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Areas in Cathedral Spires Area

Angle Iron Slabs 4 / 2 / 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Bishop, The 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 7
Block Tower 8 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 8
Chicken Boulder 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Cynical Pinnacle 15 / 2 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 18
Dome, The 18 / 7 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 19
Hall of Mirrors 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Little Dome, The 8 / 3 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 9
Miscellaneous Crags 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Poe Buttress 8 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 8
Poop Point 3 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Snake Buttress 14 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 15
Sunshine Wall 29 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 31
Elevation: 7,370 ft
GPS: 39.413, -105.267 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 169,483 total · 1,099/month
Shared By: John McNamee on Feb 17, 2006
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
Getting weather forecast...
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure Details


The Cathedral Spires are a majestic collection of several outstanding rock features, including Cynical Pinnacle, Sunshine Wall, Poe Buttress, The Bishop and The Dome.

There is something for everyone in the Cathedral Spires -- Cragging, multipitch, slabs, cracks, faces, chimney's and offwidths. If you like traditional climbing, then you will enjoy climbing here. There are too many 4 star routes to list, but Center Route (9+) and Wunsch's Dihedral (11) are two of the best crack climbs in the state. The approach for all of the climbs is a bit grueling, but well worth it. Expect about an hour long slog from the parking lot to reach the base.

History: The Spires have a very rich climbing history. The first climb in the Spires was the Ellingwood Chimney, which was first climbed in 1924! Albert Ellingwood drug a rope up the chimney (soloing of course), belayed a couple of friends to the top of the formation, lowered them, then down climbed the route. The majority of the development in the Spires took place between the late seventies and late eighties. Climbers established routes from the ground up, using bolts only when necessary. In the early days, climbers would drill bolts by hand while smearing desperately on sometimes-tiny stances. This adventurous style of route developing is still alive and well, though most climbers now use hooks and power drills to push the limits of what is possible in ground up development.

One or Two Ropes: With the exception of routes on the Dome where two ropes are required, most routes only require a single 60m or 70m rope to descend. Make sure you know your descent and plan accordingly.

Rules and Regulations: All of the formations lay on Jefferson County Open Space land and are subject to JCOS rules and regulations. Most notably, new routes requiring fixed hardware must be approved by the Fixed Hardware Review Committee. For more information, please visit

The Cathedral Spires are typically closed from March 1 to July 31 for raptor nesting. Please read Seasonal Raptor Closures above for more details.

Getting There

Take Hampden Road (US 285), west of Denver past Conifer to Pine Junction, and turn left (South) at the traffic lights by a gas station. This is 126 Rd, and it leads to all the areas.

To get to Cathedral Spires, turn left off of 126 Rd at 96 Rd. There is an old school convenience store, keep driving until you see the Cynical Pinnacle which is probably the best landmark. You can't miss it. It can be seen from the interection at 96 Rd, and 126 Rd, and is a big spire that looks like a phallacy.

You can also turn South off US 285 on Foxton Rd, just W of Conifer/before & E of Pine Junction. Follow it until the T at Platte River Rd. Head W (right) until you are below the spires.

Parking: There are two parking spots for the Cathedral Spires that access the three major trails. The bigger (western) parking lot has a toilet and large trail sign with regulations. Use this parking for The Bishop, The Dome, Sunshine Wall and the Poe Buttress (though the Poe can be reached from either lot).

The other parking is a series of pullouts directly below the Cynical Pinnacle (east of large lot). Use this approach for the Cynical Pinnacle, Block Tower and Poe Buttress. Both of the parking options are within a couple 100 yards of each other so don't fret if one is full.

Trails lead directly out of both of the lots.

130 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Cathedral Spires Area

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Bishop Jaggers
Trad 4 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Center Route
Trad 3 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Turkey Foot Crack
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Deception Past
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Topographical Oceans
Trad 4 pitches
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c R
Standard Route
Trad 5 pitches
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Astro Turkey
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Turf Spreader
Trad 3 pitches
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Wunsch's Dihedral
Trad 4 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Mississippi Half-Step
Trad 2 pitches
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Bad Ju-Ju Roof
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Bishop Crack
Trad 2 pitches
5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Far Reaches
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Full Facial (aka Only the Lonely)
Sport 5 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Bishop Jaggers Dome
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 4 pitches
Center Route Cynical Pinnacle
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 3 pitches
Turkey Foot Crack Sunshine Wall
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Deception Past Sunshine Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Topographical Oceans Dome
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 4 pitches
Standard Route Sunshine Wall
5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c R Trad 5 pitches
Astro Turkey Sunshine Wall
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad
Turf Spreader Cynical Pinnacle
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad 3 pitches
Wunsch's Dihedral Cynical Pinnacle
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Trad 4 pitches
Craftwork Bishop
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad
Mississippi Half-Step Poe Buttress
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Trad 2 pitches
Bad Ju-Ju Roof Miscellaneous Crags
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad
Bishop Crack Bishop
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Trad 2 pitches
Far Reaches Sunshine Wall
5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Trad
Full Facial (aka Only the L… Cynical Pinnacle
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a Sport 5 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Cathedral Spires Area »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Joe Keyser
Scottsdale, AZ
Joe Keyser   Scottsdale, AZ
Please note that the Cathedral Spires close for Perigrine Falcons between March, and July.... Mar 12, 2002
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
Boy was that a nasty comment, erased 2/16/2016! The new JCOS management is much better for climbers.
Dec 30, 2007
Can Cynical Pinnacle be accessed during winter or is there too much snow? Dec 19, 2008
Mike Morin
Glen, NH
Mike Morin   Glen, NH
With its south-facing aspect the approach to Cynical Pinnacle can generally be done year round with little snow. Dec 19, 2008
Minus the 6 months that it is closed for raptor nesting.... Dec 19, 2008
Mike Morin
Glen, NH
Mike Morin   Glen, NH
Let's not get carried away. It's actually 5 months. Dec 20, 2008
Sorry, I can never remember if it closes at the end of January or the end of February. In any case, it's kind of a bummer. Dec 22, 2008
Thanks guys. Hopefully we'll get a nice day in early January to go do the center route. Otherwise, we'll have to hit the slopes. Dec 22, 2008
Chris Perkins
Buena Vista, Colorado
Chris Perkins   Buena Vista, Colorado
To Ken Trout:

Please do not climb at ANY area that the Access Fund has helped maintain access to or purchased to preserve climbing. Please let me know what area you have preserved and I will not climb there. I could go on about how dumb your statement is but will refrain. Nov 3, 2009
Kevin Stricker
Evergreen, CO
Kevin Stricker   Evergreen, CO
Good job defending your friends at the Access Fund. If you had read Ken's post more closely you would realize his comments were directed at Jeffco Open Space, not the Access Fund.

Could you enlighten us with information on any traditional crags on the Front Range (or Colorado even) that the Access Fund has helped preserve access to? I too am disillusioned by their lack of local involvement. Can you imagine the entire Eldorado Canyon being closed for 5 months for the possibility of a single nesting raptor?

I hope you realize that Ken is one of the leading figures in establishing routes on the Colorado Front Range. He was running it out above 1/4" button heads while you where still in grade school. I am guessing you have probably enjoyed several of his routes if you have spent any time climbing in the Platte, Clear Creek, or on Mt. Evans. Nov 4, 2009
Ditto what Kevin said. In the Front Range area, it seems like the AF only chases after the popular grid bolted sport areas. I don't feel I really get much out of it. Nov 5, 2009
As someone who was involved in access issues for the Access Fund in the past I'd like to add some information that may not be widely known. Back in the mid-'90s JeffCo acquired the spires and the Dome from BLM, basically because BLM didn't want to deal with the isolated parcels and Jeffco was very zealous in getting their hands on anything that was or could be used for peregrine nesting. How that relates to JeffCo Open Space's basic mission is a bit unclear.

JeffCo originally intended to close the area completely. Their premise was that there wasn't legal access to the isolated parcels of land, ostensibly even for them, so they sure couldn't let the public (climbers) in there. According to Jeffco you had to either cross Denver Water Board or private land and that was not allowed. I was able to work with DWB and confirm that they allow the public to cross their lands on foot and defeated that attempt by JeffCo to make Cathedral Spires another private biology park for JeffCo and their friends from Colorado State University.

The raptor closure is clearly excessive, the Dome has to be at least a mile from the nest across the valley and certainly no closer than the road which remains open. The Access Fund has worked to address excessive raptor closures through the best avenue, challenging the baseless science, primarily through the work of Rob Ramey. Some land managers are more reasonable than others, so that's why efforts in this area have lagged and other areas have seen substantial progress.

Despite your preferred style of climbing it is important to realize that baseless or excessive closures of climbing areas of one type (sport or trad) inevitably affect the other. The Access Fund does a great job of working to open climbing areas of all types and is more successful in some cases than others. While it may be frustrating that certain areas aren't as open as they should be, recognize that it may not be for lack of effort. I'm sure that the Access Fund could use any help that anyone was willing to put forth. Nov 5, 2009
Kevin Stricker
Evergreen, CO
Kevin Stricker   Evergreen, CO
Hey Todd,
Thanks for the history lesson, it is good to hear the AC is trying to help out. I guess I just never hear of any of their attempts in the Platte. I appreciate that they do help in more popular areas, but it would seem that an area like the Spires with some very historical routes (Bishops Crack, Ellingwood Chimney, and Wunsch's Dihedral) that we would hear more about their efforts. Can you give us any details of their involvement in attempting to get access back into Sphinx or Squat Rocks? Any attempts to open climbing in Denver Mountain Park land, or Ralston Buttes? Road or trail improvements at Turkey Rocks? Trail improvements in ANY S. Platte crag? Are these areas just too low of a priority to warrant any attention?

I am sure you are aware that JeffCo has been promising trail improvements on the approaches to the Cynical Pinnacle and Sunshine Wall for the last several years. I am guessing they just do not have the funding to make this happen. Maybe I would feel differently if I saw that the Access Fund had at least made an attempt to assist JeffCo in this project vs making another trail improvement at Shelf Road or N. Table. As it is currently, it seems to me that the Access Fund is more of a organization catering to the masses VS attempting to maintain access to historically significant climbing areas. I hope that you can help change that impression.


Kevin Stricker Nov 5, 2009

Although I am no longer an official regional coordinator for the Access Fund, I think I can certainly say that the Access Fund placed a high priority on South Platte issues in the past and probably still does. I'll do some checking and see what is currently going on inside the Access Fund on South Platte activities.

I was personally involved in a number of projects too numerous to list and many I've probably forgotten related to various South Platte areas. Some of the issues were really tough, like unfriendly land owners, etc. Certainly Cyn Pin and other areas aren't just at the top of the priority list due to their historical significance, but because of the sheer quality of the climbing to be had there. The thing that makes the Platte in general a challenge is the widely dispersed nature of many of the climbing areas and the distance to some of them from the road. It is a bit easier to get a volunteer trail crew together for 1/4 mile of Shelf trail than it would be for several miles of trail in the Platte, especially if there were land ownership and environmental regulatory hurdles. I'll do some checking to see what's going on these days and let you know. Nov 5, 2009
Mike Morin
Glen, NH
Mike Morin   Glen, NH
I wanted to take a moment to chime in here and express some optimism for the future in regards to the Spires. Although slow I think that we will start to see positive change at the Spires in the coming years. In regards to the approaches to the Sunshine Wall and Cynical Pinnacle I know that the Open Space Trails Crew has been out looking at them in the past month and have been documenting the locations and I'm sure the condition of the trails. The soils at the Spires pose a daunting challenge for them, but they are a creative bunch. I'm not even going to speculate on the closure issue not knowing for sure what that might look like in the future.

I think the future is bright for climbers that love this crag. For my part I pass along the concerns I hear in the field to the folks in Golden whenever I have the opportunity. If you ever see me at the Spires or any crag for that matter please feel free to bend my ear, I'd love the opportunity to chat.

Mike Morin Nov 5, 2009
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Slim said: "in the Front Range area, it seems like the AF only chases after the popular grid bolted sport areas. I don't feel I really get much out of it."

That's just plain uninformed. Join and read the newsletter.
The AF had executive level and legal attention directed into the S. Platte just this past spring when there was a buzz about some property in the Splatte opening up around Squat Rock and Sphynx, which are not 'grid bolted sport areas.' As well, if you look at their last big purchase in CO with a regional, it was Mother's Buttress, right?

I'm just sayin'.

Maybe the popular areas seem to get the most attention and support from the public, and create the most Buzz, but the fact is that the AF was involved from everything from wilderness anchors policy to roadless lands travel, to forming the coallition in the Indian Creek, and printing up those nice FOIC brochures with the info and maps.

Thanks for your reconsideration.
And no, I am NOT on the A.F. board- I'm just a dues paying member who sees the value. Nov 5, 2009
Any chance we're gonna get to beer 30 on this?

No offense, but the AF & DCC aren't proving to be much use for this area. Considering, what, about 6-7 years fighting the somewhat exclusive privatization of public lands through the DMP? Nobody has really gotten anywhere and I bet nothing really will at this point; maybe until someone files a good lawsuit. None of us are ever going to list out inventory for these jokers. I've always felt this issue might be a good precedent setter.

But, I don't feel the Spires are going to go in that direction. Really not much relayed over the past few years in developing the overall guideline plan has been shown to drastically vary in how this area is going to be developed as a park. Nor really any of the other park areas that are listed for that matter; what the guidelines tell you is pretty much what each area is going to offer. Ken has a good point and a lot of people feel the same way; the whole: from the road to the North Pole .. has it ever made any sense? Nov 6, 2009
Tony, you bring up very good, valid points concerning IC and Unaweep. My point was more or less limited to the Front Range, although I admit that I was being pretty pessimistic. Nov 6, 2009
Jason Haas
G1 Climbing + Fitness
Jason Haas   G1 Climbing + Fitness
The new comprehensive, color guidebook to the South Platte is available in all the local shops and online at Fixed Pin's website (free shipping). Happy climbing! May 22, 2012
Great day up on Wunsch's on Thursday, 8/16 although my partner was unable to clean a yellow TCU 1/2 way up the 3rd pitch and somehow a purple BD c3 worked its way off my harness and fell (presumably) onto the 1st pitch ledges.... If anybody finds one/both of these, I would be EXTREMELY grateful. Thanks! Aug 18, 2012
Idaho Springs
MountainManny   Idaho Springs
Does the seasonal closure include the roadside routes (i.e. The Angle Iron Slab & Friends)...? Mar 5, 2013
Jason Haas
G1 Climbing + Fitness
Jason Haas   G1 Climbing + Fitness
MountainManny, the roadside climbing including Angle Iron Slabs are open during the closure Mar 7, 2013

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