Trip Report
Cynical Pinnacle, Center Route w/var - TR
Thursday November 20, 2008 2:30pm

Cynical Pinnacle, South Platte, Colorado

Winter has failed to come to Boulder so far. For the last many days, it has been in the upper 60s and low 70s and sunny. Given this, we hopped in the car and drove to the South Platte area to climb. Dave loves this area and states that it holds the best crack climbing in Colorado.

Mountain Project describes the South Platte as "a vast granite playground to the south and west of Denver is known for its incredible crack climbs, strung out slabs and towering summits."

Further, the website notes that "to climb successfully in the South Platte it helps to be the adventurous type and like exploring. Many of [the climbs] are well hidden until you stumble upon them! The rock quality can vary widely from bullet proof fine grained granite to very coarse friable rock which can feel like climbing on ball bearings at times."

Our quarry for the day was in the Cathedral Spires area on a formation called Cynical Pinnacle. As stated on, "Cynical Pinnacle is the beautiful obvious spire that is the centerpiece of the Cathedral Spires." The line we climbed is known as "Center Route with Wunsche's third pitch cutoff variation". By the book, this is a four pitch endeavor.

Looking up at the climb. You can see Wunsche’s here as well. The rope hanging was left by a party that was benighted the previous evening. It was retrieved during our rap.

More from about Center Route: "This is sometimes called the best 5.9 in the state, though it is stout for the grade. To the right of the incredible dihedral (Wunsch's) is a perfect handcrack. Follow it for three pitches to a shoulder near the top of the spire." From here, we did the cut off over to Wunsche's Dihedral to move higher to the top of the Pinnacle.

I love this warning on about Center Route: "Do NOT get on this route if you have no crack technique. It will seem stout to you if this is the case (even if you lead 10 in Eldo)." Haha! I should have seen this beforehand. You see, I have fantastic crack technique, but only for a very limited range of crack size. That would be a range of about 1/2".

Before getting to the climbing, one has to get to the Cynical Pinnacle formation. calls the approach "a brutal one hour uphill approach", one that is "steep and long and will take a climber in good shape a solid hour."

I was mentally prepared for the steep approach so I was happy to think (when it was over) that it really wasn't so bad. The hike did not involve any repeated high steps a la Seneca Rocks – instead it was just a steep grade the whole way up.

View from the base of the climb

We finally arrived at the base and geared up. Dave linked the first two pitches which made for an interesting physical challenge. Aside from the demands of climbing, he encountered a decent amount of rope drag near the top. We used 60 meter ropes which required about 10' of simul-climbing.

Dave heading up the first pitch

Even with the drag and the added fun of linking two pitches, Dave climbed it like it was a walk in the park. You know, the usual.

There goes Dave!

The climb was a challenge for me. While the lower portion of the first 'real' pitch was a nice crack size for my hands, things quickly got wider and wider, until finally a flare was introduced. Mmmm flares. Combine this with my major suckage on most cracks and I arrived at the belay a puddle of ooze. I made sounds I didn't know I was capable of and for a moment thought I'd yack. I admit to using a knee to make the last move burrowing into the belay hole - Poor form!

Nearing the end of our first long pitch. Yummy flare and widish crack.

View from our first belay. (This is the top of the second pitch by the book).

Another view from this belay stance.

Looking up from this belay stance.

From this belay stance, one just had to chimney some, then work a slightly overhanging evil crack to reach a fun traverse section around the corner. This is where the cutoff to Wunsche’s occurs.

Dave going around the corner toward Wunsche’s

Once at the corner, the climbing is way easier. And the portion of the crack climbed on Wunsche’s was much easier than the lower section. Or course, Wunsche’ Dihedral is much more difficult in general. Before all this ‘easier’ section, I thought the climbing was hard. I got in touch with and battled with many dark and deep emotions during this period. At one point, I swore off climbing altogether. Happily there wasn't another person within miles to witness this – well except Dave and he couldn't hear or see me.

Topping the second pitch (third pitch by the book). Can you say Psyched?

I finally flopped over the top of this pitch and plopped down. The final pitch was an aid ladder. Aid? No problem! We climbed this portion to reach the summit. While here, we snacked, signed the register and enjoyed the views.

All that remained was to take some summit photos.
Standard summit photo.

More summit shots

Hey! Check out our car down there!

Hiking out

Once to the car, we headed toward a wacky little town called Pine and stopped at the local tavern to split a beer. I find many little towns have really confusing signage. This one was no exception.

Kooky bar in Pine

Confusing signage in Pine

After the beer, we headed home. Though it wasn't my best demonstration of climbing (yet again), it was a really fun day and nice to be out in the beautiful weather. We leave soon for Southern Utah and Las Vegas for some warm weather, steep, crimpy climbing. I'm really looking forward to this stuff since it will be more my style.

  Trip Report Views: 2,653
About the Author
Crimpergirl is a sport climber from Boulder, Colorado!.

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Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
  Nov 20, 2008 - 02:32pm PT
Wow! Great pics always make a trip report so much more interesting!

Sorry... just being cynical!

For those who come later, there were no pics at the first post.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Nov 20, 2008 - 02:35pm PT
I struggle with Picassa! Photobucket is easier to link photos to I think - but these photos were already in Picassa so I've been battling to get these cursed things up. Grrrr.

Sorry you got to see the first version with all the little gray boxes only.

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Nov 20, 2008 - 02:49pm PT
Great report! I had tried to climb that with Tracy a while ago, but we got rained out of there after one climb. Now that I have done several lines at Turkey Rocks that are similar with offwidths and chimneys, I feel a lot more optimistic about Center Route. When it is a nice weekend, we should all go to Turkey Rocks and do some climbing.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
  Nov 20, 2008 - 02:50pm PT
great TR! Thanks. I liked these two lines:

"I got in touch with and battled with many dark and deep emotions during this period. At one point, I swore off climbing altogether."

Sure sign you had a good experience and pushed yourself.

This is a stellar climb. Did the first two pitches way back (your first pitch). Loved the fist section to finish up the second pitch. The (old) third pitch was bury: started, backed off, started, backed off (repeat...). Finally thank god a cloud appeared on the distant horizon and we had a good-enough excuse to rap off.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Nov 20, 2008 - 02:57pm PT
Nice job, Crimpie and Dave.

Swear off climbing? That's blasphemy, Crimp, I'm glad you came back to your senses.
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Mill Valley, Ca
  Nov 20, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
Crimpie - I am so happy that you met Dave, got the hell out of St Louis, and moved to CO.

Looks like you're living the life!

Rock on...


Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Nov 20, 2008 - 03:11pm PT
Hooray for Callie and Dave!
Big time whoopee!
Callie, you're so darned good, admit it!
Nice report, as usual!

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
  Nov 20, 2008 - 04:56pm PT
Crack Climbing Rule #7: Knees are useful tools for climbing wide cracks.

Nothing bad form about that, especially if you lock it in, drop your hands and bust out a hands-down rest.

CP is ome of the finest crags in the state. Glad you made it there.


Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Nov 20, 2008 - 06:06pm PT
Paul Sibley and Bill Roos introduced me to the wonders of Cynical Pinnacle way
back when. We climbed 4 pitches up Turf Spreader then rapped off the backside
for an intentional bivy, leaving a fixed rope (it was considered a grade IV
at the time). But then it snowed hard all night on our bivy, so by the gray light
of dawn there was no thought of climbing. We still had to jumar up snow-coated
ropes to our high point to retrieve our gear. That's when I learned about icing jumars.

Looking back from a distance that was all a fine adventure, and my first contact
with S Platte climbing. Haven't been back there in decades, so your photos were
a welcome reminder of how cool the Cynical routes are.

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Nov 20, 2008 - 06:16pm PT
Thanks for the pics!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Nov 20, 2008 - 07:15pm PT
Nice job kids. "At one point I thought I might yack."
Does it get any better than that?
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
  Nov 20, 2008 - 07:35pm PT
That looks beautiful. Enjoyable report.

Don't take that "bad form" crap from anyone, Crimpergirl.
Knees are not just for the wide, anymore.
I use my knees more than anyone I know, on face climbing of
all steepness (except that, admittedly, I can't climb the really
steep stuff) and cracks of all sizes.
Plenty of people who have seen me climb will say that using a
knee is bad form, but they generally can't bring themselves
around to saying I have bad form.

Celebrate the knee!!
rich sims

Social climber
  Nov 20, 2008 - 08:38pm PT
Hey! Check out our car down there!
I thought you were pointing to one of my favorite late season river runs, Foxton area boulder garden. It is a really fun run in higher water with lots of rocks to boof .
Dome rock to the west has great routes as well. Also it is one of my favorite places to climb, South Platte.
I hope to meet you and Dave one of these times.
I will be skipping past RR to get to San Diego on Friday. Then back tracking to Idlewild , Jtree then if time allows RR.
Travel safe
Rich Sims

The Dome

Mendocino, Ca
  Nov 20, 2008 - 08:58pm PT
Great trip report!
Super photos!
Thank you.

  Nov 20, 2008 - 09:52pm PT
Thanks for the TR Crimpie. Thanks for sharing the struggle with us.

I echo Knotty's thought...Just imagine how you'd feel if you were still stuck in SL. "The worst day on the rocks..."


Trad climber
  Nov 20, 2008 - 09:58pm PT
Nice TR, but "split a beer"? c'mon.
goatboy smellz

Gulf Breeze
  Nov 20, 2008 - 10:14pm PT
The south Platte is special.
So much untapped potential in those hills.

Sunshine Wall, Wall of Mirrors, Poe Buttress, Block Tower, & Cynical about the same time last year.


Mountain climber
  Nov 20, 2008 - 10:35pm PT
Awesome tr Crimpergirl! I always head north from Denver. Nice to see something else. I only get to climb anything really good maybe 2x a year so I'm always swearing off climbing. Kinda like college days drinking. I'm always saying "please God, if you just get me through this one last climb I swear I'll never do it again." "Well, I don't want to say I'll never do it again but I promise to be better prepared and think about it more the next time."

Boulder climber
  Nov 20, 2008 - 10:38pm PT
I really should thank you, Ms. Crimpie, for all the great photo TRs you posted since I've tuned in to ST.

But I'll wait till later.

Handsome couple, you and Dave!!

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Nov 21, 2008 - 12:08am PT
Haha! No worries about splitting the beer - we had to drive home. Once there we got good and liquored up. :)

It is a beautiful place. Great rock and no one is around. Dave really loves it and has been climbing there for almost 25 years.

While it's not the sort of rock I style on, it's still fun in it's own "climb 'til you barf" sort of way. Ha!

Trad climber
  Nov 21, 2008 - 12:22am PT
Thanks for the good pic's

Looks like a good time was had
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Nov 21, 2008 - 12:24am PT
Climb until you barf... hmmm, if you like that you should be out here with the BAWC working out the HOTC (Hardman Offwidth Training Circuit)!

But really, your mom was right, practice, practice, practice... and a good friend and climbing partner told me the three keys to crack climbing:


(scuffy threw a knee in there too!)
mark miller

Social climber
  Nov 21, 2008 - 12:57am PT
Thanks for the great and realistic TR, Made my otherwise hopeless day much better.....

  Nov 21, 2008 - 01:25am PT
Looks like fun ! (translation: would make me cry :)
John Moosie

Beautiful California
  Nov 21, 2008 - 01:40am PT
LOL, Crimpie, you are a classic lady.

I love that first photo of you. I think it is the fifth photo. You are looking up to your left and I can see the wheels just churning in your head.

I can just imagine..

Is there some way I can get my hands out of this crack? Can I stem this? Can I layback it? Is there something here that I can crimp? Is that a jug there? hee hee.


Trad climber
West Los Angeles, CA/Joshua Tree
  Nov 21, 2008 - 04:59am PT
Nice TR Crimpie.

Bump so this stays on the front page. Cause that's where climbing threads belong!!!
That's Papajoto to you son!!!!!

Social climber
Oatmeal Arizona
  Nov 21, 2008 - 09:15am PT
Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've wanted to do that route for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  Nov 21, 2008 - 09:18am PT
Another fun and interesting thread Crimpie. You and Dave have really been getting after it. When are you two going to head to the Black?
Fish Finder

  Nov 21, 2008 - 10:09am PT

"it's still fun in it's own "climb 'til you barf" sort of way."

hey crimp.

i had no idea you were ( bahkneemic )

not cold enough yet for the wasp yellow jacket ?

brass nuts and crimp geten er done!

nice tr.

at first with all those references , i thought i was gonna yak.

best gregg

Trad climber
Las Vegas
  Nov 21, 2008 - 10:15am PT
Thanks Crimpie and Dave for another great TR,hope to see you in RR
next week

right here, right now
  Nov 21, 2008 - 10:28am PT
I know it as fact that Crimpie is a heavy lurker over on widefetish.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Nov 21, 2008 - 10:39am PT
To judge from the TRs, she doesn't get to do much crimping nowadays!

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Nov 21, 2008 - 11:55am PT
True true, I've been lurking there. Heh heh. Even signed up though I'm too skeered to post.

And also true, I've not seen a crimp in ages. I REALLY have to get on something steep and crimpy VERY SOON. I did some of the steeper stuff at Cochise which was fun, but I need a good OD of the stuff.

Red Rocks, here we come!

Mendocino, Ca
  Nov 21, 2008 - 03:43pm PT

  Nov 21, 2008 - 09:18pm PT
Hey Crimper,
Nice TR and pics. Thanks.
Why do I get the feeling that with your choice of partner you are going to tearing up the cracks before much longer.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Nov 22, 2008 - 10:20pm PT
Ah, revenge is sweet. Took Dave for some overhanging face sport climbing today! Bwhahahahahahaaaa!

Social climber
  Apr 4, 2009 - 04:52am PT
hey there, say... really GREAT crimpergrrl stuff...

great trip and pics...

just a bump, here...

say, i liked the pic on the city of pine, as well...
thanks for the share... :)

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Apr 4, 2009 - 05:03am PT
I've always wanted to climb cynical pinnacle and never quite got there.
What Scuffy said about the knee.

Knees are key in the land of the wide.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Apr 5, 2009 - 06:42pm PT
Bump it, climb it, have fun!
rich sims

Social climber
  Apr 5, 2009 - 06:49pm PT
Just a small step across the border on your next trip to the WOO!
That little bar is the Buck Snort just up the dirt road from Buck Snort Slab.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Apr 5, 2009 - 06:59pm PT
Jaybro - come out - you have a place to stay here in Boulder. We could all climb (or you and BrassNuts) out there all you want!

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Apr 8, 2009 - 11:37am PT
Nice Tr, Callie!

Mammoth Lakes, CA
  Apr 8, 2009 - 11:41am PT
Nice TR! South Platte is an amazing place. Reminds me how much I need to get back there!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 17, 2011 - 12:24pm PT
Man do I want to climb the Cinical.

Social climber
  Oct 17, 2011 - 12:29pm PT
It's beautiful!

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 17, 2011 - 12:38pm PT
Way to go team!

What a great day out eh?

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Mar 13, 2014 - 04:15pm PT

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Mar 13, 2014 - 05:45pm PT

Bumpity bump. But it's closed for raptor nesting
until July 31 now. . . Have fun, birdies!!!!

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
  Mar 14, 2014 - 02:26am PT
Did Center Route on Cynical Pinnacle with the Wunsch exit one fine winter day in January then skied in the Governor's Cup 10km cross country ski race the next day. It is amazing what you can do in Colorado in the winter.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
  Mar 13, 2014 - 08:22pm PT
Great TR Crimpie!

I never made it over to Cynical Pinnacle...always waylaid by Dome Rock (Bishop Jaggers & Topographical Oceans). Classic Dihedral on Bucksnort is fun, too.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Author's Reply  Mar 13, 2014 - 11:24pm PT
Ha! This is an oldie but a goodie. I really did swear off climbing on this route as I was stuck in the wide part with my pony tail stuck between the rock and my stuck.

I would like to get out there again....just have this ridiculous work schedule to get out of the way first. Thanks for bumping!

Trad climber
  Mar 14, 2014 - 12:15am PT
Well done guys! I lived in Boulder for two years 88-90'. Cut my teeth on both of those formations. So classic! I'll never forget the day I 'thought' I was ready to on-sight Wunsche's. Haha...what a beat-down I received on that first pitch.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
  Mar 14, 2014 - 02:30am PT
Turfspreader to the right of the Center Route is also great though you have to do an unprotected 5.8 chimney on the first pitch.

Nowadays, people just rap back down the Center Route to get off. There is a great 80' 10a/b finger crack if you rap off the other side into the gully.

Social climber
  Mar 14, 2014 - 04:09pm PT
After you have done the awesomely classic "Center Route". I suggest you do the "Hot Rize" link up that I concocted years ago.
It starts off with "Rubber Ducky" to the start of "Rising Crescendo". You follow R.C. for two very classic crack pitches till it intersects with "Center Route". You climb the 2nd and 3rd pitches of C.R. to the big ledge at top of C.R.. Then you climb the "Class Act" to the top of "Cynical Pinnacle". (3pitches of 5.9 and two of 5.11)
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