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The Dark Side

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
27 Tons S 
Acetylcholine S 
Animatronic S 
Asym S 
Audition, The S 
Beginner's Outing S 
Black 'N Dicey S 
Black Awareness S 
Black Dihedral T 
Blank Frank S 
Bonnie S 
Call From Overseas S 
Clyde S 
Corner Pockets S 
Counter Balance S 
Crack Happens S 
Crack's On Top, The S 
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest S 
Dark Side Roofs S 
Eagle has Landed, The S 
Eat, Drink, and Beat Larry S 
Edge Of Fright S 
El Guapo S 
Enchanted Porkfist S 
Face The Music S 
Fat Like Butta S 
Fight or Flight S 
Fragile S 
Go East, Old Man S 
I Scare Myself T,S 
Kashmere S 
Kinesthesia S 
Levels of the Game S 
Line of Strength S 
Lumina S 
Man in Black S 
Mannequin S 
Missing Hangers aka Hangers Regained S 
Muted by Reality S 
Plum, The S 
Porkus Procurement S 
Puddle Of Holes S 
Punjabi S 
Red Devil S 
Redlined S 
Rip It S 
Route Fluffer S 
Shelf Road Virgin S 
Stink Finger S 
Stuck in the Middle With You S 
Suspender Man S 
Swinging Richards S 
Teenage Wristband S 
Thank Heaven for Little Girls S 
Trolling For Holds S 
Two Hearts S 
U Pump It S 
Unknown S 
Unknown But Worth Doing S 
Viaggro S 
Void Lloyd S 
Warm Busch Beer T 
Way We Were, The T 
Welcoming, The S 
Whisper To A Scream S 

The Dark Side Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,800'
Location: 38.6281, -105.2239 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 29,028
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 28, 2001  with updates from Chad Groer
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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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.

Getting There 

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".

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.3 miles from here

65 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',25],['2 Stars',34],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Dark Side

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Dark Side:
Beginner's Outing   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Acetylcholine   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Lumina   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Fight or Flight   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
27 Tons   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   
Black 'N Dicey   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Teenage Wristband   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Unknown But Worth Doing   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Corner Pockets   5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Porkus Procurement   5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Enchanted Porkfist   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Dark Side Roofs   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
The Crack's On Top   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Muted by Reality   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Two Hearts   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
The Welcoming   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Suspender Man   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
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'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Dark Side

Featured Route For The Dark Side
Rock Climbing Photo: Line of Strength.

Line of Strength 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Colorado : Shelf Road : The Dark Side
Line of Strength is located on the right side of the Dark Side, a few climbs to the right of The Audition. It has an undercut start with a very high first bolt. Stick clip the first bolt, and climb a tough boulder problem off the ground. The route then follows well-spaced bolts to a cruxy section on the upper black face. he upper section is quite [spicy] with one bolt protecting the final 35 feet of 11/11+ climbing.This is all-time Shelf classic that is a bit old school. Consider t...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of The Dark Side Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Dark Side from Cactus Cliff.
BETA PHOTO: The Dark Side from Cactus Cliff.
Rock Climbing Photo: Las montañas de la Sangre de Christo, above the D...
Las montañas de la Sangre de Christo, above the D...
Rock Climbing Photo: Overview showing Porkus Procurement
BETA PHOTO: Overview showing Porkus Procurement

Comments on The Dark Side Add Comment
Show which comments
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.
By JenH
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.

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