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Skull Cave

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bone Machine S 
Cracked Open Sky, The S 
Daydream Nation S 
Dont' Trust Whitey S 
Forgotten Years S 
Moroni Blows S 
Pile Driver S 
Pygmy Mastodon Boner S 
Skeletor S 
Skull Fuck S 

Skull Cave Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: Alvaro Arnal, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Dawson on Nov 9, 2001

43° | 28°

44° | 32°

41° | 25°

38° | 25°

40° | 25°

45° | 28°
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Driving Piles in the Skull Cave on a rainy day.


The "Skull Cave" is the massive cave on the East side of the canyon a bit downstream from Feline. This is a true cave, and all of the routes are completely sheltered from the rain, making this a popular hang in wet weather. However, despite the fact that no rain drop has ever touched these walls, most of the routes are often wet until mid-summer due to seepage. These lines have a rather nasty appearance, with corroded bolts, and covered in dirt and moss. Several of the once-classic lines have changed substantially over the years as the water has finally torn the choss loose.

There are a couple of worthwhile lines that are generally dry, and make for decent warmups. These lines are on the outer edges of the cave. Most of the routes going out the center of the cave are steep and hard (5.13).

Getting There 

Park downstream from the cave at a two car pullout or further down at a picknick area. Follow a trail at the "No Parking" sign up to the cave. This is the fifth crag on the right on the way into the park. Significantly large and deep, it is blocked from the road by a few trees.


Before climbers re-named it, the Skull Cave used to be named Old Maid's Kitchen, which is what the town locals still call it. Apparently an Old Maid of sorts used it as a kitchen to cook for some menfolk. Not much else is known.

If you think of the cave as Old Maid's Kitchen and choose not to climb here, you'll probably have a blast. If, however, you insist on seeing it as the "Skull Cave," then prepare to lock horns with a seeping, subpar climbing venue replete with sharp, barnacle-lipped pockets, oozing clumps of toxic moss and huecos filled with venomous spiders and various bits of nameless filth.

Just think of the Old Maid soloing this route in her cookin' shoes as you fumble desperately for a dirt-covered sloper at the lip of the cave and success will be yours!

Climbing Season

Weather station 13.8 miles from here

10 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Skull Cave

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Skull Cave:
Pile Driver   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Daydream Nation   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, Chipped, 1 pitch, 60'   
Skull Fuck   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, Chipped, 1 pitch, 40'   
Skeletor   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   
The Cracked Open Sky   5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Skull Cave

Featured Route For Skull Cave
Rock Climbing Photo: Bryan Ferris on Pygmy Mastodon Boner. Photo by Mic...

Pygmy Mastodon Boner 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b  Colorado : Rifle Mountain Park : Skull Cave
This is the rightmost route in the Skull Cave and one of the single worst pitches in North America. If you think I"m exaggerating then go have a crack at it . . .Climb past the grey cold-shuts through the hollow, overlapping flake/blocks into a corner below a capping roof. Turn the roof then lower off the last bolt -- or downjump -- or something.Before climbers re-named it, the Skull Cave used to be named Old Maid's Kitchen, which is what the town locals still call it. Apparently an Old Maid of ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

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