Bishop Rock (5.4)
The Bishop via Ellingwood Chimney (5.8)
October 28, 2012
Crew: Brian K. - Pete K.
Bishop Rock and the Bishop are two fifth class peaks in the South Platte, Jefferson County. Bishop Rock is a ranked peak and the Bishop is a formidable un-ranked summit that is seldom reached. Neither have an established trail and provide a nice taste of adventure. The "standard" route on the Bishop is historically significant as it was first ascended by Albert Ellingwood, Agnes Vaille and Stephen Hart in 1924. Ellingwood led up a steep chimney and belayed his partners up to the summit. After a rest, he belayed them down and then downclimbed the pitch without any gear. This stands as a reminder of Ellingwoods prowess as a climber and his willingness to push the limits. This was the hardest climb in the county at the time.
Approach: From the trailhead, follow the trail up as it leads into a gully. Keep your eyes peeled, as the trail veers left and just before it turns into a road there is a faint trail that continues up into the gully. This junction is critical and is where the approach to the two rocks diverge. See the map below.
To Bishop Rock: Take the faint trail up the gully. The goal is to make it to the saddle between Bishop Rock and Cathedral Spires. The trail leads most of the way there but gets very faint and hard to follow higher up. Just as you reach the saddle you will run into a house. Take care to not get too close and make a sharp left to contour up toward Bishop Rock. Eventually you will reach the summit plateau and the summit rock outcropping comes into view. Saunter across the top to the summit boulders, the route ascends this aspect (east) and the rappel slings are visible from below.
To the Bishop: Stay on the main trail as it cuts back left and becomes a road. It will soon turn back toward the Bishop and it will loom above you. The road will fade away and you will leave it and head toward the Bishop. There is a maze of giant boulders that block your path and navigation can be very difficult. As you ascend, try to work your way slightly around to the west and you will hopefully find a reasonable way that leads steeply up to the base of the route. Pay attention on the approach so you can re-trace your route on the way down.
Bishop Rock: Scramble up to the base of the east face. Make a steep move onto the face then follow easier terrain to a ledge. It is a simple walk to the summit. 5.4 - 50'
Descent: Make a short rappel down the pitch from a slung block.
The Bishop: Ellingwood Chimney is the obvious chimney in front of you.
P1 - 5.8 - Chimney straight up passing several old pins protecting with small gear. Battle your way over the chockstone and run it out up the widening chimney past an eagles nest. Make a few committing moves to briefly exit the chimney (protects with a #6) then squeeze back in and chimney up to a hanging belay at a fixed piton. 100'
P2 - 5.8 - Head straight up the crack above the belay. Follow it as it angles right across an exposed slab until it is possible to reenter the chimney. Tunnel into a cavern-like space and work your way to the back. Lieback and chimney straight up to a large ledge and a comfy belay. 80'
P3 - 5.8 - Walk across through some large boulders toward the summit. You will be staring up into an imposing offwidth/chimney with an ancient spinning bolt at the base. Clip the bolt and don't fall on it as you squeeze up to the summit. A #6 can be placed deep in the crack but it may not be the easiest way. The anchor is on the far side of the summit. 50'
Descent: This descent is slightly confusing and does not match the mountainproject description very well. From the anchor, make a single rope rappel down to a ledge on the opposite side of the Bishop from the climb. This ledge can then be "walked" around to the other side through an exposed tunnel to reach another set of anchors above Ellingwood Chimney. A fall would certainly be fatal and it is likely low 5th class so be careful. From the new anchors, make a double rope rappel past the route down to the ground.
Thoughts: Both of the routes are very enjoyable. Bishop Rock can be protected with a set of nuts and some webbing for the summit. The Bishop is a much more serious climb and your rack should increase accordingly. We had TCUs, and double C4s from 0.5 - 2 and single 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 6 and used a variety of it. The small gear is useful on the first pitch and the wider gear came in handy higher up. I don't think the summit is reached very often due to the ancient webbing and questionable condition of the bolts. There was one good bolt but bringing new webbing is probably a good idea. Finally, this area is marked as private on the map. Although there were no fences or signage, try to keep a low profile and not leave a trace.