Daunting in apperance, the shaded north face of Hallett Peak (12,713′) rises 1,000 vertical feet in a clean sweep. It dominates the gorge below and looms high above the popular and beautiful Emerald Lake.
This imposing wall appears too steep for moderate-grade climbing. But once on the face, positive, incut edges abound on superb (albeit runout) rock, yielding phenomenal face climbing in a dramatic setting. With difficult route finding and scarce protection, the climbing demands respect, experience and knowledge.
Classic routes like the Englishman’s Route, Better Than Love, Culp-Bossier and Jackson-Johnson comprise the most popular outings. Easier, but still superb routes, like the Center Route and Great Dihedral, ascend the lower-angled and less intimidating first buttress. Great rock, stunning scenery, and awesome positioning – all this and the shortest approach to any of the high peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park make Hallett Peak high on any Colorado climbers’ tick list.
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. 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, known as Culp-Bossier. Bob Culp and Tex Bossier first climbed this obvious line in the summer of 1961.
Hit the trailhead around 4am and hike into Tyndall Gorge. Begin climbing at sunrise with the hopes of summiting and descending before any afternoon thunderstorms have moved in.
Colorado Mountain School
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
Culp-Bossier, Grade III, 5.8+
Culp-Bossier is considered to be one of the finest moderate routes in The Park and offers the added bonus of a relatively quick approach. 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.
With a sixteen-bed lodge available, Colorado Mountain School provides students the opportunity to spend their entire stay in Estes Park without the hassle of commuting. Our lodge is conveniently located in downtown Estes Park and features a full kitchen, WiFi and hot showers. Reserve a bed now for just $40 per night (plus tax).
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