What’s in a (Route) Name?

Guest blog by Mike Schneiter.

Ever wonder where the name for the routes you climb on came from?

Slice and Dice - The Narrows - Crystal River Valley -  Rock Climbing - Colorado
Mike Schneiter on the FA of Slice and Dice. Where’s the name come from? Read on.

Originally, route names typically described features on the climb, such as the Northeast Ridge or The Nose. Or the name told who did the first ascent, such as the Petzoldt Ridge or the Lowe-Weiss Route. Eventually, route names became part of the creative process of putting up new routes, so you end up with names like End of the World Party and Lurking Fear.

As a climber with a strong appreciation for history, I love learning about the origins of a route’s name. In Rifle Mountain Park, there are a lot of great stories behind route names. Crime and Punishment was so named because Herman Gollner bolted the line during the bolting ban and was fined for it. Rumor Has It was the name given to the first bolted line in Rifle because the first ascentionists, Mark Tarrant and Richard Wright, had heard a rumor of a limestone canyon in the mountains outside Rifle and thus, discovered and put up the first routes. Dope Party, was so named for a sweet, little old lady who stood up for the climbers at Rifle when the city was considering closing the park.

Locally, the newly developed crags have route names with history and fanciful stories behind them as well. What’s up with a name like Hyphema No More, at Thompson Creek? What’s a hyphema anyway? A hyphema is where the eye fills with blood, typically caused by blunt trauma to the eye. I named the route Hyphema No More after suffering one from getting hit in the eye with a stick while doing trail work at another local crag. I lost vision in my eye for a couple of days and was on total bed rest for almost two weeks. By the end of that time, I was understandably anxious to get outside. On my first day out, a day short of having the doctor’s permission, I bolted this line and one other.

Stitch and Bitch, another Thompson Creek creation, was named for the deep gouge in route developer BJ Sbarra’s arm, an injury he suffered while cleaning loose rock from the top of the cliff while setting the anchors. That afternoon, on his deck, while eating pizza and drinking beer, my wife Joy, a nursing student, stitched him up before we headed out to Lime Park. The next day at Lime Park, two new routes went in, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Crowd Control. Both were so named because the routes went up while other climbers happily climbed nearby, nearly oblivious to the flying choss and buzz of power drills.

And, the photo above of Slice and Dice, at the Narrows? Named for a similar gash suffered from falling choss while setting anchors and fixing lines at the Front Porch. I had recently been involved in a heavy spate of new route development at the Narrows and on that day, with flying choss and blood running, I almost swore the place off, nearly vomiting from the experience of dealing with loose rock on cliff tops. And, the route next to Slice and Dice? Choss Warfare, so named for… well, you get it.

Until next time, climb on!

Mike Schneiter can often be found out on the local cliffs, cleaning up another choss pile for the masses to enjoy. He recently started his own site, Choss Monkey, where you’ll find everything from trip reports to commentary to late night trundling sessions. This is his first guest blog for SplitterChoss.com

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