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Sphinx Rock

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Black Crack 
Cheops 
Crunch, The 
Exit Stage Right 
Joint Venture 
Lickety Split 
Locksmith, aka Dihedral Route 
Return to Forever 
Slug AKA Summit Route 1960, The 
So Honed Yet So Stoned 
Sphinx Crack 
Talus Food Crack 
Thinner 

Sphinx Rock 


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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Anonymous Coward on Apr 26, 2005
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The ridiculous, sideshow, slab, 5.12 sandbag.
Closed: Private Property - Sphinx Rock is on private property MORE INFO >>>

Description 

Sphinx Rock sits (actually, looms) above the town of Pine. Personally, I don't really see the Sphinx, but the formation is certainly lumpy and weird looking, and perhaps a more imaginative eye than mine can make it out. In any case, Sphinx rock has, for all practical purposes, one good route and a lot of semi-chossy junk. That route, of course, is the famous Sphinx Crack, which is thin, insecure, overhanging, and surprisingly slippery when it's filled with bird/bat guano. Which it often is. Most of the stuff at Sphinx is traditional, with the occasional bolted slab thrown in. Rock is somewhat lower quality than at many other S. Platte areas, but can be very good in spots. You can walk off pretty much everything on the formation.


Getting There 

From the Denver metro area, take US 285 out of town to Pine Junction, hang a left at the light and drive to Pine. Turn north at the library (it's obvious) and drive up the gravel road for maybe a quarter of a mile. You'll see Sphinx Rock on your right. Park in a pullout and hike over to the rocks. It has a very casual approach. The driving time from Golden/Littleton is about 45 minutes, making this one of the closest S. Platte crags.


13 Total Routes


['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',4],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',2],['5.8',0],['5.9',3],['5.10',4],['5.11',1],['5.12',0],['5.13',1],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',1],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Sphinx Rock:
Lickety Split   5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b R     Sport, 1 pitch   
Locksmith, aka Dihedral Route   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   
So Honed Yet So Stoned   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Sport   
Cheops   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b     Sport   
Return to Forever   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Trad   
Sphinx Crack   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ E7 6c     Trad   
Browse More Classics in Sphinx Rock

Featured Route For Sphinx Rock
The infamous Sphinx Crack man at crux.

Sphinx Crack 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ E7 6c  CO : South Platte : ... : Sphinx Rock
Barring, I dunno, the Phoenix or Supercrack or something, this is probably the best-known crack climb in the U.S., one of the most famous in the world. That said, it consistently spits me off every couple of moves - on TR. The crack would be 5.10 if it was A) less steep, B) less slanted to the left, or C) less slippery. The jams are actually not bad, but feet are god-awful, and the angle of the crack makes every right hand jam awkward and tenuous. People have been known to lieback sections. It i...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Sphinx Rock Slideshow Add Photo
Sphinx Rock side view.
Sphinx Rock side view.
It appears the access land on the west side of the creek is for sale. I love the way the sign is hidden behind the rocks. I drive this road all the time and only noticed this today (6/28/09), so I have no idea how long it's been on the market.
It appears the access land on the west side of the...
Sphinx Rock from the road.
Sphinx Rock from the road.
Sphinx Rock, showing the climb Lickety Split, on the ramp.
Sphinx Rock, showing the climb Lickety Split, on t...
Comments on Sphinx Rock Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 13, 2012
By Joe Keyser
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Mar 26, 2002

An alternate approach is to hang a left (from US 285) onto Shaffer's Crossing before Pine Junction. You can follow this past the Bucksnort Saloon, Bucksnort Slab, Squat Rock, and then Sphinx will be obvious on the left side of the road.

By Ross Keller
From: Parker, CO
Jul 14, 2003

There are some shiny new No Trespassing signs on the approach to Sphinx.

Does anyone know the private/public land boundaries and of any landowner issues. The signs cover the normal approach path, but there is a reasonable approach further to the right that is not signed. An approach that avoids private property would be a real plus if the boundaries can be identified.

It'd be a real shame to have an access issue here!

By JD
Jul 29, 2003

I am disappointed that someone pulled the anchors on Lickety Split the 5.7 R on Sphinx Rock. However they were rusted out .25 inch bolts and are due for replacement. If they aren't replaced, I will do it.

By JD Mitch
Aug 7, 2003

I have to correct myself, as far as I know only the unneeded bolts on the second pitch were choped of lickity split. They shouldnt be replaced and whoever put them there was off track. The button heads on the first pitch should be replaced though.

By Ross Keller
From: Parker, CO
Aug 25, 2003

No trespassing signs have now been posted along the road. I suspect that these are primarily aimed at the fishers, picknickers, partiers that frequent the creek-bottom. This may also be related to the ongoing attemp to sell the adjacent property. In any case, the crrek-bottom is more that likely all private land and it's beginning to look like access may get complicated.

By Anonymous Coward
Oct 25, 2003

If you don't see the Sphinx in "Sphinx " Rock, it's because the rock Sphinx Crack is on is actually called Elephant Rock. Just ask any local. If you want to see the Sphinx, look up across the valley from the various belays on the Bucksnort Slabs. For the best profile of the Sphinx, look down valley on the skyline from Sphinx Park (so named for the rock) where the Bucksnort Saloon is. It's hard to miss. As far as the saloon goes, in my opinion, you can get good beer, better food, and without the crowd, elsewhere.

By Pat Peddy
Nov 22, 2003

No, access is not fine. I was climbing here 2 weeks ago and was approached by a man in fatigues with a rifle who informed me I was trespassing, climbing was not allowed, and I was to leave immediately. I know little about ownership of this area, only that is entirely on private property and that the landowners have tolerated climbers for the last 15 years. This area is held in high regard by many of the locals and would be a big loss for all climbers if it was closed. I am looking in to this matter and will post my findings.

By Matthew Brejcha
Nov 10, 2004

Sphinx Rock is on State Trust Land, not private property.

By ac
Nov 10, 2004

FWIW, there are State Trust Lands in almost every county in Colorado, except maybe Denver County. I don't have my Delorme Map with me at work, but I'm pretty sure that's the case. There are 3 million acres of State Trust Lands in Colorado, but ONLY 480,000 of those acres are open for public use and NONE of them are in Jefferson, Douglas, Elbert, Arapahoe, Adams, Denver, Boomfield or Boulder Counties. The brochure pdf listed above only lists the OPEN lands.

On a related note, climbing is NOT a recognized recreational activity on ANY of these lands. These lands are managed to provide opportunities for recreation relating to wildlife (hunting, fishing & wildlife viewing), so if you have some boulders or crags that you frequent on State Trust Lands, keep it on the down low and don't visit them during hunting season to avoid confrontations like the one mentioned above by Pat Peddy.

As a final note, please do some research before you put crappy beta/info on this site. It just confuses everyone.

By ac
Dec 19, 2004

Well landowners are getting pissed off!I. E. All the no tresspassing signs. Access is a big issue. Be respectful of landowner`s rights. When [facing] the rock from road the right [gully] is the [approach]. You should not be tresspassing.

By eddie
Dec 2, 2007

I want to ask this so called land owner? just why are you so pissed off to begin with? I have climbed here for the past 10 years with no problems, then around Oct. 2005 me & my wife seen about 10 posted signs saying Private Property & No Trespassing for about 500 years in both directions of this beautiful rock. It seems to me that since you yourself have destroyed pullouts along the road with Trash (old iron boiler, dead trees & stumps, huge rocks..etc)...and this same homeowner did cut off most of the bolted anchors on this rock...
before this clown came along, the locals enjoyed having us climbers go into their shops and bars...how must the locals feel now?, because NO one goes there now!...I think we all need to call & write to The Access Fund up in Boulder to contact this so called land owner. That rock is on State Trust Land..not the landowner on South Elk Creek Road !!

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Dec 12, 2007

It's true that the residents of Pine are upset with this guy. In fact I'd say real angry. I spend a chunk of the every summer at our cabin just up the road from Sphinx Rock and have heard all kinds of rants about his attitude. Not so much about the effect on the local economy but about the loss of access to Elk Creek. For years local kids have had access to the swimming hole and I might add have cleaned it up (as did climbers) when the area was littered by non local partiers.

Anyhow it's a loss for everyone. The fact that he does not own the land on the east side of the creek yet seems to have it in his head he does blows my mind. As for the creek itself, he does not have the water rights, and he won't argue that as he has been coming to community meetings regarding the new development at Will o' the wisp and the attempt of the developer to gain all the water rights to Elk Creek. For more info on that visit www.mywoodside.com

There has been talk recently of access from the land behind Zokas. He'd have a hard time doing anything about that.

By Buff Johnson
Dec 12, 2007

Couldn't agree more, Allen.

I think what makes this different than the previous owner is that the Sheriff has given him basically a green light to enforce egress (with force) on surrounding vacant property he doesn't own due to faxed agreements that attempt to form some sort of imprompt HOA between a few property owners of interest.

I'm surprised you & I haven't shared a beer over there after some good climbs; I seem to keep missing everyone.

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Dec 12, 2007

Mark,

If you ever see a big red Land Cruiser parked at the cabin a mile and a half south of 280 on S. Elk Creek road (it's the one on the east side with the big boulders surrounding it at Glen Elk), stop on in and say hi! We can discuss a course of action regarding this issue. Ultimately the climbing is shit at Sphinx Rock, but it does have a very large significance in North American free climbing history. And the swimming hole is great! Anyhow I'm sure something will be worked out. We always have lots of beer on hand at the house.

Allen

By eddie
Jan 4, 2009

I have sent many letter to the Access Fund in Boulder to contact Keith Rye, 16330 South Elk Creek Road about this access issues to The Sphinx Rock. They have told me he will NOT even answer their letters! They wanted me to ask Rye why he prohibits climbing on his land: is he concerned with liability, trash, parking, or privacy? They also wanted to find out if Rye is interested in selling the parcel, that he bought back in July of 2006?
All I know is this so called land-owner doesn't own the car pull offs on Elk Creek Road, and also all the open land in back of The Sphinx Rock, because it goes back for miles.
I own a cabin in the area and want to start a local climbing club to gain back to access we once had in this area & others. If interested send me a e/mail at eddiep260@aol.com
I have been climbing down in this area for over 12 years now and to see this guy (chop bolts off the rock, block-off car pull offs with trash..(ie: dead trees, old iron boiler, huge boulders & signs)..is a SIN...if this area is closed for climbers it is indeed regrettable, and if made permanent, will be a great loss to the climbing community.

contact The Access Fund PO Box 17010 Boulder, CO. 80308 pho: 303-545-6772
www.accessfund.org
Attn: Diana Vernazza (Access Director)

I have been down there to clean up trash, help local kids in a roll over accident in May, 07 where 2 kids died!! and for this I get a Thank You of locals with a bad tone & bad attitude!! Those people need a WAKE UP call from all of us and speak the message that this land is for all to use not just someone who just moved here from TEXAS !!

peace

By alisa
Jun 29, 2009

I just checked out Sphinx Rock yesterday June 28, 2009, and yes it is very closed to climbing. The no trespassing signs even specify climbing in the activities not permitted for that area. I had no idea that this issue was happening. I love the South Platte area and was using an old book (written in '88) to navigate for new spots and nothing was discussed about the closure of this mecca of climbing spots (at least according to the '88 book, there were a lot of options here). Let me know if there is anything I can do to help because I will.

By Buff Johnson
Nov 20, 2009

In light of "usual depiction", this is Elephant Rock or Cock Rock in Pine (now called "Pine Grove"); the Sphinx is just one part of it; the block on the upper right if looking at it from Pine/Roadway up coming from Pine.

Maybe due to Boulder's already existence of an Elephant Rock as for some reason of clarity for Boulder-ites to tour'on down here, this formation got tagged with a route name.

(No, "Sphinx Park" refers to the natural occurrence of everything in the area, also including through what is now Buffalo Creek, as depicting the wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Egypt; a designation given well before the Sphinx Crack was climbed -- or even conceived for that matter)

It's like the Brits tellin' the Colonies how to buy tea; that was a good idea, also....

By Jehnavi
Dec 16, 2010

There are quite a lot of old projects and random bolts at Sphinx. One linkup that isn't mentioned in the guide is 'Rambo-Trooper' which starts up Rambo then traverses into the jump of Storm Trooper linkup is 27 or 28 from memory. Great Sphinx Of Giza Other than that there are a couple of old projects and a new one I think? left of Pharoahs. Hope that helps. As to the grade of those climbs, I though Phoenix was 24 and WLAE probably 21. Cheers.

By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Dec 16, 2010

Some good Aussie humor is always welcome!

By JJ Calhoun
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 13, 2012

Any updates for Sphinx Rock access?