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Penitente Canyon

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Penitente Canyon Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 7,970'
Location: 37.8429, -106.28469 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 148,223
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Rog on Nov 6, 2001
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My boy's first lead at age 4!

Closed October 12th-15th, 2017 MORE INFO >>>


Penitente Canyon is a beautiful, small canyon on BLM lands located in the San Luis Valley - south central Colorado. The area is primarily a sport climbing destination with a few trad lines. The bouldering opportunities here are (I think) mostly undeveloped but almost limitless.

As per D'Antonio's guidebook (Falcon - Rock Climbing the San Luis Valley), the rock is a volcanic tuft. This translates into bullet proof rock with great friction. Many climbs utilize small crimps and edges, while others scale hueco - ridden walls. The trad lines follow rough cracks - bring plenty of tape.

From my experience, all bolted lines are well done, with good hardware and placements providing well protected routes. The majority of routes are .10 & above, with very few moderates. With the excellent bolted protection, however, this is a nice place to push the grades.

Camping is on site, costs a nominal amount (the guidebook says it is free - this has changed!), and has standard BLM regulations. Per Jesse Morehouse: as of 2012, the site fee for single site is now $11 and the group rate is $20 with 3 group sites now. Water is provided down the road from the climbing / camping area (another recent development - follow the signs), and the nearest 'goods' can be found at the 'La Garita Cash Store'.

Please note that there are several distinct climbing areas other than Penitente Canyon, including the Rock Garden, Witches Canyon, and others. Some of these are on or near private property, so be sure to watch for & obey the signs.

Trying not to ramble, but this place just rocks!!! Fun, fun, and a bit more fun.

Eds. Note, BLM Law Enforcement Ranger hand out $50 citations to people who had occupied a campsite without filling out the form and submitting the money. Even at night!

Getting There 

From Denver, W on US 285. Keep going... When you're 12 miles N of Del Norte, take a right on 'G'. Follow for 7 miles. Stop at the La Garita Cash Store & spend a couple bucks. Say hi. Get back in the car, keep going West. After the pavement ends (roughly 1 mile after the Cash Store), keep to the left on Cty 38. At the 1 mile mark, as the road turns left (South), take a right. Follow the signs.

Climbing Season

Weather station 9.4 miles from here

128 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',9],['3 Stars',41],['2 Stars',58],['1 Star',18],['Bomb',2]

Classic Climbing Routes in Penitente Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Penitente Canyon:
The Serpent   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Penitente - Entrance Area
Ms. Cool   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 30'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
How The West Was Won   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Captain America   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Entrance Area
Lovesnake   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 30'   Penitente - Entrance Area
Bucket Slave   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Entrance Area
Yah-Ta-Hei   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Penitente - Entrance Area
Jewel Of The Mild   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Children Of A Lesser Grade   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Concupiscent Curds   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 30'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Tanks for the Hueco   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Breakdown Dead Ahead   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Mysterious Redhead   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Entrance Area
Whipping Post   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Penitente - Entrance Area
Not My Cross To Bear   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Shear Strength   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Forbidden Fruits   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Penitente - Entrance Area
Dazed and Confuzed   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Bullet the Blue Sky   5.12c/d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch   Penitente - Inner Canyon
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Penitente Canyon

Featured Route For Penitente Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike sending A Virgin No More

A Virgin No More 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c  Colorado : San Luis Valley : ... : Penitente - Inner Canyon
This route climbs the spectacular rust-colored wall immediately right of the Virgin painting. This is a really great route for the grade. Unlike many of the hard routes in Penitente, it is not just a one move wonder, but it demands sustained effort all the way to the chains. I found one hard/reachy move getting to the 2nd bolt (will be no problem for taller people), then generally very consistent difficulty to the very top. I would consider this to be the 2nd must-do route after "Bullet the B...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Penitente Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Finishing up the stemming with many classic climbs...
Finishing up the stemming with many classic climbs...
Rock Climbing Photo: D Fish working the RP
D Fish working the RP
Rock Climbing Photo: Group site 1 (in foreground) plus two other sites.
BETA PHOTO: Group site 1 (in foreground) plus two other sites.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down canyon just past Captain America.
Looking down canyon just past Captain America.
Rock Climbing Photo: Great Sand Dunes NP is about 1 hour from Penitente...
Great Sand Dunes NP is about 1 hour from Penitente...
Rock Climbing Photo: Face climb?
Face climb?
Rock Climbing Photo: Penitente Canyon on a gorgeous October day.
Penitente Canyon on a gorgeous October day.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown short route far up the canyon. Maybe 5.9, ...
Unknown short route far up the canyon. Maybe 5.9, ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Campsite under boulder at night.
Campsite under boulder at night.
Rock Climbing Photo: Leah climbing the really fun 5.9, How the West Was...
Leah climbing the really fun 5.9, How the West Was...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from near entrance across the valley.
View from near entrance across the valley.
Rock Climbing Photo: Hugo the dog welcomes you to Penitente!
Hugo the dog welcomes you to Penitente!
Rock Climbing Photo: Virgin Mary and Bullet the Blue Sky.
Virgin Mary and Bullet the Blue Sky.
Rock Climbing Photo: Penitente.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sangre de Cristo Range from our campsite at Penite...
Sangre de Cristo Range from our campsite at Penite...
Rock Climbing Photo: The western part of the canyon
The western part of the canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the moderate (5.2 maybe?) slab climbs in th...
One of the moderate (5.2 maybe?) slab climbs in th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Classics in the Canyon.
BETA PHOTO: Classics in the Canyon.
Rock Climbing Photo: Entrance to the Canyon.
Entrance to the Canyon.
Rock Climbing Photo: A pictograph predating the climbing by Los Hermano...
A pictograph predating the climbing by Los Hermano...
Rock Climbing Photo: The eastern part of the canyon
The eastern part of the canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the main canyon
BETA PHOTO: Looking down the main canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Mr. Wind.
Mr. Wind.

Comments on Penitente Canyon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 5, 2016
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 5, 2002
Be sure to hit the less popular routes in Penitente and surrounding areas. *** and ** routes always get a bit greasy from everyone doing them over and over and over. I have climbed in the San Luis Valley since 1993 and have found some of the routes that are skipped over in the guidebook to be outstanding. Why? Because you get to climb a route that very few people have climbed and you really stick! Think you can push your numbers on classics at Penitente? Try a route that no one raves about.

My favorites: Mr. Breeze (without hands)5.2, Maybe Nueve 8+/9-, Ms. Cool 5.9, Banana Slugs in Heat 10b, 10,000 Maniacs 11c, Brown Sugar 11b, Alien in My Underpant 11b, Bucket Slave 10b, Twist of Feet 11d, Mission in the Snow 11d/12a, Reptiles, Lust, and Dogs 11b, Jewel of the Mild 10c, Children of a Lesser Grade 10c, Thanks for the Huecos 11a, Mysterious Redhead 11a (stout), Concupiscient Curds 10b, and anything in the Rock Garden facing south on a winter day, plus late spring afternoon in Witches.

Don't miss the excellent bouldering possibilities on the S***house Boulder that is the pit toilet in the Penitente parking lot. Don't throw rocks in the hole up top.
By Darrin Stein
From: Vancouver, WA
May 20, 2002
Just spent some time there this last weekend: First time there in probably close to 10 years. I was amazed at the construction, organization, and overall appearance of the area now. There used to be only a handfull of established camp areas just outside the entrance to Penitente (where the big picnic area now sits). I always camped away from there, on the road that leads South West from the pay area. Even though I couldn't get a camp site, I was very impressed with all the work that has gone into this area, including Witch's Canyon. So, to all of you who put in their time, sweat, money, or what-have-you.... THANKS!!!
By Kevin Currigan
From: Lakewood
Oct 30, 2003
We stayed last weekend in Del Norte at a place called La Casa Bonita. Its right next to the Organic Peddler which sells coffee beginning at 0900. If you want a good Mexican dinner Sylvestre's on the main drag in Del Norte is fabulous. Be sure if you aren't camping to check out the sunsets-its is this area.
By Joel Shanight
Feb 20, 2004
Cool place for the FLC climbing Club, get ready for off roading (leave no trace of course!) if you want to camp. It can get cold there at night..Great routes, place of great memory for me and climbing there. I remember a crazy 5.12 or 5.13 there with some great rocky holds. Good luck, make it there if you have a chance!
By Anonymous Coward
Apr 30, 2004
Some friends and I from the Durango area have been developing the bouldering in the Penitente-Witches cutoff... it's nice, with aretes, slabs and walls up to v10/11, several projects remain, plenty of highballs that will hopefully never see bolts... e-mail for info on new(?) bouldering there... have fun
By Eric Dalmata
May 20, 2005
We ran into Bob D'Antonio here a couple of months back. Even though my friend Scott thought he was supposed to be a lot bigger, he is still a very cool and friendly guy. Thanks again Bob and friends for all of your work here. We absolutely love Penitente, and are big fans of your routes, both here and at Shelf Road. We saved you some tea, Bob, but you never came back that night. Was it the halo around the sun, or did that tree start moving again? Just kidding, man, we really do believe your story. Penitente is a mystical place where anything can happen. Let me know when the clean-up is going to be. I definitely want to help out and give something back to this place. But if I hear any screaming coming out of the canyon, I am outta there!!
By Andy Leach
From: Denver, CO
Jun 7, 2005
Does anybody know what these routes are named or rated (see photo: The climber is on a route that starts in the lower left of the photo and follows the crack up to the anchors directly above the belayer. There is also a bolted route that goes from the belayer straight up to the anchors. Neither of these are in D' Antonio's guidebook. They are just to the right of route #94 in D'Antonio's book (page 26).

By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Apr 17, 2006
We found a tick on our baby boy this past weekend in PC. It's the first I had heard of ticks there, so look out.

It was a really busy weekend with lots of folks out enjoy the great climbs.
By Robbie the Dog
Apr 17, 2006
Yup, we also found a tick here, in late March of this year.
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
May 9, 2006
Just a warning:

Last weekend (5-7 May), a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger was at Penitente on Friday night handing out $50 citations to people who had occupied a campsite without filling out the form and submitting the money.
For example:
My friends had the envelope completed with money in it sitting in their car, and had merely yet to put the envelope in the slot; they got fined.

I felt a little betrayed by this guy. He had the gall to tell us that "we depend on climbers to support this canyon...if climbers don't pay, we can't run this place." This is offensive on many levels, but mostly that we were unable to get through to him that if they indeed depend on climbers, then citing us is not the way to motivate us to support them.

I have been coming to Penitente since the good old days when there were no designated sites, and no fees. I put up with the "improvements" even though I disagree with them. I've always paid the fee that I disagree with, even in November when there wasn't another soul in sight, and I could easily have gotten away without paying. Then this guy sneaks around on Friday night handing out tickets without mercy.

I can't stop climbing here...I love it too much, but I'm really considering camping elsewhere; at least until I've recouped the $50.

Apparently the BLM (or perhaps just this ranger) has decided they would like an adversarial relationship with climbers, which I think is a shame, considering that from my point of view, climbers have behaved themselves pretty well in the SLV.
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
May 10, 2006
I agree, Bob, that it is a small price to pay, which is why I have always paid. However, some times I get in late and I just wait until Saturday morning to walk back to the entrance kiosk to put in the money. In all my time camping all over the country, I've never seen a ranger hand out tickets on Friday night. That is unreasonable.

It seemed like this guy had an axe to grind.

If his intention is to "motivate" us to pay our camping fees, then I'm sure he'll appreciate me warning everyone about the fines. If his intention is to increase revenue through fines, then I object to that, so either way I'm doing the right thing by posting up.

How many bolts did the BLM give you guys?
By Scott Rogers
From: Moab, UT
May 18, 2006
I'm going to have to agree with you guys on the offensive actions of this Ranger. He came into our campsite last Saturday night with a really crappy attitude. First of all, he demanded to know why we (a group of 6 18-19 year olds) didn't have any alcohol in the camp. We replied that we didn't, but he was still really skeptical, and I believe he was on the verge of searching our coolers and all. I found this really offensive that he would automatically assume that we had alcohol, as we were a bunch of kids. Furthermore, he made me search for my payment receipt for like 20 minutes even though he had all of the actual pay-slips in his truck. After I told him I couldn't find it, while explaining the whole time that I had paid last night, he mentioned that it might be in his truck. Well, I found it there in his stack of forms, but he still didn't believe me, and I had to walk him all the way back to my vehicle to prove to him that it was the same plate number I had registered. Us college students get such a bad rap. We were probably the least disruptive group in the whole campsite, but he chooses us to question the most and was really quite rude. He even showed up again in a few hours to make sure we weren't drinking. What's with that? It's like he expected us to be breaking some sort of rule, and then took his frustration that we followed the law out on us. We respected the campground, the rules, and the other people, but where's our respect? If the climbing hadn't been amazing, I would have been fairly disappointed by the whole experience. But next time I think we'll stick to some place with much less people.
By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Oct 26, 2006
There appears to be a direct correlation between the amount of funds raised at a fee area, and the quantity and agressiveness of the folks bent on collecting the fees. How often do you see uniformed USFS, BLM or NPS personnel conducting trail work vs. collecting fees?

Not sure what the solution is. I would recommend you do anything you can to avoid paying the fees. The more you pay, the more they will seek to increase the fees and the penalties for failing to pay; the more funds they will have available to hire 'law' enforcement personnel. This is not a coincidence, and it's not a conspiracy theory. It's simply US Government tax policy.

In this case, it seems that you ought to camp elsewhere. It may be a pain, but I assure you if ALL users stopped paying, they would stop paying the salary for an a$$whipe ranger to enforce payment. I suppose on the other hand they may just start charging for day use.

Any suggestions on free camping in the area?
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 27, 2006
I actually haven't paid for a campsite since the fine. I've almost recouped my $50. Once I've recouped, I'll go back to camping there. In the mean time, I've been camping in between the RG and Penitente. There's a little dirt road on the left that has nice camping. I think you could also probably camp just about anywhere around Witches Cyn, Sidewinder Cyn, Penis rock, etc. My understanding is that on BLM land camping is allowed unless otherwise posted, and all that area is mostly BLM or National Forest.
By Umph!
Jun 23, 2007
Funny how some of you cry about having to pay for graded, maintained campsites and trails with restrooms, and covered picnic areas, and water, and patrols to keep your stuff somewhat guarded and to keep the rowdy groups away so that you can rest peacefully at night.
If your shit was stolen or you were kept up all night by partying baffoons, or the asthetics of the area were ruined by graffiti (which the Rangers help to stop and clean up when they can't stop it) you'd complain about not enough local enforcement, right? Like the recent thievery in Eldo where climbers are now wanting more Ranger patrols.
(Fact is older teenagers are usually the culprits).
The Rangers would much rather be doing other duties that are of more benefit to the environment. . . unfortunately, those who don't pay for their maintained camping sites are (one of) the exact reasons why they patrol so much.
If you don't want to pay for the services then camp elsewhere!
Apparently you like the benefits of maintained campsites. . . .
Of course those of you who are complaining could be the ones who like to party t/o the night and dig thru other peoples shit w/o care for the other users of the area. Nothing ruins a trip more than inconsiderate jackasses who need to be confronted and at times engaged.
Thanks Rangers!!
By Tavis Ricksecker
Sep 7, 2007
Whatever, Cameron, did you actually read the comments above? Sounds like that ranger was being a real dick for no reason. Most of us don't have problems with rangers, just assholes. When assholes have badges and guns, they're even less fun to deal with. So, remember to thank that ranger again next time you get harassed for no reason.
By Umph!
Sep 24, 2007
Look, I'm in no fear of rangers and their tickets. . . because I pay. However, if I didn't pay, and was cited, then I sure wouldn't be bitchin' about it.
If you don't want to pay, camp outside of the grounds - a no-brainer really. If you want the benefits of the maintained grounds, then penny up.
If you care at all about the health of a high-use environment, then you'd understand the benefits of a patrol - and the fee.
People are destructive. . . it's the rangers job to keep destruction to a minimum.
And BTW, you only read 1/2 of the story here - obtain the local ranger's half and you'd probably understand the area's perspective more clearly (and maybe this contact in particular).
Also, the biggest (and lamest) trick in the campground book is: "oh, I have the money in the envelope in my truck. . . I just forgot to drop it in the slot".
It's rare that I stay in pay-site grounds, but when I do, I expect to pay (as I did recently at Penitente - and it was well worth it).
By Aimee Rose
From: Bend, or
Oct 24, 2009
Just curious as to what the season is for Penitente?

By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 25, 2009
Spring and Fall usually. Summer is usually too hot and winter too cold, though if you're a local you can find days anytime to climb.
By 419
From: Sacramento
Jul 13, 2010
There are a lot of routes with serious ground fall potential. Bring a stick clip to save yourself the worry and protect against rattlesnakes. On a single day trip, I saw 3 different rattlesnakes. Come to find out, there is a RATTLESNAKE DEN at the mouth of the canyon. Climbs are mostly a bit short (40-60ft) and lacking bolts at times (3-4 is not uncommon). Bring your A game, and be ready for slabby climbing mixed with thin, vertical climbing.
By Mike Crandall
From: Superior, CO
Aug 17, 2010
The GPS coordinates are: 37.842936, -106.284742
Google Maps: Penitente Canyon
By Ben Cassedy
From: Denver, CO
Sep 6, 2010
Just got back from a long weekend in Penitente, and thought I'd add a few notes.

First, the camping and climbing are both stellar. 10 minute walk from your campsite to the climbing area. Unfortunately, the convenience/popularity of this area has left a lot of the routes kind of polished. No big deal though - consider it good training.

Second, this being Labor Day weekend, I made sure to get there early afternoon Friday (3pm-ish?) worrying that it might be full. I was surprised to find the entire campground nearly empty. It was pretty populated by 2pm Saturday, but still not entirely full.

Third, the campsites are nice and outhouses very clean. The $5 fee is a bargain for what you get. The only heads-up I would offer is that most of the campsites have very little shade. Even with very pleasant temps (70s this weekend), the sun is absolutely relentless until late afternoon. Combined with the high and dry desert environment, I pounded water all day but still felt the sun was killing me. Bring a tarp; it will make a world of difference.

Finally, Great Sand Dunes NP makes for a great half day diversion (and got us out of the sun for a while!) It took about 1 hr from Penitente to get there. $3 a person to get in.

Overall, this was a wonderful place and I can't wait to get back, especially with fall temps and colors coming up. The drive from Denver was beautiful the entire way too (about 3.5 hours).
By Jamie Estep
From: Crested Butte, CO
Feb 17, 2011
I've encountered rattlesnakes almost every time in the canyon. Witches' Canyon seems to be a little worse, but they are all over. Some of the easiest access per the amount of climbs anywhere.

Rock quality is superb on most of the climbs. Due to the nature of the rock, the grades can be deceiving. Low grades are often very slabby and runnout, falls would be horrible on lead for many low grades here. 5.10s and up can feel very bouldery and deceivingly difficult for the grade. Definitely get a feel for the grades before pushing the limits. If you climb in the 12 - 13 range, this area has some of the coolest routes anywhere. Color of Emotion is probably the cleanest and most difficult 13a on the planet. Cassandra, Virgin No More, Devotion, etc., just awesome....

If you climb in the 10-11 range, you can tick 10 - 20 climbs in a day. Simply an amazing area.
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
Mar 8, 2011
Is mid to late May too hot to climb at Penitente?
By DavidHH
From: Parker, Colorado
Mar 8, 2011
I would say no, it's not too hot. I was there in mid May last year, and it was more windy than anything. You can chase shade around as well.
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
Mar 9, 2011
Thanks, David!
By evanshiker
Mar 9, 2011
A friend of mine pointed me to this website. As a local, I'm concerned about the proposed camping fee increase. After a bit of effort, I managed a look at the business plan, and it shows the BLM breaking even at the current price.

The BLM is proposing to increase the camping fees from $5/night to $11/night. One of the significant problems is that the increase isn't justified by the numbers. There's a lot of misinformation out there, but the bottom line is that BLM breaks even (actually makes a small profit) at the current fee level.

Give the BLM more money and they'll make more costly "improvements" that ultimately cost more to maintain, leading to even higher fees....

The BLM's visitor survey shows people are happy with it the way it is.

If we all raise our voices, we can protect Penitente for everyone.

In 2006, Mike Anderson wrote:
"Last weekend (5-7 May, 2006), a BLM Law Enforcement Ranger was at Penitente on Friday night handing out $50 citations. He had the gall to tell us that "we depend on climbers to support this canyon...if climbers don't pay, we can't run this place.""

Higher fees also mean more ranger patrols like the one above.
By Jesse Morehouse
From: CO
Mar 10, 2011
Camping outside the fee area is getting harder to find. The nice little spot in between Penitente and RG is now fenced off as are some of the roads on the way back to Del Norte. Why, I don't know. It never seemed like those areas were ever trashed or abused. Maybe there were just extra fence posts the BLM had laying around and they had to do SOMETHING??
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 10, 2011
They are fenced off so you will have to use the pay camping. What about Witches Canyon?
By evanshiker
Mar 12, 2011
In a January meeting in Canon City, BLM administrator Sean Noonan stated:

"Of the 517,836 acres of BLM lands in the San Luis Valley, all but 5 acres of developed campgrounds (Penitente Canyon and Zapata Falls) are free and open for dispersed camping year-round." (emphasis added)*

Considering an acre is approximately 209ft x 209ft, and the new Zapata Falls has at least 2 acres of disturbed ground, it means that everything except for the actual road and campsites at Penitente Canyon should be available for free camping. Meaning the areas between the campsites, The Gazebo, etc. are open to camping. Yeah, right. But it does mean that the area behind the new fence should be open to camping.

According to the business plan, the increased fees are to be used to:
"Increas(e) safety and law enforcement patrols (more on-site agency presence from Recreation and Law Enforcement personnel and volunteers/camp host)". In other words, more visitor contacts as described above.

So, the question is, is the climbing community willing to step up and tell the BLM not to raise the fees, or to raise them to a lesser extent?

See the forum thread on Penitente fees for more details.

  • This actual quote is from the Zapata Falls campground business plan, but Mr. Noonan said the same during the January meeting.Italic Text
By Mike Howard
Feb 10, 2012
Penitente Canyon Anchor Replacement & Trail Repair Weekend
Public Event · Organized by Bob D'Antonio

Saturday, May 12, 2012
9:00am until 7:00pm
Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, Colorado
Penitente Canyon Anchor Replacement & Trail Repair Weekend. This is for all climbers, hikers or anyone who loves the Canyon and the work that volunteers and the BLM have done in the past. Show up and then get to work. Beer, Food, Bolts, Anchors, Tools and good vibes with be provided...Come and show some love to this very special canyon.

Upgrade list suggested by comments on MP. Volunteers would prefer to concentrate on the classics with Modernized anchors a priority. If you know of some, please comment.
Huecos Rancheros Anchor upgrade
Mr Wind Anchor upgrade
Sheer Strength 2nd bolt pulling out
Shady Lady Loose bolt
Bullet the Blue Sky and Tanks for the Huecos Fix the chain anchor set up. The current configuration makes you lower off of one link that is very warn out. Fixed 4/29/2012 with Bob D and Tim Standing. Musssy hook anchor, upgraded old angle iron to 28kN hangers.
Consider painting the putty that fills in the chipped holds on bullet to match the rock?
Tanks for the Huecos: After gaining the ledge, you are risking groundfall if you blow it climbing to the next bolt on an easy runout after that is unnecessary. Fixed 4/29/2012. Mussy hooks at new sport anchor. Replaced SMC spinners with 28kN hangers. New sport anchor with chain for Dead Ahead.
How The West Was Won Some one stole one of the chains off this route.
High first bolt, good black Powercam placement in a left-hand hueco from an easy low stance. That should CYA to nearly the first bolt. (but Camalots are too wide for those pockets).
Concupiscent Curds Anchor worn.
Captain America: The existing anchors consist of three bolts. The two on the left were rap anchors and the one on the right had a clip hanger on it. The anchor in the middle had a beefy chain hanging from it. One of the bolts was loose and could use tightening. Further, below the fixed anchors were two empty bolt holes and a third bolt that was chopped and left in the hole. Perhaps those bolt holes and/or the chopped bolt made up the original anchor.
Whipping Post 5.11a ? Loose cold shuts anchors.
No Regret 5.11c ? Loose cold shuts anchors.
Los Hermanos De La Weenie Way: A bolt after the traverse halfway exposed.
Forbidden Fruit The last link on the left chain is cracked through.
Hand Jam Crack This line skips half of the vegetated crack anyways, following the lichen corner up. There is a clean, beautiful wide crack a little further on that is not in the book but looks like it has potential.
French Lesson Crack brushy, poorly bolted!
Que pasa Nice moves but bad rock. Many of the edges up high are crumbly. The rock around the third bolt is also blowing out.
Hareless 5.11a Dirty, bush, no anchor.
To Err Is Human 5.11d no anchor.
BBC Stick clip the first bolt and probably the second too. It's a tough clip from sketch rock. Some one stole the anchor bolts off the top.

Inner Canyon
No Sweat, No Vapor 5.12a Someone stole the anchor hangers off this one.
Sheer Lunacy 5.11 PG13 Route needs anchors relocated closer to edge. They are so far to the left it's best to belay the second from the top, otherwise cleaning the route is a PITA.
By w.elliott
Mar 28, 2012
I climbed there this last weekend (3/25/2012) and left a size 40 Solution with a big "W" on the heel. If you find this, I live in Boulder, please return it. It would be great.
By Dave J
Apr 19, 2012
I was really impressed with this area after climbing here for the first time the other weekend. Count me in for the bolt replacement weekend!
By Mike Howard
May 15, 2012
List of upgrades done during the May 2012 on Bob D'Antonio's Volunteer Penitente Canyon Anchor Replacement & Trail Repair Weekend:

Penitente - Entrance Canyon
Dirty Little Girl aka Morning Glory, 5.10c. Newly bolted Mussy Hooks, new hangers on good old 3/8” bolts.
Mysterious Redhead, 5.11a. New FIXE chain anchors, replaced SMCs, tightened Petzl hangers, checked 3/8” bolts. Look OK. Please do not TR through new rings.
The Nature Of The Beast, 5.12a PG13. New Metolius rap anchors, tightened hangers.
Twist of Fate, 5.11d. New Fixe chain anchor, new bolt (3rd) and FIXE hanger, removed angle iron and placed FIXE hangers.
No Regret, 5.11c upgrade, new anchor and hangers, no new bolts added.
Whipping Post, 5.11a, upgraded. New anchor and hangers.
Forbidden Fruits, 5.12a.
French Lesson, 5.11d, modernized, new anchor, two bolts added.
Glutton for Punishment, 5.12d, new anchor.
Rocket Man, 5.11c, new anchors, new hangers throughout, replaced 3 spinning bolts (need to chop or pull old spinners).
Bucket Slave, 5.10b. New FIXE ring anchors, new hangers throughout.
Persephone, 5.11b, new anchor, hangers.
The Serpent, 5.8, new Mussy hooks anchors and hangers.
Mr. Wind, 5.7, new Mussy Hooks anchors and FIXE hangers
Mr. Breeze, 5.2, new Mussy Hooks anchor and FIXE hangers.
May-B-Nueve, 5.8.
Captain America, 5.10a, new hangers. Did not address anchor cluster. OK shape.

Penitente - Inner Canyon
Concupiscent Curds, 5.10b. Anchor worn, (not upgraded).
How The West Was Won, 5.9. Upgraded anchor and replaced with new FIXE hangers. No new bolt, but consensus suggests a rebolting.
No Intent, 5.12a, upgraded hanger and anchors with chain.
Breakdown Dead Ahead, 5.10d. Now has its own new FIXE chain anchors (not shared). Hangers tightened but need replacement. Two new bolts placed one low in corner and one above ledge to share with Huecos start. Crux bolt with cold shut replaced.
Tanks for the Hueco, 5.10d, new Mussy Hooks and new hangers (re/retrobolted as per Breakdown).
Bullet the Blue Sky, 5.12c/d, new Mussy Hook anchors. Removed chain. New hangers. Removed/replaced last bolt. Need to paint drilled pockets which were filled in.
Not My Cross To Bear, 5.11a/b. New Mussy Hooks, replaced old hangers and tightened.
A Virgin No More, 5.13a, (not upgraded).
Los Hermanos de la Weenie Way, 5.11c. New Mussy Hooks at a rebolted anchor. Replaced all hangers and drilled new bolt at second-to-last spinner. Split-shank old bolt is spalling rock on pull, need to chop and epoxy.
Los Hermanos de la Penitente, 5.12c, OK but could use 3 new hangers (start not upgraded).
Morada, 5.12a/b. New FIXE chain anchors. Can reach from the top of Weenie Way.
Jabba the Hut, 5.11c, (not upgraded).
Ordinary People, 5.9 R, complete upgrade, new bolt at botton, Mussy Hooks. I hear was full of 1” drop ins (frickin' scary).
Children Of A Lesser Grade, 5.10c. Complete upgrade with Mussy Hooks, new bolts and hangers.
Heaven Can Wait, 5.10, Trad Route. Shares new anchor with Children.
Jewel Of The Mild, 5.10c. Complete upgrade, Mussy Hooks, a new bolt at botton. This was also one of the climbs with 1” drop-in machine bolts.
Brown Sugar, 5.11a. New hangers, need new anchor.
Sister of Mercy, 5.12b.
Sheer Lunacy, 5.11 PG13. Removed 1” drop-in machine bolts (unreal). Complete rebolting, new anchor. Was the route name the inside joke of a sociopath? Just asking.
Shear Strength, 5.12a, removed 2' chain anchor, new anchor, new hangers on all lead bolts.
By Rick McL
From: Arvada CO
Oct 10, 2012
Does anybody know if there is Verizon cell service in Penitente Canyon?
By Devin Fin
Oct 10, 2012
Yes, if you get to a high point....
By Blake C
From: Superior, CO
Apr 3, 2013
Anyone remember the fee for camping sites?
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Apr 3, 2013
Individual Sites $11.00 per night Maximum limits - 2 vehicles (plus 1 trailer) - 6 people - 2 tents
Group Sites $20.00 per night Maximum limits - 4 vehicles (plus 1 trailer) - 15 people - 5 tents QUIET HOURS including generators: 10 pm - 7 am
-9 walk-in Tent sites
-4 Drive-in Tent/Camper sites
-2 Group Sites
-5 Toilets (vault type)
-8 Walk-in tent sites
-No camping allowed 1/2 mile beyond trailhead
-No restroom/no trash collection - pack it in, pack it out
-No camping allowed
-No restroom/ no trash collection- pack it in, pack it out
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Jun 10, 2014
- The Serpent: swapped anchors - Mussy w/o gates are now rap rings (on existing quick-links).

The following routes were upgraded or updated during the 3rd annual Anchor Replacement Initiative (ARI) held Memorial Day weekend 2014.

- Captain America: swapped anchors - (1) Mussy w/o gate is now Mussy w/ gate replaced the first and third bolts. New hanger on the second. First bolt moved slightly left to be more in line with the crux start.
- How the West Was Won: swapped anchors - Mussy w/o gates are now rap rings.
- Moved bolts on Bullet the Blue Sky 12c/d to fix clipping issues. (FA Bob D. agreed). Painted the patched chipped holds. Bolts #3 and #4 replaced with 1/2 inch ASCA.
- A Virgin No More: removed the old anchor and one random bolt and
replaced 2 protection bolts with ASCA 1/2".
- Morada: removed 3 split-shank studs left from previous re-bolting and patched.
- Los Hermanos de la Penitente, 5.12c: broke off two of the old split shank studs replaced a year ago and patched.
- Not my Cross to Bear: replaced bolts/hanger a year ago, it was patched this year.
- Dos Hermanos: Rebolted in 2013. Patched and painted this year. The sketchy/bouldery start, the 2nd bolt is stick-clippable. There is micro-gear between bolt #1 & #2, but a year ago when we re-bolted, we considered adding a bolt between bolt #1 & #2. No bolts added, just replaced existing bolts for new ones to respect the character of the route and the original FA party.
By C.jake
Jul 22, 2014
Soooooooo, something everyone fails to mention that actually rattled the cage of me and my buddy, no pun intended, WATCH OUT FOR RATTLESNAKES. I don't know why no one says anything about this, but they are there, 100%. And not just a, "well of course, there are rattlesnakes this is Colorado in the summertime." No. There's a den of them at the mouth of the canyon, you can hear them shakin'. I only say this because my buddy and I were collecting firewood and he almost stepped over one and then also encountered one on the way to our climb. Having said that, this was last summer, summer of 2013, maybe they left; however, that's doubtful. Be careful.
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
Oct 5, 2015
The water faucet near the camping area is off. La Garita store is closest, but you need to get there when it's open.
By Lisa.wolff
Jun 5, 2016
Hi! My name is Lisa, and I am medical student working and living in the Del Norte area for the next three months. I have so far been unsuccessful finding a climbing partner in this area. Please email me if you are looking for a climbing partner at I've got plenty of gear to share, both trad and sport. Thanks!

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