The Naked Edge

In­side Colorado’s most fa­mous route


From the park­ing lot in El­do­rado Canyon, the great hulk of the Redgar­den Wall dom­i­nates the hori­zon, with the left sky­line cre­at­ing a steep arête that climbers world­wide rec­og­nize as The Naked Edge. This five-pitch route, ar­guably the most clas­sic line at this his­toric climb­ing area, fea­tures in­sane ex­po­sure and chal­leng­ing move­ment. Eldo is known for its unique style: thin gear, del­i­cate face climb­ing, loose rock, and cre­ative route-find­ing. The Naked Edge of­fers up the area’s sig­na­ture va­ri­ety with finger cracks, slabs, a chim­ney, a di­he­dral, and a plethora of tech­ni­cal se­quences. With a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a men­tal and phys­i­cal chal­lenge, no climber can re­sist the route’s pure beauty and old-school style.

The first as­cents (aid and free) were cut­ting-edge. The aid as­cent re­quired mul­ti­ple at­tempts over two years by the am­bi­tious and en­er­getic Lay­ton Kor in the 1960s. Early Colorado free-climb­ing pi­o­neers Jim Erick­son and Dun­can Fer­gu­son set a high bar with their 1971 free as­cent. Though mod­ern climbers will prob­a­bly find the crux on the fourth or fifth pitches, Erick­son re­ported that the first pitch finger crack was his crux with fixed pitons jam­ming the locks.

To­day the route sees speed as­cents in un­der half an hour. The cur­rent record hold­ers, Ste­fan Griebel and Ja­son Wells, did the whole en­deavor—go across the bridge over South Boul­der Creek, hike to the base, do three “ap­proach pitches” up to 5.8, climb the route, scram­ble down the fourth class East Slabs, and then sprint down the trail and back across the bridge—in 24 min­utes, 29 sec­onds. [ Ed. Un­til Oc­to­ber 2015, Ben­nett and Brad Go­bright held the record at 24 min­utes, 57 sec­onds.]

The most mem­o­rable part of the climb is pulling around the arête on the fi­nal pitch into one of the wildest and most ex­posed po­si­tions ever. The wall falls 650 feet to the creek be­low, and the holds, well, they suck. It’s stress­ful un­til you power into a per­fect hand crack and glory-jam your way to the top. GRADE

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