Elevation: 7,072 ft
GPS: 37.261, -107.884 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 1,561 total · 29/month
Shared By: Matthias Holladay on Jun 16, 2014
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac
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Smelter Cliffs are a series of scruffy-looking cliffs above the rapids at Santa Rita and the Dog Park. These are awaiting additional FAs for those willing to do a bit of hiking/cleaning.

Getting There

Hike the trail from Smelter Trailhead, at a low point in ridge, look for cairn on stump & faint trail easterly. Contour and then drop down to walk south with an exposed 4th class section on ledges to get to base of the cliff band.

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Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands
I know you'll agree, this place looks like it has amazing for potential new routes, but it doesn't!

Don't even consider coming up here, leading up into the relatively unknown, solving your mysterious puzzle, wire brushing powder, prying and sending death-blocks to their destiny. Don't even be considering working your line, deciding on drilling-turning, blowing, bolting, tightening, cleverly naming your mischief - all for a crummy, dirty, dangerous route, and/or engaging in other such vertical frivolity, like trundling.

This place has an exposed and grueling approach, teetering loose rocks the size of armoires, and instant-death, toxic, yellow, smelter dust! Dec 28, 2015
eli poss
Durango, Co
eli poss   Durango, Co
I guess I'm gonna be doing some choss-wrangling when it get back to Durango. Dec 28, 2015
There is NO safe time of day to trundle rocks off this cliff, seeing how it is directly above a dog park that is open 24/7 and filled with random dogs and people on a daily basis. If you go so far as to develop rock climbing up here, you will need someone down in the dog-park to make sure people are warned that you could potentially cause rockfall. All it takes is a rock the size of a bowling ball to get going down a slope that steep to kill someone. Be careful...I know people that walk there dog in this park every single day of the year and every time of day. Dec 29, 2015
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands
See? -- even another reason to not go up here....

If you go to these cliffs, someone's pet will die, or worse...

You will not be able to make any rational or logical decisions about how & when you will do, or specifically, clear, your vertical endeavor of these puzzling pieces of perched sandstone.
Losing all care and knowledge and integrity as a climber, forgetting your ground-up ethic, you will be swooned into rapping your line, blindly using a brown branch with spooky scale-like needles as the anchor; then on the way down, maniacally kicking and dislodging blocks, your rope hanging below, one rock, driven by desire, spinning as it falls, and desperate to kill you, will entwine & tightly wrap itself around said rope, which will tighten and then snap! -the juniper anchor fails-

and...well, like I said...crashing, cracking, death-dealing rocks come down these cliffs of their own accord all the time. This is evidenced by the boulder-strewn trail directly below where this vertical realm resides and humans who are thinking of adding their touch, developing their unique relationship with Nature, better stay the hell away.

So now, emphatically, don't even consider venturing up here!

(BTW, this part of the cliff is actually above the boulder-strewn trail (steep slopes on both sides) which runs between the Smelter Mountain Trailhead and the Dog Park open space.

Berg Heil Dec 29, 2015
I think it's awesome that you scope out areas like this. Appreciate the sharing of knowledge and pictures, hope it turns into a cool area one day, just hope the development process is done by experienced people that are aware how busy the mountain in general is. Dec 30, 2015
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands
Thank you; I appreciate your safety concerns. Happy New Year! Jan 1, 2016
Ben Griffin
Durango, CO
Ben Griffin   Durango, CO
This could ultimately be the Ceuse of dead belayers, if attempted to be developed. Jan 2, 2016
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands

Are you practiced in choosing a sheltered belay location, well-versed in the art of determining where a stone will go in relation to the angular aspects of the ascending line and the protruding features of the cliff it will likely impact, as well as being accurately able in verifying mathematically the ricocheting trajectories of suspect blocks?

No? Well then, there you have it. KEEP OUT!

While it's usually preferable to have a belay of some sort when off the deck, the loss of your belaying human, a comrade, is truly down-right sad for family & friends, especially if this is due in no small part to ineptness and/or inexperience.

It is reprehensible if you die because you don't know what you are doing, and this additionally underscores my point. Don't make it even more tragic. Be wary of Smelter Cliff Thoughts!

You will be dead; it doesn't matter to you; game over; but life goes on, so before the idea to go up here enters your brain, think about all those people who love you...and how prepared are you?

This is not to be brushed aside....

Brushed perhaps, like the instant-death, toxic, yellow smelter dust you have been stirring up and inhaling all day! Yes, radioactive waste! Being a first ascensionist, a capable "Conquistador of the Useless" comes with its recreational hazards, eh?

Anyway, 99.69% of you reading this ought to avoid this place at all costs!

But hey, check out this fun place-it's marginally a bit safer!


(Just kidding, I meant The Golf Wall, a place I have been fond of...)

Ceuse; ha, nice one...I wonder, hhhmmmnnn...perhaps "ma blague" is up.

You .31%...well, later. Jan 2, 2016
Ben Griffin
Durango, CO
Ben Griffin   Durango, CO
I have walked up to the cliff before, but it's after ingesting and smoking incredibly large amounts of the devil's lettuce, where I lose control of where I walk. I've could of been on Pluto for all I know. Jan 6, 2016
Matthias - yer crackin' me up, man! Cabin fever? Jan 6, 2016
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands
M.N. & the 0.31% F.A. Folks out there....

Ceuse; good one, Ben. Perhaps the ruse is up....

Long ago I developed an affinity for cliffs with a long approach, vistas, seclusion, & "ripe plums" to pick. So, I tend to lead less than classic FAs, and not many frequent these later, I think; I have even been derided by some.


So why add these images?...it is not a place for the inexperienced! I thought, as I posted Smelter Cliffs [spring 2014] why draw hordes climbers up here? Maybe they act and talk like jerks? Yeah, I don't want that kind of vibe up here...like, what if they do a route & name it something offensive and sophomoric, like "witches with glitches" and with impressionable eyes reading more online...naw, better keep it quiet...but yeah, what shall Smelter Cliff's theme of new route names be...hmm, something to do with getting metal from rock and leaving lots of nasty leftovers and a select few rich...while across the river the ramshackle shanties of Santa Rita....

So I purposefully omitted the photographs....

Ha! I thought, I will do ALL the best lines here 1st, all for mmmeeeeeee!

"I, me, mine," as the Beatles sang, eh? (see the link below)

Anyway, I have normally kept discoveries like this secret, until I bagged the best lines - e.g.:





Yes, I intended to keep Smelter secret, insofar as I was able to do so, but, the obvious beauty, the positioning of the cracks that perfectly indent the prominent arêtes, the subtle faces and soft hand jams, and the sandy-looking fissures splitting triangular roof features...all made me realize that, having seen it, touched it, and knowing these lines will go, that they would be supremely satisfyingly vertical endeavors, well, I had to share; & just couldn't help it.

This last winter, looking up from the white-water park and the lines above, I settled in to a thigh-deep snowdrift, and rocked back to an almost seat. Marveling at how much our star’s reflection off the watery moon illuminated my would-be adventures, I gazed closer into the darkness & envisioned myself on them, soloing as usual... well, I saw that it was time to get out of my comfort zone, and instead, get up there with some other like-minded folks, and put some routes up together.

So yeah, this time, I couldn't resist sharing with just a special niche [you who like to develop new routes] a promising, virgin outcrop. Yes, these lines, just begging for it, had to get primed, plucked, and pleasurably enjoyed, but what of my dubious reputation of being "still at work ferreting out the chossiest climbable rock in the Dgo area"? (Scott Massey compliment, Purple Cliffs, another "gem").

How to partly dispel the deriding, and get the Durango F.A. folks up here joining me in the unlocking of the stony mysteries of these ground-up journeys?

With the notion of doing something novel, I decided to use reverse psychology! Hence, the Lethal Attraction comments, which likely won't work, but have been entertaining nonetheless...

Ceuse, ha,
but, I don't think so.

So yes, now you know F.A. folks worthy, you may now surmise, and B.G.'s pun points to this path for a few, this area is ripe for picking.


I ME MINE Mar 14, 2016
Matthias Holladay
Shiprock, Navajolands
Matthias Holladay   Shiprock, Navajolands

Again, BEWARE! Oct 2, 2016