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Areas in The Crags

Castaway Crag 3 / 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5
Crosswinds 1 / 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Enos Mills 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Grey Slab 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Half & Half Crag 1 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Highlander Crag 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Lower Great Face 9 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 11
Pinpoint 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Rib Rock 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Sharksfin 7 / 5 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 10
Slot Rock 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Treasure Island 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Upper Great Face, The 5 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Wizard's Gate 6 / 15 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 21
Woodstone 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1

Description

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.

Per Dana Prosser: the best way to approach the north areas is to turn into parking across from Lily Lake. Instead of going in to lot, continue on the road (heading south), and park where the dirt road ends. Start hiking on signed Twin Sister's trail, and look for faint trail at the first switchback that takes off from the main trail. This winds up through the forest to talus below Lower Great Face.

75 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Crags

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Crystal Staircase
Sport
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Big Steep
Trad 3 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Merlin's Magic Corner
Trad
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R
The Golden Monkey
Trad, Sport 2 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Wizard's Path
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
G3
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Riding with the Ravens
Sport
5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a
Take Me to Your Leader
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
The Gatekeeper
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Afterlife
Sport
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
The Bends (a.k.a. Decompression Sickn…
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
Magic Dagger
Sport
5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c
Cloak and Dagger
Sport
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a
Magic Carpet Ride
Sport
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a
Black Magic
Sport
Crystal Staircase Wizard's Gate 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
The Big Steep Upper Great Face 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 3 pitches
Merlin's Magic Corner Wizard's Gate 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
The Golden Monkey Upper Great Face 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R Trad, Sport 2 pitches
Wizard's Path Wizard's Gate 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
G3 Wizard's Gate 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Riding with the Ravens Wizard's Gate 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Take Me to Your Leader Wizard's Gate 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a Sport
The Gatekeeper Wizard's Gate 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Afterlife Wizard's Gate 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
The Bends (a.k.a. Decompres… Crosswinds 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
Magic Dagger Wizard's Gate 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Cloak and Dagger Wizard's Gate 5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c Sport
Magic Carpet Ride Wizard's Gate 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a Sport
Black Magic Wizard's Gate 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Crags »

Weather Averages

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J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Dana Prosser
Boulder
Dana Prosser   Boulder
The best way to approach the north areas is to turn into parking across from Lily Lake. Instead of going in to lot, continue on the road (heading south), and park where the dirt road ends. Start hiking on signed Twin Sister's trail, and look for faint trail at the first switchback that takes off from the main trail. This winds up through the forest to talus below Lower Great Face. Jul 25, 2016
John Maurer
Denver, CO
John Maurer   Denver, CO
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. Jun 19, 2008
Mike Pharris
Longmont, CO
Mike Pharris   Longmont, CO
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. Jun 9, 2008
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. Aug 6, 2007
Blitzo  
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! Sep 12, 2006
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. Aug 11, 2005
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. Jan 24, 2003
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! Jul 8, 2002

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