Tonnere Tower is the modest-sized crag across Boulder Creek and slightly upstream from the Boulder Falls parking area. It rises more than 450 feet from the creek to the summit, making it one of the tallest crags in Boulder Canyon. The summit area provides great views of Lower Dream Canyon and Boulder Falls.
Visited by climbers many years ago, the crag has long been neglected, and gets only a brief mention in Richard Rossiter's Boulder Canyon guidebook. The only documented route is an old line on the northwest ridge which is seldom climbed today.
In May-July 2007, several new sport routes were established on the east face. With six 2-pitch sport routes in the 5.10 and 5.11 range, and a 3-pitch 5.10 sport route, Tonnere Tower has become a favorite spot in Boulder Canyon for multi-pitch sport climbing. The east face of Tonnere (Sport Land) is a great place to climb on hot summer afternoons and evenings, going into the shade by 2pm.
In July-October 2007, many new mixed routes were established on the north face; one four-pitch route (Los Pinos) climbs from the creek to the summit. The north-face routes are in the shade for most of the day.
The best climbing months are May through October. By November, most of the routes are in the shade all day, and are enjoyable only if the weather is unseasonably warm.
All of the new routes have 2-bolt anchors, and can be climbed and rappelled with a single 60m rope. Most routes have double-ring anchors which provide multiple clip-in points. Several routes have lowering hooks at the anchors for convenient lowering without having to untie to thread the rope. Routes that go to the summit use tree anchors for the top pitches.
With many good multi-pitch sport, trad, and mixed routes (35 routes and 56 pitches of climbing) and very easy access, Tonnere Tower is now a crag often visited by climbers, instead of the forgotten crag that it once was.
Tonnere Tower has several different climbing areas; Eds. the beta photo has been deleted by its submitter. From left to right:
Park at the upstream end of the Boulder Falls parking area, about 8.0 miles up the canyon, or just beyond by Boulder Slips.
A tyrolean traverse can be used to cross the creek when the water is too high to hop rocks or wade. It is located about 60 yards upstream from the Boulder Falls parking area, opposite the trailhead to Boulder Falls. The far end of the tyrolean is right by the path heading up to Sport Land, Treasure Wall, and The Garden.
If the water level is low enough, you can wade across the creek just downstream from the tyrolean. If you want to hop rocks, there are several spots a bit upstream from the tyrolean to check out.
Wading or hopping rocks can be done from late July until mid-May. The tyrolean is the best way across the creek from mid-May until late July.
See the individual sub-areas for detailed approach information.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Tonnere Tower:
The Twilight Kid is an excellent new sport climb on Treasure Wall. It has great slab climbing just right of Join the Party.Boulder up to a high first bolt. Clip the first bolt then head left following bolts up to a tree. Go right at the tree (hard move) and then up cool moves into a short corner. Make a cool move out the corner and then up to the anchor. Lower back down from the hooks....[more]Browse More Classics in CO
For what it is worth, I think the climbing is pretty darn good for Boulder Canyon. A tremendous amount of effort has been put into cleaning, flossing and in general creating a cliff which is very user-friendly with routes which are fun and interesting. In a way it is even more aesthetic than before. Sure the pitches are short and the bolts on an average of 6 feet apart but if some are skipped then the run-outs become more worthy of conversation. Yep, there are lots of bolts next to cracks but once the bolts are skipped and the cracks plugged up with TCUs or stoppers, leading becomes more like it always should be: thoughtful and well, MORE thoughtful. Trad climbing is possible because the cracks are clean. And that pleases me.
My point here is that this is a cliff where trads and "sport-to's" can climb, come together and have a good time. In a way it is a communal crag. It isn't difficult to place passive gear, you just have to be strong enough, to have enough "spunk" to overlook and disregard the bolts.... This is an engineered cliff where the creator (Ron?) has put in a lot of effort to clean and create an otherwise unclimbed cliff into what will be and is already a very popular destination. I enjoyed my day of climbing here and I will return. I'll tell all my friends about it. They'll come with their girlfriends and TRAINED, domesticated animals. I hope they will clean up their poop. It's good fun. which is what most climbers want anyway and the direction climbing here is going. Fun and a challenge. Maybe not life-changing but who knows? It's a chance to create something positive.
This crag development didn't happen in Yosemite, Eldorado or RMNP. No classic routes were discriminated against, and no one was hurt. Maybe there was the potential for radical life-changing routes but no one had put in the effort to find out. AND the potential still exists..........
It isn't a bad thing. It seems like the natural evolution of crag development in this area. Why it could even become a positive step for relationships between climbers and land managers.
That's it. The climbing is fun but for sure bring a trad rack because you can do that too. Bring a pulley for the tyrolean across the stream but you can also walk across the water. It isn't deep. Ignore the cheering crowds of tourists as you pull the 10d (or is it 10b?) crux over the roof because as much as the tourists annoy you, you also enjoy their adulation. It's climbing in Boulder Canyon. It's supposed to be fun! And it really is. And it's for everyone.
The issue is not the cleaning, I think Paul Heyliger's comments sum it up very well and put this issue to bed. The issue here in my opinion is the bolting of cracks and over bolting. I climbed here yesterday and the climbing is awesome. However, bolting cracks and over bolting are bad practices. When you have a bolt at your feet, a bolt at your waist and are in arms reach of the next bolt something is not right. To the individuals putting up routes here - PLEASE stop spraying bolts on gear protectable lines. Let's avoid another Sport Park here. Many of the lines need the bolts (less of them), but many do not need any at all. Say no to Sport Park ethics! All this aside, thanks to Ron and others for their efforts here, the climbing is very good.
Friends and I went by this area again today and did a few climbs. I don't know which ones we did 'cause we didn't have the guide. It seems like people are helping clean up some the area at the bottom of the routes which is a good thing. Nothing seemed amiss when viewed from across the creek. Again, the routes we did were very enjoyable. Clean with good rock. Regarding the number of bolts that protect the routes, yep there are a lot of them but no more than at Security Risk, Animal World, Black Widow and many other crags in this canyon. As far as I can tell this has been the Bldr Cyn norm now for over ten years. The difference is that the cracks here have also been cleaned so you have that option; to protect with gear or with bolts. Ya don't have to clip every bolt. We didn't. Have fun.
Ron, A friend took me to Tonnere Tower the other day and we climbed many of your routes. I thoroughly enjoyed my day there. I think the condition of the area, to include the trails and the routes, are well done. I was involved in much "gardening" back East in the late '70s and early '80s. These routes today see many, many climbers repeating what are now classics.
Wow, have been to Tonnere Tower and climbed most of the routes there and am surprised about the controversy above. Are there signs of impacts from the climbing? Yes, but the area (especially the base) looks to me pretty much like any other area.
Is it overcleaned and excavated? Gosh, maybe, I did see signs of cleaning. But for all you that must have adventure, be assured there is still loose rock up there. We easily pulled a bowling-ball-sized, loose rock off (and were able to stuff it in an alcove where it is safe) just last week. So, as always, be careful.
All in all a nice area. If I had a criticism I would say that some of the routes could have been put in as mixed gear and bolt routes. But that's just me, I happen to like that kind of thing. I did the top pitch of "Staying Alive" yesterday and took some gear and skipped some of the bolts. That is no statement on ethics or anything I just wanted to do it as a mixed route and got exactly what I wanted. I know I did not have the commitment factor cause I could always clip the bolts - so what. If I had wanted to scare myself I would have done something dangerous.
I would like to say thanks to Ron and others for the work on the area.
Why aren't more trad lines going up? There is plenty of new rock to be climbed in Boulder Canyon but it seems that most of the new routes are sport. Is it because the majority of climbers that are getting into rock climbing these days are sport climbers and sport climbers are mainly only interested in the physical aspect of climbing, not in the mental stress that comes with placing gear? Trad climbers seem pretty complacent when it comes to first ascents in BC. I've recently done a couple of new trad routes on Eagle Rock that are pretty good, but I don't know about many other FAs in Boulder Canyon that were put up in trad style. Where have all the trad first ascentists gone?
Maybe some of the people who complain about too many sport routes going up should develop their own crag in Boulder Canyon. I'd vote for that!
I think that the main reason that people aren't putting up trad lines in Boulder Canyon is that there really aren't a lot of impressive lines. The rock is very ledgy and inconsistent, and rarely is there a long section of impressive rock that gets the imagination flowing. However, I think that this does provide an opportunity for moderate climbers to do so, but it seems that moderate climbers aren't as interested in putting up gear lines.
I was trolling up and down Boulder Canyon today looking at rock which has yet to be developed or probably even climbed, and it reminded me that in order to put up new trad routes around here one would have to be willing to put in a lot of work. Much of the remaining rock is dirty, the cracks may not be that great for protection, bushwacking of course to the base of the climb and maybe not climbing really hard grades. Of course, most of us put up first ascents in the first place mainly for adventure and the thrill of going into the unknown but perhaps the majority of today's climber's prefer perfect rock, swooping flawless rock architecture and known difficulty. That those are the most important qualities to most climbers around here. Maybe going to all the trouble to do trad FAs is just, well, too much work. I don't know, I'm just guessing. There is a reason that Trad climbing is also refered to as "Adventure Climbing". You just never know what you're going to run into and the addictive quality is getting into trouble and how you get back out of same trouble. Of course Ron is attempting to develop a crag with something for everyone. Even Tony. And obviously, it's going to impossible to keep some climbers from claiming silly FAs or to keep others from complaining about this bolt being too close and that rating being wrong. I think there is still time for would-be trad first ascent leaders to grab their FA on this cliff if they are so inclined. But if you aren't involved in putting up the routes or helping in some positive way then stop criticizing those who are. Now is the time to help out with this cliff's development.
Jack is correct. It's true that it will take much more effort now to ferret out quality routes. I have been hiking around Boulder Canyon for weeks now, looking for new ground, and the best options are well hidden under moss and in more remote locations. Nothing short of elbow grease and commitment will reveal any of the few remaining gems.
Ron did this with Tonnere. He took a crate full of what many considered to be lemons that no one wanted, and he turned them into really good lemonade. Instead of beating the guy up for trying to contribute something good to the community, pick up your racks and make a your own contributions. It will be much more appreciated than the gratuitous criticisms.
Though I told them in person, I wanted to publicly thank Ron and Bob for their work at Tonnere. Great lines -- many beginner-friendly -- and the luxury of hooks (instead of rings) at certain anchor points. Thanks for the time, effort, and imagination that went into making Tonnere a great spot.
Yes, there are many bomber gear placements on some of the Tonnere Tower climbs and perhaps bolts should not have been placed at those spots. But I wonder how many of the critics would have ever given that crag more than a passing glance prior to its development...?
I think the answer is pretty simple, Richard. Most of the critics have lived in the area, and they ignored it. Leo said that he thought about it but had more important things to do. Ron and Bruno looked at it, thought about it, reconned (<made up word) it, and then developed it. I think that about sums it up.
It went from being dormant to becoming an instantly popular destination as a direct result of their efforts.
The gardening criticism reveals naivete; apparently they have never had the pleasure of going up an uncleaned route, breaking off a hold, falling and bombing their belayer. And those complaining about bolt density should reflect on the alternative. It was only after viewing route specific comments that I found acknowledgment of the effort to develop this area. Thank you for making it safe and stabilizing the approach trail.
Beware of the boulder just upstream of the tree on the road side of the tyrolean. Any more than one person standing on the stream side edge will tumble it (August 2008).
I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Ron Olsen, Bruno Hache, Bob D'Antonio, Ken Cangi and others who contributed their considerable time, effort, expense and expertise to create the climbing routes that are now to be found on Tonnere Tower. Please keep up your excellent work. I climbed at this area for the first time today and had a truly outstanding day of climbing. I will be back for more.
This place really puts the "bolt" in "Bolter Canyon". Pretty sad stuff when bolts are 6" from perfect cracks. But I didn't garden and develop the place, so I guess you get to bolt the hell out it if you get there first, right?
As a contributor to the Boulder Canyon guidebook, I would like to say that the wholesale removal of route contributions to MP was a really bad idea. I would like to see MP figure out a way for this not to happen again. If you submit a route to the site, it should stay there unless there is a really compelling reason to remove it.
It's just bizarre, and seems to set a really bad precedent. MP would barely exist if you removed all the routes that are already in guidebooks. Isn't the slogan, "beyond the guidebook"? It would be nice to have some explanation--I'm open to the possibility that we're missing something and there's a reasonable explanation. Perhaps it's as simple as (1) any contributor has the right to remove his or her submissions for whatever reason, and (2) everyone who contributed route descriptions here actually chose to remove them? At least, I hope it is something like that.
I think this should head to the forum pretty soon so I'll add one more word here. The routes were not deleted but descriptions replaced with a reference to the guidebook, thus seeming to say, "buy the book," and acting as a sort of paywall. The book is clearly superior in the field, compared to printed-out MP descriptions but the MP descriptions are much more lengthy, detailed and often more useful than any guidebook would allow. The guidebook would have to be literally three times as thick and much more expensive. The two can coexist side by side.
I should add that Bob D'Antonio had nothing to do with this decision. I respect Ron's right to remove the descriptions, but the practical effect of the removal is substantial enough to question whether it's the best thing to do.
Why can't we get at least one picture of the general overview of all of the routes on this crag? It's really annoying trying to figure out where to start when the only hint is "Climb A is left of climb B." I then followed the trail to climb "F" or so and discovered "Climb F is left of the pine tree."
Hey Steve, Tonnere faces north (northwestish) so could still be cold in March, but then again we do get warm days then. March can be very snowy in CO, though, so if it dumps, it will stick to the rock and tend to stay there for a while. Hope this helps...March is usually in the 50s and 60s in town, so 10 degrees less (and then factor in wind chill, possibly) in the canyon.