Ra is a 400 ft high fin of stone in an alpine setting at close to 10,000 ft elevation. Several sport routes, a long mixed route, and some trad lines have been developed on this West facing crag. Numbering begins on the right with the second bolted route encountered, "Empire of the Air" (#1), at four pitches with bolts and trad encountered in each pitch. "Miner's Delight" is an adjacent bolted line that runs up two pitches and has a variation with its own belay and a separate second pitch. "Windows on the World" takes the major, obvious South facing shield to a super exposed arete finish. More trad routes can be found up-hill from these. Development has continued in 2003 and as a result the landscape can be evolving - I'll try to keep it up to date.
3.2 miles North on US 40, outside of Empire. Set the odometer at the light by the Post Office. Park in the second of two large pullouts. A trail system has now been worked into the landscape. Across the street from the second major turnout is a short wash just left of a clean, fifteen foot, granite face. Start here. The trail takes off from the top of the wash, and it is well cairned at this point. Presently, the cairned trail seems to be the most user-friendly approach. The hike to Ra takes about 20 minutes despite the fact that the crag appears to lie almost on top of the road.
Walk On Water climbs the awesome, blank-looking face and arete on the left margin of the WOW plate, P3. It's quite hard for the entire first half after which it eases to tricky .10+ to the anchor. Expect nonstop, mostly solid 5.12 right off the ledge for 45' with a technical 5.13 crux halfway through. The redpoint/endurance crux is 15' above the technical crux involving a nice dyno after moving off the arete. As for the crux itself, the hardest move is merely a matter of letting go ...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
J. Des. put those rts. up w/ a little help from Rob Cantilari. J Guerin was an inocent bystander only because JD & I were both in love w/ Maria at the Peck House for the late evening stare of inspiration... Great hot tub by the way.Thanks Richard, happy trailsJG
This is the order of the routes on Ra as you come up the boulder field (right to left). Twelve routes as of 9/07:
1. WOW****, 5.12b, 4 pitches 2. Eternal Sunshine***, 5.12a, 4 pitches 3/4. EOA***, 5.11a, 4 pitches/Nearer To Thee****, 5.11b, 2 pitches off of EOA's 2nd pitch 5. Higher Calling****, 5.11c/d, 3 pitches 6. Waimea***, 5.12b/c, 3 pitches 7. Moving Zen***, 5.12c, 1 pitch 8/9. Training Day***, 5.11a, 3 pitches/Rohan Face** 5.10a 10. Smeagol's Way**, 5.11b, 1 pitch 11. Miners Delight****, 5.11b/c, 2 pitches 12. Strike It Rich***, 5.12a, 2 pitches (shares part of MD's first pitch)
Ratings are being solidified as more climbers get on the routes and offer input. EOA is the only route that requires trad gear. All others are nicely protected sport routes set up so you can retreat with a single 60m rope if necessary.
N.B.: Waimea does, however, require 70 m or two ropes to hit he ground from the top of P1 (115 ft). It is possible to catch one of the belay stances left or right of Waimea and still get down with a 60 m rope. You will have to swing wide to do this.
Rock quality on Ra: There is some suspect rock but most routes are on deceptively good stone. Don't let the appearance fool you-- the rock climbs very nicely in most spots. WOW and Higher Calling are the premier routes with the others coming in somewhere below them. I wouldn't have spent so much time here if I didn't think it was worth it.
Ra is almost exactly one hour from Boulder (w/ normal traffic). The approach takes about 25 to 30 minutes--sort of like hiking to Rincon. It's always about 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Boulder and has different weather patterns than the front range. Always plan for the possibility of wind or rain.
There are many things I like about this area. First, it's isolated, it'll probably never see crowds, and it's in a pretty setting. Next, there is a huge variety of rock you'll notice hiking up the boulder field. Also, take a look at some of the wonderfully twisted trees around and atop the crag. Finally, there is lots of wildlife to be seen. Bighorns and goats are in the area, and there's even been a mountain lion sighting. When putting up HC, I had several great encounters with a golden eagle. The first time I saw the eagle I was setting up to rap off the top, and while peering over the edge, the eagle suddenly swooped up, full 6' wing-span, not ten feet from me! We saw the eagle about four other times--it always made my day.
There has been other climbing activity in the area, both trad and bolted. The enormous crag west of Ra has some bolts, some cracks, but , as far as I know, no complete routes yet. The smaller cliffs in the forest closer to the road have some scattered bolted lines. Also, there's some good bouldering near the road.
Though most of the routes are generously bolted, I wouldn't consider Ra a "sport" area. Other factors should be considered: Altitude, weather, height,approach/retreat, loose rock, sharp edges, etc. If you take it more seriously than your average sport crag, you'll certainly have a great time.
Tod: The rock on Ra is much better than Goat Rock. There isn't much good rock on Goat (some routes are actually ok), but the routes on Ra are on largely very good rock. I think each route has some less than perfect sections, but most of the climbing is on good stone. Remember, the cliff sits at about 9500', so it's definitely alpine in nature, and the routes have seen very few ascents, so some loose stuff is to be expected. I've had to clean more off of routes in B.C. and Eldo than I did for some of the routes on Ra. You won't find huge, sweeping acres of perfect Yosemite granite here, but I really don't see how anyone could complain about the upper pitches of WOW or Higher Calling. Even the lower pitch of Waimea and Moving Zen are pretty darned good. I'll be interested to see what you think. Mark
Thanks for the info. I'm not sure when I'll get up there as I'm just getting back to Devil's Head after a couple of months doing other stuff. I'm a big fan of longer routes & these seem to fit the bill in that regard. Have you been out to Lime Creek lately?
We climbed at Ra and Goat Rock this Saturday and most of the caomplaints are over rated. Like Mark Tarrants said, Ra is better quality overall, but lots of the routes on Goat Rock are just fine. If you come from Winter Park, not much else is very close anyway. Get used to climbing with a little care and you wont have any trouble. Climb like you were in the gym and you probably wont like it. On Ra, EOA is good and on Goat Rock No Goats No Glory is good but maybe two stars.
There is some camping on Guanella Pass which is right outside the town of Georgetown. The first campground is right past the Xcel power plant and the next one is just a few more miles up the pass. Neither have electricity. There is also free camping at various sites along the pass on national forest land. Also, if you continue driving on past the Ra on Hwy 40 just before you take the switchback to head up Berthoud Pass, go straight toward the mining area and take the Jones Pass forest service road, you will run into some more dispersed free camping.