Member Trip Report



Independence Pass, Colorado, Moderate Rock Climbing

July 14-16, 2011

Author: Larry Earley.

Participants: Larry Earley and Don Taylor.

Hot and smokey in New Mexico and most climbing areas closed. Lets go to Colorado where its cool. Independence Pass area is high up and has a lot of small areas I have always wanted to explore. The guide book is "Independence Pass Rock Climbing II" by Tom Perkins and there is a nice website here. There are national forest campsites on both the Twin Lakes (east side) and Aspen (west side) of the pass. The locals call it climbing on the pass. We stayed at the Lincoln Gulch CG which is in the heart of many areas. Its small and is a steep $16 a night. Its 10 miles to Aspen. You can see a lot of rock from the camp site and there is a stream.

Don and I started on some sport routes in the Outrageous Overhangs Area. Wait I said moderates and overhangs?? There are some easy climbs there too. We went to the Junior Olympic Wall and the Olympic Wall. Its a nice or not too nice hike in and up a ways to the easy climbs. The rock is weird too. It is some granite mixed with gneiss and maybe some funky quartzite stuff too. Well its not the best rock actually. We started on Junior Olympic Wall [Ready (5.7), Set (5.8) and Go (5.9)]. Set and Go were ok. Don started his trip with a strong dislike for the route bolter and guide book author Tom Perkins. Tom bolted a lot of routes on the pass. Some were good, some were ok and some were bad. Maybe he was high for several bolting sessions. He was a 5.12 climber and well he did not relate to moderate old climbers needs and wants. The climbs on Olympic Wall were ok too but there are all these black streaks that are sort of wet too. I did a cool mantle to an anchor that was wet and slick. We didn't want dry and smoky so we got our wish.

The next day we tried some trad on Turkey Rock. It was a shorter approach and a nice looking rock. We started up The Nose of Turkey Rock (5.8) and this was a really great first pitch. A right in your face start up to some old pitons gets you thinking. Then its one nice surprise after another. Hidden holds appear and interesting gear placements keeps it fun and safe. Great pitch up to a ledge with bolted anchor. The view is worth the trip. Amazing. You see the Pyramid Peak 14er and the nearby 13ers. You can't get this view anywhere else. Fantastic views. Next its easy climbing 5.4 150ft to the top. High quality easy trad. The views on top were even better. I saw Maroon Peak I think too. Pitch one had some weird rock but the top slab was nice granite. We rapped down the route Smoked Turkey 10a and then went back up. It was 155ft and 13 bolts. Nice. A hard start (crux) leads you up a fun quality pitch. Excellent. There are a couple hard looking 11s nearby.

Next we went to a hidden area called Phat City. Don led the so called moderate Candy Apple Red 5.8. It was a hump up to the rock which was deadly quartzite surprise. We stick clipped the first bolt which was needed to protect the 10a start overhang. I had to hang on this start on top rope. Its 10a if you are tall like Don. Next you cruise up some 5.9 and then you better have some cams too when you hit the 10c sections. The cams protect dangerous falls on to ledges. This was probably a typo in the book when it said 5.8. Don did a great lead without hanging or falling. It was 70 feet with 9 bolts but you better have cams unless you lead 11s good. The top was a reachy clip or ledge fall depending. I had to hang again on the 10c cruxes. We packed up and left then.

We moved to the Sunset Cliff up a steep slope. I tried Unnecessary Buffness 10a/b but bailed. It was a long way to the first bolt on a slab. It looked like a nice climb. I made it to the first piton but it was a ways to the next bolt.

Well we tried again and found some other weird rock with black streaks at Pooh Corner Area. Tom Perkins bolted some sad routes here too. We picked one with nice features called Eeyore's Revenge 5.8. It was another deadly climb with dangerous fall potential going past bolt #3. It was 10a with a ledge. We got to the top only to find a really bad anchor too. Don was again trash talking about Mr. Perkins.

Luckily there are a lot of areas and routes within a few miles. We got finally some nice climbing at Clairabell Mine Wall. This was a short approach with good granite and well bolted too. We loved Master Blaster 10b which was awesome. One Stick or Two 5.9 was good too but had a couple polished areas so watch it. There is a great mine entrance and you can see in a ways. There were a couple 11s too and a 12.

Well Independence Pass was cool, not crowded, lots of climbs, lots of variety and lots of bad rock too. We checked out a couple routes for next time. Zanzibar Dihedral 5.8 trad looked great as well as Cryogenics pitch one 10a trad. There is also some free camping at Lincoln Creek area. It was real and it was fun but it wasn't real fun. The first night camping it dropped to 37 degrees so I nearly froze in my old summer bag. Give it a try if you are hot and want some cool climbing. Choose your routes wisely.

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