The Ophir Wall tower above Colorado Highway 145 west of Telluride. Wide ledges and sloping ramps divide the 1,000 foot cliff into a many faceted wall. The Ophir Wall is divided into five sections - The Slabs, Ophir Wall, Mirror Wall, East Buttress, and Cracked Canyon.
Steep, water streaked slabs mark the Ophir Wall's western flank. This is where The Slabs are located, and our climb.
The base of Ophir Wall is lying at an elevation of 9,500 feet. This high elevation and the sometimes harsh mountain conditions allows a short climbing season (June through October).
It is located 8 miles west of Telluride on Colorado 145. The turnoff for Ophir loop is marked. Turn east here, drive past the Ophir Post Office, and park at a roadside pulloff. The wall towers to the north. Approach the crag via rough access trails that climb steep talus slopes north of the road. I did not see any real trail, just sort of jumped on huge boulders towards the wall.
The photo on the left shows the bend in the Highway 145, and the dirt road on which you turn to find your parking.
Route Description for Jug Handle
Pitch 1: climb 80 feet of runout 5.6 to a bolted anchor. There is no gear placement for a long time, but about 10 to 15 feet below the anchor there is a place for placing one medium sized gear.
Pitch 2: from the anchor move up and right across some bushy ledges to a thin seam formed in a left facing corner. Continue up on thin folds, following a pronounced gully and crack up to a ledge (belay from here). There are 2 fixed bolts at the belay station.
Pitch 3: climb straight up 160 feet to a tree. The 3rd pitch is more protected.
Descend from trees on the left (west). The first tree did appear rather small.
The climb is relatively fast since there is not much gear placement. It felt easy overall. Better to do in the morning since it often rains there in the afternoon.
60 meter rope, small rack (especially first 2 pitches not much gear placement). No big gear necessary.
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to choose the one I haven't tried before."