/ Where to climb in Colorado?
I'm going to Denver, Colorado in May-June and am tacking on a week for climbing and walking etc. I'm looking for suggestions of where would be a good option to base myself for that week. I've spent a long time looking online and feel a bit drowned in info!
I'm a relatively unseasoned trad-climber, leading up to VS so I'm looking for suggestions that would suit my level (though the plan is to train and get that grade up a bit before I leave). I will have a car and a climbing partner.
If anyone's been and has tips about where might be a good place to consider then I'd appreciate hearing them.
I spent 3 weeks in Boulder CO, a few years back and just posted on Plant Mountain forums to find climbing partners and managed some great days in Eldorado canyon Eldorado Canyon
It will be toasty at that time of year so maybe get yourself up to Estes park and get into the Rocky mountains national park. Amazing climbing all over the place and higher so cooler.
You will have an epic time.
Eldorado Canyon! The Flatirons for mellow long routes... Also, there’s loads of great sport climbing around Denver & Boulder (Clear Creek Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Table Mountain (a bit meh)). Although it may be getting a bit warm in June so RMNP might be a good option too.
I really enjoyed Turkey rocks down by Colorado Springs, so if you like crack climbing might be an option. Also, lots of cool crags down that way and Shelf Road a bit further.
I’ve managed to get several decent partners from the Colorado partners section of mountain project.com
There’s also a Facebook group; denver social climb for partners.
Just read some more and realise you have a partner so that bit is solved. Plus if the trad is a bit hard plenty of sport within 30 mins drive of Boulder CO.
I also didn’t read the partner bit...
Eldorado Canyon and Lumpy Ridge. Watch out for afternoon thunderstorms, short but intense.
For moderate trad - Estes Park (Lumpy Ridge) if it's warm - and Eldo/Flatirons if it's cold. We do get May snowstorms occasionally as well as heatwaves.
2 of the 50 Classic Climbs in North America are in CO and seem to be within your grade limit (I've done neither of these so...):
Crestone Needle via Ellingwood Ledges III 5.7
Petit Grepon via South Face III 5.7
I'd push your time frame as late into June as possible for these high country alpine outings though.
Have never been disappointed with any of those classic routes. Might be a good place to start. Though they are in different parts of the state - might consider a road trip through the state vs. basing yourself somewhere for a week.
Also, should the weather be cold/wet, Colorado Nat. Monument by Fruita (not too far from Moab) could be a viable back-up plan. There, the Independence Monument via Otto's Route might fit your bill (it's 5.8/5.9 but harder parts are short lived & well protected if I recall; great desert tower summit too).
With just a week I think there's one obvious answer and that's to go to Boulder. It's a nice town with many excellent bars and beers. It also has Dot's Diner for excellent breakfasts and Freddie's Hot Dog stand; Freddie (Fred Snalam of Preston) is long gone I'm afraid, having been killed climbing in La Grave some years ago but I believe it's still run under his name. Oh - and there's a little bit of climbing locally too!
The Flatirons are actually within the city limits and very very accessible and have many moderate climbs.
Straight out of town is Boulder Canyon with roadside crags with routes of all grades. And at its top is Nederland where you should go. If it's as it was in 1999 you'll know when you get there why I recommended it.
The unquestioned gem is The Redgarden Wall of Eldorado Canyon and it has some good climbs at 5.6, 5.7 and 5.8 among the harder fair. Also at Eldorado is The Bastille, and Bastille Crack is among the very best VSs anywhere.
We've climbed there in July and August and it wasn't too uncomfortable though a little sack with water is advisable. If it's too hot for you, as others have suggested, it's not a long drive to Rocky Mountain National Park where the buttresses of Lumpy Ridge have short approaches and grades to suit everyone. It might be that with only a week sussing and preparing for the Alpine rock climbs there would take up too much time?
About 50 miles South is The South Platte River climbing area - crags are pretty spread out but some of 'em are at over 8000 feet "where the air", as Sammy Cahn put it "is rarified" and it's cool in more ways than one. We hadn't realised and wondered why we were breathing heavily on the short approach to Sheep's Nose!
You could do worse than go onto the Mountain Project site. They have a facility where you put in the area and grades you want and it comes up with a tick list for you.
We used a 1990s Colorado Climbs guide book which is a selected climbs volume. Pretty dated but tells you a lot to whet your appetites. There's an updated version now. I just looked it up and found you can get it cheap: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colorado-Routes-Falcon-Guides-Climbing/dp/0762738251
Have a great trip. I loved it there and wish I'd been back.
The area around Boulder as recommended above has more than enough to do.
This book would be worth getting to show you what's available.
The routes range from 5.4 to 5.8 which equates to V.Diff to stiff VS (perhaps HVS at times) so most routes in it should be within your range.
Re Estes Park in Rocky Mountain NP, lightning storms are very common there in summer and often roll in very early, by midday rather than late afternoon as you might expect. The campsites in Estes Park are also outrageously expensive.
We had a couple of weeks there this August and at the grade you are interested in I'd highly endorse the recommendation above for the Petit Grepon - a truly memorable Alpine experience.
A more off-the-wall suggestion, but equally memorable is Otto's Route on Independence Monument.
Otherwise, as others have suggested, plenty of great cragging in Eldo, and elsewhere around Boulder
> With just a week I think there's one obvious answer and that's to go to Boulder. It's a nice town with many excellent bars and beers. It also has Dot's Diner for excellent breakfasts and Freddie's Hot Dog stand; Freddie (Fred Snalam of Preston) is long gone I'm afraid, having been killed climbing in La Grave some years ago but I believe it's still run under his name. Oh - and there's a little bit of climbing locally too!
> The Flatirons are actually within the city limits and very very accessible and have many moderate climbs.
> Straight out of town is Boulder Canyon with roadside crags with routes of all grades. And at its top is Nederland where you should go. If it's as it was in 1999 you'll know when you get there why I recommended it.
> The unquestioned gem is The Redgarden Wall of Eldorado Canyon and it has some good climbs at 5.6, 5.7 and 5.8 among the harder fair. Also at Eldorado is The Bastille, and Bastille Crack is among the very best VSs anywhere.
I agree with all of that. Boulder is the place to go!
But what's the current recommendation on where to stay? I don't recall a good budget option. Air BnB?
Its been 20 years since some friends and I went to Colorado for a climbing trip.....it was a fantastic experience and we got loads of climbing done. We were probably climbing about the same standard as yourself and there was so much climbing to choose from. Most of the areas have already been mentioned but I'll add my voice.....Boulder Canyon, Flat Irons, Eldorado all great and not far from Boulder. Lumpy Ridge was also great although we didn't spend much time there. Another place we went that I haven't seen mentioned here (may have missed it) was Eleven Mile Creek......
Thanks everyone, some brilliant suggestion there for us to have a think about. Will spend a bit of time drilling down but perhaps Boulder is going to be the best option - would be nice not to have to bring a tent on the flight!!
... there is a brand new edition of Rock Climbing in Colorado (published last Sept)... also Boulder Canyon Rock Climbs published by Wolverine is very good...
... the guidebooks listed below are readily available in most good independent climbing shops if you want a copy(s) before you go...
just to tack onto this... accommodation in boulder is indeed expensive. I live there and airbnb my spare room in my condo. If OP is looking for accommodation PM me and I'll give you a climber discount :P
Benefits include usage of all my guidebooks!
Any recommendations for the area around Vail (Summit County included)?
Summit County/Vail is rubbish for rock climbing. Trust me I lived there. For the nearest decent stuff head west an hour or two to limestone at Rifle or around New Castle. Guide books are Rifle or Western Sloper - both Wolverine.
Or head east to Clear creek canyon. Eldo, Boulder etc. CCC latest guide is by Kevin Capps.
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