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Summit - South Face Circuit

Summit - South Face Circuit

Summit - South Face Circuit

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Object Title: Summit - South Face Circuit

Route Type: Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Class III to V depending on route selection

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: Niederbayer

Created/Edited: Oct 25, 2008 / Feb 8, 2009

Object ID: 457013

Hits: 2593 

Page Score: 80.49%  - 12 Votes 

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Cynical Pinnacle

Cathedral Spires are not only a heaven for rock climbers - they are also a great destination for hikers/scramblers.

The following route leads you via the West Ridge up to the summit, down the East Ridge and drops you almost at the same spot where you started out for the hike!

Getting There

North Fork South Platte

C-470 & Hampden(285), travel South on 285(west bound)

14.5 Miles to Foxton Road (Kennedy Gulch)- look for a sign for Reynolds Park

Take the exit and travel under the highway due south 8.2 Miles

Once at Platte River Rd (RD 96) turn right and travel 2.4 Miles to a large parking lot (space for at least a dozen cars) on the right side of the road.

Route Description

Cathedral Spires - South Face

View of the Spires - below West Ridge
Summit block - South Face
West Ridge
East Ridge
Bishop Rock

The picture above shows the South Face of Cathedral Spires and gives you a good idea of the route to take.

From the parking lot head straight uphill on a clear path which leads into the narrow and forested valley, separating Cathedral Spires (right) and Bishop Rock (left).

Follow the trail for quite a while.

A couple feet before you get an unobstructed view of the cliffs of Bishop Rock (to your left) a climber trail branches off from the main trail to your right and leads up to Cathedral Spires.

Take this climber trail. You will hike up through conifer forest, scramble over a boulder field and eventually stand at the bottom of the cliffs of West Ridge.

Hike along the foot of the cliff eastwards, the trail will soon dropp sharply.

Right in front of you raises Cynical Pinnacle.

To your left a conifer and juniper covered gulch leads up to the west side of the main summit block (right above you).

Scramble up the gulch, you will need a Class III move or two to get up to the West Ridge. The cliffs of the main summit block raise right in front of you.

The south side of summit block offers only Class V options. You are better off on the north side.

Around the corner you will find pretty soon cracks offering Class III and IV climbs to the summit.

Keep on bushwacking along the northern side and you might find Class II+ options up to the summit.

The summit itself is a small "ridge" of smaller spines and boulders with unobstructed views in all four directions.

A plastic container with a summit registry is hidden in a crack on one of the most eastwards summit spines.

From the summit block climb down its northern side (south side is a vertical cliff) and continue on the East Ridge (which connects the summit block with the "real" Spires).

The first block east of the summit can be climbed up, over and down in a fun Class II - III climb.

Climbing directly over the next gendarme would be a Class IV/V climb.

Drop down to your right and continue below the south side of the gendarme until you stand below the row of Spires.

Scramble down the boulderfilled slope and hike around the bottom of Cynical Spire (kind of the cornerstone of the "Spires").

If you are lucky, you can watch rock climbers high up in the wall defying gravity.

A well trodden trail starts right below the Cynical Pinnacle. You will be back quickly at the road.

When you reach the road - turn to your right (upstream). You will be in a couple minutes back at your car...and still have plenty of the day left to go fishing in the North Fork Platte River...

Essential Gear

Clinging on for bare live

Sturdy hiking boots will suffice. Bring a helmet if you want to do more exposed climbing

Mountain Conditions/ RED TAPE

West Ridge
Cynical Pinnacle


Cathedral Spires are closed for raptor nesting MARCH 1 till 31 JULY.

Fine for violation is up to USD 100,000 and up to 5 years in prison.

I am not sure if this applies only to climbing the spires itself or if this affects the whole mountain!

There is no water along the route and sooner or later you will grab into cactus or get tangled up in thorn scrub - plenty of both.

Rattle snakes definitely like it here - like at any lower elevation mountain in the Front Range

Rocks get extremely slippery when covered with ice and snow - be very careful.
Plenty of spots where a slip will be fatal.

There is lots of private property around the mountains - the first house is almost in spitting distance to the summit block.


West RidgeSpiresCynical PinnacleCan you spot the climber?Clinging on for bare liveCynical PinnacleEast Ridge
West RidgeSummit block - South FaceCynical PinnacleSummitView of the Spires - below West RidgeBishop RockLook down from the Gulch/West Ridge
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