Overview1985. Jeff Lowe, Charlie Fowler, Mark Wilford. Three guys forged a proud line up a dark cleft in a 1,200' cliff up Camp Bird Rd. near Ouray Colorado. Truly a visionary route for the time.
Listed on the Top-50 climbs in America list, BBB offers up seven pitches of sustained mixed climbing. A memorable route for sure, with dramatic exposure and fun, thought-provoking climbing throughout, make this one hard to beat.
Getting ThereFrom the town of Ouray, CO, head south on Hwy. 550 to Camp Bird Rd. Drive across the upper bridge of the ice park and follow the road west until it dead-ends in a parking area. There's usually a bull-dozer parked there. Leave the parking lot and head south towards the wall (you can't miss it). The route lies to the climber's right of The Ribbon, the prominent icefall on the wall.
Route DescriptionPitch 1. Depending on the time of year (early vs. late winter) you climb the route, you could start off either on a 20' high cliff of rock, or steep snow. Solo or simul the snow to a 2-piton belay on climber's left. M4 or steep snow.
Pitch 2. Enter the narrow chimney and pass under a van sized chock stone. The climbing quickly begins and the difficulty starts here and doesn't let up until the top. Dry tool up a chimney with poor gear to a smattering of ice. Continue up steep slabby rock and some ice (if you're lucky). Belay on right. WI5, M5.
Pitch 3. Climb steep ice to a roof. Stem wide and pull the roof with sticks in broken ice. Continue up more ice to a free standing or hanging column of ice. Belay on right. WI5, M4.
Pitch 4. Climb another narrow chimney of lower angle ice/snow/rock to a high headwall of thicker ice. Ascend the ice to a comfortable belay on the left. The gully widens here. WI3.
Pitch 5. More steep ice and dry tooling to a cave with a comfortable belay on the left. WI4, M5+
Pitch 6. (Crux) Climb a big column of ice below a massive roof and traverse out right on a ledge. Step around a boulder and climb steep broken rock and frozen moss (harder than it looks!). Traverse back left (crux) across a narrow ledge back into the squeeze chimney. Gear is hard to find here and the traverse is very exposed. Protect your second to prevent a fall and pendulum that could injure! Climb squeeze chimney, pull another roof and belay on right. WI5, M6.
Pitch 7. Climb snow ramp to a boulder, clip piton and dry tool up over boulder to narrow chimney. If you're lucky and there's ice, the climbing should be easier. If it's snow, drytooling and/or rock climbing (5.9) straight up to another chockstone roof/lip. Get good sticks in the bit of ice at the top and pull over the lip, with 1,200' of air below your heels! Trudge up deep snow, belay from tree. WI4, M5+.
Descend: Descend ~40' to the NE to a large pine tree a bit down hill from the top anchor. Seven total raps off trees back to the bottom. Look for the tat/slings.
Essential GearTwo 60m ropes best for the raps.
Selection of ice screws, stubbies for the ice. I think we used two on each pitch only.
Cams, standard rack.
Set of nuts.
Knifeblade to protect the traverse back left on P6 helps!
Ice tools, crampons, helmet. (Do not follow other parties on this route! You will be injured!) Lots of ice, rock snow etc. will be coming down the chute. The rock is poor, and so can the ice be.