Climbing Eldorado Canyon Boulder, CO USA

Getting Fixed: Trad Climbing in Eldorado Caynon

Eldorado Canyon is truly a monastery for aspiring trad climbers. Located just outside of Boulder, Colorado, it hosts hundreds of feet of vertical expanse on famous crags like the Bastille and Red Garden Wall. Some of the most coveted and feared routes in climbing's history grace the steep faces of discontinuous cracks and overhangs. It has long been the proving ground for climbing masters like Royal Robbins, Layton Kor and Derek Hersey since the 1950's. Over the decades, Eldo has maintained its reputation for scary climbing and dicey protection. Upon entering the narrow canyon for the first time, a person cannot help but feel humbled by the towering gates of rock that rise straight out of the road and tease fantasies of future glory. Even the notoriety and folklore of Eldo creates a daunting aura that can linger in a climber's psyche like viscous oil and haunt his dreams. From the parking lot, walls of rock fan out in all directions like an imposing fortress and contain routes of all difficulties no more than a stone's throw from the car. Lurking between shadow and sky, hundreds of famous and classic test pieces can be found. Among these are such fabled routes as The Naked Edge (5.11b), Vertigo (5.11b), Jules Vern (5.11a R) and X-M (5.10c R), to name a few. There is also a selection of mega classic moderates like Ruper (5.8), The Bulge (5.7+ R), Wind Ridge (5.6 ) and the world-famous Bastille Crack (5.8). The abundance of south-facing walls allow for climbing to be had year-round in the canyon. On a sunny day in February, the canyon is virtually empty except for the occasional climber perched on a warm belay ledge.

Eldorado Canyon
ikenna Clokey punches through the incredible jams on pitch two of "Werk Supp" (5.9+) on the Bastille.

Eldorado Canyon2
Warren Franz seconding the very popular first pitch of "Werk Supp" (5.8+)

Eldorado Canyon3
Luke Parody following the second pitch of "The Northwest Corner" (5.10d R) on the Bastille.

Eldorado Canyon4
Derek Franz cranking through the last pitch on the aptly named testpiece, "Vertigo" (5.11b). -photo by Ryan Franz

Eldorado Canyon5

Eldorado Canyon6

Eldorado Canyon7

* Feature written and photographed by Derek Franz, March 2003. All information regarding etiiquette, park information and directions can be sourced from Eldo canyon park regualtions and Derek Franz.



To get to Eldorado Canyon State Parkfrom Boulder, drive south on Broadway (which becomes Highway 93) until a stoplight intersection 12 miles out of town is reached. At this point, turn right on highway 170 and head west into the town of Eldorado Springs. To enter the park, there is a $4 entry fee. The area is small and suffers a great deal of traffic in the summer, so planning ahead is advised. Locals enforce a strong climbing ethic in Eldorado, so be sure to stay on designated approach trails and to pack out all trash. Also, a permit is required to place or replace bolts and pitons. Recommended guidebooks to the area include Best of Boulder Climbs, or Rock Climbing Eldorado Canyon by Richard Rossiter. Rock Climbing Colorado, by Stewart M. Green, also provides a smaller, select guide. Colorado Mountain School provides a guiding service for the area and can be reached at (888) 267-7783.

©2013 Globetrotter Adventures
Globetrotter Adventures
Carbondale, CO 81623