Climb 1: PETIT GREPONSouth Face (5.8, 8p, 800')
Climb 2: NOTCHTOP MtnSouth Ridge (5.9, 5-6p, 800')
TR #: 45

Category: Colorado       Summit Elev: 12,001 ft (Petit Grepon); 12,129 ft (Notchtop)       Rock Type: Gneiss & Biotite Schist

Partners: Steve (Climb 1) / Mark (Climb 2)

We were in Colorado for a week. Ross climbed with Lizzy, while I hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park, took photos, and climbed two rad alpine multipitch routes. The first climb I did was the South Face of the Petit Grepon (a Fifty classic!) with a cool dude from Estes Park named Steve. The second climb I did was the South Ridge of Notchtop Mountain (a Rockies classic!) with another cool dude from Estes Park named Mark.

June 25
South Face of the Petit Grepon

800 ft - 8 pitches - 5.8 - elev. 12,000 ft
If I was to climb only one thing in the Park, I wanted to climb the South Face of the Petit Grepon, one of Steck and Roper’s Fifty Classics. It is a 8-pitch 5.8 route on a cool spire just 4.5 miles up from the Glacier Gorge trailhead.

(By the way, I think "Petit Grepon" is a reference to a smaller version of a spire-like mountain called Grepon in the French Alps.)

Luckily for me, Lizzy’s roommate’s friend Steve was cool enough to be willing to climb this route with a strange girl from Canada. We met up the evening of June 24 (where Steve cooked the best dinner I had had all month), and the next morning we hiking out of the Glacier Gorge trailhead at 5am. We were at the base of the climb at 7am, and after climbing at a leisurely pace and enjoying the warm weather, had finished and were back at the car by 3pm. All of the pitches were fun and the rock was great and the views were awesome. We had a great time. What a fun climb! Thanks Steve!

Below are some photos of the climb.

Update: In 2019 and again in 2020, I returned to climb the Petit Grepon's SW Corner Route (5.9, 9p). I thought this route was just as good as the South Face, and a tad more challenging.

Update: In 2020, I returned to climb the South Face again. Click the link to see an updated trip report with pitch-by-pitch photos.
The South Face of the Petit Grepon. The overlay on the left is my original 2007 version. Belay spots are marked with white circles and rap ring anchors (double ropes needed) are marked with green circles. The second overlay I created in 2019 following a climb of the SW Corner. 
The view of the Petit Grepon from the east makes it look pretty cool (which it is, of course). Photo link.
Sky Pond, 4.5 miles from the Glacier Gorge trailhead. The Petit Grepon looms on the north side of the pond, about 10 minutes scramble up talus to the start of the South Face route.
Fun climbing on Pitch 2. Steve and I swung leads.
Cool flowers on the route. Click here to be directed to my webpage devoted to flower photography.
Steph climbing up Pitch 7. Steve and I swung leads.
Steve climbing up Pitch 8. Steve and I swung leads.
Steph on the top of the Petit Grepon. It’s a nice exposed perch.
Beginning the rap down. There are established rap ring anchors down the east face and then the south face; two 60m ropes are needed.
A marmot thought my shoes were tasty. It also stole my insole right out of the shoe – it brought it back to its hole to use as a marmot-sized thermarest I guess!

June 26
South Ridge of Notchtop Mountain
800 ft - 6 pitches - 5.9 - elev. 12,129 ft
The Petit Grepon had been such a fun climb, that I was (a) satisfied if that was my only climb I would do in the Park and (b) definitely ready to climb again in the Park if I could. So when I got back and Steve’s friend Mark was interested in climbing the South Ridge of Notchtop Mountain the next day, I was geared to go!

Along with the Petit Grepon, Mark assured me that the South Ridge of Notchtop is one of the better climbs in the Park. This route is 6 pitches, mostly 5.7 with a crux 5.9 pitch (which I had a lot of fun leading). The climbing was great and the scenery beautiful. Mark - a mountain guide - was enjoying a non-work day in the mountains, and I was enjoying his company, stories, and knowledge. Thanks Mark for a fun climb!

Below are some photos from the climb.
Notchtop Mountain in morning light. The South Ridge is the ridge on the left skyline. (We began hiking from the Bear Lake trailhead at 5am, and were roping up 2 hours later.)
Lake at the base of Notchtop Mountain. The snowfield in the background is one of the last remaining glaciers in Rocky Mountain National Park.
South Ridge route on Notchtop Mountain. We began the technical climbing at the ledge after the dotted line.
Fun climbing ahead on the ridge!
Mark climbing up after the 5.9 crux on Pitch 3.
Steph leading Pitch 5 into the gully.
The descent involved 4 double rope rappels at fixed rap ring stations (the stations are difficult to find, but all of them tend to the rappeler’s right). From the base of the last rappel, we scrambled down a loose gully to the west and back to our packs at the base of the route.
Storm moving in, not uncommon in the Rockies in the afternoon. But we finished by noon, so we were out before it began to rain - yay for alpine starts!
Grassy ledge and mountain scenery from the descent down Notchtop (photo taken from the base of the rappels before scrambling down the gully along the west side of Notchtop).
Lots of nice rock to climb nearby!

Other Photos from Rocky Mountain National Park

I took many other non-climbing photos while I was in Rocky Mountain National Park. See my photography pages if you are interested in seeing more.

The Adventures Continue.....

On June 27, we began our long drive back home (to Seattle for Ross, to Canada for me). After dropping Ross off in Seattle on June 28, I stopped off at Reifel Bird Sanctuary near Tsawwassen, BC, and spent a day taking photos of birds before I went home.

Our awesome month-long climbing road trip was over, and it was July, which meant alpine climbing and hiking season in Washington!! On July 5, I began an amazing 8 day off-trail traverse of the Valhallas, Mt. Olympus, Bailey Range, and High Divide of the Olympic Mountains.