Elevation: 9,669 ft
GPS: 39.12, -106.702 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 726,138 total · 3,212/month
Shared By: Pinklebear on Dec 15, 2001
Admins: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

Description

Unless you're a movie star, ski bum, or coke addict, the best thing going in the Aspen area is definitely Independence Pass. Independence Pass is an often overlooked but ultra-worthy, granite area, East of town off the super-steep CO Highway 82. The area includes crags between Aspen & Twin Lakes.

The Pass is also historic, offering some of Colorado's earlier forays onto steep (5.7) rock, a handful of Henry Barber and Lynn Hill testpieces, from the Golden Era of free climbing, and some of Colorado's first rappel-bolted sport routes.

While route activity has dwindled as of late, The Pass continues to thrive as an adventure bouldering area, with plenty of potential for those willing to do a bit of exploring. The highway conveniently bisects most of the granite in the canyon, so most crags are never more than 1-20 minutes from the road.

The Grotto Wall with its landmark route Cryogenics Corner is a great place to get acquainted with Pass rock, a sometimes confounding mixture of compact granite and metamorphized gneiss. Because it's so featured, rock at the Pass lends itself to some very overhanging climbing not typically associated with granite, especially on the left side of the Grotto Wall and at Wild Rock.

Though The Pass is considered a summer area because of its elevation (9,000-11,000 feet), the walls mostly face south and can become blisteringly hot under the high-altitude sun. With some planning, you can stay in the shade all day; or if you're lucky, some clouds will roll in and cool things off.

The road is generally closed a few miles above Aspen from late October through mid-May due to heavy snows. If you think the rock might be dry, you can park down low at the gate and bike up the road, making for a true multi-sport experience.

The beauty of the Pass lies in its variety. I would say there is a nearly perfect 50/50 split between trad and sport climbing, and many of the "sport" climbs require that you place gear anyway. To boot, there is some great bouldering up here. John Sherman's "The Ineditable" being perhaps the most famous (and best) problem on the Pass.

While the Grotto Wall offers the highest concentration of routes, most of the crags are more modest in size, typically offering between 5-10 routes each. Thus, you can visit two or three crags in one day and get tons of climbing in.

Addendum: Aspenclimbingguides.com may provide additional local info.

Getting There

To access Independence Pass from the Aspen side: From I-70 take exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) onto Highway 82. Follow CO-82 for 42 miles into the town of Aspen. Stay on CO-82 through Aspen towards Independence Pass. The crags at Independence Pass are arrayed along CO-82 west of Aspen en route to the Pass itself at 12,000 feet. The lowest area is the Difficult Cliff while the highest area is Instant Karma Cliff, located near the summit of the divide.

To access Independence Pass from the Twin Lakes side: From I-70 take exit 195 (Copper Mountain/Leadville) onto CO-91 South. CO-91 becomes US-24 as you go through the town of Leadville. Follow US-24E out of Leadville for about 15 miles and turn right onto CO-82 towards Twin Lakes. Once you pass through Twin Lakes the first major crag you will arrive at is Monitor Rock; about 5 miles from Twin Lakes.

Most of the climbing on Independence Pass is found on the Aspen side. The vast majority of these crags are on the left (South) side of the road as you drive up the pass from Aspen, while Lincoln Creek, a valley branching off to the Southeast from the main highway, offers good climbing as well.

Camping

There are a multitude of camping areas throughout the length of Independence Pass. Most of these are pay camping but there are a few free options as well. Visit the Forest Service webpage for more camping information.

Guidebook

Independence Pass Rock Climbing II by Tom Perkins, 2006 provides good descriptions. $32.99.

Climbing Stores

Ute Mountaineer
210 S. Galena St.
Aspen, CO
970.925.2849
utemountaineer.com

The Trailhead
707 Hwy 24 N
Buena Vista, CO
719.395.8001
thetrailheadco.com

675 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

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Classic Climbing Routes at Independence Pass

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 101
The Nose
Trad 5 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 61
Two Ears
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 135
Twin Cracks
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
 69
Trooper Traverse
Trad 4 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 95
Zanzibar Dihedral
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 62
Fox Trot
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 157
Squid Kid
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 74
Prospector
Sport
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 133
Cryogenics
Trad 2 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 70
Twin Flakes
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 53
Master Blaster
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 47
I'll be Black
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 72
One for the Road
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 57
Baba Fats
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 29
Problem Child
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Nose Monitor Rock > 1. Butt Wall
 101
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 5 pitches
Two Ears Weller Slab
 61
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Twin Cracks Grotto Walls Area > Lower Grotto Wall
 135
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Trooper Traverse Monitor Rock > 3. Trailhead Wall
 69
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13 Trad 4 pitches
Zanzibar Dihedral Weller Slab
 95
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Fox Trot Outrageous Over… > Olympic Wall
 62
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Squid Kid Monitor Rock > 3. Trailhead Wall
 157
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Prospector Monitor Rock > 5. Iron Side Wall
 74
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Cryogenics Grotto Walls Area > Lower Grotto Wall
 133
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
Twin Flakes Monitor Rock > 5. Iron Side Wall
 70
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Master Blaster Monitor Rock > E Face aka Clairabell…
 53
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
I'll be Black Lincoln Creek > Sunset Cliff
 47
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
One for the Road Grotto Walls Area > Lower Grotto Wall
 72
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Baba Fats Ptarmigan Creek… > Greg's Cliff
 57
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Problem Child Wild Rock Area > Wild Rock
 29
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Independence Pass »

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