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Areas in Empire

Al Cap 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Beaver Beach 0 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 6
Compensation Crag 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 1
East Buttress 1 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Easter Island Pinnacle 1 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3 / 3
Eyrie Sector, The 1 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3 / 3
Goat Rock 1 / 18 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 18
Halidome, The 8 / 16 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 10 / 17
Junction Boulder 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Junction Rock 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Lair, The 1 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4 / 4
North-East Boulders 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Ra 1 / 13 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 13
Sky Pillar 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Wrong Block 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Elevation: 8,609 ft
GPS: 39.76, -105.683 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 68,200 total · 314/month
Shared By: Richard M. Wright on Dec 31, 2000
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Getting weather forecast...


Hot in Denver? Tired of the scene? Looking for some alpine rock in a terrific setting? Bring the trad rack and bring the sport rack, there is a lot of stone here, and development has just been started. Recent climbing at Empire was kicked off by a man near and dear to my heart, Joe Desimone. The hardest training man in the rock business, Joe has been a huge friend and a dynamite climber for too long to remember. In poking around Cone Hill, where most of the stone can be found, I have stumbled upon old, rusty, fixed pins, so history must date back some distance before Joe's arrival in 1995. Ra is the huge distinct fin-like buttress 3.2 miles from the light in Empire and at 9000 ft elevation. Some development has taken place up the road from Ra as well (just have to wait...). The stone is big here, with close to 600 or more feet of rock in some places. The setting is alpine (ALPINE ... Get It??) so not everything you see will be super clean, there can be significant loose rock here. Don't even think about climbing this without some experience in alpine setting, and a helmet is nearly a requirement for those with any sense. That said, some really great granite lines are starting to emerge from the confusion of stone, and terrific potential exists for much more development. The climbing season at Empire can be much longer than may be imagined from from its alpine setting. We have often climbed through December, and have found gorgeous, sixty degree weather in mid November.

Getting There

Take I-70 West from Denver to the turn off for Empire. This is exit 232 which is the point where US 40 departs from I-70 and heads to Granby and Grand Lakes. From the light at the North edge of the town of Empire and at the Post Office, proceed North for 3.2 miles. Parking can be had on both sides of the road from here and for the next 0.5 miles. Look right, crane your necks, this is a lot of stone. Empire itself is at 8602 foot elevation and is a small town with gas, post office, eats (Jenny's), limited groceries, and a decent liquor store.

74 Total Climbs

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Location: Empire Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Empire

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Rohan Face
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Empire of the Air
Trad, Sport 4 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Training Day
Sport 3 pitches
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Miner's Delight
Sport 2 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Smeagol's Way
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Nearer To Thee
Sport 2 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Higher Calling
Sport 3 pitches
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Eternal Sunshine
Sport 4 pitches
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Windows On the World
Sport 4 pitches
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Sport, Alpine 4 pitches
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Moving Zen
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Sport 3 pitches
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Tremendous Trifles
Sport, Alpine
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
King of the Mountain
Trad, Sport, Alpine 6 pitches
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Walk On Water
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Rohan Face Ra
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Empire of the Air Ra
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad, Sport 4 pitches
Training Day Ra
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport 3 pitches
Miner's Delight Ra
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c Sport 2 pitches
Smeagol's Way Ra
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Nearer To Thee Ra
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport 2 pitches
Higher Calling Ra
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Sport 3 pitches
Eternal Sunshine Ra
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport 4 pitches
Windows On the World Ra
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport 4 pitches
Priceless Halidome > Main Wall
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport, Alpine 4 pitches
Moving Zen Ra
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Waimea Ra
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport 3 pitches
Tremendous Trifles Halidome > Main Wall
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport, Alpine
King of the Mountain Halidome > Main Wall
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Trad, Sport, Alpine 6 pitches
Walk On Water Ra
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Empire »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
Climbed a sport/trad route on Ra (I think). It's on the right of the scree gully as you lok up from the parking pull-off where the Jerky guy usually parks. (Also, two hundred yards closer to Empire there's decent bouldering down off the road, below where they sell the wooden bears. Some of it fairly high-ball-- might wanna take a buddy or let someone know cause if you take a fall there you may go unnoticed for a few months.)

The hike up is 20-40 minutes, depending on what shape you're in. There's a faint trail and cairns, I think, in places. Look for the bolts to find the climb; some are a reddish hue. First two ppitches can be linked into one nice long one that goes at 5.10. The second/third pitch is 11a, slabby and balancy just above the two bolt anchor, then a bit overhanging and pumpy. The last pitch is trad and offers a few jagged cracks for pro. A full rack is worth lugging up there, or else you'll be stuck downclimbing, pulling and resetting your gear higher as I was. Medium to large cams are good, wires as well. The climb goes up under a big roof; you can cam in your body there and take a rest. Then pop out up and over to the left, there are good placements to protect the move, and your through it. Trad pitch probably goes around 10b(?)-- hell, I don't know-- but it was fun. Not sure how much vert is involved, 350 ft maybe. Might see or hear bighorn up top, which is another good reason to bring your helmet.

I agree that a helmet is a must; there's some loose shit up there. I was comfy in my; my partner was dodging shrapnel without his. The rock tends to be sharp and nasty in places; I left a bit of blood my first time up. There's also the distinct possibility that you'll ppull something larger off; be wary! Bolt placements are sufficient, weird in places, though.

You can walk off to the northeast. Keep your eye out for the top of another climb-- there are two bolts just above a tree. That climb may be a bit steeper and doesn't have bolts lower down.

Lots of potential in the area; be good stewards and practice minimal trace ethics!

-tobias Jul 10, 2002
The climbing just off the road on the right is sweet the bolted lines are sweet. 2 and 3 pitch stuff all between 10's and 11's Jul 19, 2002
Christmas day my bother pointed out an ice-flow coming down the north side of Hwy 40 a few miles west of Empire. I've not noticed it prior. It is a couple hundred feet up off the road just east of the Goat Rock sport crag. I returned today and was pleasantly surprised. Soloed aprox 75 ft to top. Inital thin vertical ice, then lower angle to ~12ft curtain, then some high angle bulges. Tree at the top with slings and rings. No signs of recent climbing. Who has the FA? Does this ice-flow come in consistantly? Does anyone who is familiar with this area have any beta? Dec 29, 2005
Matt Juth
Matt Juth   Evergreen
That flow comes in every year. Last year it was extremely fat for a few months, and then melted off Feb'ish. I climbed it a few years ago in WI3 ish conditions, but I've seen people leading it when it looked 5 or harder. I drove by it every day and saw maybe a dozen ascents last winter.

The key is get on it soon! This warm spell may have already erased it. It also tends to sublimate fast when it's too cold. Hit or miss...

There are also a couple flows that hang around on the big rock above. In the gully you can get on a couple short hard pillars when conditions are right. Dec 30, 2005
Thank you, Matt. You are right. I returned during the warm spell and found vertical slush. It was very nice on 12/29. I am looking for any ice/mixed climbing on Berthoud Pass or in Fraser Valley. Any other good stuff? Jan 19, 2006
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
Word out there is that there are climbs towards Jones Pass. Problem up there is there is avalanche-prone terrain. Be careful out there. Jan 19, 2006
Chris O'Connor
boulder, co
Chris O'Connor   boulder, co
There is a crag near Tabernash and I don't know the name of it. I'm writing here because I think this is the closest area to the crag in question. From 40 you take a right onto 84/83, then spilt left onto 84 and a few miles down 84 you take the first left the rock outcropping just off the road on the east side and have 5 TR anchors. The routes are all moderate/easy but it is a pleasant sunny little crag. Does anybody know who put up these anchors or what the area is called? Apr 17, 2006
Legs Magillicutty   Durango
Jim Shaw put the routes up. He has a paperback guidebook out for the area. I climbed there yesterday on the Lower Wall. Great sport routes in a nice setting with great views of Byers Peak.
There are also some trad lines up there as well at the Trail Creek Crag.

Drop me a line if you need more info. Jul 24, 2007
Matt Chan
Matt Chan   Denver
Jim Shaw. You can pick up the guidebook from him or at Icebox Mountain Sports in Fraser. Decent climbing in a very pretty setting. Jul 24, 2007
Matt DeCoste
Colorado Springs, CO
Matt DeCoste   Colorado Springs, CO
It is true. Their is a great little crag tucked up in the hills between Tabernash and Fraser. I've been told it's called Hurd Creek. I climbed with my brother last August (2007) and we did 3-4 nice sport routes. We plan to head back again this August. Some pics of our climb are posted on this page above. I got my information and map from here:…

It seemed like their was one wrong turn given in his directions that got us off to the left at a fork instead of the right and sent us up into a private driveway. We backed up a mile or so, took the other fork and everything else was right. May 30, 2008
Harald Harb
Harald Harb   Dumont
I have climbed on Goat Rock three times. It's worth the drive, varied climbing some overhanging fun. It has three or four very nice routes at the bottom, but it is very confusing as to which route is which. If someone who knows the area could identify the routes, by relating them to the numbers in the photos here, this would be very helpful.

The bolted route with 6 clips, facing the main trail as it meets the cliff up from the highway has two bulges and a bottom crack, , it is short, but really fun, I'd say 5.10b/c.

To the left is an overhanging dihedral with two anchor rings, toughest move is clipping the anchors. I guess 5.10d or 5.11a

To the left again, one more bolted, five clip route, has two mini hand ledges with a bulge crux. 5.10b. It has an upper section, but the rock was so bad, after my third clip I bailed and lowered. A large piece of rock came off and almost got my belayer. Upper part is 5.11 material.

Further to the left again on the face, this climb has a big bush and a nest to the right just below the crux, 12 clips, pull the crimps on the face above the bulge crux. 5.10d . Fun! Oct 13, 2008
Harald Harb
Harald Harb   Dumont
The lower Goat Rock area has interesting climbing, (Ra and the Halidome have numerous multi-pitch climbs). Sorry Richard. this was confusing I agree.

Down by the Highway I-70 below Empire just right of the on-ramp toward Georgetown (almost directly across from the bridge over I-70) a nice 5-11: with a flake, crack, at the bottom, the overhanging crux comes while transitioning to the east-facing wall to the top. The rock at the bottom is a little dirty, crumbly, but if climbed more often, the crag it would clean up nicely. Almost stepped on a Lion there last summer, be careful, make lots of noise. Apr 27, 2009
Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
I'm not sure what Harald means by: "The Empire area has interesting climbing, but no major multi climb and route locations except for the Goat Rock area." Look at Ra and the Halidome at least, although there are several other crags and boulders listed on this site as well. May 22, 2009
Ben Schneider
Westminster, CO
Ben Schneider   Westminster, CO
Fixed Pin Publishing just released a new mini-guide for this area. It's comprehensive, waterproof, fits in your pocket, and costs less than $10. Learn more about it and purchase it here:… Jun 25, 2011
MaryH. Harlan
Carbondale, CO
MaryH. Harlan   Carbondale, CO
Super-fun, Black Canyon-like climbing. The hike in is stout for this mini-Black Canyon area. The climbing is stout, & the routes are excellent! Great climbing with some altitude. Jul 31, 2015

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