Trip Report
CO desert weekend – gotta get outta the cube farm! - TR
Friday April 19, 2013 11:20pm
Colorado National Monument at sunrise
Colorado National Monument at sunrise
Credit: BrassNuts
So, what do you do when you’re living the dream in the corporate cube farm 5 days a week with a minimum of vacation days but you’re Jones’in for some desert action? Well, living in the Colorado frontrange you have options…

1. Drive 7+ hours each way to Indian Creek and pump cracks for maybe 12 hours between Sat and part of Sunday? That’s 1.25 hours of driving per hour of fun. Nah, too much time in the car and sometimes I don’t care for the new gang bang posse style beanie clad pube beard tattoo crowd climbing at the creek these days (yup, I’m a crusty old trad, what can I say)…

2. Drive 6 hours each way to Castle Valley and climb towers for maybe 14 hours between Sat and Sun? That’s .86 hours of driving per hour of fun. Now that sounds better. Less car time, less crowds than IC, more adventure and more exercise in general. But, there’s yet another option...

3. Drive 4.5 hours each way to Colorado National Monument for about 15 hours of fun on Sat/Sun for .6 hours of driving per hour of desert fun. Bingo! Less driving, less climbers and plenty of routes to climb with real desert adventure!
Sentinel Spire in the afternoon
Sentinel Spire in the afternoon
Credit: BrassNuts
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that CO NM doesn’t have the rock quality of IC or CV, but hey, if you’re a desert nut, it’s all good! So, my buddy Mark and I pack up after work on Friday evening and head out through the fresh April snow in the mountains and before you know it, we’re setting up camp in a nice spot in the mellow CO NM campground up on the rim. From here, most climbs are either a quick drive and short approach or just drop a fixed line off the rim and you’re almost at the base of several towers and other routes. Pretty cool.
Credit: BrassNuts
Mark had never climbed in CO NM before and being an adventure nut, he was fired up to check it out. I’ve climbed there a fair amount, but it was still easy to choose a new adventure for Saturday morning.

We chose a 4-5 pitch route called Ribbed Buttress that ascends a pretty cool crack/chimney/corner/crack/corner feature on a buttress that’s about 400’ high. Logistically it’s kinda cool since you drive close to the top of the buttress on your way to the base. We stashed approach shoes at the top so when we finished we could slip on the comfy shoes and walk the road back down to the parking spot.
MC points out the objective
MC points out the objective
Credit: BrassNuts
The base of the route is reached after about 3.5 minutes of brutal approach hiking from a nice pullout on the side of the road. Kinda nice compared to many desert approaches. We racked up and many a tourist drove by and checked out the crazy climbers.
Mark getting in the right head space for the heinous approach
Mark getting in the right head space for the heinous approach
Credit: BrassNuts
View of the buttress from the parking pull out
View of the buttress from the parking pull out
Credit: BrassNuts
The Q-tip, ready to rock
The Q-tip, ready to rock
Credit: BrassNuts
Just a few minutes later I was headed up the 5.8 hand crack of the first pitch. I had to laugh while reading the route description on Mountain Project where the poster says “Solo a short perfect hands crack (5.8) to an alcove at the base of a large chimney”. I do think that if you are up for the rest of the route the first pitch is trivial, but I certainly would not recommend soloing the thing, after all, it’s CO NM and it’s kinda sandy, holds break and stuff like that… Caveat emptor or whatever that saying is…
5.8 first pitch
5.8 first pitch
Credit: BrassNuts
Anyway, the second pitch starts with some fairly athletic chimney and squeeze work and finishes with a pretty cool 10+ technical corner. This is the first dose of the CO NM full body workout for the day  Oh, did I mention, there is nobody else climbing anywhere near us? Kinda nice! Mark fired the pitch in fine style.
Starting section of pitch 2
Starting section of pitch 2
Credit: BrassNuts
The next pitch is the crux and I (foolishly?) volunteer since I already have most of the rack hanging off me. Never mind that I’m working through a couple of injuries, this is the first trip of the year, I’m a Q-tip, I’m packin a few extra lbs. etc. etc. ;-) The pitch starts with some sorta sketchy 10+ or so face climbing on temporary holds until you can make an awkward pull into the base of a crack system about 12’ to the right of the belay. As holds break away here and there and I move awkwardly into the base of the crack, the pitch has my full attention. I get a fairly good chicken wing in a wide section and work hard to sink some small cams in the start of the very steep 5.11 finger crack above me.
A fairly difficult face traverse leads to the start of the bizness cra...
A fairly difficult face traverse leads to the start of the bizness crack
Credit: BrassNuts
In this rock I figure more is better, so I place maybe 3 cams in 6’ and then barely get through this first section. There’s a quasi rest and then it gets a bit harder yet. I give it a pretty good effort but sadly I must report that I put the pooch in the noose a couple of times… Kind of degrading, but I figured it might happen. Just a little too hard and a little too sketchy for me to make it clean right now. Oh well. After some more strenuous crack with some break away foot holds, it opens up and you are forced to make some strenuous awkward moves into a gaping, leaning maw kinda thing for maybe 15’ until you reach the belay. Whew.
Mark follows the crux pitch - no problema
Mark follows the crux pitch - no problema
Credit: BrassNuts
My younger counterpart proceeds to cruise the pitch on his end of the rope and shows me how it’s done. I guess he should have led that one ;-)
The thin crack crux.
The thin crack crux.
Credit: BrassNuts
Mark enjoying the wide section at the top of the pitch
Mark enjoying the wide section at the top of the pitch
Credit: BrassNuts
Next up is another dose of the CO NM full body workout – 60’ or so of fists and OW heading up to a sloping ramp feature. After this you can go up a really nasty overhanging slot, or aid a short bolt ladder on the left – we go for the ladder – the maw above looks like a super grovel! Mark does a good job, but still gets his exercise despite the pitch is rated “only 5.9” – wink wink. I follow and get my fill of fist jams and body camming. Good calorie burning for the fat boy!
The start of the 4th pitch
The start of the 4th pitch
Credit: BrassNuts
The next pitch offers heads up sandy corner climbing and some strange mantels and ledge things. Pretty soon I’m pulling up over the last part of the fragile Kayenta(?) sandstone and I’m tying into a juniper on the rim. With the weather moving in and great views from the top of the route, I’m feeling satisfied with another desert adventure in the history books. Mark quickly seconds the pitch and we pause for the mandatory team photo on the top.
Mark just below the top of the route
Mark just below the top of the route
Credit: BrassNuts
Summit!
Summit!
Credit: BrassNuts
We retrieve our stashed shoes and begin the walk down the road to our car. Now, walking about 1.5 miles of pavement down to your car might sound like a bit of a drag, but there’s almost no traffic and the views are great. Not bad at all.
Credit: BrassNuts
Breaking the law again...
Breaking the law again...
Credit: BrassNuts
Soon enough we are back at the rig munching on some snacks and ice tea and discussing the next objective… It’s maybe 2:30pm and the weather is a bit threatening and the forecast is worse for the evening and tomorrow. We get motivated and head over to a viewpoint parking area near the campground and rack up for a 2 pitch 10+ tower route called Fast Draw. It’s another brutal 5 minute approach to the rim where you fix a line to some junipers and rap off the rim down to a bench where you can walk over to the start of the route on the NW side of Sentinel Spire. Pretty cool.
Mark about to rap off the rim on our fixed line.  It's a good idea to ...
Mark about to rap off the rim on our fixed line. It's a good idea to protect the rope on the lip...
Credit: BrassNuts
Approaching the base of Fast Draw on Sentinel Spire
Approaching the base of Fast Draw on Sentinel Spire
Credit: BrassNuts
Prepping on the sandstone patio at the base of the route
Prepping on the sandstone patio at the base of the route
Credit: BrassNuts
About to start the 2nd adventure of the day :-)
About to start the 2nd adventure of the day :-)
Credit: BrassNuts
Did I mention that no one else was climbing anywhere near us? Actually, we didn't see any other climbers the whole trip. Pretty cool. I have done the route before, so I give the sharp end to the young (relatively speaking, sorry Mark…) rope gun and he proceeds to fire the crux first pitch.
First pitch of "Fast Draw"
First pitch of "Fast Draw"
Credit: BrassNuts
The second pitch provides quite a bit of CO NM full body workout wide crack climbing, but it’s fairly reasonable and hey, it’s “only 5.9” ;-) Mark gets the rope up there in fine fashion and soon we are both standing on the very cool and small summit, hamming it up for the tourists who are watching from the rim. Good times. Great views.
Looking up into the 2nd pitch from the belay
Looking up into the 2nd pitch from the belay
Credit: BrassNuts
Desert snack
Desert snack
Credit: BrassNuts
Mark on the summit of Sentinel Spire
Mark on the summit of Sentinel Spire
Credit: BrassNuts
Scanning from the summit.  CG did a cool embroidery dragon on the back...
Scanning from the summit. CG did a cool embroidery dragon on the back of my climbing top :-)
Credit: BrassNuts
View looking north towards Fruita
View looking north towards Fruita
Credit: BrassNuts
We do the two single rope raps down to the base of the route, then the mini slog back up the slope/bench features until we reach our fixed rope. By this time we are both fairly tired, so the free air jumar out provides the last portion of the CO NM full body workout that we came for.
"Will Jumar for Beer"
"Will Jumar for Beer"
Credit: BrassNuts
Gravity increases late in the day ya know?
Gravity increases late in the day ya know?
Credit: BrassNuts
Ugh, I’m pretty toasted by the time we reach the rim. But, it’s only a 5 minute walk back to the car, then a 2 minute drive to camp and a nice cold Belgian Trippel Ale :-) There was even a very pleasant park ranger who walked over to greet us when we topped out after the jumar - pretty cool.

We cook dinner and it starts blowing and raining pretty good. We chow down massive burritos and watch the family camping junk show gone bad next door. Gotta love those cheap cabin tents in a storm!

After much overnight rain, Sunday morning dawns sunny but cold. We figure the rock is too fragile to climb after that much rain and the temps are a bit cool for our lichen, so we decide to do some hiking.
Nice views from the rim.  Sentinel Spire in the distance.
Nice views from the rim. Sentinel Spire in the distance.
Credit: BrassNuts
Again, the scenery is great on the hike, some nice walls and other features, birds, creeks etc. Oh, and only 2 other hikers in maybe 4 miles. Kinda nice…
Ute Canyon - a nice hike on a cool day
Ute Canyon - a nice hike on a cool day
Credit: BrassNuts
We stop for a poser shot at a cool canyon overlook, then pack up the car and head home to the front range.
Pretty neat pedestal with a view!
Pretty neat pedestal with a view!
Credit: BrassNuts
A good time was had by all and I think I burned at least 1000 calories on the wide cracks alone  Little did we know that the next day would be a record spring blizzard that would dump 15+ inches of the white stuff on Boulder and surrounding areas, much more in the hills. Gotta love April in the Rockies!

Colorado National Monument – try it sometime for a different kind of desert adventure! Cheers.




  Trip Report Views: 1,407
BrassNuts
About the Author
BrassNuts is a trad climber from Save your a_s, reach for the brass....

Comments
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Captain...or Skully

climber
in the oil patch...Fricken Bakken, that's where
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:29pm PT
Sweet TR, maaaan. TFPU!!3!!
Looks fabulous out there right now. Thanks for letting us shadow you.
Studly

Trad climber
WA
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Awesome.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:33pm PT
Wow!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:39pm PT

Whoo hoo, mr Q!!!! tip, that is!!!!
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:43pm PT
Oh boys...really outstanding....fun...work...

Susan
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:52pm PT
Thx Brass. Been meaning to get that far East. Looks great!
hossjulia

Trad climber
Carson City, NV
  Apr 19, 2013 - 11:56pm PT
Fun stuff, tfpu
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 20, 2013 - 12:39am PT
yuch, I just realized I'm a dirty Q-Tip...

great trip report BN, always a wonderful stoke!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Apr 20, 2013 - 12:41am PT
Nice man,,,Funny too!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Apr 20, 2013 - 09:32am PT
hey there, say, dave... this is really neat, thanks for
the trip report!!

love the pics, but they have not all downloaded, here, so i
can't share much on that...

very nice, though, as whole share for us!
and we KNOW you had fun!
:)
eKat

Trad climber
  Apr 20, 2013 - 09:46am PT
BITCHEN!

Gonna be there next month!

YeahBaby!

TFPU!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Apr 20, 2013 - 10:37am PT
A full value TR in the patented BN style!
Loved it!
locker

climber
STFU n00b!!!
  Apr 20, 2013 - 10:42am PT


Nice read!!!...
philo

Trad climber
Is that the light at the end of the tunnel or a tr
  Apr 20, 2013 - 10:48am PT
I am a Q-Tip. Hahahahaha! Fun TR TFPU.

and sometimes I don’t care for the new gang bang posse style beanie clad pube beard tattoo crowd climbing at the creek these days (yup, I’m a crusty old trad, what can I say)…

Phukin cracked me up.

And tell Crimps that is a beautiful bit of embroidery.
moosedrool

climber
lost, far away from Poland
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:01am PT
Fun read!

TFPU
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:35am PT
Fun report! Thanks for sharing the photos and adventure!
10b4me

climber
  Apr 20, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
looks like a fun trip Dave
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Apr 20, 2013 - 01:45pm PT
What an excellent adventure! The only thing I would change is to put helmets on both of your craniums...
Phyl
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Apr 20, 2013 - 05:54pm PT
Lov it!
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Apr 20, 2013 - 06:16pm PT
Nice report and pics...You guy's read the weather just right too...Thanx for sharing....

Stevo
crunch

Social climber
CO
  Apr 20, 2013 - 08:26pm PT
Yeah! Great stories and pictures. Love the early morning light on the very first pic, and the storm brewing to the north in the Fruita pic.

Thanks for bringing back memories of Ribbed Buttress, which is excellent fun, with that sweet finger crack-another great photo, by the way! That's a Toker Villain route. His are always the best quality.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Apr 20, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
Phylp - I'm with you. I'd like helmets on those silver heads too!
thebravecowboy

climber
hold on tight boys
  Apr 20, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
nice work phellas. the ribbed butt is definitely on the list: thanks for sharing yer experience. you looked phuckking gripped after that p2/3 traverse. phunnny!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Thanks brassnuts. Inspirational.


DMT
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:14pm PT
Damn!




Amazing report of an area I knew nothing about, thanks!
fat-n-sassy

Social climber
San Francity, CA
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:16pm PT
nice!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Thanks for the Stoke and great TR Dave!!!!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
  Apr 20, 2013 - 11:49pm PT
Very nice TR, loved the rocklogue comments and super pictures. Nice! Cheers, lynnie
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Apr 21, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
Well told, photographed & climbed, made me wish I was there. Camping, if not necessarily thrashing up the chimneys.

Starriest sky I ever saw in my life was one spring night in the early 70s, camped out with my honey on the Monument rim.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Apr 21, 2013 - 04:44pm PT
Great report, would love to climb over there some more but usually keep going to Moab when I am over there which is already too little.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Apr 21, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Nice!
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
  Apr 21, 2013 - 11:11pm PT
Sounds like fun!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Apr 21, 2013 - 11:25pm PT
That's the good stuff. Thanks, Brass!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Apr 22, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Cool TR and nice scenery, too!
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  Apr 22, 2013 - 03:04pm PT
Rad
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Apr 22, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
Bivied there twice, but have never climbed there. Looks like fun.
Johnny K.

climber
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:09pm PT
Up
10b4me

climber
  Mar 13, 2014 - 09:50pm PT
Bump
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Mar 13, 2014 - 10:07pm PT
Kick ass!!!


Solid shots BrassNuts

Thanks again
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Mar 13, 2014 - 10:18pm PT
Somehow missed this last year. But it's just fine now, so thanks for posting.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Mar 13, 2014 - 10:19pm PT
I must have missed this first time around. Those routes are top shelf!

One of the best free tower routes in the whole desert is Medicine Man, on the other side of fast draw!!
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Mar 13, 2014 - 11:00pm PT
Nice! Looks like an area you could spend quite some time in. A lot of stone.
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