New Colorado Rock Climbing Guide Shows Our Bounty

Post by blogger | June 27, 2008      
Rock climbing how-to book.
New Western Colorado rock climbing guidebook.

In my past life as a rock climbing fanatic, home base was Independence Pass up above Aspen. In those days the “downvalley” west of Aspen was an ag and mining region where getting chased out of a bar because of your hair length was more likely than finding a rock climb. Or so we thought.

Yeah, we did venture downvalley to the granite in Glenwood Canyon — but that was about it. Years later, it became ethical to hang from a rope and use a power drill to establish climbing routes. When that happened, nearly any outcrop of halfway decent rock became fair game. Result: Virtually unknown western towns such as Rifle, Colorado became famous for their cliffs.

I’ll admit to being conflicted about modern sport climbing when the new style took off. But I’m comfortable with it now (death defying trad leads are somehow less attractive as the years slip by). Thus, it seems appropriate to trumpet a new guidebook that covers our area in exquisite detail — with emphasis on the explosion of bolted routes that has changed the sport.

At 227 pages, with stunning color photography of both routes and heroes (some with their last protection farther away than their feet!), “Rifle Mountain Park & Western Colorado Rock Climbs” is nothing less than state-of-art when it comes to publishing.

Last evening I kicked back with the book thinking I’d leaf through it for a quick take. Instead, several hours went by as I took in all the history and intro material that the authors obviously worked hard to compile. I even read a bunch of the route descriptions, concentrating on the 5.14s of course.

About the only thing missing? A couple of climbing areas where public land use issues have conflicted with climbing access. I found that understandable to a degree, but can’t help but wonder when recreationists such as climbers will get more radical about their rights to their own land, and at least publish controversial information. After all, you can find such info on the ‘net, so why not in print? It’s said that Internet publishing will eventually eliminate ink and paper. If guidebook writers intentionally leave out information you can find on the ‘net, they’re only hastening that process.

But even with a few small areas missing, “Rifle Mountain Park” is still an awesome compilation and something the authors and publishers can be proud of. I just bought a rope. And now I’ve got a shortlist of those 5.14 routes that need to go on my resume.

Buy “Rifle Mountain Park”


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14 Responses to “New Colorado Rock Climbing Guide Shows Our Bounty”

  1. Mac June 27th, 2008 12:48 pm

    Just a quick reply about your comment on the ethics of establishing routes. I’m not one to get too hung up on the game other climbers play – I don’t see climbing as a competitive thing, but I do have a beef with every cliff and crag being bolted!

    Surely if a lead is “death defying” then either a) you’re pushing your game or b) made an ‘error in judgement’ being there in the first place! The risk is (or was) part of the climber’s game.


  2. Halsted June 27th, 2008 5:08 pm

    “In the ’60s, sex was safe and climbing was dangerous. Now it’s the other way around.”

    Chuck Pratt

  3. JG June 27th, 2008 9:45 pm

    Keep us posted on that 5.14 ….

  4. Lou June 28th, 2008 7:50 am

    What Chuck said.

  5. Walt June 28th, 2008 12:02 pm

    Bolted routes can be kinda fun. Playing even or odds brings back some of the spice. All you have to do is find a friend up to the challenge. Each person takes the sharp end and climbs the route using only the even or odd bolts (odd= 1st bolt, 3rd bolt, etc…) The game is over when someone hits the deck or just flat out wusses out. Another fun game is crux bolt. In this stimulating game, all bolts are fair game except the bolt that provides the greatest sense of security closest to the crux. The winner is determined the same as in evens or odds.

  6. Lou June 28th, 2008 3:16 pm

    Nice Walt (grin)!

  7. JG June 30th, 2008 9:23 am

    “The game is over when someone hits the deck or just flat out wusses out.”

    get a girl or a new hobby Walt.

  8. Lou June 30th, 2008 10:15 am

    Look what happens to us when the skiing goes away! Playing skip-a-bolt!

  9. bj June 30th, 2008 2:17 pm

    yeah, if you’ve actually hit the ground or witnessed it, it’s not so funny.

  10. dave downing June 30th, 2008 2:59 pm

    if you hit the ground, then you must not be very good and skip-a-bolt.

    i say SKIP ‘EM ALL!!!

    (note: skipping them all may include top roping)

  11. Lou June 30th, 2008 3:52 pm

    Anyone do this as a video game yet? BJ?

  12. Aaron Raterman June 30th, 2008 5:10 pm

    Mr. Walt:

    You talk it mighty big on the ‘net. But do you walk it?

    Yes, I’ve played your little evens and odd game–didja think you made that up?–but by today’s wusstastic bolting standards (one at the foot, one at the hip, on at your grill), your game doesn’t involve much risk. If you were half the man you pump yourself up to be, you’d try phantom clipping. Take your bolt biner, clip it horizontal, so that maybe a fall snaps it on the bolt, maybe a fall pulls it OFF the bolt. Works for trad, too. And yes, you have to strain and get this on a clean lead. No hang doggin’ while you set your gear.

    And don’t bother to ask if I really play this game. Come meet us on the pass and I’ll show you my scars to prove it.

    So save your little “evens and odds,” please.

  13. Walt July 1st, 2008 7:58 am

    Mr. Raterman,
    I’ll meet you on the pass any time, any crag. I agree that I didn’t make up the game. The only beef I have with your comment is bagging on hang dogging. As climbers, we have to be more forward thinking and accept that the only thing constant is change. Once a bolt is drilled into a rock, it should be considered part of the climb. They make great finger holds. The manufacturers are now making bolts that are easier to stand on. As far as phantom clip is concerned, we got a similar game called back clip. Being that this is a P C website, I can’t even talk about playing brown hula or chiggen feathers. Maybe we can all meet at cryogenics….jg you bring the girls.

  14. Lynn July 2nd, 2008 7:08 am

    Wow, Lou talks about sending 14’s and people start getting in a p@#@ing match. Personally I like every bolt I can clip and every piece of gear I can place.

    “wusstastic” new word apparently. I like todays bolting ways, and I have been climbing for over 20+ years. There is a place for runouts(on lead in a stance, drilling with a hand drill), but no reason for that when rap bolting routes these days.

    So if “wusstastic” is in the dictionary, my name is in the definition!

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