GPS: 39.958, -105.287 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Stefan Griebel on Apr 14, 2004 with improvements by niche pome
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: Raptor Closure Details


The Sphinx is a "fierce little crag" (Rossiter, 1999) south and across Shanahan canyon from the Shanahan Crags. When viewed from the north, you will immediately notice that the East face of The Sphinx is unlike most Flatiron East faces - it is steep! You can see The Sphinx well from several spots along the Mesa trail between the North and South Shanahan trails. Look for a fairly small, blocky Flatiron with a few trees on a ledge system about halfway up. This ledge system separates the Upper and Lower East Face routes, and you can walk off from here. There is one large tree on The Sphinx below and left of the aforementioned ledge system. This tree is directly above the chimney pitch of the Lower East Face (in fact, it is the anchor!), which can also be seen from the Mesa Trail.

The Riddle of The Sphinx is that it is one of the most seldom climbed Flatirons. The lower section isn't exactly chossy, but it is of lower quality than the classic upper east face. Still, this unique crag merits a visit.

Getting There

Approach from the Cragmoor Trailhead via the South Shanahan Trail. Turn left (south) onto the Mesa trail, and continue for a hundred yards or so until you see a good spot to begin bushwacking up directly toward The Sphinx. The bushwacking is not too bad, and you should arrive at the base of the rock and the start of the lower east face shortly. Allow 45 minutes or so for the approach.

To descend from The Sphinx, downclimb the upper east face (class 3), and walk off the tree-covered ledge system to the north. Rock hop down into Shanahan canyon, and pick up the very faint Shanahan Canyon trail back to the Mesa Trail. Either go south and the Mesa trail and then left onto the South Shanahan Trail, or turn north onto the Mesa trail and make a scenic loop by descending the North Shanahan Trail back to the Cragmoor Trailhead.

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Long Ranger
Boulder, CO
Long Ranger   Boulder, CO
Maybe my partner can fill in more information, but we found NO rap station, tree, or any other sign of a place to rap off of from the summit of this formation, and putting together a rap line was tedious and dangerous (tiny trees, loose blocks that let loose). I think the most realistic way to descend from the summit of the formation is to downclimb the upper east face route. We were somewhat of the idea that you cannot get to the easy upper east face route, without first climbing the lower, 5.7 X east face route. Reconning the N side of this formation didn't show any obvious ways to get on (although I've now seen topos that show the route - aka: Roach's guide).

The Haas book says to go to the rap off anchors above Half Man, Half Beast, but the Haas book has this route (#785) basically on the western most part of the formation on his overview map. This would either be on the very summit of the formation, or a little lower down, on lower blocks a bit broken off from the main piece. We looked in both areas with no luck. This could def. be the location of that climb, but there's no easy downclimb to get to it, from the summit. Again, we didn't notice any anchors in the general area.

We climbed BFE Dihedral, which wasn't a great climb, but this information would also be helpful for Lower East Face and A Sphixter Say's What? This is a pretty lonely formation, for sure. Jul 1, 2016