Upon first view, this crag seems like a ‘jumbled pile’, a MAZE of upturned flakes and blocks with little or no organization, nothing climbable, and in fact it was passed by on many occasions. It is nestled in a pristine setting, a small remote valley choked with lush stands of pine and aspen groves with Crow Creek running nearby. Besides the gurgling of the stream, there is no noise except the occasional cry of birds floating on thermals overhead. It is untrammeled. And as it was explored in more detail over time, its organization became more apparent and very surprising. The structure is literally split apart by a labyrinth of ‘hallways’, a MAZE which separates all the components. Not only did it become captivating to solve this strange natural puzzle, it also seemed there were many very unique opportunities to climb here – which we did over the next few years.
In fact, you won’t believe this one !! Besides climbs on the EXTERIOR SURFACES, there is climbing
from the INSIDE OUT !!
WHERE IS IT?
To get to AMAZE-ING, follow Road 700 (Vedauwoo Road) east past the Reynolds pull out, past the turn to The Citadel, down into the Crow Creek Drainage and about 1/4 mile further on, you will find the turn off for Forest Road 700b on your left. *IF THE ROAD IS OPEN: The start to this road is quite rough so bear with it. Continue about 3/4 mile on 700b which bears left/west, encountering Road 700ba on your left. Take this road for about 1/4 mile up over a little hill and you will run directly into A-MAZE-ING. IF THE ROAD IS CLOSED OFF: Park near the gate, go over or thru it, hike up the road and down the hill. When a flat, treeless area becomes visible on your left, turn left (westward) and walk through the field. After about 200 yards you will come to some boulders and there is an old roadbed found here. Follow this as it curves around right and as you begin going up a hill, roughly northward here, Amaze-ing will come into view. (about 10 minutes walking from the gate to the formation)
*NOTE: All routes detailed here were first put up by Skip Harper and various partners (Luebben, Thomas, Johnson, Lossner, Edwards, etc.) between 1994 and 2008.
*Important: P L E A S E R E M E M B E R !!
Many of these routes have seen only one or two ascents.
The grading and route conditions will reflect this.
The rock is rough and the grades might be imprecise.
Both will most likely change to one degree or another over time.
ORGANIZATION and ROUTE LIST
Given reasonable degrees of freedom, this place does show order. There are 4 major faces, North, East, West, and South, and a crisscrossing network of “hallways” is found throughout the interior. There are two principal Hallways, one with an entrance at ‘A’ and one at ‘B’ – shown in Figure 1, a composite showing all features in one image. Hallway A is more extensive while B constricts down within a short distance, allowing less ingress. This is shown in Figure 2. Each of these ‘areas’ is treated separately with more detail. Get to each by clicking on the appropriate link.
A = Entrance to Hallway A and routes therein.
B = Entrance to Hallway B and routes therein.
1. Gates of Lodore OW 11c
1a. Inside the Gates inside East Apse (EA) OW 11a
2. Short and Sweet inside East Apse (EA) Hands 5.6
Inside hallway B:
3. Short Stuff 5.7 Hands/Fist Big pro
4. Mirror Images an ‘inside double dihedral’
FIGURE 1 Composite of Features
FIGURE 2. Sense out of Chaos – A view from ‘the top’.
A = Entrance to Hallway A and routes therein.
B = Entrance to Hallway B and routes therein.
INSIDE HALLWAY A
5. Pandora’s Box Has Cracked 10b 2 roofs, hands to fingers long (relative) and challenging
6. Two big surprises 10b/c Both hand cracks end in same gaping OW finish
7. Not Long enough 9+ hands roof at bottom, then vertical perfection
8. Finger Snatcher 11c/d *Mixed Climb great finger jams, powerful moves on little edges and crystals
9. Befuddled 10c/d Hands and stacking strenuous
10. Twisted ~10d hands and stacking A twisted mind created this
11. Malicious ~10c/d heinous on hands
12. Uncertainty Principle 11b/c Found in Confusion Alcove (CA) Bolted route with crystal pinching
13. Unpredictable 11b/c start to 5.7 ending Found in Confusion Alcove (CA) widely varied grades
14. Absence of Maliciousness ~10c/d project
15. Dirty Reflection ~5.9+ Opens with jamcrack and heads ‘straight up’ to the top.
16. On the Other Side ~10a/b Opens with jamcrack and heads ‘straight up’ to the top.
17. All Mixed Up ~5.9+ Mostly 5.7-5.8 Handcrack to dike traverse and up exposed face.
18. Goin’ Topside 5.6 to 5.8 Recreational variations that join #16 to finish.
EAST FACE DETAIL
1. Gates of Lodore OW 11c big body squeeze to gradually diminishing fat crack – OW to hands and back 45 feet Big Pro – up to 2 x #4 Big Bros Anchors on top, rap the route. (Luebben and Harper,’95)
The EAST APSE (‘EA’): To get here, either go low, under route #1 and crawl westward between the two gigantic blocks. OR circle north around the big blocks and find a ‘passageway’ directly behind them. *See top figure for location (to EA).
1a. Inside the Gates 11a Inside in the East Apse on the opposite side of #1. OW to fingers to OW. Belay on gear. 40 feet Rap the anchors on #1. (Harper and Luebben,’95)
2. Sweet Nothings inside in the East Apse, great hand crack on W. Face. *NOTE: multiple grades! 5.6 perfect hands but far too short, belay after the hand crack on gear and/or climb to top ( *NOTE: about 15’ of 5.9 runout face, will partly protect with thin wires). Belay on gear. Both short pitches can be combined. Scramble to any top anchor, ‘A’ is most convenient. (Harper and Edwards,’05).
NORTH FACE DETAIL
9. Befuddled 10c/d Hands and stacking will get you to the top Big pro Strenuous. Use ‘A’ rap. (Luebben and Harper,’99)
other features shown on this view:
– Entrance to Hallway ‘A’
– Rap above Hallway entrance ‘A’, the ‘A’ Rap
– Entrance to Hallway ‘B’
– Locations of Routes 3, 9, 10, 13 covered in detail in West Face.
– Rap at top of Route 13, the “Unpredictable” rap
WEST FACE DETAIL
9.) Befuddled 10c/d Hand jamming, stacking and lots of stamina will get you to the top. Short and stout, but typical Vedauwoo = tape! Big pro (incl. 2 x #3 1/2 cams). Belay and Descend using ‘A’ anchors directly above climb. (Luebben and Harper,’99).
10.) Twisted 10b/c A twisted mind created this. Heinous hands and a couple of stacks, plus strong abs will get you up this one. Take several large cams up to #3 1/2 Belay on gear. Descent easiest from ‘Uncertainty’ anchors. See Fig below. (Harper and Luebben, ’99)
11.) Malicious 10c/d Same description as #10 Belay on gear. Same descent as #10.
12.) The Uncertainty Principle 11b/c (I’ll bet Heisenberg never thought about this!) Located on a face around the corner from Route #11. Begin in the Confusion Alcove (CA), solo up the ramp using under clings and stemming (protect if necessary, 5.7), step across left onto the near vertical crystalline face. Suggest belayer moves closer to the climb. This is pure Vedauwoo crystal pinching past 5 bolts to ring anchors. Belay at anchors … OR EASIER, belay on gear using large boulder on top (2 medium cams, 1 medium nut) *NOTE: A fall from 1st or 2nd bolt is unthinkable! Descend from ring anchors at top of climb. (Harper and Thomas, 2000)
13.) Unpredictable *NOTE: multiple grades! Begin in Confusion Alcove (CA). An 11a thin start (protect in small crack/ seam on left with smallest cams and/or small wires) leads to some 10b/c jamming, then turn the corner, go up thru a squeeze (5.8) and ascend the ‘main vein’ up the ‘big wing’ at only 5.7 (SEE IMAGE AT TOP OF PAGE). Very unique and highly varied terrain. Belay and Descend using ring anchors at top. (Thomas and Harper, 2000)
14.) Absence of Maliciousness project
SOUTH FACE DETAIL
Four routes exist here at present. All belay on gear and descend from south Anchors.
15.) Dirty Reflection 9+ Opens with challenging (at the grade) hands and fists (see Fig A), then face to near the top – with a technical off fist ending. Take short rack supplemented 2 x 3 1/2 camalots. (Harper and Edwards, ’06)
16.) On The Other Side 10a/b Similar to #15 but a shade harder. 15 feet below the top, take the right leaning flake to finish (takes a very small camalot). (Harper and Edwards, ’06)
17.) All Mixed Up 5.9 Interesting twists on this one. Move up to the dike, traverse LEFT into about 15′ of runout 5.7. Joins #18 and ends with either of the above. (Harper and Edwards, ’08)
18.) Goin’ Topside 5.6 to 5.8 A mixture of easier lines leading to the top. Take your choice of line. Short rack thru #3 Camalot. First soloed on a whim to get to the top in 1994. (Harper and Schmidt, ’94).
HALLWAY “A” DETAIL
Hallway A is shown in the schematic to the right (Fig. 1). To get there, go to the North Side of the formation and find the Entrance as shown in Figure 2. You will need to do a little ‘blind’ downclimbing to get in. Then proceed eastwards about 20 yards. The going is easy until you reach the corner where the first obstacle is encountered… a small boulder. You are also looking straight at ‘Pandorra’s Box Has Cracked’, Route #5 on the schematic. Go up and over the boulder to reach the base of the climb – or turn right and scramble up a larger boulder. Once on top of this second obstacle, it is suggested to lower to the ‘floor’ and you will be in the vicinity of Routes 6, 7 and 8.
ROUTES in Hallway A
5.) Pandorra’s Box has Cracked 10b/c An interesting, varied climb with 2 roofs Hands to thin fingers Take a half rack including a spread of wires and cams up to #3 Camalot Belay on gear Descend using ‘A’ Anchors (easiest) …. this will return you to the A Entrance. (Harper and Lossner, ’01)
6.) Two Big Surprises 10a/b Both handcracks (6a, 6b) end in the same gaping offwidth. Contort your way to the top. The finish is not particularly pleasant. Take a short rack, but double up on the larger cams. Belay on gear above the large chockstone on top. Descend using any number of alternatives, but you can get back to the base of the climb using the ‘Snatcher’ Rap above Route # 8. Figure 1 shows the cracks from the bottom and Figure 2 is a top view looking down into the abyss. (Lossner and Harper, ’01)
7.) Not Long Enough 5.9+ (start under the roof and add at least one grade – 10a/b) Great hands and eats large pro. Take at least 2 x #3 and 1 x #3 1/2 Camalot (or more). Belay at ‘Snatcher’ Rap. Descend to bottom with same rap station. Figure 1 shows both route #7 AND #8 from below. Figure 2 shows the ending of both climbs. ( Lossner and Harper, ’01)
8.) Finger Snatcher 11b/c Powerful moves on finger jams Using the back/side wall is not permitted. The crack peters out about 20 feet before the end, so clip a hanger ( *NOTE: shown in Figure 2 to the left) placed half way and climb on crystals to a set of ring anchors, the ‘Snatcher Rap’. Belay here. Take a spread of wires and camalots up to a #2 (place #1 at the top of the crack). Descend from top anchors to bottom of route – or any other alternative. (Johnson and Harper, ’03)
HALLWAY “B” DETAIL
Hallway B is shown in the schematic above. To get there, go to the North Side of the formation and find the Entrance as shown. You will need to negotiate an easy downclimb to get in and once there, make a right turn and proceed westwards. The first route you will encounter is #3, ‘Short Stuff’ on the right – and about 5 yards further on is ‘Mirror Images’ on the left. Descent is easiest using the “A” RAP Station.
3.) Short Stuff 5.7 Hands and maybe a stack or two will get you to the top. Short but stout at its grade. Take large cams (2 x #3 and 2 x #3 1/2). Belayon gear (medium cam, 1 x #.75, and a couple of medium wires). (Harper and Edwards, ’05)
4.) Mirror Images 5.6 if you use the ‘back wall’ and 5.8 if you don’t. Like a desert splitter but easier. Climb either side using great hand jams to the top (see Figure 1 below). Take several hand sized cams for either route. Belay on gear (.5 and .75 cams and a couple of medium wires). Figure 2 is nearing the top of #4a. (Harper and Edwards, ’05)
For More Information see other Citadel Posts