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Eleven Mile Rock Climbing, Colorado

July 14-15, 2003

Author: Larry Earley

Trip Participants: Larry Earley and Edward Carney

It was another summer trip to Colorado for my brother-in-law and I to climb some 14ers and try some rock climbing. We wanted to climb some easy to moderate rock and Eleven Mile Canyon was the perfect place. Lots of easy to moderate routes both trad and sport, close to 14ers, great granite dome climbing and a beautiful setting above 8000 feet in a river canyon. We arrived early Monday morning to first try a classic 5.5 two pitch climb called Staircase. This is a great easy climb with quality rock, plentiful bomber pro and a three minute walk from the car. Staircase is located on Arch Rock and is about 220 feet tall. There is a nice easy walkoff around the back side. Since Ed only climbs 2-3 days a year this was perfect. Pitch 1 is very easy (5.3) and leads to a nice big ledge. Pitch 2 is 5.5 and has some nice fun moves near the top. There is an optional 5.8 OW finish but we did the step left 5.4 finish. A very nice climb. We were joined by a small group of kids in a climbing class. Arch Rock has morning shade on this warm day so it was cool. We next had lunch as some clouds came in to put us back in shade. We looked at several climbs at Arch Rock. Kansas Honey (5.9) looked liked a great face climb with 5 bolts and anchors. Also Zendance (5.7) was another face with two bolts and some trad but runout and had a hard start. We tried Arch Rock Regular Route (5.8) which is a two pitch trad route next to Obscura Directa (5.7) crack trad route. The Regular Route was very interesting and had many fun moves up another great crack. The hand jams were textbook and pro anywhere you wanted it. The route was mostly 5.6/7 with a few 5.8 moves. A nice belay ledge was half way up. Ed was climbing better and declined tension. This would make a premium graduation climb and gets three stars. Walk off back. We finished the day scouting out routes for the next day. We tried Pine Cone Dome and saw several 5.5-5.7 two pitch trad routes but the rock was not as nice as Arch Rock. Ben Dover (5.9+) was a 5 bolt sport climb which looked hard but excellent. Ed didn't think he could make it. We moved on to Eleven Mile Dome to scout routes and were met with mixed impressions. There are many great face routes and many ugly wide crack climbs. The Faces were mostly 10s and the cracks easy. Moby Grape (5.7) was the best crack route. A few face routes are not in the guidebook but looked hard and runout.

The next day we went back to Arch Rock and did Hollow Flake (5.6) which is a nice crack climb 60 feet to a bolted anchor. It was really great and was a three star short 5.6. My ulterior motive was to climb a hard face route from the same anchor on toprope. Sprout Route (5.11) is a bolted face with 5 bolts. It is one of the most interesting and best pitches I have ever done. It starts as 5.6 and increases in difficulty every move. It really does. It goes 7, 8, 8+, 9, 9+, 10a, 10b, 10c, take tension and rest. Next it goes 10d, made it, 11a tension and rest. Finish with tension 11b and grab top and step on to ledge. WOW. Quality of rock is outstanding and this is three stars in any book. Ed tries and gets up to the 8+ area and lowers off. We stop for lunch after a short morning as the heat rises. We decide to go over to Turret Dome after a break. I think we will try the Guides Route (5.6) which is three pitches. I have a secret motive again. There is a perfect granite face nearby with some brand new sport routes not in the guidebook but were mentioned at www.climbingboulder.com. We hiked up the hill and got to a shady spot and waited for the clouds. I scouted the four bolted sport routes and WOW. They were awesome. Tres Piedras watch out. The rock was just like TP in texture but better. The climbs are 60-70 feet of the best granite face climbing anywhere. Too bad it isn't 500 feet worth. I estimated the routes from left to right as 10a/b, 9, 9, 8. Only a few little cracks but very interesting shapes in rock. You had to think about the moves. We did the three easier ones. The left 9 had a hard start. The right 9 had two separate hard crux sections and required some careful footwork. We climbed these twice since we were so impressed. Ed climbed his best ever and made the 5.9s. These are lower angle friction climbs with 5-6 bolts each. Very well bolted. Anyone who likes TP friction routes will loves these. Better than Green Streak and Black Streak at TP.

Eleven Mile Canyon is one of the most beautiful places in Colorado. We had to fight off the climbers on Monday which included two guys and five kids. On Tuesday we were the only climbers in the canyon. We looked around at all the areas and saw no one. There were a few people fishing and a few car tourists. Eleven Mile Canyon offers premium easy crack climbs with super pro for beginning trad leaders and has awesome face sport routes for moderate leaders. Some older sport routes have runouts but the new sport routes are better protected. There are also some 5.12s for the hardmen too but I didn't look too close at those. Its only a short drive west from Colorado Springs and makes for a great weekend trip.

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