South Platte vs Clear Creek for Novice Leaders


Original Post
Andy Spellmeyer · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

What are the pros/cons of each?

Really just looking for some easy routes to get our sea legs on. We're climbing 5.8 in the gym but all on TR. Been to East Colfax in CCC once, but boy was it busy (on a weekend). We'd like to camp as nearby as possible as well.

Brendan Armesy · · Fort Collins CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 5

My first lead was at South Platte at the Training Grounds crag. They have like 5-6 routes that are around 5.8. It has an awesome view of pikes peak and is less crowded than most places in CCC and a ton of camping mountainproject.com/v/the-t...

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15

CCC is probably a better option. It will be more like the gym. Bolted more closely.

Best of luck. Be safe.

You can also TR just about anything at North Table Mountain in Golden. Then if you're comfortable give it a lead.

Chris G. · · Lakewood · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 60
Andrew Spellmeyer wrote:What are the pros/cons of each? Really just looking for some easy routes to get our sea legs on. We're climbing 5.8 in the gym but all on TR. Been to East Colfax in CCC once, but boy was it busy (on a weekend). We'd like to camp as nearby as possible as well.
Definitely South Platte!!. Absolutely beautiful out there with minimal crowds, and camping all over. Hit up devils head, you can camp all along Rampart road wit plenty of good climbing to be found.
Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 15

Dude I love the Platte and its one of my all time favorite places to climb, for sooo many reasons. But I can't think of a single area thats good for a first lead if you are only top roping 5.8 at the gym.

I just want this guy to be safe and kill it in his first lead, not get 15 feet above his 2nd bolt and start shitting his pants.

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

No camping in CCC.

If you go to Devils Head, check out Unicorn Valley for a bunch of moderate sport.

When you say you've only TR'd, whose going to put these up for you? And do you know the belay technique? There are some critical differences in technique.

rkrum · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

My personal vote is the platte hands down.

Do you want to the gym outside or go climbing?

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 210

I don't want seem like a dick, but if you are only toproping 8's in the gym you are still a little too green for leading.
I would suggest waiting until you can lead gym 10s first before trying the sharp end outside. Just my opinion. Main thing is learning how to be competent at cleaning the anchors and lowering.
Then, several crags open up for you.
Training Grounds
The Jungle
Urban Alpine Crag

JackRyan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 40

I second the vote for Devils Head. Especially the Training Ground crag. Hardest route is a 5.9, and there's a route called Passing the Baton that's a closely bolted .6 or .7. I've taken a bunch of new leaders up there. Have fun!

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 511

Devils Head which is considered part of the South Platte may be ok, maybe. But agree with what Mike said.

The rest of the South Platte is a no go. It is old school, fairly stiff grades, thin slabby moves, long runouts and physical cracks are common.

JackRyan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 40

Hah! I just remembered...the second time I led outdoors was at Jackson Creek Dome just east of Devils Head. Don't think I'll ever forget that day. I've never quite felt the same sense of accomplishment topping out since. 30 feet run-outs make you feel alive man.

speth · · Denver · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 0

If you're climbing TR in the gym I'd say CCC is better for first outdoor leads. Get to East Colfax early and snag a really easy route.

You could also go to North Table and try a few easier routes. Consolation is that if you get uncomfortable or you can't make the lead, you can set a walk up TR on a lot of the routes.

Mr. Bob · · lyons, co · Joined May 2012 · Points: 5

Another vote for devils head. The camping really seals the deal. Do you want to go get a beer at a brewery and go home to watch Netflix after your first lead? Or do you want to get blitzed by a campfire?

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 210

The weekend after this one is the annual Sympathy for the Devil weekend up at Devils Head.

Daniel Rickert · · Dallas, TX · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 120

I haven't been to S. Platte, but CCC is a pretty good spot for beginner leaders.

Cat Slab has a bunch of easier routes, but they are, well, slab which is not intuitive to first time outdoor climbers. Just something to keep in mind.

The biggest problem with CCC is the lack of camping available.

Good luck and be safe!

Taketaketaketaketake ....take · · Colorado Springs · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 34

Yeah, devil's head is AWESOME -- it's the first placed I ever climbed at, indoors or out. But, I went with people who knew what they were doing. If you're only TRing 5.8 in the gym, expect to get shut down on 5.7 or lower on lead outdoors. It's probably a good idea to go with at least one rope gun who can put climbs up for you and also make sure you don't die. Check out your local Meetup groups, that's a really good way to cut your teeth on outdoor stuff and meet some new climbing buddies.

All that being said, clear creek canyon has much more climbing for beginners...not sure where beginners would want to climb in South Platte besides the 2 or 3 mentioned crags at devil's head...maybe Elevenmile or Valley of Chickens, if you count those as South Platte. If you're just looking to TR stuff, North Table would probably be a really good place to go. You probably should check out the training ground like others have mentioned since the camping is in abundance up there -- hope you like long approaches though :)

Andy Spellmeyer · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
Mike Lane wrote:I don't want seem like a dick, but if you are only toproping 8's in the gym you are still a little too green for leading. I would suggest waiting until you can lead gym 10s first before trying the sharp end outside. Just my opinion. Main thing is learning how to be competent at cleaning the anchors and lowering. Then, several crags open up for you. Training Grounds The Jungle Urban Alpine Crag
No offense taken. I guess I should have been a little more clear...I'm fairly experienced as far as lead belaying and cleaning routes, and I've lead a few things outside. When I say we climb 5.8, I mean we can onsight any 5.8 in the gym. We climb 9s and get shut down on 10s. I'm just getting back into climbing after decking about 35' in the gym 6 or so years ago. It really did a job on my confidence. So yea...we are really just looking for some confidence boosting easy climbs.
Andy Spellmeyer · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
Mike Lane wrote:The weekend after this one is the annual Sympathy for the Devil weekend up at Devils Head.
What's that?
shotgunnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2009 · Points: 0

I guess all these people saying you should be leading 5.10 in the gym before leading sport outside didn't go to the same school as my mentor. My first lead was a two pitch 5.7 trad climb on slippery chossy shale. When I asked if this was safe he said "you drive a car don't you? This is waaaaayyyy safer than that" I ask about if the gear will hold a fall he says "Wedge it in there real good and you could hang my truck off of it, so I think your skinny butt will be fine" Oh to be 19 again

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 210

Ok then Andrew, thanks for clarifying. We built the Training Grounds mostly for our kids and also to provide a crag that would 'set the hook' with neophytes to the sport. The crag is like a saddle horn protruding up from a ridge. What makes it unique from other easy route crags is that it is close to vertical, not a slab. There are very pronounced chicken heads and boiler plates for holds, like ladder rungs. So you get more of an ascent with your fingers and arms than feet like with slabs.
Since we planned for the crag to be where our kids could cut their teeth, I was generous with the bolts. So it is definitely recommended.

The Sympathy for the Devil weekend is a large group camp out, usually around 50-100 people. The Stonefinders use it as a presentation of the past Summer's work with new routes. Devils Head is so vast that for 25+ years new walls are uncovered and developed. There is usually a bonfire and music. It is as close to a climbing festival as there is for Denver. Details can be found on a Facebook page called Devils Head Climbing. The camping happens down Rampart Range Road a couple miles from the Lower West Side part of the mountain. I think it is past mile marker 11.

Alan Prehmus · · littleton, co · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 442

Andrew, If slab is OK, you might consider Split Rock. It was also developed for easy & save early leads. There is great camping along Jackson Creek on the drive in. Send PM if you want additional Beta.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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