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Routes in Sphinx Rock

Black Crack T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Cheops S 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Crunch, The T,TR V0- 4-
Exit Stage Right T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Joint Venture T,TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R
Lickety Split S 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Locksmith aka Dihedral Route T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Return to Forever T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Slug AKA Summit Route 1960, The T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
So Honed Yet So Stoned S 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Sphinx Crack T 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Talus Food Crack T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Thinner T A3
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Access Issue: Closed: Private Property - Sphinx Rock is on private property Details


Sphinx Rock sits (actually, looms) above the town of Pine. Personally, I don't really see the Sphinx, but the formation is certainly lumpy and weird looking, and perhaps a more imaginative eye than mine can make it out. In any case, Sphinx rock has, for all practical purposes, one good route and a lot of semi-chossy junk. That route, of course, is the famous Sphinx Crack, which is thin, insecure, overhanging, and surprisingly slippery when it's filled with bird/bat guano. Which it often is. Most of the stuff at Sphinx is traditional, with the occasional bolted slab thrown in. Rock is somewhat lower quality than at many other S. Platte areas, but can be very good in spots. You can walk off pretty much everything on the formation.

Getting There

From the Denver metro area, take US 285 out of town to Pine Junction, hang a left at the light and drive to Pine. Turn north at the library (it's obvious) and drive up the gravel road for maybe a quarter of a mile. You'll see Sphinx Rock on your right. Park in a pullout and hike over to the rocks. It has a very casual approach. The driving time from Golden/Littleton is about 45 minutes, making this one of the closest S. Platte crags.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Sphinx Rock

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Joe Keyser
Scottsdale, AZ
Joe Keyser   Scottsdale, AZ
An alternate approach is to hang a left (from US 285) onto Shaffer's Crossing before Pine Junction. You can follow this past the Bucksnort Saloon, Bucksnort Slab, Squat Rock, and then Sphinx will be obvious on the left side of the road. Mar 26, 2002
Ross Keller
Parker, CO
Ross Keller   Parker, CO
There are some shiny new No Trespassing signs on the approach to Sphinx.

Does anyone know the private/public land boundaries and of any landowner issues. The signs cover the normal approach path, but there is a reasonable approach further to the right that is not signed. An approach that avoids private property would be a real plus if the boundaries can be identified.

It'd be a real shame to have an access issue here! Jul 14, 2003
I am disappointed that someone pulled the anchors on Lickety Split the 5.7 R on Sphinx Rock. However they were rusted out .25 inch bolts and are due for replacement. If they aren't replaced, I will do it. Jul 29, 2003
I have to correct myself, as far as I know only the unneeded bolts on the second pitch were choped of lickity split. They shouldnt be replaced and whoever put them there was off track. The button heads on the first pitch should be replaced though. Aug 7, 2003
Ross Keller
Parker, CO
Ross Keller   Parker, CO
No trespassing signs have now been posted along the road. I suspect that these are primarily aimed at the fishers, picknickers, partiers that frequent the creek-bottom. This may also be related to the ongoing attemp to sell the adjacent property. In any case, the crrek-bottom is more that likely all private land and it's beginning to look like access may get complicated. Aug 25, 2003
If you don't see the Sphinx in "Sphinx " Rock, it's because the rock Sphinx Crack is on is actually called Elephant Rock. Just ask any local. If you want to see the Sphinx, look up across the valley from the various belays on the Bucksnort Slabs. For the best profile of the Sphinx, look down valley on the skyline from Sphinx Park (so named for the rock) where the Bucksnort Saloon is. It's hard to miss. As far as the saloon goes, in my opinion, you can get good beer, better food, and without the crowd, elsewhere. Oct 25, 2003
No, access is not fine. I was climbing here 2 weeks ago and was approached by a man in fatigues with a rifle who informed me I was trespassing, climbing was not allowed, and I was to leave immediately. I know little about ownership of this area, only that is entirely on private property and that the landowners have tolerated climbers for the last 15 years. This area is held in high regard by many of the locals and would be a big loss for all climbers if it was closed. I am looking in to this matter and will post my findings. Nov 22, 2003
FWIW, there are State Trust Lands in almost every county in Colorado, except maybe Denver County. I don't have my Delorme Map with me at work, but I'm pretty sure that's the case. There are 3 million acres of State Trust Lands in Colorado, but ONLY 480,000 of those acres are open for public use and NONE of them are in Jefferson, Douglas, Elbert, Arapahoe, Adams, Denver, Boomfield or Boulder Counties. The brochure pdf listed above only lists the OPEN lands.

On a related note, climbing is NOT a recognized recreational activity on ANY of these lands. These lands are managed to provide opportunities for recreation relating to wildlife (hunting, fishing & wildlife viewing), so if you have some boulders or crags that you frequent on State Trust Lands, keep it on the down low and don't visit them during hunting season to avoid confrontations like the one mentioned above by Pat Peddy.

As a final note, please do some research before you put crappy beta/info on this site. It just confuses everyone. Nov 10, 2004
Well landowners are getting pissed off!I. E. All the no tresspassing signs. Access is a big issue. Be respectful of landowner`s rights. When [facing] the rock from road the right [gully] is the [approach]. You should not be tresspassing. Dec 19, 2004
I want to ask this so called land owner? just why are you so pissed off to begin with? I have climbed here for the past 10 years with no problems, then around Oct. 2005 me & my wife seen about 10 posted signs saying Private Property & No Trespassing for about 500 years in both directions of this beautiful rock. It seems to me that since you yourself have destroyed pullouts along the road with Trash (old iron boiler, dead trees & stumps, huge rocks..etc)...and this same homeowner did cut off most of the bolted anchors on this rock...
before this clown came along, the locals enjoyed having us climbers go into their shops and must the locals feel now?, because NO one goes there now!...I think we all need to call & write to The Access Fund up in Boulder to contact this so called land owner. That rock is on State Trust Land..not the landowner on South Elk Creek Road !! Dec 2, 2007
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
It's true that the residents of Pine are upset with this guy. In fact I'd say real angry. I spend a chunk of the every summer at our cabin just up the road from Sphinx Rock and have heard all kinds of rants about his attitude. Not so much about the effect on the local economy but about the loss of access to Elk Creek. For years local kids have had access to the swimming hole and I might add have cleaned it up (as did climbers) when the area was littered by non local partiers.

Anyhow it's a loss for everyone. The fact that he does not own the land on the east side of the creek yet seems to have it in his head he does blows my mind. As for the creek itself, he does not have the water rights, and he won't argue that as he has been coming to community meetings regarding the new development at Will o' the wisp and the attempt of the developer to gain all the water rights to Elk Creek. For more info on that

There has been talk recently of access from the land behind Zokas. He'd have a hard time doing anything about that. Dec 12, 2007
Couldn't agree more, Allen.

I think what makes this different than the previous owner is that the Sheriff has given him basically a green light to enforce egress (with force) on surrounding vacant property he doesn't own due to faxed agreements that attempt to form some sort of imprompt HOA between a few property owners of interest.

I'm surprised you & I haven't shared a beer over there after some good climbs; I seem to keep missing everyone. Dec 12, 2007
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine

If you ever see a big red Land Cruiser parked at the cabin a mile and a half south of 280 on S. Elk Creek road (it's the one on the east side with the big boulders surrounding it at Glen Elk), stop on in and say hi! We can discuss a course of action regarding this issue. Ultimately the climbing is shit at Sphinx Rock, but it does have a very large significance in North American free climbing history. And the swimming hole is great! Anyhow I'm sure something will be worked out. We always have lots of beer on hand at the house.

Allen Dec 12, 2007
I have sent many letter to the Access Fund in Boulder to contact Keith Rye, 16330 South Elk Creek Road about this access issues to The Sphinx Rock. They have told me he will NOT even answer their letters! They wanted me to ask Rye why he prohibits climbing on his land: is he concerned with liability, trash, parking, or privacy? They also wanted to find out if Rye is interested in selling the parcel, that he bought back in July of 2006?
All I know is this so called land-owner doesn't own the car pull offs on Elk Creek Road, and also all the open land in back of The Sphinx Rock, because it goes back for miles.
I own a cabin in the area and want to start a local climbing club to gain back to access we once had in this area & others. If interested send me a e/mail at
I have been climbing down in this area for over 12 years now and to see this guy (chop bolts off the rock, block-off car pull offs with trash..(ie: dead trees, old iron boiler, huge boulders & signs) a SIN...if this area is closed for climbers it is indeed regrettable, and if made permanent, will be a great loss to the climbing community.

contact The Access Fund PO Box 17010 Boulder, CO. 80308 pho: 303-545-6772
Attn: Diana Vernazza (Access Director)

I have been down there to clean up trash, help local kids in a roll over accident in May, 07 where 2 kids died!! and for this I get a Thank You of locals with a bad tone & bad attitude!! Those people need a WAKE UP call from all of us and speak the message that this land is for all to use not just someone who just moved here from TEXAS !!

peace Jan 4, 2009
I just checked out Sphinx Rock yesterday June 28, 2009, and yes it is very closed to climbing. The no trespassing signs even specify climbing in the activities not permitted for that area. I had no idea that this issue was happening. I love the South Platte area and was using an old book (written in '88) to navigate for new spots and nothing was discussed about the closure of this mecca of climbing spots (at least according to the '88 book, there were a lot of options here). Let me know if there is anything I can do to help because I will. Jun 29, 2009
In light of "usual depiction", this is Elephant Rock or Cock Rock in Pine (now called "Pine Grove"); the Sphinx is just one part of it; the block on the upper right if looking at it from Pine/Roadway up coming from Pine.

Maybe due to Boulder's already existence of an Elephant Rock as for some reason of clarity for Boulder-ites to tour'on down here, this formation got tagged with a route name.

(No, "Sphinx Park" refers to the natural occurrence of everything in the area, also including through what is now Buffalo Creek, as depicting the wonders of the world, the Pyramids of Egypt; a designation given well before the Sphinx Crack was climbed -- or even conceived for that matter)

It's like the Brits tellin' the Colonies how to buy tea; that was a good idea, also.... Nov 20, 2009
There are quite a lot of old projects and random bolts at Sphinx. One linkup that isn't mentioned in the guide is 'Rambo-Trooper' which starts up Rambo then traverses into the jump of Storm Trooper linkup is 27 or 28 from memory. Great Sphinx Of Giza Other than that there are a couple of old projects and a new one I think? left of Pharoahs. Hope that helps. As to the grade of those climbs, I though Phoenix was 24 and WLAE probably 21. Cheers. Dec 16, 2010
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Some good Aussie humor is always welcome! Dec 16, 2010
JJ Calhoun
Colorado Springs, CO
JJ Calhoun   Colorado Springs, CO
Any updates for Sphinx Rock access? Nov 13, 2012
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
Still off limits? Jun 23, 2014
UPDATE: this area is still very much off-limits. DO NOT CLIMB HERE! The guy who owns the property is extremely unfriendly. I parked on the road and walked up to his house to ask if we could climb the rock, he saw me and came down his driveway screaming about how stupid I am. He also sent his ferocious attack dog after me (a super friendly malamute that followed me back to my car and seemed uninterested in obeying his owner's commands). Very sad indeed. Also Bucksnort Saloon is closed, and recreation in the area seems to be declining. I just moved to Buffalo Creek for the year, so if anybody up here wants to wrestle a pebble, I'd love to come along! Jun 2, 2016

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