Two weekends ago Wade Morris and Nick Schlichtman finished a new eight-pitch 5.12 for a total of about 700 feet of new terrain on Big Rock Candy Mountain, South Platte, Colorado . Their climb, named Bulleit Train, ascends the steep North Face which is also home to Shock Treatment (5.12+)
The red line shows the new free climbing of Bulleit Train, and the blue line is where it connects with Rotten Teeth to top-out/ Photo: Wade Morris.
Morris discovered the line while looking through Jason Haas’ guidebook to the area. The lonely description of Big Aid Route A2 and a photo showing a beautiful 200-foot technicolor dihedral rising above its first pitch drew his attention.
“I drove out there on a solo mission to search the possibilities of the wall for climbing. Once back into service I immediately texted Nick that we had found our project!” Morris said.
Morris and Schlichtman established the route ground-up, bolting from stances and hooks, taking roughly eight days over the past three years.
The route stays fairly consistent in the 11+/12- range. The lower cracks took a lot of gardening but yielded promising climbing. Once the pair reached the upper slabs the stone needed little to no cleaning.
“It was amazing to just get to climb after all that scrubbing and each pitch was very unique. The climbing changes every pitch and requires the leader to be well versed in all techniques,” Morris said. “One pitch you are heel hooking right off the anchor and then the next you are dancing up super technical slab!”
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Two weekends ago they were finally able to bolt and climb the last hard slab.
Morris said, “The final pitch was a team effort. Nick started up, climbing with a lightweight drill and after about 60 feet the climbing became drastically harder. I have quite a bit more experience with hooking, so I took over the reins and finished the pitch.” Schlichtman made quick work of the slab and sent the proposed 5.12b/c crux pitch third go. The pair then had just two of the pitches left to free on lead. Riding the Bulleit Train, Morris and Schlichtman freed the remaining two pitches of 12-.
Nick Schlichtman on the stem corner of pitch 4 on Bulleit Train, Big Rock Candy Mountain, South Platte, CO. Photo: Marc Bergreen.
Big Rock Candy Mountain holds infamous classics such as the 12 pitch Childhood’s End (5.12- R). Bulleit Train marks the first major route of this difficulty put up since 1991. The most recent addition before it was an 11-pitch 5.9 established by Haas and Greg Miller.
On Bulleit Train, evidence of a previous aid-climbing attempt was found up to pitch three. Morris attempted, with no luck, to find out who had previously tried the climb.
Schlichtman and Morris stated that they feel honored to have found this gem and contributed to the collection of awesome routes in the South Platte.
“Putting up a route on Big Rock was an amazing experience,” Morris said. “It’s one of the biggest rock faces in Colorado and was just downright fun with Nick!”