Crag Exposure: The Eldorado Canyon

posted by bronco

I start out with a verbal sigh because Eldorado Canyon or Eldo, as its affectionately known, is a major Destination Crag that shouldn’t be penned with fleeting thoughts. I will probably fail one hundred percent, but here goes.

The canyon, characters, bolts or lack there of, pins, flakes, towers, and history make Eldo one of the most famous rock climbing areas in the U S of A. This sandstone wonder-canyon can make men cry, women swoon, and send Euros packing. Located just south of the People’s Republic of Boulder, Eldo was the forefront of rock climbing for years and has since seen a resurgence in popularity among young, talented, and bold tradsters (aka, Eric Decaria, Matt Segal, Matt Wilder, Justen Sjong, or your basic front range freak). Climbing in Eldo can evoke sappy nostalgic emotions to climbing history buffs. Once the playground of Layton Kor, Larry Dalke, Pat Ament, Jim Ericson, Roger Briggs, and a host of other old school pimpers and crimpers, Eldo is a virtual rock climbing Smithsonian. Utilizing pins pounded into the conglomerate sandstone, the typical rock climber is clipping artifacts from days gone by. Nostalgic, but frightening!

While early generations stuck mostly to the obvious lines on the Redgarden Wall, Bastille, and the Wind tower, latter generations sought out harder lines at Rincon, West Ridge and then attacked the old aid routes as free climbing techniques developed. When sport climbing kicked off in America Eldo proclaimed drilling bolts as an evil act and banned their use in the park. Therefore, the observant Eldoradoer will recognize a lack of sport routes in the 5.13 and harder category. Save of course the classics which slipped in before the ban. Hard classic sport routes such as Rainbow Wall, The Web, and Desdichado do exist, however, Eldo is staunchly traditional and rightly so. The traditional lines that have been established in this canyon are proud. You may recognize a few of these names: The Yellow Spur, Bastille Crack, The Naked Edge, Jules Verne, Doub Griffith, blah blah, the list of classics is endless, well not really endless, but it’s really long.

With over 500 routes to her name, Eldo has a little something for everyone. Think you’re solid at a certain grade? Step up to the plate in Eldo and then we’ll talk. Face climbing with RP’s and micro-cams can humiliate and humble the average joe. Oh yeah, don’t forget two big brass balls when you rack up, chances are they will come in handy on a large percentage of Eldo routes. Multi-pitch madness, casual cragging, bouldering, it’s all wrapped up in a tight little canyon called Eldo, here on the front range.

Down to the nitty gritty. The must do’s for Eldo adventure seekers:

The Moderates: Bastille Crack 5.7, Wind Ridge 5.6, Ruper 5.7, Rewritten 5.7, and Reggae 5.7

The Semi-Moderates: Yellow Spur 5.9, Werk Supp 5.9, XM 5.10c, Outer Space 5.10, Rosy Crucifixion 5.10, Grand Giraffe 5.10, Super Slab 5.10c, Over the Hill 5.10, Rincon 5.10, Hand Craker Direct 5.10, and Deviant 5.9+

The More-Serious Moderates: Vertigo 5.11b, The Naked Edge 5.11, C’est Le Vie 5.11b, Jules Verne 5.11, Supremacy Crack 5.11b, Pansee Savauge 5.11b R, Le Boomerang 5.11d, Doub Griffith 5.11c, and the list goes on and on in this category.

The Scary and Hard: Wendego 5.12a, Genesis 5.12+, The Evictor 5.12d R, Scary Canary, 5.12+, Musta been High 5.13+, Iron Monkey 5.14

Photo Credits:,

Tags: Classics, , Destination Crag, Eldorado Canyon

Saturday, June 14th, 2008 Crag Exposure

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