Rock Climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park
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Expert rock climbers as well as novices can try hundreds of classic climbs here. The burgeoning sport of ice climbing also thrives in the park. The Diamond, Lumpy Ridge, and Petit Grepons are the places for rock climbing, while well-known ice-climbing spots include Hidden Falls, Loch Vale, and Emerald and Black lakes.
The Diamond. Named for its distinctive shape, this sheer cliff on the east face of Longs Peak is the site of more than 30 routes. The "easiest," the Casual Route, is rated 5.10. Note that the Longs Peak Trailhead is located outside the park. Rte. 7, 9 mi south of Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, 80517.
Lumpy Ridge. These granite crags, about 1 mi north of Estes Park, draw climbers from all over Colorado's Front Range. Some of the routes are closed from March to July, due to nesting raptors. The area's rock outcroppings, including the distinctive Twin Owls, rise behind the Stanley Hotel and can be seen from town. Mainliner, a top-rated, six-pitch route on Lumpy's Sundance Buttress, is one of the classics. The entrance is outside the park, just north of downtown Estes Park. MacGregor Ave., off Rte. 34, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, 80517.
Petit Grepon. If you're interested in a spectacular setting, try this climb on one of the park's Cathedral Spires (they also include Sharkstooth, the Saber, and the Foil), on the popular South Face climbing route. It's southwest of Bear Lake, above Sky Pond, and is accessed via the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. Bear Lake Rd., about 1 mi southwest of Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, 80517.
Colorado Mountain School. Colorado Mountain School has been guiding climbers since 1877 and is an invaluable resource for climbers in the Rocky Mountain area (they're also the park's only official provider of technical climbing services). They can teach you rock climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing, avalanche survival, and many other skills. Take introductory half-day and one- to five-day courses on climbing and rappelling technique, or sign up for guided introductory trips, full-day climbs, and longer expeditions. Make reservations a month in advance for summer climbs. The school also runs a 16-bed hostel with a full kitchen ($25 a night). 341 Moraine Ave., Estes Park, CO, 80517. 800/836–4008 or 303/447–2804. www.totalclimbing.com.
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