crack didn't taper, and it stopped half way in but not set well. I had to hammer it out, and this sort of thing went on, until I was really tired. When the next piton got stuck again, half way in but not very good, I decided to clip into it, and I took some tension on the piton to recover strength. Once I got the piton in, I led up the remainder of the crack solidly. If I'd had a Friend or nut, I could have easily placed it. Oh well. It wasn't a perfect lead, but Royal sanctioned it and thought it was close enough to count. I later returned and climbed it without any sort of rest. I have never cared to set any records, because in fact I could climb the crack ten times per day, if I wanted, but at a casual rate, now and then returning to the crack, I have done over 60 ascents of the crack, quite a number of which were leads.
Most people don't realize the shoes we had back then, how bad they actually were, although this climb doesn't really matter, in terms of shoes. But only pitons and a hammer made it much more difficult. And the general consciousness was such that we were not nearly as trained as climbers are today... who grow up in rock gyms. Supremacy was a high standard for its day.
The right kind of spirits among today's elite recognize that those were different times, and that 5.11 in the mid-1960s might be comparable to 5.15 today. It was the top of the standard. When Peter Croft, a master crack climber, free soloed Supremacy, he phoned me and complimented me for such a great route. He was fully aware of the significance of doing it back when I did. That kind of generosity has always impressed me. Peter also phoned me on another occasion when he finally repeated a boulder route of mine in Yosemite (Camp 4). He had worked for a long time on what they named "Ament's Arete" and was very happy to finally figure it out.
A small point. I would not refer to Supremacy as a climb of "thin hands." Maybe that is true right at the crux, but certainly not all the way. It's a climb much about footwork on an overhanging wall, and hands in a crack for inward support as feet take the weight.
|By Allen Hill|
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Nov 27, 2009
More stories, Pat!
|By Chip Phillips|
From: Broomfield, CO
Nov 28, 2009
Great story and historical background regarding this climb. Thanks, Pat!
|By Joe Huggins|
From: 666 Rue le Jour-Edge City
Mar 22, 2010
Mic-Dude! Those shorts are positively erotic....
|By Abram Herman|
From: Golden, CO
May 4, 2014
Damn, Pat. I can't even imagine trying to swing a hammer on this thing.