Huff n Puff, 5.10c
The urban climbing crowd shows up (dogs and boom boxes in tow) year in and year out to repeat climbs in a select section of the City of Rocks National Reserve. In reality, the better trad climbs are spread out all over the place and some of my favorites are located in the far reaches of Castle Rocks State Park. Kingpin and the Foil represented another one of those spectacular days where my partners and I not only had multiple walls with some classic routes to ourselves, but never saw another person on the approach.
The Foil and Kingpin (which share the same destination) offer up a beautiful aspen and wild flower lined hike up Johnson Creek
. Johnson and Stines Creek fork off of each other as they form the natural western border to Castle Rocks. There are few rock features west of the creek. Johnson Creek is fed from snow melt from the summit ridge-line above. A significant rock (perhaps 2nd in size only to Castle itself) is the Chessman
and to reach the Foil and Kingpin you have accomplished most of the hike necessary to reach the Chessman which is the highest (elevation wise) climbing objective in the park. However, most of the routes on the Chessman are south facing. The Foil and Kingpin are shrouded in the trees and offer a variety of sun and shade options.
Huff n Puff, 5.10c
Both of these objectives offer exceptional moderates. The Kingpin’s highlight is an incredible trad line on its southwest face that requires climbing a chimney (5.7) to a hand rail (5.9) which leads to a finger splitter (5.10c), named Huff’ n Puff. Pioneer Pudding (5.9) is a fun, but short, bolted line on the west face (well shaded most of the day). Pioneer Pudding leads to a sub-summit. Huff’ n Puff leads to the true summit. You can top rope Pioneer Pudding. A 2nd must clean Huff’ n Puff as there is way too much traversing, not to mention that the fixed anchor is down the east face via the Jester (5.11a). You cannot set up a gear anchor on Huff’ n Puff for top roping purposes, there will be too much friction for the rope to pull.
Expect approximately a 45 minute hike. Park at the main trail head for the Castle Rock massif itself. From the parking area, head northwest
on any number of trails skirting Castle Rock to the east. There is quite a bit of signage not to mention trails going ever which direction. You are looking to follow Stines and Johnson Creek northwest on an established trail
. Stay on the east side of the creeks. Make sure to follow Johnson Creek versus Stines Creek when they fork (Johnson is the most east).
You cross it a time or two but most of the time stay on the east side. You pass through a human sized gate (2015)
. The entire trail was in good shape in 2015. On your right is a needle feature located on the Kingdom. Continue on the trail northwest of the Kingdom. Hike northwest until you come to a fork or T in the trail that was signed for the Foil in 2015
. Turn left at the fork which heads SW. Fairly immediate you pass Kingpin’s west face on your left (these two features are just meters apart). Pioneer Pudding is in front of you and can be marshy below the route. The chimney to the right (southwest face) is the start of Huff ‘ n Puff.
Route Description(s)Routes, Left to Right starting with the West Face
Pioneer Pudding- 5.9**/ This is a short but worthy face route through five bolts to a fixed anchor on the shorter west face. There are no gear placement needs as referenced in the guide, five draws will do it. Typical loose slab climbing at Castle. Not deserving of two stars as the guide suggests, but a good warm up for Huff and Puff which is just around the corner and is worth the maximum credit in my opinion. Dow
Huff and Puff- 5.10c**/This is one of the better remote climbs found in either park. You start up an easy southwest facing chimney and need to resist the urge of placing much if any gear (I soloed the chimney for the most part myself) as it will eventually cause you serious rope drag once you complete the handrail traverse out right to the crux splitter. Top out of the chimney on the right side where an obvious hand traverse heads out right to access the finishing crack. The horizontal accepts medium to large gear. Make the exposed traverse (several meters long) into the base of the gritty finger splitter. Stay low for an initial hand jam rest. Rat urine on the traverse can make your fingers slick, thus chalk helps. Place a bomber small to medium cam and make a quick lay back/finger crack move to a ring lock. Place another bomber cam and use features on the right wall for your feet and make another dramatic lift to flaring hands. From there it is all gravy to the summit. You cannot top rope this route as your rope will get stuck. Bring the second up on gear and slung horn belay and rap off of the east face on a fixed rap. Dow
Jester- 5.11a***/Below the fixed rap on the main summit.
Rat Crack- 5.10d*/