CMS Guide Mike Soucy’s Favorite Climb

Culp-Bossier, III 5.8+, Hallett Peak, RMNP

Hallett Peak rises abruptly above Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. For decades, a large percentage of the climbers looking to tackle its North Buttress went straight to the Northcutt-Carter route, one of the famed 50 Classic Climbs of North America.

Hallett from the Trail
Culp-Bossier travels the thousand foot face of the middle buttress.

In the late 90’s, rock fall decimated the first two pitches of this route and traffic was displaced to another line that went straight up a blunt prow on the Second Buttress.  Bob Culp and Tex Bossier first climbed this obvious line in the summer of 1961. Having never climbed the equally historic Northcutt-Carter, the Culp-Bossier has always been my route of choice on the wall. I consider it to be the finest moderate route among the Park’s many distinguished alpine rock features. The added bonus of a relatively quick approach make this a must-do on your tick list.

Hallett from scree field

The route is just over 1000’ long and follows a mix of crack and face climbing up a wonderfully exposed wall. Hallett’s North Face is made up of gneiss, a highly featured metamorphic rock. This makes for steep face climbing at an accessible grade. The technical crux comes up high on the route, at an airy overhang with adequate protection. However, much of the route consists of face climbing at the 5.6-7 grade, where protection is sparse. Efficient route finding and a cool head are requisite skills here.

For many, the route finding provides the crux from the get-go. Do your homework before your climb. An abundance of bail anchors litter the first several pitches, as evidence of those who did not. Accurate topos and route descriptions are available both in print and online. Another option is to hire a qualified guide. Our familiarity with the terrain and enthusiasm for such great alpine rock will make your ascent one to remember.

Stay tuned for CMS Office staff and Alpine N00b Reiko’s report on her attempt of Mike’s favorite route…

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