Eagle Dance, Eagle Wall 5.10c A0
Avg time to climb route: 4-6 hours
Approach time: 2-3 hours
Descent time: 2-4 hours
Number of pitches: 10
Height of route: 1000'
OverviewEagle Wall is home to one of Red Rocks’ most celebrated routes, Levitation 29 (5.11). Yet the fame of Levitation 29 has left its awesome neighbor Eagle Dance surprisingly vacant. Long, sustained, and beautiful, Eagle Dance had the unfortunate reputation of a death route due to the terrible bolts. Luckily the ASCA replaced 72 bolts on the route in 2002, and it is now in prime shape. Nearly every pitch is 5.10 with a variety of climbing from thin crack to sustained edging face. Parts feel like a sport climb with up to 13 bolts on a single pitch, yet a loose and challenging 5.10a pitch followed by an overhung traversing bolt ladder through an airy roof give a distinct big wall feel. Eagle Dance is long, unique, and rewarding.
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HistoryGeorge and Joanne Urioste started work on this route in early 1980. Because of the amount of work required, the route was climbed with fixed ropes leading upward from the Urioste’s “Eagle Camp,” a level spot at the base of the route. Keeping the camp stocked was a major effort in itself, requiring many trips up the rocky streambed of Oak Creek. Joanne reports that they memorized every boulder on their numerous trips, frequently done in the dark and with no headlamps.
Back in the late 1970s, the cliffs of Red Rocks were frequented by some very large soaring birds. Though there was speculation that they might have been condors (due to their impressive size), the local climbers referred to them generically as eagles. One such bird kept the Uriostes company, hovering continuously over Oak Creek and Mount Wilson to the south. As George and Joanne were working on one of the lower pitches on the route, they accidentally dropped a baby angle piton. While it was not a critical loss, no climber gives up gear without a fight, so that afternoon they scoured the brushy area at the base of the route. After searching with no result, they were about to give up. With hope waning, Joanne suggested that perhaps they should ask the eagle for guidance—and they found the piton less than a minute later! And so the route and wall were named after the charmed bird. It was only later, while studying the wall from a distance, that they noticed a peculiar patch of dark varnish high on the face. Its outline, in the shape of a westbound eagle, made the omen complete.
A year or two earlier, local pioneer Joe Herbst had had his own eagle experience. Back in the canyons, Joe had scouted an interesting crack line. The climbing looked good, so Joe planned a first ascent attempt during the upcoming visit of his friend Andre Langenbacher (with whom Joe also climbed Unfinished Symphony). The climb would go up steep cracks to a wide point, with the apparent crux being a spectacular jam out the roof of the cave-like opening. They climbed a few pitches and found that the route was living up to their high expectations. A few hundred feet up, they climbed into the alcove beneath the looming overhang. However, their anticipated belay spot was occupied by a huge nest. It was the size of a bathtub, made of sticks and twigs, and littered with small rodent skulls and a few grayish brown feathers. A hurried discussion led to agreement that the route would have to be abandoned and unrecorded, lest additional climber traffic further disturb the nesting site. It may have been this very eagle, showing his appreciation, that guided the Uriostes to their lost piton on the Ea... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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