Use onX Backcountry to explore the terrain in 3D, view recent satellite imagery, and more. Now available in onX Backcountry Mobile apps! For more information see this post.
Elevation: 7,364 ft 2,245 m
GPS: 39.41299, -105.26727
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 431,211 total · 1,939/month
Shared By: John McNamee on Feb 17, 2006
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC
Warning Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

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 Suggest change

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.

187 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Cathedral Spires Area Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

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
5.10 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
Turf Spreader
Trad 3 pitches
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a C0
Wunsch's Dihedral
Trad, Aid 4 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Mississippi Half-Step
Trad 2 pitches
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Bishop Crack
5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
Far Reaches
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b V7 7A+
Out of the Blue
Trad, Boulder
5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c
Buffaloes in Space
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Only the Lonely
Sport 5 pitches
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a V9-10 7C+
Purity Ring
Trad, Boulder
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
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
Turf Spreader Cynical Pinnacle
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad 3 pitches
Wunsch's Dihedral Cynical Pinnacle
5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a C0 Trad, Aid 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
Bishop Crack Bishop
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Trad
Far Reaches Sunshine Wall
5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Trad
Out of the Blue Cathedral Spire… > Aircraft Carrier Boulder
5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b V7 7A+ Trad, Boulder
Buffaloes in Space Cynical Pinnacle
5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c Trad
Only the Lonely Cynical Pinnacle
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a Sport 5 pitches
Purity Ring Cathedral Spire… > S Park
5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a V9-10 7C+ Trad, Boulder
More Classic Climbs in Cathedral Spires Area »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season