Zero Stars All Stars Part 1


While perusing Facebook the other day, I saw that the Access Fund or American Alpine Club was starting a new weekly feature where they highlight a “zero star” route at various crags around the country. I started to think about the idea and wondered if they would showcase a bunch of dirty grovels, or videos of people ripping holds while being super run out on a cactus-riddled death slab?! A second train of thought then entered my mind. I considered, “how many good routes or boulder problems are out there that never get climbed because of a bad route description or zero star rating in a guide book or on mountainproject?” Perhaps the author did not have the chance to climb the particular line and took someone else’s word? Maybe they climbed it poorly, or the route was relatively new and needed traffic to clean up? I liked the idea of seeing and hearing about the less often traveled routes.


Fast forward a couple of days, I found myself at the Bog in the Poudre Canyon hoping to climb some of the boulder problems with lots of stars. I warmed up on “Sue’s Face”, and then quickly climbed “Simple” (both fantastic problems!) and not wanting to pack up all of the pads, began to look at “Bisher Arete” which sits between Simple and Sue’s Face. I referred to the guidebook and saw that it was a zero star problem. Furthermore, the description was vague and the appearance of the problem was less than inspiring. A tree stands close by, making me worried of ripping off the problem and back slapping the massive conifer. The holds were all unchalked and unclear. The section of the boulder was riddled with loose flakes and lichen. “Zero stars, rightfully so!”


I began to clean and chalk holds all while wondering “is this worth is?” After a bit of work, I began to realize that the tree was never a factor, the holds, after being cleaned were really fun and solid, and the movement was relatively straight forward and not contrived at all! I moved on without sending, but returned today and climbed what I think is a great boulder problem! I thought back on the Facebook feature, showcasing a zero star route, and decided that I will try and highlight on the NCCC site some lesser known, unnamed or zero starred routes or boulder problems in Northern Colorado beginning with Bisher Arete at the Bog, Poudre Canyon. Go get on this one!

Bisher Arete – The Bog, Poudre Canyon from Michael Engelstad on Vimeo.

Also, there is a great sit start beginning matched from the horizontal edge that makes it feel more like V8 and adds a couple fun moves.

-Michael Engelstad