Monday, March 11, 2013

Winter Climbing Areas

Most people give up on rock climbing outside during the Winter in Boulder.  They imagine four feet of snow, icy crags, and numb fingers.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.  You may not be able to visit your favorite Summer crags, but there are plenty of great Winter destinations on the Front Range.  Some are better than others, but if you are craving a day out on rock these places might hit the spot.


Midnight Rock- Located in Upper Dream Canyon, this little area offer about 25 routes from  5.9-5.13a with a good mix of sport and trad.  The sun hits this wall from about 9am to 3pm.  Bring some good boots, there is usually a good amount of snow on  the 15 minute approach.

Berlin Wall-  A very nice, small, wind protected sport crag that gets hit by the sun all day.  Routes from 5.11b-5.13c. Can approach from Boulder Falls(30 minutes with some 4th class) or the Upper Dream Canyon parking lot(15 minutes, rap in, climb out). 

Plotinus Wall-  A convenient little crag with routes from 5.9-5.13b and even a few boulder problems at the base.  Sun until 3pm.  The approach is technically closed but when it's open expect a 20 minute hike.

Upper and Lower Security Risk-  These south facing cliffs sit high on north rim of the canyon.  Tends to be windy.  5.9-5.12d.  All day sun.  25 minute uphill hike.


East Draw-  Small collections of boulder problems on some boulders and small cliff bands.  VB-V10.  15 minute uphill hike.  All day sun.

Rincon Wall-  Premier traditional crag with routes from 5.11a-5.13c.  All day sun.  25 minute uphill hike.


The Quarry Wall-  My favorite Winter area.  With all day sun, this wind protected area seems to collect warmth.  If it's 30F and sunny it will feel like 50F.  Although the rock isn't perfect, the style is very unique.  The most attractive part of this area are it's "splitter cracks".  However, it also has some very challenging face climbs.  Routes range from 5.8-5.13c.  Easy 20 minute hike.

The East Quarry-  Just 5 minutes East of the Quarry Wall, this little area has a very similar climate.  The climbs are a bit shorter, but still has a nice mix of trad and sport climbs.  You can easily walk between the two Quarry areas.  5.8 to 5.13a.  All day sun.  Same approach as the Quarry Wall.

Highlander Crag-  In Clear Creek above the New River Wall this area sits high in the canyon and receives lots of sun.  Typical Clear Creed style and mostly bolted with routes from 5.9-5.13a.


The Black Hole-  Steep eliminate bouldering area.  Great for really cold, sunny days.  VB-VInfinite.  5 minute hike.


Carter Lake-  Nice sandstone bouldering near a reservoir.  Tends to be windy.  Gets very muddy after a snow storm.  VB- V11.  5-15 minute hike.  $8 day fee.

Horsetooth Reservoir-  Classic sandstone bouldering area near another reservoir.  VB-V12. 5-15 minute hike.  Day fee. 


Castlewood Canyon-  A nice option for days when it has snowed near the mountains but not the plains.  This area offers bouldering and sport climbing on a unique conglomerate sandstone.  Routes from 5.6-5.13c, and boulder problems from VB-V12.  All day sun.  5-20 minute hike.  $8 day fee.


Shelf Road-  Vertical limestone sport climbing in a very beautiful setting.  Shelf tends to have better weather than almost anywhere else during the Winter.  So if it's bad where you are at, check out Shelf.  5.6-5.13d.

So that's my list of Winter crags.  I am sure there are others so if I missed one, please leave a comment.

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