Garden of the Gods is located just west of Colorado Springs and is quite easy to see from the highway because of the unique up tilted layers of rock. The easiest way to get here is to get off of I-25 at Uinta, and then go west until the road dead ends. At this point there will be a clear sign that guides you to the park entrance. From here you can get to Grey Rock, also known as Kindergarten Rock by parking in the South Lot on Ridge Road and then hiking to the base of the rock. The climbers trail is clearly visible from the road, and once you are closer to the actual wall, bolts become apparent and routes are also easily found.
This the route that we took up End of and Era 5.8+. If you look close you can see the fixed bolts and the anchors at the top.
*Note* If you have not climbed here before you need to stop at the Visitor center off of 30th street and sign in. It is completely free, but you must sign in and get a permit to climb in this area. The permit is also good for Red Rocks Canyon and the Cheyenne Canyon Open Space area.
All I could do was think about going outside all day after being stuck in class for near 4 hours. So after class I went with two friends of mine, Chris and Larissa. Larissa had been to the area before and knew the routes well. Chris was an exchange student from Ingolstadt, Germany and had a fair amount of experience climbing.
We took off planning to do sport climbing, and took the regular setup for undertaking this type of endeavor. About 8-10 quickdraws, some anchors for setting up top rope, shoes, harness, and of course a rope.
This is the rack that we used. Most of the climbs in the area do not need more than 8-10 quickdraws.
When we arrived the sun had already past the rock, so we were in the shade and it became quite cool. Looking back, I would have thrown on my arc'teryx soft shell to keep cool while belaying, but all in all it was not so bad. Larissa decided that End of an Era would be a good place to begin. The route is rated a 5.8+ in the Falcon Guide, but many sites also rate it a 5.9. There are 5 fixed bolts and a 2 piton anchor. The rock here is exceptionally stable, unlike a lot of the rock in the rest of the park. It is a light colored, (almost grey color, hence the name) sandstone with nice jugs and occasional honey-comb texture that just begs to be ascended. Larissa geared up and led while I belayed and watched her every move to try and see what the path of least resistance would be. After about five minutes or so, Larissa had already reached the anchor which is near 75' tall.
This is Larissa leading the route with grace and power.
I was extremely excited for the climb since I had never climbed in the area and was relatively new to the sport itself. I tied my follow through figure eight and was on my way while Larissa belayed and Chris took some photos. The rock was surprisingly good. Only white splotches occasionally marked the rock where there were bomber hold, the rest was a pristine sandstone wall tilted during the Laramide Orogeny many millions of years before.
This is me holding on to a few crimpers before reaching to a bomber hold to the top right of me.
As I cleaned the route I began to find my balance and focus on each move making my way to the top. The crux of the route took more energy than I had imagined, it is near the third bolt and ask for an exceptionally long reach in which your other hand has little to hold on. I eventually made it to the top with some cheering from below to a very broad and stable platform. I cleaned the anchor and was lowered back down to the ground, all the while viewing the entire Colorado Springs metro area that sprawls like an oil slick to the east.
Heading up the arete going to the second bolt.
Chris roped up and made quick work of the rock. He seemed to have much more energy than I, and while I relied on technique and placement, Chris powered his way to the top with little resistance.
Chris, the German, powering through the first few moves while Larissa, on belay, watches his every move.
After finishing the route we decided to leave the top rope and attempt the crack to the side of End of an Era to work on hand jamming and finger techniques. The day seemed to fly by so fast, and after only a few runs on the crack, the sun was telling us it was time to go.
All in all this is a great place to for an afternoon session of climbing and to enjoy the day. This rock in the park offers more solitude than other areas and it is nice to climb without being constantly watched from below by spectators and tourists. I would highly recommend this climb to anyone in the area!
I think I am going back soon to try Diesel and Dust, a route just to the south of End of an Era...