Mountaineering and rock climbing in Colorado requires not only physical strength, but also mental focus, determination, and skill. Despite these requirements, or perhaps, more accurately, because of them, mountaineering and rock climbing have become some of the most rewarding backcountry endeavors one can undertake.
Grand County, Colorado offers several options for those wishing to tackle an adventure in mountaineering along the jagged peaks and craggy wilderness of our beautiful Rockies. However, since most of our rock climbing is tucked away and hidden from plain sight, the area is not overly popular for avid climbers. Beacuse of this, expect fewer crowds on your next rock climbing adventure!
In Grand County, most of the avaiable rock is gneiss, which allows for diverse climbing conditions. A local resident, Jim Shaw, even wrote a guidebook called Fraser Valley Climbs that calls out some of the diversity of the top climbs in the Fraser Valley area (Find it at Icebox Mountain Sports in Fraser). Here are a few choice spots to start your climb:
Located at 9,000 feet in elevation between Winter Park and Granby, Hurd Creek includes an Upper Cliff, Lower Cliff and First Cliff with climbs from 30 to 60 feet long. The routes are varied in difficulty levels with about 30 single-pitch sport routes that were developed by area locals.
Mountain Project offers some good information on how to find this climbing area. Expect a 1/2 mile hike from your car to the climbing area, and make sure you keep left at the split in the trail.
Rock Climbing the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
Grand County is surrounded by several wilderness areas, Indian Peaks Wilderness being one of them. One notable peak that offers plenty of climbing opportunities is Apache Peak, just inside the Grand County border. Located on the Continental Divide, Apache Peak reaches 13,441 feet in elevation and is the second tallest peak in the wilderness area.
From Apache Peak, climbers can follow a 3/4-mile-long ridge to the southeast to access the climbing area known as Dicker's Peck, a climb on the nearby Navajo Peak.
However, one of the most popular climbing routes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is Kasparov Traverse along the sweeping north face of the peak. Conquer this traverse by following a ridge from Shoshoni Peak to Apache Peak and climbing all of the rock towers along the way known as the "Cheesemen." Access this climb from Pawnee Pass.
Rock Climbing Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Lake is the "Western Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park," providing easy access to climbers of all skill levels looking for some new crags to conquer. With a variety of notable peaks and granite rock formations, Rocky Mountain National Park offers climbs from easy bouldering to multi-day climbs (Multi-day climbs may require a bivouac permit. View details from the National Park Service.)
Closer to the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, you'll find Trad and Alpine routes between 5.5 and 5.10 on Petit Grepon and Trad, Alpine and Sport climbs between 5.5 and 5.11b/c can be found at Hallet Peak.
Some more popular areas include Lumpy Ridge and Long's Peak, but there is plenty of climbing throughout the park. Most of the climbs are longer (Grade III to V), and most require long hikes to get to the climbs. Find easy to difficult climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Bouldering Grand Lake
In Grand Lake, you can boulder right in the center of town, steps away from the lake. With 5 climbs ranging from V1 to V4, you're sure to find a route to your liking. For more bouldering routes in Grand County and Fraser Valley, check out Mountain Project.
Minimizing Impact & Respectful Climbing
Please be sure to remain respectful and minimize your impace while climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park. This means following the National Park Service's "Leave No Trace" rule: do not place bolts on existing routes or establish new bolt-intensive routes; do not chip or glue new holds; use clean climbing methods.
In addition, respect the park rules and stay out of areas that might be closed due to conditions such as raptor nesting. Learn more about minimizing your impact on the National Park Service website.
For more information, please contact each Chamber directly.