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The Crags

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The Crags Rock Climbing 

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Location: 40.3056, -105.5232 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 26,697
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Monty, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Dec 28, 2001
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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The "old man" at The Crags. This is the ...


This is a beautiful area with alpinish rock on the West face of Twin Sisters that catches your eyes as you drive south from Estes on CO Hwy 7. There are many crags. The rock is rough granite & gneiss. There are a mix of some traditional routes and some new sport development with lots of potential. The routes vary from 30 feet to 4 pitches here. The beautiful setting and a vigorous but enjoyable hike will fill your senses. Some might say the walk is not worth it; for those, climb elsewhere. You may even get lost for a while in here, but that is part of the experience. Note, there is some hunting allowed on the south side of the mountain in the fall.

One advantage here is that you can often watch the weather coming in from the west.

Getting There 

South of Estes Park on CO Hwy 7 above the Lily Lake Visitor Center. Park past the red Baldpate Inn for the northern rocks or up the dirt road past the visitor's center. Hike up hill 45-60 minutes.

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.4 miles from here

73 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',30],['2 Stars',27],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Crags

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Crags:
North Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 220'   Sharksfin
Crystal Staircase   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Wizard's Gate
Left Center   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   Lower Great Face
Merlin's Magic Corner   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
The Big Steep   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches, 300'   Upper Great Face
The Golden Monkey   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 300'   Upper Great Face
Dark Horse   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Wizard's Gate
Atmospheric Testing   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Castaway Crag
G3   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 95'   Wizard's Gate
Wizard's Path   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
Wiffle Ball Bat   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Upper Great Face
Riding with the Ravens   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 95'   Wizard's Gate
Take Me to Your Leader   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
The Gatekeeper   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
Grippin' the Cutlass   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 75'   Crosswinds
Afterlife    5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Wizard's Gate
The Bends (a.k.a. Decompression Sickness)   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Crosswinds
Magic Dagger   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
Cloak and Dagger   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
Magic Carpet Ride    5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Wizard's Gate
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Crags

Featured Route For The Crags
Rock Climbing Photo: The Golden Monkey, pitch 1 on right; Big Steep on ...

The Golden Monkey 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b CO : Estes Park Valley : ... : Upper Great Face
This indistinct line begins about 25 feet left of the huge buttress in the middle of the Upper Great Face, between the Kor-Northcutt on the right and The Big Steep on the left, and finishes with the beautiful headwall beneath the summit.Pitch 1: Turn a small roof on the left or right (gear) and climb past two bolts to a ledge. Continue upwards (gear) past two more bolts (crux) to a left-facing corner that defines the left side of a "V"-shaped wedge (the right side of the "V" is the obvious slot...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of The Crags Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Errett Allen climbing at The Crags. Photo by Blitz...
Errett Allen climbing at The Crags. Photo by Blitz...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Crags nearing sunset.
The Crags nearing sunset.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Crags. Photo by Blitzo.
The Crags. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Crags. Photo by Blitzo.
Crags. Photo by Blitzo.
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: The Crags - as sketched in the 1986 Kimball guideb...
The Crags - as sketched in the 1986 Kimball guideb...
Rock Climbing Photo: Estes Park Valley from The Crags. Photo by Blitzo.
Estes Park Valley from The Crags. Photo by Blitzo.

Comments on The Crags Add Comment
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By Craig Quincy
Jul 8, 2002
If this is your first time visiting the Northern Crags (Mid Rib, Rib Rock, Sharksfin, etc.), prepare to be lost. There is no trail that we could find and the approach is not as simple as "heading up hill from Baldplate Inn". We followed the instructions from Rock & Ice #116 after parking just north of the Inn and headed mostly straight uphill above the fence. After following a faint trail and several pieces of flagging, we ended up at a survey marker, then we thrashed up hill and ended up somewhere in between the Northern and Southern areas. We tripled the approach time and ended up nowhere near the climbing.

Here's what I would recommend instead: Park Northeast of the Inn. Hike Northeast on the road for about half a mile (or park further down the road), and look for a large abandon culvert on the south side of the road. This is where we came out on the descent, so somewhere past here head into the trees. Trend Southeast and diagonal across the hillside. We found numerous flagging and orange paint on the trees that may be from a logging operation and goes mostly in the right direction. Thrash around in the trees for a while always going uphill and a little to the left (East) if in doubt. When the crags finally reveal themselves, head directly up the talus.

Good luck!
By Tod Anderson
Jan 24, 2003
I visited this area about 15 years ago and didn't go back until the new article came out. I reconfirmed my previous opinion that this stuff is not worth the walk despite hype from some high profile climbers. A better alternative would be to head up into the high peaks and do routes there.
By Brian DeCamp
Aug 11, 2005
Gear Alert
I just went up there this weekend for the first time. My approach worked well. I parked just before the Baldpate, walked past it and onto a road blocked by a gate. When the road splits, I went right and followed it to an obvious end blocked by a large boulder. From there, I went up the hill through loose pines moving slightly right when I had a choice. It took about 45 minutes to get to the base of the first rib, and another 15-30 minutes of wondering where I wanted to climb. It actually wasn't hard to figure out. I followed my feet to the base of Shark's Fin and did the North Face Right. A sweet little two pitcher with spectacular views and a nice summit. If it weren't for the Harleys on the Rt. 7 below (weekend), it would have felt like pristine alpine climbing. We never saw another person the whole day.

The descent from the Shark's Fin is a little suspect. There are two rusted pitons with an aluminum rap ring on the south face that I wish I had just chopped. That anchor needs to be replaced before anyone with common sense tries to use it. We chose the 5.2 downclimb which worked fine, but there is some loose rock that could be catastrophic if you're not careful.
By Blitzo
Sep 12, 2006
The place kind of looks like a choss pile!
After the horrendous "Death March" approach, one finds that the rock is really good.
This place is cool!
The view of the Diamond is awesome!
By david goldstein
Aug 6, 2007
The southern approach is not that bad, particularly if your destination is Castaway Or Lower Great Face.

Most of the better climbs in the area are not in Gillett's guide. Terse descriptions thereof can be found in a mini-guide in Rock and Ice 116.
By Mike Pharris
From: Longmont, CO
Jun 9, 2008
Regarding the approach - I'd recommend the northern approach - it's a bit less steep on the hiking and you can see the crags the whole time your hiking. Just don't go up too high in the talus, and you've got relatively easy access to all the rock there.

Carry some webbing and rap rings or leaver biners. We left a sling on Woodstone. The webbing on Sharksfin is ok but could some new would make you feel better.

Fun area - we had the whole place to ourselves - certainly feels alpine in nature.
By John Maurer
From: Denver, CO
Jun 19, 2008
The Baldpate has the best cornbread you will ever try. Great place for vegetarians, but anyone would love the salad bar, cheeses, and soups they serve.

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