June 6, 2010

Possibilty Wall, Mt. Evans Colorado

This is where I have been hanging around on my awesome and durable Sterling Ropes. It may have had a different name back in the day, but when I started playing on the wall nobody spoke up about it's history, nor was climbing up there, so I called it the Possibility Wall or P-Wall for short. I have been able to complete a few lines and there are still plenty to go in. Currently my project is the yellow line out the steepest part of the overhang.
I love hiking out to the wall, seeing the bighorn sheep that I pass almost daily and even trying to keep the marmots from peeing and eating my pack. It can be really windy, cold and uncomfortable, but the climbing is unparalleled and views breathtaking.
Most days that I climb at the P-wall, I get out of the truck and feel a stiff cold breeze the second my door opens. I quickly put my Arcteryx layers on and grab my Arcteryx pack and Camp hiking poles and head to the wall. Hiking through the alpine bowl in my Scarpa approach shoes to get to the wall is pretty casual as it is down hill the entire way. In a few weeks will be covered in alpine tundra flowers of all sorts and colors. It will be amazing! The snow is continuing to melt rapidly and I fear for a very dry season this summer. Then as I approach the wall I will normally see some kind of wild life, sheep, goats, marmots, elk and eagles. Once on top of the wall, I will gaze up and down the valley and take it all in before I head down a warm up climb.
Once I begin climbing, my heart rate raises and levels out quickly. I am normally able to gauge how well I have acclimated by my heart rate during the warm up. Then its time to eat and try the project.
What makes this route challenging for me is the fact that there are very few, if any holds to pull down on. Nearly every hold on the route is a side pull or gaston (meaning vertical) and only half a pad of my finger tips. I have found it difficult to train for this due to being unable to replicate the movements indoors or find other routes that climb similarly. What a joy to find something so unique and challenging. Well, time to head to the P-wall.

There are two ways to get to the wall.
You can do the bouldering approach for area A (45min hike)
or drive up in to the Mt Evans wilderness area proper (15min hike).

IF you don't have a parks pass and don't want to pay to enter the park then you will do the bouldering approach.
Here are the bouldering approach directions.
-park at the Echo Lake parking near the picnic and shelters.
-hike along the lakeside trail back and left behind the lake from the shelters along the main trail (i don’t know the name and not sure if it has one)
-once you pass the lake you will follow the trail all the way to the base of the all.
-on the way at the bottom of the switchbacks you will cross a small creek and then make a left onto a dirt road.
-go left on the dirt road uphill until you pass a reservoir.
-sign in at the trailhead and follow the trail through the valley until you see the P-wall on the left.
-cross the creek at the only main crossing when you are pretty close to the P-wall (the boulderers use this to access the bouldering) and bushwhack up the boulder field and scree to the base of the wall.
-should take you about 45-60 minutes

IF you want to drive a bit closer to the wall, enter the park and take the scenic road.
-Drive up to the nature center (last good bathrooms) which will come just a couple miles in
-pass the nature center and after about 3 miles you will make a major turn to the left.
-the right side of the road should be a huge bowl and at the end of the bowl (looking up valley you will see a tiny outcrop of rock)
-park on the pull off and hike across the bowl to the outcrop
-when you reach the outcrop hike through a small notch (obvious) and you will be looking at the P-wall (just a couple hundred yards away)
-traverse left to the top of the wall, find a cairn near the end and walk across the slabs and set up.

There are marmots that WILL eat your pack, especially your shoulder straps that live at the top.
After two packs got eaten, I always brought my gear on the wall and just clipped it to a bolt somewhere.

On the slabs above the climbers left side of the wall where Rocky Mountain high is there is ONE BOLT under a FLAT ROCK.
IT is the only flat rock on the slabs (It is about the size of two dinner plates.)
I rap off that bolt 50 to the belay ledge (grassy with a two bolt anchor) and use that as my real base for climbing on those routes.

Because the routes climb at an angle it is wise to have gear with you to place and clip into as you get lowered, otherwise one fall and you will swing way far away from the crack.

To play on the routes on the other side of the wall (where Back to the Earth is, there is a two bolt anchor
I always left a fixed line that was short fixed to my project all season. If there is one there be suspect of it cause I don’t know what shape it is in.

You can get around the wall with only one rope, but a second might be nice just in case.
Worst case scenario you just rap to the bottom and climb another route or hike up the side of the cliff.

You will most likely see the Bighorns Elk, and sometimes golden eagles and for sure the marmots.
If you know that it rained a day or two before, then a tiny part of Aqualung might be wet.
And when you lead Rocky Mountain High or the Aqualung (the have the same start 200 down) bring slings to reduce drag.

I am really glad that you have visited my blog. Thanks and I hope to see and hear from you soon. Rob Pizem
And last but not least, don't forget to check out my favorite sites: http://www.scarpa.net/ http://www.arcteryx.com/ http://camp-usa.com/ http://sterlingrope.com/ http://coloradomountainjournal.com/ http://www.wunderground.com/ http://climbing.com/ http://rockandice.com/ http://deadpointmag.com/ http://urbanclimbermag.com/ http://andrewburr.com/ http://ladzinski.com/


  1. Just in case you head up there, the blue line is not for rappelling. i wouldn't advise it.
    it is a tram line for working the route (on top rope) and has been up there for three years now.
    Also, the second white rope rap is always left tied in tight to the anchor so the wind doesnt chew it to shreds. loosen it rap down and then after jugging up, cinch it tight with a clove hitch again. thanks.

  2. directions please, way out of my league, but love checking out new stuff. Hows the possibilities for mortal routes, 5.9-5.11. Keep up the motivation. Sucks getting old, oh but your style gets so much better, right... talk to Ken Kenny?

  3. Hey Piz,
    Checked out the P wall with Brian Kimball yesterday and wanted to get some beta on Rocky Mtn High and the corner route. Great looking wall and amazing lines you have developed! If you could email me at climbnkev(AT)yahoo.com that would be awesome.

    Are you really moving to GJ in the Fall?

  4. yes i am really moving!
    glad you liked what you saw.
    i will email you asap

  5. The newest route comes out from the dihedral of Back to the Earth and finishes on HOPELESS (aka High Hopes closed PROJECT)
    It is called "a vacation from your problems" 5.13
    It is a right moving hand traverse with a great boulder problem heel hook at the end. The route is very pumpy and well protected with bolts!

  6. Hi Rob,

    I was going to head up to P-wall for the first time this weekend and wanted to check out that face in the picture labeled "Mega" (as well as the established lines). Is there anything up there I should avoid (i.e. a project you dont want people on) ?

    Psyched to mess around up there. Also, any directions would be sweet to.
    Joe (millstj@colorado.edu)

  7. Hi Rob, I'd love to head up there tomorrow but need directions. Could you post?