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Elevation: 6,800 ft 2,073 m
GPS: 38.6281, -105.2239
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 95,290 total · 344/month
Shared By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 28, 2001 · Updates
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

Description Suggest change

The name says it all. Dark rock, in the shade, and a good choice for pulling limestone pockets on a hot day. This excellent crag offers a somewhat unique experience from other crags in the main Shelf area. This is one of the "old school" crags at Shelf, with bolting & grading more in line with the original lines at The Bank, Sand Gulch & The Gallery. If you're used to Cactus Cliff style bolting, be prepared for spaced-out bolts, and be prepared to supplement some routes with gear.

As for the climbing, many of the walls are relatively slabby, with fluted black rock that can be uncommonly sharp in places. There are numerous longer lines, but generally the routes here are shorter than those at Cactus or The Gym. Overall the route quality is excellent, despite the mysterious sparsity of stars in the latest guidebook from Sharp End.

Finally, despite the name, in the height of summer, when shade is at a premium, this crag bakes in the sun 'till mid-day. Thankfully the crags sickle-shape provides shade for the East end of the crag a bit earlier (~10am). There are a number of dihedrals that provide earlier shade for routes such as Punjabi, and the routes around Suspender Man.

Getting There Suggest change

There are two ways to approach the Dark Side, depending on the routes you're headed for. Park at the newly expanded parking lot just past The Bank campground for both approaches.

For routes on the West end of the cliff, hike down from the parking area toward the Bank. Shortly after the road drops down a bit you can pick up a trail to the right. This trail will take you to the 2150 Wall, Cactus, etc, or to The Dark Side by staying hard right ~15 feet after leaving the road. Head East just below the cliff band, where you will encounter various scrambling sections not suitable for young kids.

For routes on the East end of the cliff, hike ~100 yds back down the road, towards Canon City, to a turnoff on the left (N) side of the road that leads to the Group Camp site. Walk towards the Group site, which is surrounded by a ridiculous fence. Once you reach the fence pick up a faint trail that heads East along the fence line. Follow this for ~30 yds to the cliff band atop the bank. Locate a fixed rope or two, and down climb the 3rd class chimney to the base of the cliff. There are ~5 routes located East of this downclimb, but the rest of the routes are to the West. The first route encountered to the West of the downclimb is "Slap Me".

72 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Dark Side

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 297
Lumina
Sport
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 161
Fight or Flight
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 115
27 Tons
Sport
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 172
Teenage Wristband
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 94
Unknown But Worth Doing
Sport
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 162
Porkus Procurement
Sport
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 103
Corner Pockets
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 325
Enchanted Porkfist
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 46
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch a…
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 83
Muted by Reality
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 96
Suspender Man
Sport
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
 38
Blank Frank
Sport
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
 9
Void Lloyd
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 18
The Audition
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b R
 6
Line of Strength
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Lumina
 297
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Fight or Flight
 161
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
27 Tons
 115
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Teenage Wristband
 172
5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Unknown But Worth Doing
 94
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Porkus Procurement
 162
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Corner Pockets
 103
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Enchanted Porkfist
 325
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lu…
 46
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Muted by Reality
 83
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Suspender Man
 96
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Blank Frank
 38
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a Sport
Void Lloyd
 9
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a Sport
The Audition
 18
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Line of Strength
 6
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b R Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Dark Side »

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