Neph Son

Route Name: Neph Son
Rock Formation: Hilbilly Rock
Number of Bolts to be Placed: approximately 13 lead bolts to double bolt anchors
Proposed Grade: 5.13+

Route Description: Neph Son climbs the right side of the severely overhanging prow/buttress on the central/left side of the west face of Hillbilly Rock, right of the existing climb Uncle Dad, which climbs the prow via its left side. Because of its severely overhanging nature, with trees behind, and lack of directional gear, the route has only been inspected on rappel. However, the applicant was able to closely inspect the route along its entire length by staying clipped into the bolts on Uncle Dad as directionals, then lowering out into space to get a look. Neph Son will climb a vertical 30-foot lower face (~5.12) on nice dark rock to the point where the wall steepens. Here, a difficult rightward traverse on undercling flakes (~5.13) leads to the base of the “purple eye” pothole-like feature in the middle of the wall; a difficult crux getting past and over the eye (~5.13+) along its left side leads to the radically steep headwall, which is featured, with solid rock and larger holds, along its length (~5.12+). The route will move up this headwall onto a lower-angle finishing arête (5.10/5.11) before ending at anchors at the lip of the wall.

The climb is approximately 100 feet long.

The City of Boulder OSMP requires a photocopy or diagram of the rock formation with the proposed route drawn in to be accompanied with the route description. 

Description of Neighboring/Existing Routes: The west face of Hillbilly Rock has four existing climbs. The leftmost one is Horsefly Hootenanny, a 5.13- on the upper left side of the west face, which has a shared start with Uncle Dad (5.13b) for the first three bolts. Then there is the proposed climb, Neph Son, 10 feet right of Uncle Dad. Then the West Face (5.12c) is located down and right another 30 feet, and the rightmost route (West Face Right; 5.12a) is located another 50 feet downhill near the southwest margin of the wall. All are sport climbs, though West Face Right does have some moderate traditionally protected climbing to reach the first bolt.

The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of existing routes on the same face of the rock formation, including the number of routes, route names, route grade, type [traditional or bolted], and approximate distance between routes, and a photocopy or diagram of the existing route(s).

Approach Description: The approach is via NCAR. Take the Mallory Cave Trail to the Mesa Trail, head south to where the Mesa Trail traverses Skunk Canyon. Head west into Skunk Canyon on the climber’s approach trail, then, 100 yards into the canyon, head due north up the first gully, between Hillbilly Rock and Ridge 1, to reach the west side of Hillbilly Rock on an existing climber’s trail. The trail is on durable, hard-packed dirt and talus.

The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the approach, including: approximate distance(s) from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails leading to the climb, condition(s) of the trail(s), a description whether there is a durable surface, such as rock, and photographs of the approach.

Descent Description: The descent is via lowering off the route back to the staging area, and via the approach trail.

The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the descent, if different from the approach, using the same evaluation criteria. 


Base Area Description: 
The staging area is the same as for Horsefly Hootenanny—hardpacked dirt and rock, and is flat and comfortable for belaying.

The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the proposed route, including: existing levels of soil compaction, existence of a durable surface such as rock, existing soil erosion, and photographs of the area at the base of the climb.

Description of Route Evaluation Efforts: The route has been inspected on rappel and some holds were grabbed on toprope/rappel; given the steepness of the wall, lack of directional gear (there are no cracks on the lower sections), and proximity of tall trees (dangerous for toproping) behind the line, further inspection could not be safely carried out.

Has the route been top roped? Is there loose rock?  Is it extremely overhanging?

The route has not been toproped, but some holds have been grabbed while lowering off Uncle Dad. There are a few small flakes in the “purple eye” feature that need to be removed, but the route is otherwise on solid rock. It is extremely overhanging throughout its length.

The City of Boulder OSMP expects for the person(s) proposing the new route to to perform all reconnaissance work that can be reasonably done, short of placing any unapproved hardware.

Additional Notes from the Authors: This is the most direct and likely the most difficult line on the west face of Hillbilly, and will likely be 5.13+ or 5.14-. It is long, aesthetic, sustained pitch on excellent rock.

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