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Routes in The Bunker

14:59 S 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
Apoca-Lips Now! S 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
Born on the 4th of July S 5.14b 8c 33 X+ 33 E9 7b
Charlie Don’t Surf S 5.14a/b 8c 33 X+ 33 E9 7b
First Blood S 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Full Metal Jacket S 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Fury S 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a
Saigon S 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Smear Hunter, The S 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Trooper S 5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a
Uncommon Valor S 5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c
Valkyrie S 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a
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North Face Cave

Above all else, Front Range climbing is known for its variety. These mountains and foothills offer a little bit of everything, and climbers of all tastes can generally find something that suits them. However, one style has always been a bit lacking—long, steeply overhanging, enduro jug-hauling. For decades now, desperate Front Rangers have had no choice but to endure the weekly Friday evening gridlock pilgrimage to Rifle to get their pumpfest fix. Not anymore.

This crag was first discovered over a decade ago, by some unknown benefactor of another era [perhaps Mike Freischlag, per Tod Anderson], who ultimately scoped, cleaned, and equipped a handful of the most obvious lines. According to legend, these routes were never redpointed, the developer moved on to other non-climbing interests, and the crag sat abandoned, waiting to be rediscovered. Word about this crag has been passed between locals for years, but for whatever reason, it has garnered little serious interest.

This changed in the summer of 2014. It seemed the Clear Creek community was finally ready for The Bunker — a fully modern crag that climbs like an outdoor gym. It’s as if a chunk of the Gunks broke free, hurtled across the continent, crash-landed on the north facing slope—listing to a 45-degree overhang, and was mercifully rap-bolted before the myopic trad-lodytes could stake their “No Progress Allowed” signs. The lines are wildly overhanging, long, pumpy, and hard. This is a place that rewards dynamic movement—where “footwork” means heel hooks, toe-cams, bicycles, and kneebars. Routes here climb out as much as they do up, requiring a rare combination of power and stamina. That said, these are not mindless jug hauls. The movement can be esoteric and creative. The result is a collection of climbs from 5.13a to mid-5.14 that rival any other Front Range crag.

However, The Bunker offers more than just a good workout. No Clear Creek crag can match its breath-taking position. The crag is perched crown-like, literally at the top of the canyon, surveying its mighty kingdom of rushing waters, towering pines, and piercing stones. At such height, road noise is but a memory, falcons circle at eye-level, and a steady breeze provides reasonable conditions all summer long.

No crag is perfect, and the Bunker does have its drawbacks. The approach is long, steep and hard. The base of the cave is guarded by a system of low-angle slabs, some extending more than 100 feet to flat ground (a network of fixed lines mitigates this hassle, providing quick and easy access to several spacious, flat belay stances—see individual route descriptions for specific belay beta). The rock is not perfect. A band of flaky pegmatite cuts across the cave at mid-height, and so most routes include a few obligatory, sub-standard holds to get through the decomposing layer (despite appearances, the darker bands of stone are impressively solid). Due to the difficulty of cleaning on near-horizontal terrain, some of the rock is coated in a non-threatening, albeit mildly annoying, film of exfoliating sand and stone. With traffic, this minor inconvenience will dissipate.

The cave faces North-Northwest and gets full shade until around 4pm or so near the summer solstice. A 50m rope works for most routes, depending on the belay stance. Most of the routes are fixed, but you may want to bring some slings to mitigate rope drag.

Routes L –> R:

A. 5.11
B. 5.11
C1. Saigon, 13a, 1p, 60', bolts.
C2. Apoca-Lips Now!, 13b, 1p, 50', bolts.
D. Charlie Don’t Surf, 14-, 1p, 60', bolts.
E. Valkyrie, 14a, 1p, 60', bolts.
F. Fury, 13d, 1p, 80', bolts.
G1. Full Metal Jacket, 13c, 1p, 60', bolts.
G2. 14:59, 13a, 1p, 50', bolts.
H. Born on the 4th of July, 14, 1p, 70', bolts.
I1. Trooper, 11+, 1p, 60', bolts.
I2. The Smear Hunter, 13, 1p, 65', bolts.
J. First Blood, 12-, 1p, 40', bolts.
K. Uncommon Valor, 13, 1p, 35', bolts.

West Face

The West Face of the Bunker features four newly-added routes. The hope was that these would provide some much needed warm-ups for the harder lines in the North Face Cave. That goal was achieved with First Blood and Trooper, and the effort resulted in two other worthy objectives as well. This wall receives shade until 1pm or so, and is high enough above the trees to receive a nice steady breeze most of the time. The base of the wall is not as steep or exposed as the base of the North Face Cave, so fixed ropes and bolted belay stances are not needed. There is a bolt in place to stretch a fixed line from the base of the West Face to the bolt at the west end of “Long Ledge” in the event someone wants to install one. This would make it really easy to travel between the walls.

Routes from L --> R:

A. Trooper, 11+/12-, 1p, bolts.
B. The Smear Hunter, 13, 1p, bolts.
C. First Blood, 12-, 1p, bolts.
D. Uncommon Valor, 13, 1p, bolts.

Getting There

The Bunker is a special crag, and so it requires a special effort to reach. Park in a small pull-out north of US Highway 6, immediately east of Tunnel 6 (take care entering and exiting this pull-out). If this is full, park below Creekside in the large pullout north of the road a few hundred yards east.

Cross the highway with care, and locate a trail climbing up a steep embankment behind the guard rail (about 50 feet east of the parking lot entrance, immediately east of a drainage). Once in the woods the trail is very well-defined. If you are not on a well-defined trail, you are lost! The trail initially contours east under an impressive boulder. After crossing a rotting log, make a hard right and climb steeply up a short talus field. The trail is pretty easy to follow after this turn, generally heading straight up, but switching back east a few times to access various gullies. A bit of scrambling is required to cross a rib of rock about 2/3 of the way up. The trail eventually arrives at an open talus field. Continue east, following cairns, below the base of the Bunker slabs, and continue up another steep trail section left (east) of the slabs to reach a nice flat staging area (aka “The Dirt Ledge”).

A network of fixed lines provides quick access to various belay stances along the slabs of the North Face Cave. Use care with these lines. Inspect them before using them, and back them up where prudent. See individual routes descriptions for belay stance beta.

West Face

To reach the West Face, follow the normal Bunker approach until you reach the top of the “open talus field”. From this point you should be able to easily see the yellow, wavy West Face. From here, instead of traversing east to reach the Dirt Ledge at the east end of the Bunker’s main, north facing cave, continue straight up (south), hopping rocks through the trees until you can pick up a faint trail that skirts a 20-foot tall cliffband below the West Face. Make two short 3rd class scrambles (the first is about 4-feet high, the second about 6-feet high—see approach photo) to gain a broad sloping ledge below the West Face.

12 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at The Bunker

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
Apoca-Lips Now!
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
The Smear Hunter
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a
5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a Sport
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
Apoca-Lips Now!
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
The Smear Hunter
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a Sport
5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Bunker »

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Richard M. Wright
Lakewood, CO
Richard M. Wright   Lakewood, CO
Thanks for getting this site cleaned up. When I first posted it on (as Uber-Lapland via MF), it was after speaking with a very strong Mike Frieschlag (sp?) and then checking out the crag with various partners. Where the equipper appears to be unknown, it almost certainly can be traced to him. At the time (mid '90s), there were half a dozen routes bolted, but as Mike indicated, none had been red-pointed except for the 5.11s on the left. I know a lot of strong climbers that have been up here since Mike started working, so at least some of the other more "moderate" routes may have been red-pointed way back at that time. BTW, back then the ropes strung along the approach slabs were largely trashed and have hopefully been updated since (?). Jun 26, 2015
Morrison, CO
Monomaniac   Morrison, CO  
The West Face grades are a total shot in the dark--take 'em with a grain of salt.

Also, yes, new fixed lines were added in 2014 or '15. Tod Anderson also thought Mike was the man. I PM'd through this site for confirmation but never received a response. Jul 6, 2015

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