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Need an adrenaline rush? There are very few locations in the United States that can surpass Estes Park and its surrounding areas for the climb of a lifetime.
The area has rock with all the feel, personality, touch, terrain and consistency that extreme climbers look for. It’s one of the reasons why the area has collected high ratings worldwide.
At the same time, there are plenty of cracks, edges and slabs for the novice to enjoy as well. And if you’re just intrigued by the concept of rock climbing, an indoor climbing wall in town allows recreational climbers to give the activity a try.
Long’s Peak Climbing:
Alexander’s Chimney, The Notch, Long’s Peak
Alexander’s Chimney/The Notch, Long’s Peak, IV, AI4, 5.5:
When in condition, climb thin ice and mixed terrain up the lower east face of Long’s through the feature known as Alexander’s Chimney, traverse 50 yards on Broadway, then continues up the moderate snow couloir to the prominent notch on the skyline of Long’s Peak. Over 2000 vertical feet of great climbing usually best in late fall. Catch this route out of condition, and you will climb dripping, mossy, loose choss up Alexander’s Chimney and grovel up deep avalanche-prone snow in the Notch. In mountaineering, as in life, timing is often everything. …By John Bicknell, Colorado Mountain School
Kiener’s, Long’s Peak
Kiener’s, Long’s Peak, III, 5.3, AI2:
Possibly the best mountaineering route in the country. The route climbs the Mill’s Glacier, moderate snow or ice on Lamb’s Slide, traverses the Broadway ledges for a 1000′, then winds its way along the left side of the Diamond with tremendous exposure for another 1000′ past features bearing names like the Giant’s Staircase before stepping out over the Diamond to join the Homestretch of the Keyhole Route. With very careful routefinding, the difficulty never exceeds 5.3, but the route tests all your mountaineering skills. If it still sounds too easy, try it in winter, for a completely different and challenging experience.
South Face, Petit Grepon
South Face, Petit Grepon, III, 5.8:
Three routes in RMNP are included in Steck-Roper’s Fifty Classic Climbs in North America. As mentioned, there are better routes on Hallet’s than Northcutt-Carter. There are better routes on the Diamond than D1. This, the Petit South Face, is the uncontested classic, and one of the most superb routes I’ve climbed in my life. Eight pitches, wonderful climbing, awesome exposure, then finally shimmy along the top of the Petit with legs dangling over nothingness on either side to reach the rappel anchors. There are other great spire routes in the park, on Sharkstooth, the Sabre, Zowie, but this one is the best.
Some of the best rock climbing is not in the high peaks. Lumpy Ridge is home to the best granite rock climbs in the state. It is my favorite climbing area and there are hundreds of superb climbs. Most of the climbs are three to six pitches long, and the view from the tops of any of them are alone worth the climb.
The Diamond, Long’s Peak
The Diamond, Long’s Peak, IV- VI, 5.10-5.13:
Over thirty routes, most superb, ascend the Diamond, the great 1000 vertical to overhanging wall which rises above Broadway at 13,100. Extremely visible from Estes Park, this is our El Cap and Half Dome transported to a high alpine setting, one of the most beautiful walls anywhere in the world. The Casual Route (IV, 5.10a), the Yellow Wall (V, 5.11a), and Eroica (V, 5.12b) are three classic route on the Diamond, each at a different degree of difficulty. The Casual Route is the easiest route on the Diamond and 5.10 at 13,000 is not that easy.
Culp-Bossier, Hallet’s Peak
Culp-Bossier, Hallet’s Peak, III, 5.8:
The Northcutt-Carter (III, 5.7) on Hallet’s has more history and is included in Steck-Roper’s Fifty Classic Climbs in North America. It receives the most traffic. The Northcutt-Carter also may well have gotten more climbers lost than any other route in Colorado. Counting the number of rappel stations on the face marking the points where climbers got lost and gave up can be as much fun as the climb itself. I prefer the Culp-Bossier, which has better rock, more sun, and a more direct line. Seven great pitches.
Mainliner, Sundance Buttress, Lumpy ridge
Sundance Buttress: Sundance is the big stone of Lumpy, views from the 800′ South Face provides a beautiful panorama of both the High Peaks and the Estes Valley. Great lines on Sundance range from Kor’s Flake at 5.7+ to an abundance of quality 5.10’s and 5.11’s. None is higher quality or more popular than Mainliner, a superb six pitch route.
Spiral Route, Notchtop
Spiral Route, Notchtop, III, 5.4:
This one will test your route finding skills as it winds all the way around the peak. Assuming you stay on route, the climb involves moderate movement on excellent rock with superb position and views. If you’re up to it, some feel Notchtop’s South Face (III, 5.9) provides an even more classic line.