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The Bastille, Eldorado Canyon, Colorado

July 19, 2004

Author: Larry Earley

Trip Participants: Larry Earley and Ron Diederichsen

We arrived at Eldorado Canyon before 7AM to get the first shot at the Bastille Crack (5.7). Ron was a local and knew someone always arrived at 7AM so we just came a few minutes earlier. The approach from the car was two minutes. It was a Monday morning with perfect weather. We climbed in the shade but I wore just a long sleeve shirt. Ron let me lead the first pitch since he had climbed this route many times before. The climb can be done as five short pitches but the first two can be done with a 50m rope. The Bastille is about 300 feet tall and has many routes. This route is the megaclassic moderate climb in Colorado. The first two pitches are fantastic. Great moves with a lot of variety. The pro is great and anywhere you need it. The guide book warns of polished cracks but I felt it was solid all the way. The climb is steep for 5.7 but bomber buckets, cracks and flakes keep the grade 7. I climb the pitch in 15 minutes, taking my time and enjoying the moves. The belay is large and comfortable. Ron quickly arrives and gets the gear to lead the third pitch. It is short, about 80 feet but another great pitch. Ron is the best at placing nuts. I was impressed with his skill. That comes after 25 years of trad climbing. There are two tricky moves on the pitch. The grade is consistent all the way. Great pitch. I lead the forth pitch which is 5.5-6 and full of easy but off balance awkward  moves. It is half a rope length. I start with a traverse left and then up a crack back right. I place my first piece up about twenty feet to reduce rope drag. Good pro but pretty mediocre climbing. Ron finishes the fifth pitch up a 5.4 chimney. The decent is interesting and involves fun scrambling down a ways until you reach the great terraced trail with cut stones. Nice!

We are at the base by 9AM. There is one party climbing, one just starting and one group waiting a turn to climb. Popular climb every day of the week.

Next we climb Werk Supp which is just a little ways left of Bastille Crack. It has two pitches but we will just do the first pitch 8+. It is a 150 foot crack system with flakes. Mostly all small gear on a steep wall. This climb is easy at the start but a little run out the first 30 feet. The pro gets great just as the climbing reaches 5.8. You can sow it up if necessary from there to the top. The crux is a bulge in the middle where you need to smear up to a good stance. The final moves to the anchor are also a little tricky. Great climb for the grade. Its 5.8 for 120 feet every move. Nice. There is a two bolt anchor and we start the double rope repel. Its 10:20 and its now raining, thunder and lightning. Down we go. Just as we reach the ground it stops and starts to clear up.

Ron is off to work and I start my drive home. The weather is mixed clear, clouds and storm nearby. Another group is preparing to climb Bastille Crack and another party quickly gets ready for Werk Supp. Eldorado Canyon is trad climbing heaven. I will have to return soon and often.

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