Eldo Rocks

eldoMe on the knife-edge ridge atop The Yellow Spur

I was in Denver last week for a conference so I stayed an extra day and went rock climbing at Eldorado Canyon State Park just a few minutes south of Boulder, CO.  “Eldo” is one of the top rock climbing destinations in the U.S. with hundreds of routes on walls up to 700 feet high.  This was my first visit and I was excited to check it out.

I climbed with Eli Helmuth from ClimbingLife Guides.  I climbed with Eli a few years ago at Lumpy Ridge so it was good to catch up with him.

For our first objective, Eli suggested that we tackle The Yellow Spur, one of the most classic routes at Eldo.   This route is popular for good reason — the climbing is super-aethetic and every pitch is excellent.  I led pitches 3, 4, and 5.  Given Eldo’s reputation for stiff ratings and the fact that I haven’t been climbing outside much this year, I was happy to get the onsight.  The Yellow Spur is rated 5.10a but the crux moves on pitch 5 felt more like 10c to me — definitely near my lead limit.

After a somewhat complicated descent and a Clif Bar, we tacked our next route, The Green Spur.  We did the 2 pitch route as one rope-stretching pitch.  The climbing was really engaging — another Eldo gem.

greenspurA climber (not me) on The Green Spur
(photo from Mountain Project)

To finish out the day, Eli suggested that I lead Darness Til Dawn, a single pitch 5.10 corner just to the left of The Green Spur.

darknessA climber on Darkness Til Dawn
(photo from
Mountain Project)

For whatever reason, I tend to struggle with corners and sure enough, the crux move on this route completely shut me down.  I was pretty frustrated — stiff ratings or not, I should have been able to onsight this route.  After 3 tries, I finally found a key foothold that made the move feel easy.  That’s one of the things I love about climbing — small changes to body position or sequence often make all the difference in the world.  After flailing up the rest of the route with pumped out arms, I took a short rest and did the route again on toprope.  This time it felt almost easy.

By the time I finished the last pitch (my 10th of the day), I was completely spent.  Good thing, because 5 minutes later it started pouring rain.  So Eli and I did the short hike out of the canyon and grabbed a burger at a pub in Boulder.  After eating, I spent about an hour at Neptune Mountaineering, a famous climbing shop and museum of sorts.  Then it was on to the airport for the flight home.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the climbing at Eldorado Canyon.  I can hardly imagine how awesome it would be to live in Boulder and have world class climbing at your doorstep.  Maybe some day…


One thought on “Eldo Rocks

  1. Very Nice! I am quite jealous. I am impressed that you were able to make it through 10 pitches of challenging climbing. I am fairly certain my arms would fall off if I tried that right now.

    I will definitely have to go there someday.

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