The Dark Side Rock Climbing
Waiting out the storm at the Dark Side.
The name says it all. Dark rock, in the shade, and a good choice for pulling limestone pockets on a hot day. This excellent crag offers a somewhat unique experience from other crags in the main Shelf area. This is one of the "old school" crags at Shelf, with bolting & grading more in line with the original lines at The Bank
, Sand Gulch
& The Gallery
. If you're used to Cactus Cliff
style bolting, be prepared for spaced-out bolts, and be prepared to supplement some routes with gear.
As for the climbing, many of the walls are relatively slabby, with fluted black rock that can be uncommonly sharp in places. There are numerous longer lines, but generally the routes here are shorter than those at Cactus or The Gym. Overall the route quality is excellent, despite the mysterious sparsity of stars in the latest guidebook from Sharp End.
Finally, despite the name, in the height of summer, when shade is at a premium, this crag bakes in the sun 'till mid-day. Thankfully the crags sickle-shape provides shade for the East end of the crag a bit earlier (~10am). There are a number of dihedrals that provide earlier shade for routes such as Punjabi
, and the routes around Suspender Man
There are two ways to approach the Dark Side, depending on the routes you're headed for. Park at the newly expanded parking lot just past The Bank campground for both approaches.
For routes on the West end of the cliff, hike down from the parking area toward the Bank. Shortly after the road drops down a bit you can pick up a trail to the right. This trail will take you to the 2150 Wall, Cactus, etc, or to The Dark Side by staying hard right ~15 feet after leaving the road. Head East just below the cliff band, where you will encounter various scrambling sections not suitable for young kids.
For routes on the East end of the cliff, hike ~100 yds back down the road, towards Canon City, to a turnoff on the left (N) side of the road that leads to the Group Camp site. Walk towards the Group site, which is surrounded by a ridiculous fence. Once you reach the fence pick up a faint trail that heads East along the fence line. Follow this for ~30 yds to the cliff band atop the bank. Locate a fixed rope or two, and down climb the 3rd class chimney to the base of the cliff. There are ~5 routes located East of this downclimb, but the rest of the routes are to the West. The first route encountered to the West of the downclimb is "Slap Me".
Weather station 7.3 miles from here
65 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',24],['2 Stars',34],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in The Dark Side
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Dark Side
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Dark Side:
Lumina 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport, 1 pitch
27 Tons 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport, 1 pitch, 85'
Two Hearts 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport, 1 pitch
The Plum 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport, 1 pitch, 80'
Blank Frank 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a Sport, 1 pitch
The Audition 5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Featured Route For The Dark Side
Suspender Man 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a CO
: Shelf Road
: The Dark Side
Suspender Man is easy to find. Hike east along the base of the cliff until you come to a huge slab of limestone leaning up against the main wall. Suspender Man tackles the back side of this slab. It's a fun (though short) route on cool overhanging pockets - and it's unbelieveably slippery. Very different from most of the stuff at the Dark Side, and definitely worth doing....[more] Browse More Classics in CO
BETA PHOTO: The Dark Side from Cactus Cliff.
Las montañas de la Sangre de Christo, above the D...
BETA PHOTO: Overview showing Porkus Procurement
By Jesse Ryan
Oct 13, 2005
Interesting route, worth doing. Crux on arete and at chains. Probably 11c or 11b/c.
By b hof
From: Pueblo West, CO
Jun 12, 2012
Directly below site 7 there is a small pinyon with webbing to make a clean rappel to Corner Pockets.
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 15, 2015
There are 3 bolted routes between Bonnie and Fight or Flight. I'm curious of the grades of the routes.
By Robert Chappe
Aug 30, 2015
I climbed these newer routes today. IMO, for what it's worth...
L to R
9+ : Fight or Flight.
10c/d : Cheese Cracker Stacker.
11a/b : Not Yo Daddy's Roof Pull (but the roof pull right before the anchors is easily a 12 move).
Disclaimer: I made up the name's of the last two routes myself, since I haven't found ANY documentation on them.