Trip Report
Stettners/Window with John
Tuesday June 5, 2018 8:17am
The Stettner brothers Joe and Paul put up one of the most enjoyable alpine rock climbs in the park in 1927 when they rode their Indian motorcycles out from Chicago and put up the hardest rock climb in Colorado at that time on the lower east face of Longs Peak. This is a truly great rock climb with historical importance, a fantastic setting, and high quality climbing on solid rock – I have done it many times with numerous partners. However, no time was better than the time John and I did it together with the Window Route on the far left side of the Diamond. To make the whole enterprise historically accurate we (well, me, anyway) rode motorcycles up to the Longs Peak trail head from Denver.

The Window route goes up the sloping ledge that forms part of the “K” ...
The Window route goes up the sloping ledge that forms part of the “K” on the far left side of the Diamond in this photo.
Credit: Nick Danger

We walked to the lake at the base of the east face and set up camp. Early the next day we got across the hard-frozen snow fields at the base of the face and started up the Stettners Ledges. This route entails climbing five or six pitches in cracks and corners up the left side of the lower east face. The crux is on the fourth pitch in a dihedral that overhangs on one wall, but is well protected by fixed pins. Although the crux moves are rated 5.7 in virtually all of the guide books and route descriptions, there are a couple of variations to the original crux that are both rated 5.8 – and are easier than the original route! This was very high caliber rock climbing when it was originally put up and the Stettner brothers were just major dudes. Anyway, John and I paused for water and a snack at the top of the route, then traversed across Broadway to the base of the window route on the left side of the Diamond Face. Several pitches of crack and face climbing in the 5.7 range took us to the yawning gap behind a pillar that gives the window route its name. short descent from the base of this window took us to a ledge system traversing left to another series of dihedrals and cracks that top out on Kieners Easiest a couple of hundred feet from the summit. All told this was about 12 pitches of 5.6 through 5.8 climbing on solid, well protected rock that climbs the entire east face of Longs Peak.

John approaching the base of Stettners Ledges across the snow field at...
John approaching the base of Stettners Ledges across the snow field at the base of the east face.
Credit: Nick Danger
John on one of the lower pitches of Stettners Ledges.
John on one of the lower pitches of Stettners Ledges.
Credit: Nick Danger
A part of The Window route can be seen high above John’s head in this ...
A part of The Window route can be seen high above John’s head in this photo, the deep shadow near the skyline on the far left side of the Diamond.
Credit: Nick Danger
John is following a pitch higher up Stettners Ledges.
John is following a pitch higher up Stettners Ledges.
Credit: Nick Danger
John approaching the uppermost ledges at the top of Stettners Ledges. ...
John approaching the uppermost ledges at the top of Stettners Ledges.






Credit: Nick Danger

John and I have certainly done harder alpine rock routes, and bolder ascents in both Colorado and California, but this was probably as much stupid-assed fun as we have ever had in the high country, and remains one of our favorite climbs together ever. That said, it was a long walk off the summit and back to the trail head and we were both pretty beat. I do remember the ride down the mountain and back into town as one leaving the deliciously cool late afternoon mountain temperatures and descending into the July heat of summer in the city.

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Nick Danger
About the Author
Nick Danger is a ice climber from Arvada, CO.

Comments
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Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Jun 5, 2018 - 08:22am PT
I met one of the brothers (Joe I think) in '77 when he tried the 50th anniversary ascent (they got stormed off, it was a terrible year).
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Jun 5, 2018 - 08:36am PT
The Stettners were truly hard men. Paul won the silver star while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in northern Italy during WW II. Either Paul or Joe put up the first 5.10 (although it wasn't called that at the time) on the east face of Monitor Peak in 1947. Since they bivied on this 1,000 ft face it would quality as a grade V climb, probably the first in Colorado. When my friend Tom Pulaski did that climb in the late 1970's he noted that the crux was solid 5.10 and the whole climb was quite committing. After Paul died Joe was quite distraught and turned to solo rock climbing at a very high standard. One solo climb he did was on one of those gendarmes on the east face of Longs Peak that lies to the left of Notch Couloir, Zumies Thumb I think it's called. He just scrambled up it with no rope or rack. Billy Westbay told me some time later that his route is now rated 5.9+ to 5.10-. Gnarley dudes indeed!
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Jun 5, 2018 - 08:38am PT
Thanks! Good read
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Jun 5, 2018 - 09:03am PT
I climbed Zumie's Thumb and tyroleaned off.

There is a mandatory sporty 5.9-5.10 face move. Quite serious.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jun 5, 2018 - 10:09am PT
I met these guys, in the CMC events when I was first climbing. They seemed like a hundred years old when I was under ten.

What I took away from this is that climbing is something you can do for your whole life. Now I’m bearing down on 62, working as a guide, planning trips, training, and putting up new routes.
Guess the lesson stuck.

I’ll have to go do that route, thanks!
jogill

climber
Colorado
  Jun 5, 2018 - 12:25pm PT
I used to run into Joe at Devils Lake in '58 and '59.

The Stettner Way: The Life and Climbs of Joe and Paul Stettner
By John D. Gorby, Jack Gorby
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jun 5, 2018 - 01:01pm PT
Thanks....I love blasts from the past!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jun 5, 2018 - 05:15pm PT
Looks like an awesome route choice to tuck away in my to-do list, and cool history too.
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Cascade Mountains and Monterey Bay
  Jun 5, 2018 - 06:10pm PT
And we used to think 5.9 was the top of the scale in 1960. Lol
wilbeer

Mountain climber
Terence Wilson greeneck alleghenys,ny,
  Jun 5, 2018 - 06:14pm PT
Good Stuff
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
  Jun 5, 2018 - 07:28pm PT
but this was probably as much stupid-assed fun as we have ever had in the high country

Gotta love it!

Thanks for an enjoyable read.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Jun 7, 2018 - 10:16am PT
Stettners Ledges: a famous climb, though not many people I know have done it!
Some of those things on the Upper East Face, to the left of The Diamond and The Notch hold interest for me.

Also, would love to set some caches, then do a traverse starting either with Kieners or Keyhole Ridge, threading the Keyboard of the Winds, and continuing along the Continental Divide all the way to James Peak.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 9, 2018 - 02:21am PT
Really good stuff Nick,
As usual!👍👍
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jun 9, 2018 - 04:44am PT
Nice!
okay, whatever

climber
  Jun 9, 2018 - 06:11am PT
Stettners' Ledges is a great-looking line, viewed from Chasm Lake, and was a bold effort for the Stettner brothers back in those days, for sure. But it's not a particularly aesthetic climb, when you're on it, in my opinion... though of course just being up there with the views makes it a worthwhile outing. I did the Window once, too, way back when, and there, too, the climbing is not super aesthetic, but what a great feature the Window is!

I agree that there must be some good climbing to the left of the Notch, but I never did anything out there, though I managed to do a winter suffer-fest up Lambs Slide and the Notch Couloir in February 1973. And I've been up the Diamond several times.
BillWright

Trad climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jul 5, 2018 - 08:22am PT
I thought the Window Route was normally climbed as a difficult mixed climb, which is why I've never done it. This report definitely makes me want to repeat this link-up. How were conditions on the Window? You did this in July and didn't mention any water or ice up there. I've done Stettner's once before and probably need to go climb it again anyway. Thanks for the motivation.
okay, whatever

climber
  Jul 5, 2018 - 08:56am PT
I think both of these, Stettner's Ledges and the Window, are typical RMNP routes. I don't mean anything negative by that, but at the same time... they're not as clean and great as they look viewed from down below. You're in the mountains, and there's vegetation and lichen and running water, often. Some routes are a little cleaner than others, e.g. the North Face of Spearhead, the Flying Buttress on Meeker, and the East Face of Mt. Alice. And the Diamond, in August, is a fairly spectacular place to climb, and not too vegetated except in places. That said, they're all rewarding to do! And the Window will probably still have running water in August, but will be free of snow/ice.
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