Known to the natives as the Wahatoya (Breast of the Earth), and a sacred site to Navajos, these ancient volcano remnants are worth a visit if not only for the scenery. Colorado's only range that runs east-west. Impressive, intrusive dikes radiating from the twin peaks like spokes on a wheel hold promise; too bad they are mostly on private land. The area known for its phenomenal color display in the fall. Look for climbing opportunities on the Dakota Sandstone at North and Monument Lakes. A beautifully undeveloped part of the state. West Spanish Peak also holds a few virgin snow climbs/ski descents as does the nearby Culebra Range.
This is located off CO Hwy 12, The Highway of Legends, between La Veta (The Vein) and Trinidad.
As far as eats and drinks in the area go, try the "Dog Bar" in nearby Cuchara. Rover doesn't even need to stay in the car.
The line on the right side of the Ripplemark Wall that heads straight up steep but moderate rock on fun but spooky flakes and edges. Most of the dubious holds are probably gone but the belayer should be on the lookout and/or wear a helmet. At last visit the anchor only consisted of two hangers, one slightly suspect; rappel or down climb off the back....[more]Browse More Classics in CO
The intrusive granitic dikes found around West Spanish Peak actually arise on Mount Mestas, Mount Lincoln, Sheep Mountain, and randomly around La Veta pass. The dikes can be up to 100 feet high and have seen some random climbing and rappelling exercises over the years. Even the local Boy Scouts have a merit badge for rapping the dikes. Much of the land through which the dikes run is BLM or National Forest and not private. From my own recon of the area, my impression is one of variable quality granite, often enclasted with sedimentary boulders and pebbles, but amenable to some level of climbing. Some of the outcrop dikes can be very overhanging, but the main lines running off West Spanish Peak are not. That said, some of dikes are as long as 14 miles (sic!), and could turn up a host of good climbs on excellent granite. If you are really into chasing down the possibilities, the dikes are readily visible on Google Earth.
I recently got some access to the private lands around the Breasts of the Earth and will be going up there for new route recon in two weeks. Hopefully I can find some stuff on the BLM /non-private land to develop for all. Going up there with an open mind, lots of gear, and no drill. Hope to have something to report by end of May.
Pretty certain it's not Colorado's "only" range to run East-West.
Elkhead Mountain Range in Northwestern Colorado outside of Craig & Steamboat just South of the Wyoming state line.
The Elkhead Mountains are made of old volcanic rocks 17-25 million years old. One thing unusual is that the Elkhead Mountains run west to east as opposed to north and south as most of the ranges run in North America. It is impossible to describe the general forms of the peaks because they are all so different, but most of the peaks are isolated rises from a huge plateau which forms the bulk of the Elkheads.