BY JAKE DICKERSON
Welcome to Boulder! You have just entered the climbing capital of Colorado. There are over 3,000 different climbs to choose from. Sport, trad, boulders, and even icefalls in the winter, Boulder has something for everyone. Boulder also has over 300 days of sunshine making it the perfect place to get outside. I have even had pleasant days in the middle of winter. There are several incredible areas that offer unique rock for different types of climbing. Whether it is the beautiful sandstone of the Flatirons or Eldorado Canyon, or the bullet hard granite of Boulder Canyon, there is enough climbing to last a lifetime. For this small guidebook, I will tell you about the climbing in the different areas, as well as information on the climbing gyms, gear shops, and my selected favorite route “Outerspace”.
Climbing is inherently dangerous, and it is up to you to make the right choices to climb safely. I strongly recommend wearing a helmet every time, along with ample gear to protect the route safely. When new to an area, it is advised to climb below your limit to get a feel for the Boulder Climbing, especially in the notoriously difficult Eldorado Canyon.
NEW TO CLIMBING?
Rock climbing is an amazing sport that everyone should have the chance to try at least once. Everyone, no matter the gender, or body type, can enjoy rock climbing. It can be intimidating at first glance, but lucky for you, Boulder is THE place for rock climbing. There are great resources and classes that can help get you into the sport. Climbing gyms are a great place to learn how to climb
Boulder, Colorado has three huge world-class climbing gyms. They are unique and cater to people of all ability. All three gyms offer introductory climbing classes, as well as other fitness and training classes.
1. The Boulder Rock Club
The Boulder Rock Club is one of Boulder’s oldest gyms, and is the most affordable option for those looking to jump on a rope. They are the only gym that has auto belay devices so you can climb almost anything if you don’t have a partner. They also have a large padded bouldering cave and a kids climbing area. 2829 Mapleton Ave. | 303.447.2804
2. Movement Climbing and Fitness
Movement is Boulders newest gym, and has the nicest facility by far. It has a sleek and modern feel. The walls at movement are at least 10’ higher than the BRC and have a much larger space. They also have a bouldering area, changeable hang board set up, systems wall, campus board, and an amazing workout facility. The only downside is that it is expensive and often crowded in the evenings. 2845 Valmont Rd. | 303.443.1505
3. The Spot
The Spot is strictly a bouldering gym, meaning you do not climb on ropes and use the padded floor mats to fall on to. The spot still has a ton of climbing and is a great place to take a beginner. 3240 Prairie Ave. | 303-379-8806
Because Boulder is located so close to the mountains, there are a ton of great stores to pick up any gear you may need of any adventure. The REI Garage sale in Boulder is legendary as the line has been wrapped around the corner of the building by 6am!
1. Neptune Mountaineering
Created by Gary Neptune in 1973, this local shop has the best selection of specialized climbing gear in Colorado. You can find things where you cant find anywhere else. They have an enormous selection of shoes, ropes, harnesses, chalk bags, climbing protection, and much more. 633 South Broadway | 303.499.8866
REI has the biggest selection of gear for just about every activity outside. The Boulder store is huge and is located in close proximity to downtown. 1789 28th St. | 303-583-9970
3. Moosejaw Mountaineering
Moosejaw stands alone in the 29th Street mall. Surrounded by fancy clothing stores, Moosejaw is a welcome addition to the mall and now gives climbers a reason to go there. Moosejaw has a great selection of climbing and backpacking gear and often has a sale going on. Tell them you are a part of the Alpine Club and you get 15% off! 1755 29th St #1092 | 720.452.2432
Nothing is more iconic to Boulder than the Flatirons. You can see them from almost anywhere in Boulder and they are just begging to be climbed. They are formed of wind gate sandstone of the Fountain formation and have been pushed up at the base of the foothills. The first three Flatirons are most iconic, but there is a lot more climbing than meets the eye. At nearly every piece of rock there are climbs. There is everything from long 1000’ multi-pitch to short hard sport climbs.
Boulder Canyon is a tremendous resource for Boulder climbers. Its vast size boasts a tremendous number of sport and trad climbs all with a super short approach. Boulder Canyon is the best place to learn how to climb outside in an incredibly beautiful setting.
Eldorado Canyon is one of the most iconic climbing areas in the world. Some of the most classic lines date back to the 1960’s and there is an incredible history here. Just one look at the canyon will leave you speechless. The gorgeous red sandstone covered in yellow/green lichen is a thing of beauty. Most of the climbing is on incredible smooth cracks and edges.
Outerspace Link up variation (5.11a R)
Outerspace is without a doubt a top 10 climb in Eldorado Canyon, let alone Boulder. It offers continuous, excellent climbing up to the top of the Bastille. It’s incredible exposure mixed with a little bit of spice is sure to leave a lasting memory. This climb starts halfway up the Bastille crag right off the road, and offers several different approaches. Most commonly, people climb the first two pitches of the Bastille Crack, which are incredible, but those looking for a little extra challenge should take this secret variation to add more difficulty and spice into the climb.
Pitch 1 (5.11a R) Climb the first pitch of Wide Country. This is rated 5.11a R, but thankfully the run out climbing is easy and a bolt protects the crux. Use small nuts and cams where you find them to protect this pitch. Use extendable draws on your important pieces to reduce the chance of them pulling out and to lessen rope drag. Belay at a fixed 2-bolt anchor.
Pitch 2 (5.10b PG-13) This pitch links the third pitch of XM into the first pitch of Outerspace, it’s a rope stretcher! I thought the crux was right at the beginning of the climb. Clip 2 rusty fixed pins and make a series of delicate lock off moves to a jug. A fall here would be ill-advised. But then it’s easy climbing to the beginning of Outerspace. Climb up into a stance and rest on the biggest under cling you will ever see! Place a (.3) Cam in the crack above and pull up into the corner. Climb up using amazing finger locks and great face holds clipping a few fixed pins along the way. Then pull out of the corner to belay at the top of the large ramp. Use a (3) (1) and (.5) cam for the anchor.
Pitch 3 (5.10b PG) Blast off on the classic pitch! Step off the belay ledge make a series of airy traverse moves to gain the final crack. To protect the traverse, place a Black Diamond #5 nut in the large block right off of the belay ledge. A few moves later you will clip a fixed pin so have an extendable draw ready. The rest of the route takes gear very well.
Don’t forget to look down and check the several hundred feet of air beneath you. Climb up to the top of the Bastille via a hand crack that offers ample protection along the way. Be sure to extend the first few pieces after the traverse.
Descent: Scramble across the top of the Bastille aiming for the mountains. When you reach the old metal cable that used to support the tight rope, head right and squeeze through some narrow rocks to reach the trail. Turn right on the main trail and it will bring you down the steep climbers trail to the base of the climb.
Gear: Despite some of its reputation of being R on the crux traverse, and on the first pitch, this climb is relatively safe, and there are plenty sections to place gear. For this route, bring cams (.2-3) with doubles in sizes (.3-.4), and a rack of nuts and RP’s. Bring a helmet for the leader and follower.