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Elevation: 7,969 ft
GPS: 37.8429, -106.28469
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 404,594 total · 1,489/month
Shared By: Rog on Nov 6, 2001 · Updates
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC
Warning Access Issue: Limited access Oct. 15-17, 2021 DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

Penitente Canyon is a beautiful, small canyon on BLM lands located in the San Luis Valley - south central Colorado. The area is primarily a sport climbing destination with a few trad lines. The bouldering opportunities here are (I think) mostly undeveloped but almost limitless.

As per D'Antonio's guidebook (Falcon Publishing - Rock Climbing the San Luis Valley), the rock is a volcanic tuft. This translates into bulletproof rock with great friction. Many climbs utilize small crimps and edges, while others scale hueco-ridden walls. The trad lines follow rough cracks - bring plenty of tape.

From my experience, all bolted lines are well done, with good hardware and placements providing well-protected routes. The majority of routes are .10 & above, with very few moderates. With the excellent bolted protection, however, this is a nice place to push the grades.

Camping is on site, costs a nominal amount (the guidebook says it is free - this has changed!), and has standard BLM regulations. Per Jesse Morehouse: as of 2012, the site fee for single site is now $11 and the group rate is $20 with 3 group sites now. Water is provided down the road from the climbing / camping area (another recent development - follow the signs), and the nearest 'goods' can be found at the 'La Garita Cash Store'.

Please note that there are several distinct climbing areas other than Penitente Canyon, including the Rock Garden, Witches Canyon, and others. Some of these are on or near private property, so be sure to watch for & obey the signs.

I am tying not to ramble, but this place just rocks!!! - fun, fun, and a bit more fun.

Eds. Note, BLM Law Enforcement Ranger hand out $50 citations to people who had occupied a campsite without filling out the form and submitting the money, even at night!

Sept. 13-15, 2019 limited access - see the popup for details!

Getting There Suggest change

From Denver, W on US 285. Keep going... When you're 12 miles N of Del Norte, take a right on 'G'. Follow for 7 miles. Stop at the La Garita Cash Store & spend a couple bucks. Say hi. Get back in the car, keep going West. After the pavement ends (roughly 1 mile after the Cash Store), keep to the left on Cty 38. At the 1 mile mark, as the road turns left (South), take a right. Follow the signs.

October 13-15, 2023 limited access!

Suggest change

Per A Lee: there will be limited access October 13-15, 2023 for the: True Penitence Climbing Festival 2023. The festival will be reserving all campsites and parking lots at the main canyon on October 13th and 14th. On Saturday (10/14/23), a climbing competition will take place in the main canyon and Rock Garden. The canyon will be open to the public for day use, but please plan accordingly, as camping is not available without tickets and on-site parking will be highly restricted. The climbing competition on Saturday the 14th will be asking the general public to yield to all competition climbers, as competing climbers will be heavily using many of the routes in the canyon. Please consider climbing elsewhere during the festival if you don't want to participate. Tickets & more Info on www.slvclimb.org/fest.

162 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Penitente Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 310
Tanks for the Hueco
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 241
Black is Beautiful
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 113
Breakdown Dead Ahead
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 33
True Penitence
Trad
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 372
Not My Cross To Bear
Sport
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 109
Shear Strength
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 183
Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 40
Jabba the Hutt
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 100
Forbidden Fruit
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 66
Dazed and Confuzed
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 55
Sister of Mercy
Sport
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
 102
Bullet the Blue Sky
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 13
Colors Of Emotion
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 27
The Virgin
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 13
Cassandra
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Tanks for the Hueco Penitente - Inner Canyon
 310
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Black is Beautiful Penitente - Entrance…
 241
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Breakdown Dead Ahead Penitente - Inner Canyon
 113
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
True Penitence Penitente - Inner Canyon
 33
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Not My Cross To Bear Penitente - Inner Canyon
 372
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Shear Strength Penitente - Inner Canyon
 109
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way Penitente - Inner Canyon
 183
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Jabba the Hutt Penitente - Inner Canyon
 40
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Forbidden Fruit Penitente - Entrance…
 100
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Dazed and Confuzed Penitente - Inner Canyon
 66
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Sister of Mercy Penitente - Inner Canyon
 55
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
Bullet the Blue Sky Penitente - Inner Canyon
 102
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
Colors Of Emotion Penitente - Entrance…
 13
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
The Virgin Penitente - Inner Canyon
 27
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Cassandra Penitente - Entrance…
 13
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
More Classic Climbs in Penitente Canyon »

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