Colorado & Wyoming 8-Day Rock Camp

Colorado is one of the prime states in the United States for rock climbing. There are hundreds of climbing areas and a variety of rock types and styles of climbing. The weather is cooler in the summer than most places in the United States. The fall temperatures are perfect for a road trip. The CO/WY 8-day Rock Climbing Camp takes a relatively new climber and develops that climber into a fully functional outdoor climber. However, climbers who already have some of the skills dialed will still get a lot out of the trip. Due to the guides’ abilities to individualize the day’s goals.

IFMGA Certified Rock Guide Eric Whewell Climbing on the Bastile in Eldorado Canyon. Photo taken by IFMGA Guide Jayson Simons-Jones for Colorado Mountain School.

The course includes the following progression of skills: Belaying and rappelling, Movement (face and crack climbing), Artificial Protection Placement, Natural Protection, Anchor Building, Sport Leading, Trad Leading, Multi-pitch Climbing, Rock Rescue, and Bouldering. Some of these skills may be omitted or be the subject of more focus depending on the specific group.

Every CMS guide is trained and/or certified through the AMGA (American Mountain Guide Association).  They will tailor the specifics of the course to the actual participants and create group and individual progressions of skills. Evening campfire discussions may consist of climbing-related topics. These topics may include: injury prevention, personal journeys as climbers, Leave No Trace ethics, and the Access Fund.

Course Details

Overview:

Day 1: Airport Pick-up, Move in, & Climb. Meet your guides at the Hyatt Place Denver Airport Hotel at 8am. After a gear check and last minute gear purchases at one of the many world class outdoor stores in Denver/Boulder, and a grocery store stop, you will ride in a CMS van to your campsite in Vedauwoo, Wyoming and set up camp. From there, the team will head out to the cliffs for the afternoon of rock climbing. Toproping basics will be covered on this day to make sure everyone is getting off on the same foot.

Evenings & Downtime: For each of the days, evenings will be spent one of two ways: 1) Having dinner and hanging out by the fire in camp, or 2) Eating out in town and maybe chilling at the bar. There will be opportunities for showers about half of the days. There may be downtime here and there to walk around the lovely town of Estes Park or Laramie, do some shopping, catch a Yoga class, and check your emails or make some calls.

Day 2: Movement. This day’s focus will be on developing movement skills - face climbing and crack climbing. Movement skills are the foundation of safety in rock climbing - all the equipment is there for back-up. Vedauwoo is a great place to practice crack climbing and slab climbing techniques.

Day 3: Anchor Building & Lead Follows. This day’s focus will be on equipment. Your guides will give a thorough talk on all the pros and cons of each piece of climbing equipment on the market. There are no black and whites with climbing gear - each item has its appropriate use and there are times when each item is not the ideal piece of gear for the situation. From there, you will learn about and practice the art of protection placement, and then move on to anchor building - using artificial protection, as well as natural anchors. Most of the equipment practice takes place on the ground, so at some point, you’ll put the gear aside and get some climbing in. Your guides will take you on some lead climbs where the guides will lead the climbs and the participants will follow and clean the gear.

Day 4: Lead Climbing 101 & Rappelling. In the morning, the group will pack up camp and drive south to Estes Park, Colorado. In Estes Park, you will stay at the CMS Lodge, which has showers, bunks, and wifi. The lodge is located in downtown Estes Park and is a short walk to a variety of restaurants and bars. After moving in, you will head out to one of the local cliffs and begin the progression of outdoor leading. The lead progression begins with sport climbing - using bolted protection for safety. This day will include a thorough rappel school - the many ways to rappel given the various types of situations one may encounter.

Day 5: Multi-pitch Climbing. Lumpy Ridge is one of the best granite climbing areas in the United States, and serves as the northern border to the town of Estes Park. Your guide will take you on one of the many classic multi-pitch crack climbs in the area.

Day 6: Rest/Travel Day. On your way to the next campsite, stop by the American Climbing Center in Golden, Colorado and visit the climbing museum and the American Alpine Club. Continue on to the camp and move in.

Day 7: Choose Your Adventure. Depending on weather conditions and temperatures, your guides will choose to spend the last days at Eldorado Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Clear Creek Canyon, or the South Platte, or a mixture of the options. At this point in the trip, you will come up with a plan for the day that hits the missing desires such as: trad leading, rock rescue, bouldering, or maybe you all decide to get in some more sport climbing or multi-pitch climbing.

Day 8: The Finale. The morning will consist of packing up camp and loading the van. Before heading back to Denver, you will get a solid session of climbing in - the team will come up with a climbing plan that feels like a fun way to end the trip. After climbing, you will ride back to Denver and be dropped off at the Hyatt Place Denver Hotel.

This is a sample itinerary and is malleable dependent upon weather and group needs.

Prerequisites:

Participants on this course should have some prior experience with climbing, including a working understanding of top-roped belaying. Fitness requirements include the ability to hike 4-5 miles, rock climb at a level from 5.6-5.9 or higher, and the ability to be physically active for many days in a row. Climbers who already have some leading and anchor building skills will still get a lot out of this course due to the ability of the guides to use the venues to create individualized development.

Preparation:

Participants will get more out of the course by learning as much as they can beforehand. Reading books on anchor building and lead climbing, taking courses at local gyms, going out with friends to the gym or the outdoors will all set you up for success. Fitness training can include both strength and cardio training such as pull-ups, cross-fit, Yoga, stair-master. Climbing requires flexibility, strength, cardio-vascular strength, and endurance.

Duration:

8 Days

Maximum Ratio:

1:4

Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under age 18

Price includes & Excludes:

Price Includes: Transportation in Colorado and Wyoming, tents, cooking necessities (stoves, pots, fuel, utensils), group climbing gear (ropes, crash pads, lead climbing equipment), guide fees, camping fees, permits.

Breakfast and half of the dinners will be included. Some dinners will be spent in town at restaurants and etc. Participants are responsible for paying for dinners spent in town.  It is often nice to go out after a long day of climbing and grab dinner in town and not have to deal with the hassle of cooking and clean-up.

Price Does Not Include: Flights, snack food (Lunches) & drinks (not including water), personal climbing and sleeping equipment, guide gratuities, shower fees.

Meeting location:

Arrival: Book your flight to Denver for the day before Day 1 of your trip. You will stay in a hotel after arriving. The hotels that are close to the airport have shuttle services. Please let us know if you would like to connect with other participants to share hotel expenses.

Day 1: Meet your guides in the lobby at the Hyatt Place Airport Denver Hotel on Day 1 of your trip at 8:00am with all of your baggage/gear for the trip.

Your guides will pick you up at the Hyatt Place Airport Denver Hotel on Day 1 and drop you off back at the hotel on Day 8. You will be camping for sections of the trip and staying in the CMS Lodge in downtown Estes Park for another section. While camping, meals will be cooked on camp stoves, and while staying at the lodge, participants will have the option to cook at the lodge or go out on the town. Participants are welcome to enjoy alcoholic beverages in the evenings. Each day will include short drives in the CMS van to your climbing site. Showers will be available for parts of the trip. Tents and cookware are provided by CMS.

Details:

Food: Breakfast and half of the dinners will be included in the cost of the course.  Several of the dinners will be spent in town.  Estes Park/Boulder has many great restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries - plan financially for some meals to be out on the town, including the option for alcoholic drinks.  On day 1, we will have time to stop at a grocery store to stock up on food supplies for the duration of the trip. Lunch will not be included in the price and participants are responsible for purchasing food and supplies for lunch. There will be coolers available to keep some items cooled.

Sleeping Arrangements: You will be sharing a 3-person tent with one other person. The tent is provided by CMS. You will be camping in federal campgrounds with pit toilets, and the campground may have running water, or may not. There will be large jugs of water available at camp. In Estes Park, you will sleep in group dorms on bunk beds. You will use your sleeping bag for all of the nights of the course.

Showers: You will have the opportunity to take showers when in Estes Park. There may be other opportunities, but don’t count on them. Towels will be available in Estes Park, but you may want to bring a camp towel for other bathing opportunities in camp.

Internet/Wifi/Cell Service: You will have access to cell service when in the town of Estes Park and when on the road. When at the climbing areas and camp, there is no cell service. For charging your phones and cameras, you may plug into the van when driving, through guides get first dibs for risk management purposes. Bringing a solar charger or extra battery chargers are probably your best options for charging.

Participation: Most of the climbing areas are such that if a person is feeling under the weather or tired, they can still hang out with the group, even if they are not climbing and taking it easy. If someone would like to hang out in town/camp for a day and take a day off, in most cases, that would be manageable.

Equipment List:

Equipment: Please bring everything on the equipment list. However, if you are unsure about certain items on the list, you can call the CMS office and ask a question.

Personal Climbing Equipment: Your guides will provide ropes and lead climbing equipment. However, you are welcome to bring your own rack of artificial protection, quick draws, rope, etc. CMS will not be responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged equipment.