Overview:

Boasting some of the best alpine rock climbing in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park is blessed with a lifetime worth of routes. Within this abundance of riches for the rock climber, including many classics lines and summits, the Cathedral Spires holds a special allure.  Climbers from all over the world know it well: the Petit Grepon, heralded in the famous book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. It undoubtedly deserves the praise, not only because of its great climbing but because of its incomparable positioning.

The formation is named after a mountain, The Grepon, overlooking Chamonix in the French Alps. The name derivation being the Small (Petit) ‘greup’ (Grepon) meaning a steep rocky slope made up mostly of slabs.  Climbing on “The Petit”, as it is affectionately known, involves a beautiful scenic three-hour hike past lakes, forests, waterfalls and high alpine meadows before a short steep scree hike to the base. There are abundant places to bivy around Sky Pond but the climb is often done in one long day going car to car – therefore good cardio fitness, solid climbing skills and an early morning are required.

The ever-popular South Face route is relatively easy with big holds on steep climbing. Although part of the Cathedral Spires group, a spire with climbing of this quality, exposure and fame deserves its own call-out. And perhaps fitting of such a fine gem, despite the visibility of the Cathedral Group, the Petit itself can only be seen from one spot – the incredible, 11,000-foot Sky Pond cirque. From there, the Petit calls out to be climbed. It looks like a rock version of the Eiffell Tower, starting broadly before narrowing to a sliver at its top. At 12,001 ft high at the summit, The Petit Grepon’s classic route winds its way up the South Face in eight pitches with a 5.8 rating (most of the climb is 5.7 or easier with a short 5.8 crux).  The route features an incredibly scenic summit with excellent climbing and a satisfyingly remote feel. The South Face involves chimney, crack and face climbing, giving a diverse outing with breathtaking exposure. If one is lucky enough to spend some time on the summit (often a quick descent is in order due to weather) you will enjoy a large dining table size area dropping on all sides for hundreds of feet. As always the climb is never over till you are safe back at the car and on the Petit Grepon that will involve 6 long rappels.

Just to the left of the South Face, the Southwest Corner offers equally superb and slightly harder climbing. Despite its obscure feeling, a reasonable 4.6 mile approach brings you to the base of the spire where cracks, corners and exposed face climbing lead to one of the best summits in the Park.

Sample Itinerary:

IN-A-DAY

Hit the trailhead around 3am and hike into Loch Vale. Begin climbing at sunrise with the hopes of summitting and descending before any afternoon thunderstorms have moved in.

WITH OVERNIGHT

Day 1: Plan and prepare for a multi-day alpine climbing outing. Hike into Loch Vale in RMNP (4.9 miles). Set up bivy camp at Sky Pond below Petit Grepon, cook dinner and sleep under the stars

Day 2: Alpine start to climb the South Face III 5.8 on Petit Grepon. After the climb, we’ll grab our bivy sacs and head back to the trailhead.

Read a recent trip report from a South Face climb on Petit Grepon.

 

Meeting location:

Colorado Mountain School
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517

Lodging:

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).

Notes:

All of our courses can be run as custom outings.  If you’re interested in a course, but it doesn’t fit into your schedule, please check out our custom guiding options.

Prerequisites:

Experience following a multi-pitch route, ability to hike 6 miles with a heavy pack, ability to climb at grade at altitude.

Time:

3am - 3pm

Duration:

1 or 2 days

Maximum Ratio:

2:1

Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under 18

Includes:

  • Trained and/or certified guide
  • Group climbing gear
    • Technical hardware – climbing protection, carabiners,etc
    • Ropes
    • Technical softgoods – slings, cordellette, etc
  • Personal climbing gear
    • Harness
    • Helmet
    • Rock shoes
  • Group camping gear
    • Bivy sack
    • Water filtration
    • Cook stove

Excludes:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Clothing, backpack and non-technical personal items
  • Park Entrance Fees (where applicable)
  • Rescue Insurance
  • Trip Insurance
  • Gratuity
  • Expenses due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Colorado Mountain School
Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Approach Shoes

These are “hiking” shoes specifically made for approaching and descending from a climbing venue where scrambling is necessary, or even for climbing an entire route. They have sticky climbing rubber on the bottom and a formed fit to influence better climbing abilities while scrambling. Consider high-tops for additional ankles support if needed. Regular hiking boots or athletic shoes may be acceptable for many climbs.

1

Men: La Sportiva TX3 Men
Women: La Sportiva TX3 Wmn

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Backpack: 18-25 liter

This small pack is carries one’s approach shoes, water, food, extra layers, and toilet kit on the route. This pack should close completely so that no items can fall out.

1

CAMP M2 20L

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Backpack: 35-50 liter

Packs smaller than this tend not to be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment and clothing. Large backpacking packs are acceptable, depending on the climb.

1

CAMP M4 40L

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Beanie or Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Belay and Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.

1

CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Belay Gloves

Leather gloves, either full fingered or fingerless. These protect your hands from rope wear when belaying or rappelling and keep your hands warm at belays.

1

CAMP Axion

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Bivy Sack

Bivy sacks are required are required for all overnight bivys.

1

Rab Ascent Bivy

Rab

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Bowl, mug, fork, and spoon

Personal utensils

1

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Chalk Bag

Holds climbing chalk, which is usually made from Magnesium Carbonate. This is the same compound that gymnasts, weightlifters, and other athletes will put on their hands in order to improve friction and grip.

1

CAMP Patabang

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Harness

UIAA or CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.

1

CAMP Laser CR

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Double-length Sewn Runner

48" or 120cm. Used for rappelling, making leashes, and improvised rescue.

1-2

CAMP 11mm Express Dyneema

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ear Plugs

Sometimes fellow campers snore. Ear plugs may help you get quality rest.

1

Foam ear plugs

Optional
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Hot Drinks

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa are great for warming up when it's cold outside.

1

Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a "wicking" layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve
Women: Rab Merino 120 Long Sleeve

Rab Store

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

RAB Power Stretch Pro

Rab Store

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Merino 160 Hoody
Women: Rab Flux Pull-On

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Mountaineering Boots

Waterproof, insulated, leather or synthetic boots. Two levels of boots can be appropriate depending on the season, conditions, and personal needs. These boots have rigid and semi-rigid soles so they climb rock well and are compatible with crampons. 1. Lightweight (May - October): This is a single-layer, semi-insulated, waterproof boot, such as the La Sportiva Trango Cube. 2. Mid-weight (October - June): This is a single-layer, insulated boot, such as the La Sportiva Nepal.

1

Men: La Sportiva Nepal EVO GTX 0r G5
Women: La Sportiva Nepal Cube GTX Women's or G5

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Neck Gaiter

"Buffs" are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Personal Care Items

Medications, glasses or contacts, feminine products, etc.

1 Optional
Personal Toilet Kit

At minimum, bring a small Ziploc with toilet paper. Consider bringing a travel sized package of hand-wipes. Idealy, purchase, or for free from the RMNP Backcountry office, bring a "Rest Stop." The Rest Stop, known as "Blue Bags" in the Pacific Northwest, or the "Wag Bag" in other areas, are poop-in-a-bag systems that include toilet paper and a sanitizing hand wipe.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Rock Climbing Helmet

UIAA/CE approved; Should be large enough to fit over a beanie. Plastic helmets are more durable, but heavier. Foam helmets are lighter, but more easily damaged when carried in a pack.

1

CAMP Titan

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Rock Climbing Shoes

Technical rock shoes are required. For beginning climbers, having a looser fit is advisable. In this case, loose means that toes are touching the front of the shoes when standing, but are not forced against the front of the shoe. In colder weather, thin socks inside climbing shoes are a great option. On long routes, rock shoes should be comfortable enough to wear for day.

1

La Sportiva TC Pro

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sleeping Bag (10° to 35°)

Down or synthetic sleeping bag is acceptible.

1

Rab Ignition 5

Rab Store

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Sleeping pad

Insulated air mattresses or foam are ideal. Uninsulated air mattresses are not recommended.

1

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps - keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Softshell and Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it "breaths," which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab Alpha Direct
Women: Rab Alpha Direct

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon "hiking pants" are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Vapour Rise
Women: Rab Upslope

Rab Store

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sunglasses

"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

Julbo Shield

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Zero G
Women: Rab Electron

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Synthetic or Merino Wool Socks

Wool and synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. "Ski" and "Snowboard" socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Toe Warmers and Hand Heaters

Help keep you warm on particularly cold days.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toiletries

Bring enough for the trip. Toothpaste & brush, floss, deoderant, lotion, eye drops, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

1 Optional
Trekking Poles

Adjustable and without powder basket.

1-2

CAMP Backcountry

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Water Purification Tablets

Iodine or Chlorine-based treatments; To keep packs light in the summer during early morning approaches, your guide may suggest only carrying a liter or two of water, with the plan to refill during the day at a stream.

6 tabs/day

Aquamira, Potable Aqua

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: RAB Latok
Women: RAB Women's Ladakh DV Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing

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