OverviewEldorado Canyon needs no introduction. It is truly one of this country's most well known trad climbing areas. The rocks are comprised of banded sandstone conglomerate layers that were shed from the Ancestral Rockies. They almost look like large strips of bacon laid on the side of the cliff faces. Some walls reach up to 700 feet in height, and entice climbers with hundreds of routes up their beautiful faces. The texture and consistancy of the rock feels very similar to a well worn granite rather than the soft sandstone that one would expect, (such as in the same layers in the Garden of the Gods.)
The largest cliff is the Redgarden Wall. It has several summits and an incredible collection of classic climbs. Historically, Layton Kor, along with climbers such as Pat Ament and Larry Dalke, put up many of the 'classics' in the 60's. During the 1970's, climbers such as Steve Wunsch, Roger Briggs, Jim Erickson, and Duncan Ferguson put up many free ascents and amazing lines.
Like every classic area, the stone in Eldorado Canyon is unique and has to be climbed in order to get used to. It is primarily a traditional area, however there are not very many splitter or pure cracks. Much of the climbing zigs back and forth and includes a large amount of face climbing as well. Route finding and placing gear can be issues, so make sure you are more than comfortable with the grade that you are leading if you do not climb often here. Individual pitches will often require delicate face climbing and some kind of traverse before the line continues upward once again. There is a fair amount of old fixed gear in Eldo, but be careful when using this and know that it has been there a long time. Sometimes it is really nice, and on routes such as the The Yellow Spur and the West Buttress of the Bastille (both 5.9) the fixed gear offers protection that would otherwise be few and far between. However, old pitons on routes like the The Naked Edge (5.11) are not going to hold much of any falls. The main message here, cracks ususally run out and are not continuous, so have an open mind and be creative when climbing.
The canyon offers ample hiking and touring as well and makes for a great afternoon out to enjoy the water, the rocks, and the atmosphere.
Getting ThereIf you are coming from Denver, head N on I-25 to US 36, then take the CO Hwy 170 exit. Follow this as it curves around a shopping complex, and go past CO Hwy 93 to the town of Eldorado Springs and to the state park. You can also go W on I-70 and exit at Golden. Stay on 6th, which will turn in to CO Hwy 93. From here you can take Eldorado Springs Dr. which will lead ot Eldorado Springs.
Getting here from Boulder, is much easier, take CO Hwy 93(Broadway) South until you get to the first stop light after leaving Boulder. This is Eldorado Springs Dr. Take this West until you hit the town. The park entrance is at the end of the dirt road into town.
Red TapeThere is an entry fee since this is a state park. The fee is per vehicle ($6) or walk-in to pay less. You WILL be ticketed if you park in undesignated spots outside of the park!
Annual State Park passes cost $60 for 1st vehicle, $25 for additional vehicles. Daily fees are $6 per vehicle.
CampingNo camping is allowed in the canyon at any time!
External LinksEldorado Canyon State Park Homepage,
Eldorado Rock Climbing Guide,
ClimbingNow, what you have been waiting for, the climbing! You need not look any further than a few hundred feet into the canyon to see climbers and the endless trad lines that await. While trad dominates the canyon, there are significant amounts of difficult sport lines and large amounts of boulder problems that draw people from almost every discipline of climbing. The most popular areas to climb are the Bastille, the Redgarden Wall, and the Windtower. Other areas offer amazing climbing as well but have a slightly longer approach. These climbs can be nice as they are less croweded and you do not have the large amount of tourists watching you climb and waiting with a camera hoping to catch an amazing fall.
There are many beginner routes that will help to get you aquainted with the rock and the canyon. Some classics are the Wind Ridge and Calypso (both 5.6) on Wind Tower. Moving into the 5.8 range, Rupers on Redgarden Wall and The Bastille Crack top the list. The Bastille is rated at a 5.7, but I felt there were several tricky sections that required 5.8 movements. Another mega-classic is The Yellow Spur (5.9) on Redgarden Wall and is considered by some to be the best route in the Canyon for its grade. Some other awesome routes at that grade include the West Buttress and Hair City (Bastille), Anthill Direct and The Green Spur (Redgarden Wall), and the The Unsaid (The West Ridge).
5.10 classics seem to be ubiquitos. Some popular lines are Rosy Crucifixion (10a) and Outer Space (10c). Over the Hill (10b), Super Slab, Grandmother's Challenge, and Tagger (all 10c) are also great, (I have yet to do these but hear great things!)
At the 5.11 grade (higher than I can climb at Eldo) there are world-renowned classics like the The Naked Edge, Vertigo (11b), and the Northwest Corner of the Bastille (11a).
5.12 climbs become quite scary and can be difficult to protect. Routes in this grade include Scary Canary (12b) and Your Mother (12d).
Moving to the 5.13 range, there are not too may routes, due to bolt restrictions. Some classics though like the Desdichado and Rainbow Wall do exist. I would imagine that these are quite spicy though...
If you are a pro you are probably not reading this site for info, but there has been a 5.14 trad line established called Iron Monkey.
As far as specific walls go, the Redgarden Wall definitely has the longest routes for multi-pitch enthusiasts. The Bastille is a 350 foot high vertical wall directly next to the road and is extremely popular. This wall has a large amount of great routes and can become extremely crowded, especially on the weekend. If you wish to get on some of the more popular routes on this wall, I suggest going very early or during the week when there are fewer people. The Wind Tower also has a short approach and has many beginner climbs, as well as spicey 5.10 routes.
The West Ridge/Rincon has several one pitch routes of all grades that are fairly continuous cracks and corner/dihedral climbing. Areas such as Cadillac Crag, Shirt Tail Peak, and the Peanuts Walls are supposed to have excellent climbing, but also have longer approaches.
|Northcutt Start Variation||5.10d||1|
|Dr. Michael Solar||5.7||1|
MORE ROUTES TO COME SOON!