Gunbarrel Cool Guys

Route Name: Gunbarrel Cool Guys

Rock Formation: Ridge 1, Skunk Canyon

Number of bolts to be placed:  10 lead bolts + cable draws for these bolts

Route Difficulty: 5.14



 Route Description:

Gunbarrel Cool Guys will link an obvious diagonalling feature along the recently developed wall on the back of Ridge One/Stairway to Heaven in Skunk Canyon. It will climb to bolt six, which has a long, fixed chain drawn, on Heaven and Hell (5.13a)—or bolt eight if doing the direct, cave start Hellbound—and then move left along small edges and an obvious diagonalling seam feature into an alcove with better holds. From here it will engage a difficult compression boulder problem on sloping ramps to join God’s Kingdom on Earth (5.12b/c) in the middle of its crux section, before engaging a difficult-looking crux to continue along the same diagonal slash feature to join the existing route Skunked for its final four bolts. Because of the route’s traversing nature, the circa 10 bolts needed to protect this new stretch of independent climbing will need to have fixed cable draws—it would otherwise be a nightmare (and unsafe) to clean your quickdraws at the end of each day.


The name is just a silly joke based on the fact that on the day my friend and I were up there scoping the route, we—both residents of Gunbarrel, Colorado—started calling ourselves the “Gunbarrel Cool Guys,” even though we aren’t very cool.


A description of existing routes on the same face of the rock formation, including the number of routes, route names, route grade, type, and approximate distance between routes (a photocopy or diagram of the existing route(s) is also required):

Existing routes from Left to Right:

Like Hell it is 5.11 trad, Another proposed route (Later Creators 5.13) sport, Skunked 5.14 sport, God’s Kingdom on Earth 5.12c sport, Heaven and Hell 5.13a sport, Proposed route Gunbarrel Cool Guys 5.14 sport, Hellbound 5.13a/b sport, Sidereal 5.10 trad, Seventh Inning Stretch 5.11d trad, Boot Hill 5.8 trad, In God We Trust 5.10c trad, and the SE ridge route Stairway to Heaven 5.3

A description of the approach (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails leading to the climb and condition of the trail, and state whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  

The approach is via NCAR. Take the Mallory Cave Trail west to the Mesa Trail; head north to where the Mesa Trail traverses across Skunk Canyon. Head west into Skunk Canyon on the climber’s approach trail, then head due north up the gully east of Hillbilly Rock to reach the south then west side of Hillbilly Rock on an existing climber’s trail that has had recent improvements (2022). From here, you can continue on the Stairway to Heaven (Ridge 1) descent trail to a shoulder just north of the wall, then drop down the gully to the climbing (~100–200 feet).


If different from the approach, a description of the descent, (include approximate distance from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails, a description of the trail condition and whether there is a durable surface, such as rock.  Include photographs of the descent.):

The descent is via lowering off the anchors on Skunked back to the gully below the wall.

Staging area:

A description of the area at the base of the climb (include existing levels of soil compaction, existence of a durable surface such as rock, and existing soil erosion.  Include photographs of the area at the base of the climb.):


The staging area is the same as for the existing climbs Heaven and Hell/Hellbound: a rock ledge/pedestal if doing the higher start (Heaven and Hell), or the gravel, rock, and sand at the bottom of the cave if doing the direct start (Hellbound). The photo here shows the higher staging area.


Has all reconnaissance work that can be reasonably done, short of placing any hardware, been done?

Because of the climb’s traversing, overhanging nature, I was only able to pull on from Heaven and Hell and check out a few moves, and to inspect the upper part of the traverse extensively from God’s Kingdom and Skunked. It has handholds the whole way, follows a natural weakness in the wall, and certainly goes as a free climb. The projected free grade is 5.14.


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

I made the moves closest to where the climb splits from Heaven and Hell on toprope, but there is no way to toprope the full line—it traverses and is 30 degrees overhanging with no directional gear and large trees in the gully behind it, making it unsafe to attempt until bolts/directional bolts are installed. The route has one small loose flake partway across the traverse that will need to be removed, and two medium-sized flakes near the end of the traverse that will likewise need to be removed.


Any additional notes:


3 replies
  1. Brian Stevens
    Brian Stevens says:

    I’ve inspected some of this line while lowering and can confirm it’s a logical link up and follows a very natural feature. It could also finish on God’s Kingdom as well for a shorter, easier version. Let’s do it! Sincerely, a fellow Gunbarrel (un)-cool guy.


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