Eldorado Canyon, also known as “Eldo”, is loaded with classic climbing. Just minutes from Denver and featuring routes over 600 feet tall, Eldo is a playground for climbers of all abilities. Once deep in the canyon and high off the ground, it’s easy to see why climbers celebrate these multi-colored, angular sandstone walls. Since the early days of American rock climbing, Eldorado Canyon has been at the forefront. Eldo packs as much beauty and adventure into an easily accessible canyon as any place imaginable.
Affectionately known as “Eldo” by local climbers, the towering sandstone cliffs of Eldorado Canyon State Park is steeped in climbing history. These walls were the site of the traditional climbing revolution of the 1970s, and to this day Eldo provides a challenging arena in which to develop one’s “trad” skills and climbing abilities. With upwards of 600 climbs and walls up to 700 feet high wall, Eldo offers some of the best rock climbing in North America. The five-pitch Bastille Crack, a mega-classic, is probably the most frequently climbed route in Colorado. A sampling of other fantastic routes includes Wind Ridge, Ruper, Rewritten, Green Spur, Yellow Spur and the Naked Edge. Short approach hikes make it possible for the average party to climb 10 pitches a day, and with a variety of aspects throughout the canyon, climbers ascend the walls year-round.
The climbing, sometimes described as tricky and technical, requires thought, delicate footwork and gymnastic body positioning. In Eldo, it doesn’t work to simply charge ahead mindlessly. You’ll find very few “soft” grades in Eldo, so pick your routes accordingly and bring a full bag of tricks. Protection can be difficult to find, and without open eyes looking in all directions, so can the holds. But hidden edges and seemingly magical sequences unlock themselves for the climber flexible in mind and body. Such movement, combined with striking natural beauty and the knowledge that you’re following in the footsteps of climbing’s legends, makes climbing in Eldo an experience not soon forgotten.
Join Colorado Mountain School and follow in the footsteps (and handholds) of climbing legends like Layton Kor, Jim Erickson and Roger Briggs as you venture up anything from a multi-pitch moderate on the Wind Tower, to a more adventurous excursion on Redgarden Wall. Our guides are intimately familiar with the canyon (CMS Guide Steve Levin authored the acclaimed guidebook, “Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide”), and frequently lead climbers up classics like Rewritten, The Yellow Spur, Ruper, or The Naked Edge. Choose between a personally-tailored Custom Guided day or a discounted Eldorado Canyon Classic Climb. Whichever way you chose to climb with us, it will be an experience that you won’t soon forget!
Swanson Arete: Rated 5.6, 4 pitches:
One of the best moderate routes in Eldorado, you’ll begin up a chimney on the West Face of Redgarden Wall to access the exposed upper arete pitches. Several variations on the arete offer a range of challenge before the beautiful summit of Lumpe Tower is reached.
Calypso: Rated 5.6, 3 or 4 pitches:
This is an excellent introduction to Eldorado climbing, combining balancy face and crack climbing up a beautiful corner, and a challenging bulge on pitch two. Calypso is also a perfect intro to multi-pitch, with an optional summit and technical descent making for a complete climbing experience.
The Bastille Crack: Rated 5.7++, 5 pitches:
100-feet from the parking lot, this is the most visible, historic and popular route in Eldorado (and maybe Colorado!). An exposed journey up steep jam cracks and corners, the Bastille Crack exemplifies Eldo’s stiff technical grades and thought-provoking climbing.
Rewritten: Rated 5.7 (with the 5.8 Great Zot start), 6 pitches:
Many climbers consider this the quintessential Eldo tour, and our guides agree! Pitch after varied pitch lead upwards to the spectacularly exposed Rebauffat’s Arete, hundreds of feet off the deck. Hand and finger cracks, delicate traversing, chimneys- Rewritten has it all!
Gambit: Rated 5.8, 4 pitches:
High on the flanks of Shirt Tail Peak, Gambit offers exposed and sustained crack and face climbing in a more “alpine” setting- the topout is the highpoint of Eldorado Canyon State Park and has the best views in the area.
Ruper: Rated 5.8+, 6 pitches:
Yet another Eldo ultra-classic, and one on many climber’s bucket list. After an intricate, technical approach, Ruper climbs a pitch to the infamous Ruper Crack, a steep wide crack and corner with a lot of air underfoot. Next is the notoriously exposed Ruper Traverse, which leads to Redgarden’s Upper Ramp. Now only three more pitches of some of the best climbing of the grade anywhere!
The Yellow Spur: Rated 5.9+ or 5.10 (depending on finish), 6 pitches:
This is the one Eldo climb that most visiting climbers who climb the grade want to tick, and for good reason. Pitch after pitch of exposed and varied climbing lead to the delicate crux “pin ladder” pitch, with 400 feet of air beneath your climbing shoes. Our guides agree: the Yellow Spur is a “Top Ten” climb on the lifetime list!
Outer Space: Rated 5.10, 4 pitches (including the Bastille Crack start):
Appropriately named, Outer Space blasts off from the Bastille Crack into dead-vertical terrain, climbing a technical dihedral on pitch one, and the Bastille’s headwall on the second pitch. This is about as good as 5.10 rock climbing gets!
The Naked Edge: Rated 5.11, 5 pitches:
A contender for the most-famous “hard-person” route in the United States, the “Edge” takes on the soaring, knife-edge prow of Redgarden’s Tower Two. Every pitch is airy, complex, and challenging. The final two pitches are some of the most spectacular climbing imaginable, and feature a “bombay” chimney and a very strenuous boulder problem and overhanging hand crack. A must-do!
Colorado Mountain School
633 S. Broadway St.
Boulder, CO 80305
With a sixteen-bed lodge available exclusively to Colorado Mountain School students, course participants are welcome to reserve a bed, but should be aware that there course meets each morning in Boulder or Denver – approximately a 50 -70 minute drive from our lodge. Our lodge is located in downtown Estes Park with a full kitchen, WiFi and hot showers. Lodging must be booked separately for $44.22/night (tax included). Please call our office for reservations.
All of our courses can be run as private outings. If you’re interested in a course, but it doesn’t fit into your schedule, please check out our private guiding options.
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