Wild Wall

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Steve McCorkel has been a fixture in the Northern Colorado Climbing scene for decades. He’s one of those off the radar developer guys who quietly has established incredible classics from RMNP to the Poudre Canyon. A few years ago after the Poudre Canyon Guidebook came out I became aware of an amazing wall he had established in the Narrows of the Poudre Canyon.

Located above the stunning Twilight Cave, the Wild Wall is a beautiful 30-40 meter cliff that overhangs most of its length and who’s base towers 250ft over the Poudre River.  When I first noticed the multi-colored overhanging cliff I was immediately intimidated and inspired. Through Cam Cross I learned that Steve had established several routes up there and the rumor of an unfinished project began to emerge.

Jason Tarry about half-way through “Wild and Scenic 12d”

Upon venturing up to the wall I was immediately committed to climbing both of the established routes on the wall. The completed route Steve established is called “Wild and Scenic” and goes at a stout grade of 12d. This route ended up giving me almost as much trouble as the unclimbed project due to its heart breaking finish. The project to the left was envisioned by Steve and he had named it “Rustic Wilderness”. When I talked to Steve about it he mentioned a shoulder wrecking move near the top that became his nemesis and prevented him from sending.

This ugly looking old tree sits right at the top of the wall like an ancient Gargoyle

Steve graciously granted me permission to try his old project and even to add a few bolts at the bottom where I was too much of a “pansy” to repeat his bold runout’s to the first bolt on each route. When I asked him about the sketchy run up the initial slab he mentioned that it was “kinda scary” but that was just the way it was so he never thought anything of it.

Steve’s method for climbing the wall started with a short entry pitch leading to a two bolt-anchor. He would belay from here to work on “Rustic Wilderness” and “Wild and Scenic”. Instead I decided to belay from the bottom of the wall/gully and add some long slings to the entry pitch and climb the whole wall with a 70meter rope. The beginning climbing is dead-easy so it doesn’t add any endurance factor to the route, just the convenience of not having to hang out at a belay station.

Anyways, I began working on Rustic Wilderness first since I’m always a sucker for an un-done project in my favorite canyon on the planet. The rock quality was impressive and the movement was hard but very fun to climb on. The route breaks down like this: 5.12- climbing leads to a rest at a horizontal break in the wall. I was able to get a decent knee scum here and get about 90% back after a few shakes. The route is on you the rest of the way from here. Lots of mid to upper 5.12 climbing leads to the shouldery move back left then immediately into the crux of the route (for me at least). A solid v8ish boulder problem on small crimps and a low foot guards the final jug. This move ended up being very balancy and powerful especially at the end of 30meters of climbing. After the crux you kind of traverse left and pull a mantle onto the final slab/shelf and the anchor. After about 4 days of effort I was able to stick that crux on redpoint and wobble myself to the chains. I’m going with 5.13b for the grade, it may a be a bit harder but I will let the repeaters come to consensus on that.

Here’s a rough topo of the wall: A = Rustic Wilderness 13b, B = A Open Project Variation Bolted by Steve to either route, C = Wild and Scenic 12d. To approach the wall you want to cross at the Twilight cave and head up and left passing the Upper Midlife Wall until you can see a subtle 5th class gully heading up and right. There should be a cairn at the top of it marking the way. From here you keep wrapping around to the right to reach the base of the Wild Wall.

Earlier this year I went up with Jesse Levine of Reel Motion Media to shoot some footage of the route. Here is the awesome video piece Jesse through together from the day:

Wild Wall – FA Rustic Wilderness 5.13b from Reel Motion Media on Vimeo.

if you dig the edit, keep up with the reel motion crew by liking their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reelmotionmedia and following them on instagram:http://instagram.com/reelmotion

Big thanks to Steve for letting me try his project and for establishing such an awesome collection of routes in our local canyon. The water level should be low enough to cross soon, so get up there and give this awesome wall a whirl.

-Ben Scott
NCCC-president