Elevation: 5,318 ft
GPS: 40.422, -105.226 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 399,081 total · 1,910/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Feb 16, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac


US 34, the Big Thompson Canyon, is lined with miles of all sorts of beautiful igneous rocks. Granite & gneiss crags draw the eye as you drive west from Loveland to Estes Park. For the rockhounds, there's all sorts of interesting rock strewn about this canyon. Some rock is solid and some is suspect, so you have to use good judgment climbing here. Little published information exists on routes in this area. Let's start an online guide to this area.

Note, the main part of this canyon is along US 34 connecting Loveland and Estes Park. There is a side canyon, where Devil's Gulch aka CR 43 goes with some additional climbing.

Apparently, like many places in our beautiful state, property issues can come into play. Please check things out so as not to create conflicts with owners.

FYI, the placement of this subarea in the hierarchy is based upon locating this area closest to a city/town and how folks may access it.

Getting There

From Estes Park, drive East on US 34. From Loveland, drive West on US Highway 34. Various crags line this beautiful stretch of canyon. Some crags like Combat, Monastery, & Seam Rock lie off US 34 a bit, up Cedar Park Rd. There is even a tiny bit of ice here.

Link to Big Thompson Canyon Ice

Crags (going uphill)

Thanks for your patience.

US 34

The Narrows - multiple crags 0-1.3 mi W of BST = 17.1 mi E of MR
-Steep Triangular Face - private property; do not climb here
-60 Degree Slabs - private property; do not climb here
-White Dike area - private property; do not climb here
-The Borg
-Building Block area
-Ironing Board area
-Beer Slabs
-Sign Crack area
-Bridge Wall North (aka Practice Rock)
-Bridge Wall South
-Between Shark's Fin Wall & Bridge Wall North (Practice Rock)
-Dorsal Crack area
-Shark's Fin area
-Friendship 7 Wall
-Scoop Wall
-Iron John/Little Tree area
-The Ledges
Round Mountain - 3.5 mi W of BST = 13.6 E of MR => 2.25 mi hike
Palisade Mountain - N side - 5.1 mi W of BST = 12 mi E of MR
- Nancy's Rock / Cyclops Slab
- Ivy League
- Becker Wall
- Skull Rock
- Horseshead
- Jewel of the Nile Wall
- Jungle Wall
- Mikey's Island
- Skull Valley
- Subskull
- The Temple of Tao
- Unknown Crag at Palisade Mountain
- Gully Block
- Fairview Wall
- Saddle Tower

The town of Drake ~5.1 mi W of BST = 12 mi E of MR

Linger Longer Rock - N side - 6.1 mi W of BST = 11 mi E of MR
Erid Weatherin - N side - 6.5 mi W of BST = 10.6 mi E of MR
Five Point to a Fist Crag - N side - 6.6 mi W of BST = 10.5 mi E of MR
Salt Block Rock - 8.1 mi W of BST = 9 mi E of MR
Unknown Ridge - 9 mi W of BST = 8.1 mi E of MR
- Continuity Crag - S side
Daryle's Rock - 9.3 mi W of BST = 8.1 mi E of MR
Mary's Bust, Moonlight Rock - N side - 9.4 mi W of BST = 8 mi E of MR
- The Sugar Cube - just below Mary's Bust - N side
- Tick Rock - N side
- Moonlight Rock - N side
Stone Point - N side - 9.6 mi W of BST = 7.5 mi E of MR
- Stone Rock - N side
- Stone Slab - N side
Jug Dome/Anne's Rock - N side - 9.7 mi W of BST = 7.4 mi E of MR

Handicapped Fishing Access - ~10 mi W of BST = 7.1 mi E of MR

The Beach - N side - 11.1 mi W of BST = 5.2 mi E of MR
Caddis Cliff - N side - 11.4 mi W of BST = 4.7 mi E of MR
Glen Comfort Crag - ~13.6 mi W of BST = ~3.5 mi E of MR
Catch and Release Crag aka Montreat Crag, 16 mi W of BST, 1.1 mi E of MR

off Devil's Gulch Road aka CR 43 (joins US 34 near Drake) - Forest Service Rd (0.

Combat Rock - W side - 1 mi from CR 43
Basic Training Wall - W side - 1 mi from CR 43
Elmer Fudd's Wok - W side - 1 mi from CR 43
Bobcat Ridge - E side - 1 mi from CR 43
S and M Wall - W side - 1.25 mi from CR 43
Cedar Park Slab - 2.5 mi from CR 43 -> L -> next major R
The Monastery - 2.5 mi from CR 43 -> L 5.1 mi up FS 128

Glen Haven Picnic Area - S side - ~1 mi E of Glen Haven

Town of Glen Haven

abbreviations: BST = Beige Siphon Tube; MR = Mall Rd in Estes Park.


You may find this webcam helpful to look at conditions: cotrip.org/roadConditions.htm. Click on the camera icon.

494 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Big Thompson Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Rambo Santa
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Pandora's Pebble Pinching Party…
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
No Mystery Here
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The Steeple
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Monastic Groove
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
The Hot Zone
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Trad 2 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
La Maudite
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
The Broadmoor
Sport 6 pitches
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Tabula Rasa
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Mary's Tricks
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
The Brown Palace
Sport 6 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Arch Crack
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Stolen Land
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Rambo Santa Combat Rock
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Pandora's Pebble Pinching P… Monastery > Outer Gates
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
No Mystery Here Monastery > Outer Gates
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
The Steeple Monastery > Outer Gates
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Monastic Groove Monastery > Outer Gates
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
The Hot Zone Monastery > Catacomb
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Sport
Diagonal Combat Rock
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
La Maudite Monastery > Outer Gates
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
The Broadmoor Mary's Bust Area > Mary's Bust - main bu…
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport 6 pitches
Tabula Rasa Monastery > Vestibule
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Mary's Tricks Mary's Bust Area > Mary's Bust - main bu…
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
The Brown Palace Mary's Bust Area > Mary's Bust - main bu…
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport 6 pitches
Arch Crack Monastery > Vestibule
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Stolen Land Monastery > Vestibule
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Psychatomic Monastery > Vestibule
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Big Thompson Canyon »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Jeff Slauter's route "Ninja Ladder" (14a?) is still awaiting a second ascent. It's just past Drake as you head up canyon on a blank wall just above the road on the right. Any takers? Feb 20, 2003
Hi, my name is Al Simons. I have put up over 50 climbs in the Big Thompson Canyon in the last ten years and if any one would like to try some of them that would be great. They range from 5.5 to 5.12. Contact me at rockallen@msn.com

Also, a friend of mine is close to publishing a climbing and hiking guide to the Big Thompson Canyon. If you have put up routes, contact me and I'll get the info to him.

FYI, the rock guide book "Estes Park Valley" has several of my climbs in it, all with wrong names. I.e. the Cyclops Slab is a good example. It was originally called Nancy's Rock by Colorado climber and artist Jim Disney. There are more routes on the rock than the guide states, and the names are all wrong.

Also the 3 routes mentioned in the narrows of the canyon have incorrect names. Two of the routes were put up by me, and the other is an old Mark Wilford problem. There are many routes in the narrows. Hope to hear from you all.

Allen Simons Jun 1, 2003
city, state
alpinglow   city, state
Mr. Allen

I can appreciate your consternation for developing these routes, and then seeing them published as something else. However....your tone and candor do not bely the ever humble dude you are trying to come across as. Have you ever met Mr. Gillett? He, IMHO, is a very reticent and active hardman across the Front Range. I have never known him to self aggrandize or promote that which is not true. I'm sure he nosed around for FA beta about this stuff. Like he said, if it really mattered to you his email and address are much more readily available than yours.

I have climbed a number of these routes and have not been overly impressed by any, save wilford's roadside 11 seam. These are all climbs that the world could do without. You say by your own admission that you are experimenting with bolting/developing, and your intent was to establish a crag closer to home.

Convience is never an excuse to bolt choss. In case your just coming up for air in the climbing community we have a plethora of bolting problems going on, and these routes, while predating the current controversy, just continue to propagate over bolting, and lowering the bar on what is a "good" route.

I do not intend to lambast you for your prior efforts, but would encourage you to weigh the cost of your actions in the future. Jun 2, 2003
Mr. Armstrong.

I bolted Santa's and Iron John as my first and second routes ever back in '93 and '94. Not that you are my judge of what is a good route or not, and your opinion of such doesn't matter to me in the least. I find both of those routes fun and pleasurable, even though today I may choose not to bolt them. If you don't like climbing "choss" then don't do it. Second, I was merely pointing out that the names were incorrect. I read Gillett's response and am happy to have read it, and I understand the difficulty in finding the names of routes. My hope was to start a conversation with him so I could correspond about future ascents. Sorry I don't fit into your pecking order of Front Range hard men. I never claimed to be a great climber. I just have fun till people like you harass me. I'm well versed in the bolt issue. I just choose to make climbs safe if I can. Overbolting may be an issue, but it's a bigger issue when people get hurt. Besides, these are roadside climbs and the tar, steel, asphalt, and concrete the DOT smeared up the road are much worse than the 11 bolts in question.

Have a good one. Jun 2, 2003
Mike Storeim
Evergreen, CO
Mike Storeim   Evergreen, CO
Allen - Before you get your nose too out of joint about this, consider that you just popped up out of nowhere claiming to have "put up over 50 routes in the last 10 years" in an area that has been climbed in for over thirty years that I know of. I have numerous route notes in this area from the early 70s, and I doubt that we were the first to climb many of these routes. I'm not saying that you didn't do any first ascents, just suggesting that some of the routes you think you did first may have been done before. Big Thompson Canyon was never a popular place to climb, even among the group in Fort Collins and many of those routes we did in the 70s might not have had a repeat until the 90s - who knows?

I haven't climbed there since 1976, so I may have to revisit the area and see what has happened there. Thanks for the route descriptions! Jun 4, 2003
I recently climbed a crack line to the left of Lariat (5.11 *** in the Gillett guidebook). The line I climbed was probably 5.9-5.10a with some nice hand jams and a wide finish. There looked to be a finger crack variation further left. Anybody have information on these climbs or other routes in this area that aren't in the Gillet guide? I also did Lariat while I was in there, and it is a great line! Jun 8, 2003
If you park 0.6 miles west of the Beige Siphon Tube (in front of the Borg Boulder), and look up east you will see several long slabs that have routes on them. At the top of these run a series of 60-70 foot climbs that go thru some heinus looking roofs. Does anyone know anything about these climbs? There are some old slings and gear stuck in cracks. They look fun but may be very difficult or old aid routes. Would love to know anything about them!!! Jul 25, 2003
Hey, I was wondering a couple of things. Where can a person get a copy of the Gillett guidebook? My phone number is (970) 216-3883 or you could just post it here because there might be some other people wondering as well.

I also noticed that there is a couple of climbs just past "the Tube" on the left side straight across from the sign that talks about the bighorns. I just wondered if anyone knew who put them up or how hard they are? Jan 8, 2006
Tom Jenson mentions some route Ninja Ladder in an old post on this page. I'm an old friend of Tom and Geoff's; used to boulder with Tom in Fort Collins and hung out with Geoff in the desert. I'd love to check out the Ninja Ladder, but Tom didn't put any info about how to find it. Feb 3, 2006

I don't want to sound like a jerk but what do you need a road map. I would assume that the beta would be good enough. Maybe, next time Thomas should tie a balloon to a tree at all the pulloffs to the climbs so you can find your way. It's not that big of a canyon it can't be that hard. Anyway, I don't want to sound like a prick, but it's 14a! That means it's hard as hell, so unless you like leaving bail biners, it might not be the best option. Once again, I'm trying not to sound mean I'm just being realistic, because fourteens are hard and take serious time to get the strength for, if you don't already have it. Besides, the big Thompson doesn't have the best rock on the planet and if you pulled a hold off it could seriously alter the nature of the climb. Just my 2cents. Mar 26, 2006
Travis R. Thompson
Parachute (Rifle), CO
Travis R. Thompson   Parachute (Rifle), CO
Hey everyone, Travis again. I was still wondering of anyone knows a store that is selling Gillett's book or maybe how to get a hold of him about getting one. If any one even knows the exact name of the book it would be very helpful. I heard (through another post) that there is also another book that covered some of the canyon, specifically the Monastery. However, again there was no exact name or any info. on how to get a copy. Climb Safe, Travis Sep 10, 2006
Here's the beta, Travis.
Rocky Mountain National Park: The Climber's Guide: Estes Park Valley. Published by Earthbound Sports, 2001. Amazon.com should have it, Earthbound has a website, I expect Neptune's (Boulder) has it, I know Backcountry Escape in Longmont has it, and the shops in Estes Park have it. If for whatever reason you can't find it, email me through this site. Sep 11, 2006
Travis R. Thompson
Parachute (Rifle), CO
Travis R. Thompson   Parachute (Rifle), CO
Thanks a lot, that worked great. I got it through Barnes and Noble. Vol. 1 is the one that actually talks about the BTC for anyone who was wondering. Sep 11, 2006
If I'm thinking of the same spires, I don't think they are on private property, but if you approach from the Glen Haven Road, you have to cross private property to get to them. You can approach from US Highway 34 at the Sullivan Gulch Trailhead, 2 miles up and over to get to the rocks. They do look good. Oct 7, 2006
About 1 mile west of Drake on US Highway 34, right at road side is a large pink/redish formation of granite that rises for about 100 feet. It is on the north side of the highway, 3 small, brown cabins sit directly on the other side of the river/road. This formation and others close by are on private land. I recently spoke with the the land owner, a very nice guy and former rock climber named John. He likes watching people fish and kayak down his portion of the river and he likes watching others rock climb....on HIS rock. He seems very willing to share his rocks with climbers including the sets of anchors already there, but, with a few rules. First and foremost, he does not want bolts placed in the rock without asking him first. Recently there was a line put up, 17 bolts total by his count, and he would like the "bolter" to remove them or at least knock on his cabin door and talk to him. I don't think he will shoot you, again, very nice guy. I looked at this route yesterday with the landowner. Literally, there is a bolt every six feet. Having top-roped this formation myself in the past, I felt like the bolts were major overkill, particularly on a formation that has been ascended by earlier generations in bold ascent. Evidence of this are the several pitons one can still find on this formation. Please, if you bolted this line, and read this, speak with the land owner and/or remove your bolts. He did mention that maybe 2/3 less bolts might have been acceptable to him. Allen Aug 24, 2007
kyle kingrey
kyle kingrey   Loveland
Finally, there is a guidebook out for the Narrows. Nice job putting this together, Allen. It will be utilized. Nov 21, 2008
Gracias!! Sold currently at Jax. Nov 26, 2008
Liz S.
Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
Liz S.   Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
Can anyone give me information on the climbs on the rock that overlooks the meadow on the Crosier Mountain trail? I was up there today, and did two fun 5.9ish mixed trad/bolted climbs. Stellar granite slabs leading to roofs, cracks, and the same bolted anchor. The rock is similar to that of Combat. It appears that there are steep crack lines extending a couple of hundred feet above. Have these been lead? mountainproject.com/v/color… Aug 22, 2009
Liz, can you be a little more specific regarding the location. That being said here are a couple of ideas. From the Crosier Mountain trailhead (the first one west of Drake on the Glenhaven Road), there is a slab about a mile up the trail, right next to the trail. Back in '96 or so I put up a couple of lines on lead, very few bolts if I recall. There is a bolted anchor in a dished out face there. I thought it 5.8 or so and called it "Sunday Outing". There is a crack to the left a ways that I have been on as well as the face left of that. There is also a large rock on Crosier 2 miles up the trail out of Glenhaven. There is some potential there but no established lines I know of. Then, if you hike up Sullivan Gulch (north side of US 34 near Waltonia), there are multiple faces, domes and cliffs as well as boulders that have seen TRs, no bolts that I know of.
Allen Aug 23, 2009
Liz S.
Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
Liz S.   Loveland, Co & Cambridge, Ma
Allen, to get to this rock, you park at the Eastern trailhead. (closest to Drake). You walk up the hill, pass the old mine, and (I think) go past the rock that you bolted. You continue on, and the trail turns right and flattens out into a large, beautiful meadow. The Northwest end of the meadow is demarcated by an obvious, large, rock formation. We cut straight across the meadow. It takes an hour of pretty fast hiking to get to the base of the rock. Aug 23, 2009
Liz, good work. I have espied that rock from a distance for some time. You may be the expert on it at this point. If you get a chance, list the routes, and describe them. I have never climbed on that rock but will have to get up there this fall. Allen Aug 25, 2009
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
FWIW, there's a fire that started near Pinewood Reservoir which has grown to 600 acres. Some of the communities as far west as Drake and Storm Mountain have been put on notice for potential need to evacuate. Sep 12, 2010
Three new routes on the east side of Mary's Bust Main Crag:

1. Contrivance: Location - Goes from the top of "Frisky Lady" (a very nice ledge that you can reach from "Out of Time" via a 5.8+ traverse) to the bottom of the "Convolution" groove. 4 new bolts, 5.10-.

2. Expeliarmus:Location - 40 ft right of "Out of Time" and slightly uphill. 14 bolts 5.11c Crux is around bolt 12.

3. Wingardium Leviosa: Location - 50 ft right of "Expeliamus". Starts on a bench with a big ponderosa, look for three bolts left of a groove. Route overall has 10 bolts but needs some gear. #1 Camalot for above the groove, optional #2 Camalot higher up; both need long slings.
2 tiny #2 yellow BD cams and a red #1 tri-cam. The crux, very fun, is in the groove then there is some easy climbing where you would use the cams. Then the business begins the again. The upper crux is at a big knob, very hard if done on the left, but more reasonable (5.10+) on the right. Route overall is 11a/b. Sep 25, 2010
I have two bolted projects open to anyone who wants. They are both on The Palisades. The first one is the right most route on IVY right. It is a 45-50 foot bolted route with very thin feet and fingers. The second is somewhat remote. Park on the south side of US Highway 34 at the eastern most end of the parking lot at Idlewilde Dam. Directly across the highway is a gully. Hike up the gully flanks 200 yards (staying out of the valley floor and on its flanks will help you avoid poision ivy). About 200 yards up sits a large smooth boulder with a huge overhang 15 feet up. The route goes at 10+ except for the overhang which I cannot do without cheating out way to the right (off route in my opinion). The roof is probably 12b/c or harder. It is 45 or 50 feet tall as well. It has rap anchors to work on TR if you want. Have at it, and give me a name and I'll post it. Allen Feb 18, 2011
Blake C
Superior, CO
Blake C   Superior, CO
Just picked up a copy of Allen Simons climbing guide to The Narrows, for less than $10 at Jax in Loveland. This is the only guide to the Big Thompson Canyon that I know of and is well worth it. They still have a few left, and it has color pictures, approach, and parking info. May 9, 2011
kyle kingrey
kyle kingrey   Loveland
I don't believe there will be much climbing for many months in or near the Big Thompson Canyon. Bummer! My thoughts & prayers for all those living in the BTC, Sylvan Dale, Drake, and Glen Haven. These are my favorite places on earth, and I hate to see them so devastated by the flood waters. I'll be looking for any opportunities to help clean up and re-build what was lost. Sep 16, 2013
. . . CO
Citsalp   . . . CO
Why is Big T Canyon filed under "Estes Park Valley"? Apr 13, 2018
Nruea, Bernard Gilett has a guidebook out called "Estes Park Valley". I think he is the one who appropriately lumped the areas immediately outside of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain that way. May 27, 2018
Is Mary's Bust accessible with the construction going on? May 30, 2018