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Sphinx Rock and Squat Rock Closed?

Submitted By: John McNamee on Jun 4, 2006


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There are reports that Sphinx Rock and Squat Rock are closed. Apparently, a new land owner has recently moved into the property adjacent(?) to the rocks. If you know of any details please get in touch with the AccessFund so dialogue can begin.

For us SW Denver climbers losing access to these areas would be devastating!

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Comments on Sphinx Rock and Squat Rock Closed? Add Comment
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 28, 2006
By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jun 4, 2006

It's unlikely that Sphinx Rock is closed. The land is owned by an old Denver/Pine family and are happy to have it open to public use. The property just north of Sphinx Park has no claim whatsoever on the rock or its accessibility.

As for Squat Rock it is on a completely different property. It may or could be a issue. I was there two weekends ago with a longtime Elk Creek local and had no problems nor noticed any new signs of closure. A lot can change though during the summer months on that road.

I'd suggest the normal prudent behavior we have all more or less followed over the years concerning climbing on Elk Creek. Lay low, leave no trash, and simply be cool.

By Christopher Jones
From: Denver, Colorado
Jun 4, 2006

I agree with Allen about the land ownership. Elephant rock AKA Sphinx is on completely different land than Squat Rock. I also read on another post that the house was getting broken into. There are no structures on the land that Elephant Rock is on and the land owner lives in Castle Rock. I know this information from talking to the local Deputy. Officer Newman informed me that the land owner wanted him to arrest any climber trespassing on his land. Officer Newman told me that he will not harass any climber unless the land owner is there. He knows that this place is a popular climbing area and the people harassing the climbers are most likely not the actual land owners. I have climbed at Elephant Rock and Squat Rock about four or five times in the last two weeks and have had no issues. I have seen the home owners at the house next to Elephant Rock but I have not been approached by them. The issue may be the way people are approaching the rock. There are several no trespassing signs on the land that the house is on but not on the land that the rock is on. I hope this has not changed in the last few days. I will check it out tomorrow on my way back from Asshole Rock.

By Buff Johnson
Jun 5, 2006

Yeah, Chris, see what you can find out. Squat was ok last week. I didn't see anything cutting access from the south into Elephant.

The new threat of writing down license plates for parking on public ROW seems a little too far in authority, if any, from a landowner.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 5, 2006

I have climbed at both of these rocks in the last month and had no problems, and I know that the person who owns the house next to Sphinx saw us heading up to the rock the last time I was there. I still would like to hear something official.

By Buff Johnson
Jun 5, 2006

I am not anyone to tell a landowner what they can or can't do with their land. However, this area has been a climbing area for many decades with many of the residents supporting climbs & climbers. I can appreciate the fact that they don't want people coming in and burning down the area, but all that will be accomplished by taking the climbers out, will be completely the opposite of what the landowner wishes. Trash & fires will still remain without anyone helping to conserve the area. If someone really wants to conserve the area, build a footbridge over the stream so the wetlands aren't disturbed and creekside erosion can be put in check. But, of course, this would be a liability concern that some stupid f'n jackass would slip and fall and sue because they want people to feel f'n sorry for them & their medical needs. F#$%!

Also, have never seen anyone parking in the guy's driveway (@ Elephant), everyone I have seen either park on the other roadside pulloff or the hillside away from his property. Breaking into his house, obviously not climbers looking to do a couple of routes in a day.

I hope you have some success with the AF, we talked to them when the Elephant property went on the market (yes, the correct parcel), but it was too local & expensive to involve an acquisition.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 5, 2006

I would think that climbers constituted an important part of the non-existent economy in Pine. I know that I stop at the little over priced liquor store up there after climbing all the time, and if the rumors of the new health food restaurant are true you would think It would be a blow to them not have as many climbers around. Not to mention the Bucksnort. This is just really bad news.

By griffin1369
Jun 5, 2006

My friends were thrown off the property on Friday by the new landowner. He called the police and is posting no trespassing signs all over. Apparantly, he is totally uncool with all of us. We spoke with him and he said the trail will be closed and there are no sure about future access. My buddy fom Flagstaff almost got an onsight of the Sphinx. He took 2 hangs.

By Buff Johnson
Jun 5, 2006

Yeah, Andrew, there would be a blow, but more for the riders that come into town. That health food deal probably won't work considering the demographics.

As far as the Bucksnort Slabs, all the owner wishes is that people don't top out on the slab and walk around, you would be visible from Bushes/Motor Mouth and extending climber's right from there (if you didn't use the anchors & rap). From Bob D.'s line and left, we have not been disturbing them. There are anchors that allow everyone to climb a route and rap, I don't understand why people go up after the first Classic pitch, there is nothing there.

By Mark Dinkelman
From: Fort Collins
Jun 5, 2006

Try this, go to the county records (online) and look up current owner(s) of record. (Use property records and or GIS location feature.)
You/the climbing comuntity could argue an "easment was granted" many years ago. I was climbing down there with consistent regularity in the early 80s... there was/is open and consistant use of the rock features... (how many years has the Bucksnort had a public record of rocks and their routes...) Could be the new owner was not aware of this "Un-recorded Easment" and will attempt to change it? I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV... just thought I would offer some thoughts.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 6, 2006

Good Idea Mark D. I went through all this and this is what it said for the Parcel

ww14.co.jefferson.co.us/ats/displaygeneral.do?sch=034470

I don't know how up to date this is. And this Parcel certainly didn't include Squat Rock.

No transactions since 1996. I could see Sphinx in the North west corner of the parcel using the GIS satellite photo feature (can't link the Map.)

By Todd Clark
Jun 6, 2006

I LIVE ON ELK CREEK ROAD A MILE UP FROM SPHINX. I went to Sphinx Rock the other day. The owners saw me, but I was unaware of all this hoopla. I think if we want to continue climbing this classic, we need to politely ask to use "their" land until they realize that climbers are not there to trash or steal, but to climb and leave the land that same way if was when we got there.

As far as Squat Rock. I moved up here last Sept. and can't seem to find it. Is it the makeshift bridge that leads to a house, and you continue past the house??? I'll give it a shot. If I get shot at or cited... I'll let everyone know the skibby dibby.
Concerned climber that already has seen Little Etive Slabs closed.... Not another!!!

Maybe we need a spokesperson to talk to the landowners and tell them how important that rock is and how much history is behind it with climbing.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 6, 2006

FOUND IT! He does not own Sphinx unless he recently bought the land I posted right before this and they haven't changed the county records yet.

ww14.co.jefferson.co.us/ats/displaygeneral.do?sch=438899&off>>>

It does however look like he has a legitimate claim to over half of Squat Rock.

Disclaimer: I'm certainly not an official source but if you use the GIS features including parcel and satellite photos it's pretty clear to see.

By Buff Johnson
Jun 6, 2006

Todd C., Squat is not all that visible from the road, there is an obvious turnout after the Ding Domes gully access. You need to cross the creek and find a foot path. If you go anywhere near a house, you are not in the right spot.

Trying to get an easement based on a squatter's use is difficult to prove and generally doesn't work as you would need to document that you were using the land openly & notoriously for so many years, which is typically decades. Simply saying climbers have been using an area for decades won't get an easement. I don't really want to be a part of that course of action with the people that live there anyway; especially with the Bucksnort Slab as the owner has allowed climbing use, not to mention that this isn't the formation of concern anyway.

Also, county records can take time to resurvey & update. Sometimes, the survey points are so obsolete no-one knows what is going on; this is the case at Lincoln Falls.

I would offer again to let the locals try and work this out, the sheriffs have access to public records and can be a help in sorting this out as being a keeper of the peace. They know we climb there, it's no secret.

By Mark Dinkelman
From: Fort Collins
Jun 7, 2006

Sometimes during high transaction volume (property sales season ) the county will get behind in thier posting of records (known as the "gap period") so they may not show anything thats happened in the last month...
A Quiet Title action would put the disputed easment before the courts but, really that would only piss off the owner (and cost money) who sounds like he bought into more then he bargained and or was aware of. One option might be organize some assitance to benefit him in developing some trail network and volunteer time installing and maintaining it. Just an idea.
I'll bet the guy is trying to be nice but is concerned about his exposure to liability and more jerks... he and his family probably just wanted some peace and quiet so they can enjoy their dream of a beautiful mountain property....

By d.reed
Jun 20, 2006

Sounds like Mark has finally arrived at the truth. No one outside the climbing community, really cares if you climb or not. Definitely if it IS a HASSLE for the property owner!!!!!!!!! DIG?

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 20, 2006

No D.Reed I donít DIG. I can respect that this guy is pissed off over his house being broken into, I can respect that he is annoyed by obnoxious littering dicks, I can respect that he wants some peace and quite in his lovely mountain home, and I will respect his choice to kick climbers off his land IF this land is his. Because the possibility exists that this is his land I wonít climb here, but if he is claiming someoneís land as his own and kicking people off it thatís not right. Again IF this is his land Iím not for trying to get any sort of easement or any of that BS, I will respect it. I just want to know if heís justified in his actions.

By Buff Johnson
Jun 20, 2006

Unfortunately, Andrew, this situation is not looking too good right now from the standpoint of climbers' access. From what I gather, the property owners met and want to have some sort of impromptu association that they all agree to report a trespass based on reports from the homeowner next to Elephant Rock (Sphinx). The Sheriff's deputy will act upon this as all property owners in question have agreed & postings have been made. As this is all private property, there is really nothing we can do for legal recreational use.

Will this stop the ongoing illegal activities that occur, I don't think so. In fact, I foresee continued and/or exacerbated problems in not letting climbers into those areas as people will continue to go back there and light fires & throw trash around knowing that climbers won't be happening upon them.

It's unfortunate to not be able to enjoy the routes on Elephant & Squat and sorry to see someone like that move into a mountain area that has historical destination climbing.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 20, 2006

Well if that's how it is then that's how it is. It still irks me that this guy was kicking people off land that wasn't his. By the way Mark where are you getting this information?

By Buff Johnson
Jun 20, 2006

I live & grew up around there, Andrew.

RE: Next Message, Andrew -- I guess we could either take this experience and focus on something else positive to do for the S. Platte area; or just be bitter about someone who wants to try and run the Pine area for their own benefit. In any case, we won't be climbing at those two formations for the time being.

By Andrew
From: Lakewood
Jun 20, 2006

Any possibility you could get in on any of these meetings and put a word in? You seem to have a pretty sensible opinion on things and since your local??????? I'm sure you would have thought of that though.

By John McNamee
Administrator
From: Littleton, CO
Jun 25, 2006

I was going through the site feedback and recommendations tonight and found this email:

6/3/06 - SQUAT ROCK ACCESS IS CLOSED INDEFINITELY,IT IS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. THIS IS A WARNING TO ALL VIOLATORS,YOU WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR TOWED VEHICLES,CITATIONS AND ANY LEGAL ACTIONS. NO TRESPASSING!!

By Buff Johnson
Jun 26, 2006

Thanks, John. (My thoughts regarding the message that John received & actions taken in this area):

It seems that message is a little superfluous to me. Isn't a person already accountable for their actions? Isn't this post confusing civil liberty/right of private property to try and effect criminal prosecution -- cannot only the People prosecute?

What I mean is there is a difference between public & private property; and there is a difference in ownership of private property & being neighbors. I have mis-givings about how one property owner can try and enforce the laws of the People upon lands which they do not own; and have some type of an ad-hoc association to effect criminal prosecution, which is, in essence, based upon the opinion of one person and not law.

Also, isn't the process of placing dead timber & refuse along the public ROW a matter for the County and also does this not create an increase in fuel available for wildfire in this area? Many of us have spent hours upon hours removing slash & potential fuels from our lands to prevent a fire from spreading to homes in the area during the 3 major fires' heyday. And this joker comes in and puts crap all around the road and flips everyone off around there, just begging for someone to light a match. If so, I hope that SOB is held just as accountable.

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jun 27, 2006

Certainly the situation is a bummer. The one thing though that has brought me joy out of it, if nothing else, is Keith Rye's neurotic obsession about the properties. I've enjoyed driving by his home the past few weeks just to see him lurking about with his huge (I mean HUGE) binoculars or standing on his driveway with his hands on his hips glaring with intense menace at every car that passes by slowly. He certainly is not enjoying his weekends, that's for sure!

I think this can be resolved somehow. A long time Pine local suggested to me on Saturday that it may be possible to simply come in from the backside and there would be nothing at all our friend could do about it. That's one man opinion and certainly needs to be researched but the locals are certainly upset about this if for no other reason that losing the swimming hole for the local children. I wish I had the time to work on this issue, perhaps in the Fall. In the mean time, I'd suggest taking delight in witnessing Keith's relaxing Summer.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jun 28, 2006

Mister Rye is probably getting something out of the activity. His needs are probably different than yours or mine. Territorialism is a base instinct and so is vengeance. Perhaps this is an expression of those two needs being fulfilled. In short, he may be getting just as much satisfaction out of seeing you drive by, watching you watching him...
When you see someone doing something you think is strange, don't presume that they are having a bad time- start with the presumption that they just have different motivations than you do.
That might make it easier to negotiate with them, because telling them that they 'would have a better time if they would just...' sure ain't gonna cut it if they are already having the time of their lives.
I hate to say it, but some folks do get off on other people's suffering.
Perhaps it is an expression of territorialism, maybe it's a status thing for him to feel like he is the only one allowed there. Maybe a climber raped his great-grandfather and this is revenge. Maybe his dad beat him. I don't know, but getting to the bottom of what his motivation for this is would be the best way to get the tools to negotiate a solution. Antagonizing him won't help.
In days of old there was a different solution. Shunning. It does not mean now what it did then. Centuries ago it was essentially an excommunication from the community- and if you couldn't deal with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker, your stomach was empty and your house was dark. The need for community was leverage to motivate people to comply with community standards for acceptable behavior. Sadly, the merchant economy has broken this entirely, and people can go be butt-heads at K-Mart and Kroger. Doesn't matter- not only will people still serve them, but they will be told that the customer is always right.