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Routes in Iron Buttress

Chocolate Bandit S 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Good Time To Be Pretty S 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Iron Maiden S 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Irony Man S 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c


A remarkable shield of iron-hued stone looms sentinel-like above the eastern threshold of Clear Creek’s central narrows. This west-facing panel of stone is every bit as good as it looks, offering brilliant climbing on crisp edges and intriguing angular features. The stone is a bit unusual—perhaps even unique—for the canyon, with a rich chocolate-colored patina of rough texture that is incredibly enjoyable to climb. Unfortunately the wall is typically short, and the season is likewise brief. A mandatory river crossing (currently) rules out summer, when this side of the canyon is in high demand. Conversely, winter snow on the north-facing approach would likely make this crag difficult to reach near the winter solstice. Still, when river and snow conditions are right, intrepid climbers will find enough here for a great day of climbing in a spectacular, secluded setting.

Routes R --> L:
1. Chocolate Bandit, 10-, 1p, 5B to 2BA, 40’.
2. Good Time To Be Pretty, 12-, 1p, 5B to 2BA, 40’.
3. Iron Maiden, 12, 1p, 4B to 2BA, 35’.
4. Irony Man, 11-, 1p, 7B to 2BA, 50’.
Seasonal Raptor Closures Details

Getting There

Scout’s honor, the approach really isn’t as bad as it looks, with only an 8-minute, bushwhack-free hike, once you are across the river. Of course, crossing the river is not trivial. The best place to cross seems to be a few feet upstream of a freshly (still green) fallen pine tree that leans horizontally across the river, where a cheap pair of thigh-high waders will keep you dry in low water. Water levels are typically lowest from late September through late March (though conditions vary, check here for current Clear Creek flow rates, and see a summary of historic annual flow rates below:

See the approach topo for details. Park at the large pullout on the south side of the canyon just below the Sex Cave (this is a bit upstream from the crag). Once across the river, head back UPSTREAM to the first talus field. Climb this talus field to its top, then follow a cairned path up and right, under short cliffs, for 30-40 feet. Switchback left to the ledge system atop the first cliffs (and below another set of cliffs). Make an exposed step across a gully to gain another talus field. Traverse the bottom of the talus field, then head up along its left side for ~50’, exiting left at cairns. Switchback straight up the next narrow, wooded gully, heading east, passing several cairns. The gully broadens and ends at a ridge. Drop down the other side, at a large cairn, traversing the hillside for a few paces before dropping down 20’ to pass just behind a large pine tree. Climb back up along a broad ledge, passing a large boulder on your right, and then continue along the ledge, behind several pine trees, to another short talus field. Cross the talus field to reach the south end of the crag.

4 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Iron Buttress

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Geoff U
Centennial, CO
Geoff U   Centennial, CO
Was barely able to cross the creek today at 120 cfs... wouldn't recommend crossing at any higher flow. The approach isn't too long but is rather heinous and dangerous.... Sep 9, 2017
Geoff U
Centennial, CO
Geoff U   Centennial, CO
FYI that we checked out the crossing when the flow was ~230 cfs, and that was way too high. I'll probably wait til the gauge reads below 125 cfs before checking it out again. Aug 16, 2017
Kevin Capps
Golden, CO
Kevin Capps   Golden, CO
Stick clip very, very mandatory! If you don't want to die. Heinous approach! Sep 23, 2016

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