Top Front Range Beginning And Intermediate Rock Climbs

April 13, 2011 12:59 PM

Climbers on the Eldorado Canyon’s Bastille Crack (credit: Paul Sampson)

There is no better place on the planet to be a beginning or intermediate rock climber than Colorado’s Front Range. There are thousands of outstanding routes available whether you top rope, clip bolts or climb traditional routes. However, the absolute best climbs along the Front Range are trad routes, so that’s what you’ll mostly see on this list. These routes get climbed so often, they tend to be polished. Please watch your footing. If there’s a queue ahead of you, you might want to consider other moderate routes nearby. You’ll find beta on them from guidebooks or On many of these climbs you’ll want two ropes for the descent and a leader who can competently place gear and set solid anchors.
bastille crack 2 Top Front Range Beginning And Intermediate Rock Climbs

Climbers on the Eldorado Canyon's Bastille Crack (credit: Paul Sampson)

Bastille Crack

Climb Specs: 5.7+, 5 pitches
Eldorado Canyon State Park
9 Kneale Road
Eldorado Springs, CO 80025
(303) 494-3943
This may be the most popular climb in Colorado. Located just south of Boulder on the left just up the road from the parking area, there’s virtually no approach and five fun pitches. Many people use a 60 meter rope to combine the first two pitches. The crack takes gear well, but be sure to put pro in the flake down low on the first pitch before climbing past. The footholds are slick and a misstep can result in a ground fall if not properly protected. Take a standard rack up to about a No. 3 cam. Walk/scramble off.

Petit Grepon

Climb Specs: 5.8, 8 pitches
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 U.S. 36
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-1206
If you’re solid at the grade and up for an early-morning start, give this mega-classic spire a go. This route has plenty of exposure and adventure. However, it also requires a long hike in and a good head on the shoulders of the leader. Some people get a backcountry camping permit to sleep near the base the night before. This is a high alpine environment, so be sure to move quickly and get off the rock before any afternoon storms roll in. Multiple raps to get off.

flatiron Top Front Range Beginning And Intermediate Rock Climbs

Angie Swedenburg of Longmont took this photo of one of the Flatirons in September 2009.

East Face

Climb Specs: 5.6 R
Third Flatiron, Boulder
900 Baseline Road
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 441-3440
Mega classic with great views of Boulder. Like most slab climbs, this one is run out. The first pitch of the Direct East Face offers two bolts and a just a couple of places to place gear. Thus, this is not the route for your first multi-pitch lead. Brand new leaders might want to start with the more manageable North Arete on the First Flatiron instead (5.4). Bring small to medium sized gear. Multiple raps to reach the ground.


Climb Specs: 5.7
The Book, Lumpy Ridge
Estes Park
Five delightful pitches with a little bit of almost everything. A chimney, hand crack, dieheidral, large flakes, you name it. Take a standard rack with double hand size cams. Small to medium tricams work well on this climb too. Hike off to the right / east side.

Deck Chairs On The Titanic

Climb Specs: 5.9
Brown Cloud Crag, North Table Mountain
Golden, CO 80403
If you like the smell of brewing beer, you’ll love this crag. Coors Brewery sits just down the road. This sustained and somewhat pumpy sport climb can be easily accessed with only a 15-minute approach. Once there, you can clip the bolts or top rope it by walking around to the right. However, there are many small, loose rocks on top, so be careful not to rain any rocks down on your partners or other climbers below. Deck Chairs and most of the other routes on North Table face south and get a lot of sun. While they may be too hot to climb on the hottest summer days, this it is a great winter climbing spot.

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– Paul Sampson is a freelance reporter and photojournalist based in Golden, Colo. His adventures on rock and ice have taken him to most of the country’s major climbing areas and all over Colorado. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulSampson1.