Elevation: 7,591 ft
GPS: 40.272, -105.428 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 38,048 total · 175/month
Shared By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 24, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

Description

Big Elk Meadows has been well covered at a competitor's web page (frontrangebouldering.com), but its inclusion here may offer some opportunity for commentary and new problem updates. Presently BEM is exclusively a bouldering area, although it is only a matter of time before the larger crags see route development (trad and sport). On my first visit, I hit the 30 Minute Boulder (cool little crag V0 to V5), The Traverse Wall (steep V0 to V4), The Sanctuary (V0 to V8), and checked out many of the other boulders. I saw two main divisions: The Dragon's Den lies five minutes uphill from the creek (turn at a big cairn) and hosts numerous terrific boulders (V0 to V8) while many of the named boulders, including The Sanctuary, lie along the creek. The setting is as good as it can possibly be, nestled along a pretty little creek bed surrounded by tons of rock and lofty mountain slopes. I encountered only one climber/boulderer in an entire Sunday at BEM. The boulders are granitic, well featured, are very solid, but can be ominously large, although rarely as overhanging as in other areas. For many boulders the landings are dead flat, but this is not always true. The area probably has 25 well developed boulders with considerably more potential lurking behind every tree. Most of the boulders lay smack-dab in the path of the Big Elk Fire, and it is still very eerie around the Dragon's Den where the fire burned over the rocks and even burned the chalk into the rock. Dead, charred remains of the forest are all around, although I did not find this a distraction so much as a reminder of just how delicate the balance can be between life and death. Despite the fire, the bouldering here can be serene and challenging and entirely devoid of the Flagstaff scene. Bring a pad or two.

Getting There

Big Elk Meadows lies just off Colo 36 between Lyons and Estes Park, approximately one mile North of the edge of Pinewood Springs. The old forest access road has been paved for close to four miles, and the turn off Colo 36 now sports a sign for Big Elk Meadows. Drive 2.3 miles from the intersection with Colo 36 and park on the right in the larger, dirt pullout (of 3). Some boulders lie just across the road from the parking; however, most will be encountered along the trail and off the trail that descends to the creek from the parking. The hiking to the Sanctuary, presently the most distant bouldering site, may take as much as 20 to 30 minutes, less if you are cruising and not gawking.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Big Elk Meadows - Boulders

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