Sendero Luminoso 5.9

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.02320°N / 107.79228°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 9
Sign the Climber's Log

Overview and Getting There

view of Ouray
This route climbs the most prominent buttress on the Sandias. It offers amazing views of the town of Ouray below, and although rated as 5.9 climb it feels easier. There are number of ledges, which give you a nice break between some 5.9 moves. There are some bolts en route, and anchors, but trad gear is required (unless you feel comfortable climbing 5.10 and are a minimalist - then you can probably get by with 5 quickdraws).
Some pitches have dihedrals and places for gear placement, some (especially the upper pitches) have a slabby section - but those slabs are bolted. The quality of route is not great, a lot of loose rock so typical for San Juan Mountains.
The route faces south, so it does get a lot of sun and snow melts quickly there.

The route was put up by Eric Wright and Frank Robertson in 2008.

The route is located right west from the town of Ouray. You can actually study it from the Backstreet Bagel Deli coffee shop. This shop relocated several houses down from its original location this summer, and its windows open up to the west side of the town. We were looking at this route several times with Michael Covington, and finally decided to climb it one October morning, 2010. Yes, it is a popular hang out place, and I think the best coffee in town. The weather was co-operative - only a little rain here and there, the rock remained surprisingly dry (thirsty sandstone).

Some anchors were in a bad shape, so please bring extra webbing/slings. Have fun and enjoy the views.

Approach: 15 minutes
Start: Old Twin Peaks trailhead

Drive on the 7th Ave and take a left at it's end. Drive up the hill and take a right on Queen St. Park at the small parking area. Hike up the road, and soon you will see a sign for the trailhead.
You can even hike from the town - add about 10 minutes more to the approach time.
You hike up on a good trail along many climbing walls areas, you pass Dihedral Wall, Doesn't Matter Wall, and finally you reach a turn in the trail into the Oak Creek Canyon. The Grey Matter Wall starts behind the turn, and our route Sendero Luminoso starts near the corner (the most eastern climb on the Grey Matter Wall).

I had to come back and redo the route 2nd time, the scenery is just as spectacular as I remembered, but the amount of loose rock seemed to multiply. Be careful on this climb.

Route Description

This is a 9 pitch route, mixed climbs with some bolts and some gear needed. There are anchors an route. It is rated as 5.9, but does not feel very difficult. You climb up short pitches about 30 meters long, and then you walk on ledges to the next pitch. Some ledges are small, a few meters, some are pretty big. Warning: a lot of loose scree between the pitches and loose rock on the climb - don't forget your helmet.

Pitch 1 - 5.6 Cracky Bush 5.6
Johnston Wright 5.9RSlab start
Johnston-Wright 5.9RJohnson-Wright 5.9R
Pitch 1 - 5.6: Start at the left side of the slabby prominent buttress and climb 30 meters to a ledge with rap anchor. The anchor is easy to spot. Or, you can even climb up the Cracky Bush 5.6 climb - you will end up at the same anchors. Cracky Bush is the easternmost climb on the Great Matter Wall, Sandias. Both of these are trad climbs with many options for gear placement.
You can also choose a more difficult variation to your start as we opted during my 2nd time on this route. Johnston-Wright is 5.9 run out slab, which leads to the same anchors as Cracky Bush, located just to the west and this route is bolted. It is a long way to the first bolt, higher up this pitch gets easier.
Pitch 2 - 5.9Pitch 2
Pitch 2 - 5.9Pitch 2 higher up
2nd pitch 5.92nd time on the climb
Pitch 2 - 5.9: Climb the left facing corner past 2 bolts (the first bolt is high up there, but there is spot for a small nut/cam placement below) to a ledge. Traverse then left ~ 3 meters to a right facing corner with a crack. A couple of stemming moves get you past the crux, then move right past a bolt. Continue straight up to a rappel anchor with 2 bolts and webbing.
Pitch 3 - 5.9Looking down
coming up pitch 3Coming up pitch 3
Pitch 32nd time on the route
Pitch 3 - 5.9: Ascend another crack, groove through shallow roofs. Above small roofs climb straight up slab past bolt to a belay station in a big open area with Junipers. Again, you can protect this climb with some more trad gear. I believe that I place yellow #2 cam in the crack, and used 2 bolts placed by Eric. Walk straight ahead through the opening in junipers bearing right.
Pitch 4 - 5.55.5 pitch
Walking between pitcheslarge ledges
Pitch 4 - 5.5Mid 5th class climbing
Pitch 4 - 5.5: Climb easy crack/inside corner facing right. You may have to scramble through scrub oak above to the base of pitch 5. Trad gear only on this easy pitch, again pretty short, 20-30 meters.
Pitch 5 - 5.9Pitch 5
Pitch 5 - 5.9
Pitch 5 - 2nd time on the climb2nd time on the climb
Pitch 5 - 5.9: Climb huge stacked blocks beginning with a right facing corner to a platform and then well protected slab moves to another excellent ledge. Continue to a large pine tree. There is a large open area above 5th pitch - good spot to take a break. You have only 4 more pitches to go, more than 1/2 of your climbing is done.
Pitch 6 - 5.5Pitch 6 - 5.5
Mt. AbramsMt. Abrams and Ice Park
View from the top of pitch 6View into the town
Pitch 6 - 5.5: From the big pine tree, go straight up obvious easy line past bolt (about 10 meters up). Bear left and go past another bolt protecting easy slab climbing. Look for the large block with rappel/belay bolts. Pass this on the right side. Scramble up lose ledges to the start of pitch 7.
Pitch 7, and 8Pitch 7 - stormy day
Pitch 7 - 5.9Watch out for the loose rock
Pitch 7 - 5.9Start of pitch 7
Pitch 7 - 5.9: Starts 20 feet right of the nose of buttress. This is another corner/groove, with the crux awkward overhang right off the ledge. It is well protected with bolts, and you can just follow those to the top.
Pitch 8 - low 5th classPitch 8
Ouray as seen from the climbView into Ouray
Chossy terrainChossy terrain
Pitch 8 - scramble, low 5th class - hike up 80 meters to the start of the last pitch. Continue just straight up, you will see a rock wall and bolts on it. There is a lot of loose rock, so be cautious.
Pitch 9 - 5.9Pitch 9
We did it!Top of pith 9
9th pitch5.10b variation
Pitch 9 - 5.9 or 5.10b - yes, you can choose between these two options. I climbed 5.9 route the first time since it was raining, and 5.10b route during my 2nd. This last pitch is really well bolted (4 or 5 bolts). 5.9 goes to the right of the 5.10b. Not much to hold on, but the feet worked well (even in the rain). 5.10b was quiet a bit harder.


hiking back
Definitively RAPPEL.

Again, Ouray Rock Climbing guide book said: "Either rappel the route, or continue uphill to the meadow above"
Well, the meadow was beautiful. You do have to bushwhack a little bit to get to it, and slightly search for the trail - about 10 minutes hiking up the slope.
We found the trail, and decided to descend to the left to get back to the base of our climb. However, this trail continued up and down and further west (I was thinking that I will end up in Yankee Boy Basin at some point). Michael decided to cut down through the gorge, and I continued down on the trail. At the end, I had to cross the gorge too, and we both came to the start of our climb at about the same time. We did not bring our approach shoes, so I am guessing that we hiked a little bit over 2 miles in our rock shoes. (I ended up at a different trailhead - Oak Creek Twin Peaks trailhead, but by crossing the steep gorge was able to reconnect with Duchess and Michael).
Duchess was patiently waiting for us - she was happy to see us back, and ate all her duck breasts.

Information about rappel: 1 sixty meter rope is sufficient. It is exhausting to do 9 rappels and drag the rope in between, but still I believe it is faster than walking. Be cautious of the loose rock on your descent.
Rappel rings are all in good shape and pretty easy to spot. We did replace some of the webbing in March 2012.

Essential Gear

one 50 or 60 meter rope, rock shoes, harness, 6 quickdraws, webbing or extra slings to replace anchors in a bad shape, and a small rack.

Ouray Rock Climbing guide recommended to bring cams up to #4 Camalot, but I did not use it. I used only 0.75 and # 1 and #2 cam. I did use one large hex (although I could do without it), and 3-4 medium size nuts.

I think a minimalist experienced climber can do the climb just with the quickdraws. There are bolts at crucial sections.


Click for Ouray, Colorado Forecast

External Links

nothing to do with this

I posted this link just for the fun. Eric (link above) namer the climb Sendero Luminoso = Shining Path. You can e-mail him if you are interested why this name.

As of April 2012 there is no route description on Mountain Project.



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