Rock Climbing – Swanson’s Arete, Eldorado Canyon, CO

On Friday, I led a CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) climb up Swanson’s Arete on the Redgarden formation. Jeffrey and I had now each led the first pitch up the West Chimney. We had it dialed and we were eager beavers for the summit.

The challenge was to take two lucky individuals past the Red Ledge, up the arete proper, rappel to the ground, and back to the car in a safe and efficient manner. Would we make it to the top before afternoon weather? Would our ropes get caught in the Dirty Deed rappel? Would we have to leave gear? Questions were about to be answered!

Eldorado Canyon Wildflower
We met at 6:30am and drove into Eldorado Canyon. Weather was great; a little chilly with a slight breeze. I hoped the breeze stayed slight. So many times, high up on the Redgarden formation, the wind is amplified as it funnels through gullies.

Jeff, Slava, and Mike Ready to Climb
Jeff, Slava, and Mike ready to climb Swanson’s Arete

Mike Finishing the West Chimney Pitch

Clare and Mike Ready for Swanson's Arete

Jeff Leading the West Chimney
As stated earlier, Jeff and I both charged up the West Chimney pitch. Before too long, all four of us were standing on the Red Ledge. Pictures above: Mike finishing the West Chimney pitch, Mike and I at the belay, and Jeff about to join us.

Mike Finishing Pitch 1 of Swanson's Arete
Mike Climbing Pitch 1 of Swanson’s Arete

Jeff Leading Swanson's Arete
Jeff Leading Pitch 1 of Swanson’s Arete

We left the Red Ledge and led until very nearly the end of our 60 meter ropes. It was nice because Jeff decided to try the Arete proper, so we were able to keep the group together. One more pitch and we would be on the summit. So far, the weather was holding out…

Jeff Topping Out on Swanson's Arete
Here’s Jeff Topping Out on Swanson’s Arete. The last little bit of climbing is super fun!

Slava Finishing Swanson's Arete
Slava enjoying the exit moves of Swanson’s Arete. Thank goodness Slava came, he was able to free one of my teeny tiny metolius cams. I was happy not to have to leave it behind…everybody before him tried to get it out, but Slava was persistant!

A Leader on the Top Pitches of Rewritten
Climber Finishing Rewritten (To the North of Swanson’s Arete)

Clare on Summit of Swanson's Arete
Climbergirl happy to be on the summit at noon! With thunderstorms building, it’s a good time to head down!

Descending from Swanson’s Arete

There are bolts on the north side of the top, see the following pictures. If we rappelled off of those north side bolts, we were uncertain about how long it would take, or how hard it is, to then walk back to the south side (where the Dirty Deed rappel gully is). Just for the sake of completeness, I have captured the location of those rappel rings in pictures below…

Step 1: For Bolts at the Top of Swanson's
Just after finishing the climb, looking north, notice the big boulder on the left. Walk around the East side of this boulder and you will see:
Step 2: Scootch Down a Ramp
It doesn’t look all that inviting, but scootch down the ramp to the little boulder which is wedged at the bottom of the ramp. When you get to the bottom, look immediately to your left, on the opposing wall and you will see the bolts:
Step 3: Bolts are to the Left

Since there were storms on the horizon, we opted to rappel off the mess of boulders and the small tree. These were all slung with a brand new piece of webbing, which was in tact and had rappel rings on them. This would put us directly above the Dirty Deed gully and was our fastest way down (the vertigo area was closed for raptor nesting).

Jeffrey Rappeling South End of Swanson's Arete
Here’s Jeff rappeling the south side of the top of Swanson’s Arete.

Success on Swanson's Arete
Here we are all, back on the Red Ledge. One more rappel to go!

Slava Coiling the Rope
Slava coiling the rope.

What a great day of climbing! Thanks to Mike and Slava for cleaning the route and for giving such attentive belays! And, Jeffrey, it was a pleasure having you as co-leader! Cheers.

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