Standard Route-Sun Dancer 5.8 II

Standard Route-Sun Dancer 5.8 II

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.81885°N / 108.60629°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.8 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Although not an "official" route, the popular combination of the Standard Route (5.7) and Sun Dancer (5.8) is significant because if you were to walk up to the Sunday Wall having no idea of any existing routes and wonder "what is the easiest possible way to climb this wall?" this would be it. The Standard Route-Sun Dancer is a great outing and one of Unaweep's easiest multi-pitch climbs. Although the route is only 2 real pitches, I do believe the Grade II is appropriate as both pitches are very long (both more than 160'), and there is a "pitch" of class 4 scrambling in-between.

The Standard Route allows you to get to the Sun Deck a full two number grades easier than Sweet Sunday Serenade, keeping the entire climb to the top a number grade easier as well. The Standard Route, however, does not have as good of rock or as varied and excellent of climbing as SSS. This might be a good training climb, or first multi-pitch. Regardless, I would give the Standard Route-Sun Dancer combination a full three star rating (while SSS probably deserves four).

[img:790439:aligncenter:medium:The lower portion of the Sunday Wall. Sun Dancer visible top center][img:790438:aligncenter:medium:Looking Down the route]

Getting There

This climb is on the Sunday Wall 2.1 miles west of the Divide Road turnoff in Unaweep Canyon. Take the approach trail to the base of the crag and turn right. Follow a climber's trail for a couple of minutes to the base of this climb. It is just before and around the corner from Sweet Sunday in a nook next to a pair of trees. Don't climb the deep chimney but the disjunct crack system just to the right.

If you are feeling lost, keep an eye on the two horizontal bands of quartzite. The Sun Deck Ledge and the rap anchors are located where the two bands intersect. This climb starts a bit to climbers left of that point.

Route Description

The Standard Route-Sun Dancer link up:

P1- Make one of the hardest moves of the climb off the ground and gain a rest. Climb a long, ledgy pitch with some jamming, chimney, and face moves to a big ledge and belay spot. Make sure to hold on to enough gear to make the anchor at the belay ledge. (5.7) 160'

Walk east on a spacious ledge and climb a mildly exposed 4th class step to a pair of welded cold-shut anchors. You can rappel with two ropes from here to a ledge behind a notch rappeler's right of Sweet Sunday Serenade or continue. To continue, you can belay from the bolts, or you can scramble (third class) a little higher to the spacious Sun Deck Ledge where you can have a comfortable belay stance. Belaying from the bolts is more secure, it eliminates the possibility of a catastrophic, unanchored factor 2 fall, but stretches the rope and causes rope drag. Belaying from the ledge causes less drag but there is no easy anchorage for the belayer.

P2- Sun Dancer is the obvious corner and the easiest way to top out from the Sun Deck. The rap anchors for all routes that top-out from the Sun Deck are found at the top of this climb. From the Sun Deck move right and climb a short step past a chockstone to another ledge. Enter a long, W-shaped chimney with great protection. Using a combination of stemming, jamming, and chimney maneuvers, work past a crux to easier ground before reaching welded cold-shut anchors on a good ledge. (5.8) 170'

Descent: Rappel with two ropes from a two welded cold-shut anchors to the Sun Deck Ledge. Scramble down (or just rappel) to another set of welded cold shuts near a tree and rappel 140' to a sandy platform behind a pinnacle rappeler's right of Sweet Sunday. Downclimb class 3 to the ground.

[img:790432:aligncenter:medium:Sunday Wall overview][img:790444:aligncenter:medium:Route topo]

Other options: there are several ways to top out from the Sun Deck (though if you take the Standard Route, I would assume you were looking for the easiest way to the top, but anyway...). Here is a brief description of the main ones:

The Gargoyle (5.10b): Start as if for Sun Dancer. Surmount the chockstone and traverse right to a corner with a roof (crux). Sometimes done as two pitches.

Sweet Sunday (Original) (5.9): The hand/finger crack left of Sun Dancer was the original finish for SSS. Climb an angling crack off the Sun Deck to a ledge. Gain a 5.9 finger crack that gradually eases and widens. Traverse right at the finish to the anchors for Sun Dancer to rappel.

High Exposure (5.8+): Probably the least popular of the top-out routes. From the Sun Deck Ledge find a hand crack on the far left side past the SSS finish. Climb 5.8 hand to OW to a possible belay or stretch the rope through some 5.7 to a belay at the top (no bolted anchor). Scramble 4th class to the top, walk east to the top of Sun Dancer and scramble down to the anchors.

[img:790436:aligncenter:small:Sun Dancer][img:790433:aligncenter:small:View from the top][img:790437:aligncenter:small:On the upper portion of Sun Dancer][img:790435:aligncenter:small:Looking up the Standard Route][img:790429:aligncenter:small:The Fortress Wall as seen from the top]

Essential Gear

We took a double set of cams (Black Diamond C4) from #.5 to #3 as well as a #.3, #.4, and a #4 which we used once but didn't really need. I also had a BD C3 #1 (red) which also got used but probably wasn't necessary. A set of hexes and nuts might come in handy but we didn't use too many of either. Two 60m ropes is probably necessary (I dont know if 50m would quite cut it) as well as plenty of water: even in the spring it can get awful hot down there....

P.S. Tape also might not be a bad idea. Some awkward jams can lead to some nice flappers if you aren't taped up!

External Links

Standard Route on
Sun Dancer on


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