Best places to learn trad (and sport climb in between) near Boulder

Original Post
Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150

I am coming out to Colorado April 29th-May 15th. I have never climbed trad but have been spending every waking hour practicing anchoring, transitions, escaping, etc. and am learning as much as possible but I still have a ton more to learn of course. I have two guide days out in RMNP doing Alpine around May 6th. Before the guide, we are planning to first climb around Boulder, place gear on the ground and practice all of those trad skills for a day or two. The next day we want to move to super easy pitches that are trad. One of these that I found was the Freeway at the Flatirons in the routes on here. Rated 5.0 and most don't use a rope. That sounds perfect to learn trad on.

What routes would you suggest would be very easy to learn gear placement, transitions etc on around Boulder/Lyons? We have been using steep dirt hills here for transitions... I am not familiar with what exactly to look for in learning routes besides a low rating. We would like to get some good sport climbing in between learning trad, so if some sport is in the same place then that would be excellent.

And if anyone local wants to hangout with some Michigan fellows that week then let me know. I'm all for being shown around a few spots

Ray Lovestead · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 117

Don't bother with freeway. You need to practice placing gear, not climbing 25 feet and hunting around for non-existent placements.

Go climb on Whales tail in Eldo. Or Cobb rock in BoCan. Or try out the slabs on Nip and Tuck in BoCan.

West Crack on Whales Tail

Mark Hammond · · Eldorado Springs, CO · Joined Oct 2006 · Points: 220

Ray nailed it. West Crack and West Dihedral on the Whale's Tail will both be good choices, with the caveat that you need to lead up to a ledge to start them. Alternately, you could climb the east (slabby) side of the Whale's Tail and rappel to the ledge. Definitely don't bother with Freeway.

Andy Hansen · · Longmont, Colorado · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 2,303

The Boulderado in Boulder Canyon, The Dome in Boulder Canyon, Lookout Mountain Crag in Golden, Whale's Tail is top notch.

Kris Holub · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 70

Gear placement and belay transitions are two separate skills. If you just want practice leading on gear, consider the much maligned North Table in Golden.

People shit on North Table a lot because the routes are short and have a reputation for being slick, but it's a great little crag. Despite the chossy appearance, the rock is very good, the gear is straightforward and solid, and most importantly: the walls are steep and generally without ankle-breaking ledges like you'll find on any moderate in Boulder Canyon. There's a whole selection of gear routes from 5.7-10+, and there's a great mix of sport routes from 7 up to 12, often right next to the gear lines.

For belay transitions, you don't even need to get off the ground. Practice walking along the cliff and doing short "pitches", building an anchor and bringing your second over to you. You can practice rope management, transferring gear, etc. If you're really itching to practice hanging belays and simulate true climbing, you can always just go 5 feet off the ground; no need to make it a full blown multipitch affair.

jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10

yeah I dont think any of the flatirons are great for trad 'practice' and certainly not Freeway. Most gear placements on freeway will be contrived and it wont really carry over to 99% of climbing that you will be doing.

N Table is a good bet to get some trad and sport in together. Its not beautiful but the climbing is fine and the routes are on the shorter side.

You can try some of the super easy to moderate climbs in Eldo (whales tail, the bomb etc) but you'll need to be prepared to wait in lines as those easy routes seem to be getting quite busy.

Jameshew12 Hewitt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 150

Thanks a bunch for all the info. I have added those spots to my itinerary. I suppose how busy the spot is will also affect where we go as we are looking to spend a long time on the wall putting gear in and out, follower placing gear etc and I dont want to annoy anyone waiting. What are some of the quieter spots?

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268

West face of Castle Rock, end of Boulder Canyon near Nederland is perfect for beginning trad multi-pitch. You can pitch it out in 3 if you want to and you arrive at a real summit, it is as protectable as Whales Tale, the approach is non existent, you park at the base and the belays are obvious and comfortable.

Flatirons, Stairway to heaven will get you about 10 pitches with sections that are 3rd class. While the pro is not always super obvious the chance that you will fall on such easy terrain is very small and you will always be able to find a large flat belay area. You can also bail off at any point along the ridge so you can make it as long or as short as you want. Take my opinion with a grain of salt because I don't think the Flatirons are as runnout as everyone makes them out to be though there are some climbs that are, they are noted in the route database.

Lookout mountain crag. There is the "5.8" crack which may not have any 5.8 climbing. It is a 5.5 crack up to a more difficult exit. Splitter crack the whole way, the pro is super easy. There is a corner crack route there as well with easier climbing but trickier pro, but still easy to protect.

Mathias · · Loveland, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 290

The slab routes on The Dome in Boulder Canyon, and the routes mentioned on The Whale's Tail seem like good options to me.

Some of my earliest leads were at the Ampeitheater in Gregory Canyon. I didn't do much there but taking another look, there are quite a few easy routes (maybe someone will comment about how good the pro is). I don't remember any sport there, but if you're confident about building trad anchors for top roping, that's a possibility.

A-K · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

Happy Hour crag in Boulder Canyon would also probably suit your needs.

Jim Turner · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 290

At Eldo there's also the Wind Tower. (The Bomb and Boulder Direct.)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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