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The West Ridge

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Corner Stone 
West Ridge - part A - Verschneidung to base 
West Ridge - part B - Long John to Verschneidung 
West Ridge - part C - Pony Express to Long John 
West Ridge - part D - Xanadu to Pony Express 
West Ridge - part E - top to Xanadu 
West Ridge - part F - The Potato Chip 

The West Ridge Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 5,500'
Location: 39.93129, -105.28757 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 174,223
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Mar 20, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: Some of the major formations on the north side of ...

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  • Description 

    Okay, here we go. Big section of rock here. This bit of reorg will take longer. Beware of falling participles, hanging adjectives, hazardous grammar...for you perfectionists...don't read any further until it is safe....

    The West Ridge is an amazing, diagonalling cliff band, far wider than tall, with an enormous variety of climbing on SW-facing Fountain Formation sandstone. There are face climbs, dihedrals, slabs, overhangs, thin cracks, wide cracks, lots of moderate routes, but, sorry, no long routes. It lies just W of its larger sister, the Redgarden Wall, and rises out from the S. Boulder Creek to the gully just before Rincon. Interestingly, this ridge seems to have escaped the climbers' attention until 1963. Perhaps, it is 2400 feet wide by up to 350 feet tall with at least 180 routes. These routes range in length from 20 foot highballs to the 5-pitch Long John Wall and from 4th class to 5.12d at least; however lower than 5.7 & higher than 5.11 is are lightly represented here. So, higher end climbers need to look elsewhere for established testpieces unless you want to free one of the few remaining aid lines. Likely, it has the greatest potential for unclimbed routes remaining in Eldorado but many of the unclimbed areas area unclimbed for a reason.

    Although there are no long routes here, this is a particularly great place to climb since climbing is well-spread out, there are all sorts of difficulties in climbing routes close together, and it's simply beautiful here. You can dial in your temperature setting by aspect of the face, shade, & altitude. For the moderate traditional climber seeking ease of access & variety, there may no place better in the close-in Denver Metro area.

    For the purposes of organization for ease of use, the West Ridge is divided into 6 areas by well-known, spaced-out, arbitrary climbs (Xanadu, Pony Express, Long John Wall, Verschneidung) with the distinct Potato Chip (cover shot for the classic Boulder Climbs South) which remains from the previous organizational scheme.

    While there may be no top-ten in Eldorado Canyon SP here, there are many fine lines to savor. Washington Irving, 5.6; Verscheidung, 5.7; Knight's Move, 5.7; the strenuous Mesca-Line, 5.7; Chianti, 5.8+; Long John Wall, 5.8+; The Unsaid, 5.9; Purple Haze, 5.9; Allosaur, 5.9 s; Morning Thunder, 5.9+; the delightful Positively Fourth Street, 5.9+; Chockstone, 5.10a; Handcracker Direct, 5.10a; the fine Xanadu, 5.10a; Break on Through, 5.10a; Laughing at the Moon, 5.10b; Hand Crack, 5.10b; Variation to Mail Ridge, 5.10; Sooberb, 5.10c; the exquisite Prince of Darkness, 5.11a; Practice Climb 101 to Sidewall, 5.11a s; Wing Shot, 5.11b; Parallels, 5.11b s; the fun Terminal Velocity, 5.11b/c s; the fine Pony Express, 5.11c; Iron Horse, 5.11c s; Jericho, 5.11c; amazing Bit by Bit, 5.11c/d; Wild Turkey, 5.11c/d s; Foxtrot, 5.11d s; the airy French Fry, 5.12b; the intimidating The Reckoning, 5.12d; among others.

    Descent can be done by rappel or scrambling down the E side of the ridge when there it is snow-free.

    So, while we're working on this, anyone care to sound in on if they've already done my long-term vision of a girdle traverse? I'm guessing this could be the second longest climb in the area. Mic? Did Derek do this? Crusher? Chris? Hamish? Tony? Bob? Malcolm? Duncan? Charlie?

    Girdle on Redgarden is probably bigger.

    Getting There 

    Approach is dependent upon the depth of the creek, the section of wall you wish to climb, the parking available, and your desires for the day. You can approach the top of the ridge by parking at the W end of the park, hiking up the Eldorado Canyon Trail, take the turn off for the Rincon access, then boulder hop the talus, and cross to the Rincon. Then angle down a short way to the top of the ridge. You can approach the lower part of the ridge by parking at the Milton Boulder, wade the stream or boulder hop (Aug-ish to May-ish) to the base of the ridge and ascend. Finally, you can approach the lower part of the ridge by parking at the E end of the park, cross the bridge, hike on the trail paralleling the creek, and traverse the slippery 3rd class ramp around to the base of the West Ridge. Note, this last traverse is intimidating for small kids and particularly green partners.

    Climbing Season

    Weather station 0.3 miles from here

    246 Total Climbing Routes

    ['4 Stars',10],['3 Stars',57],['2 Stars',100],['1 Star',68],['Bomb',11]

    Classic Climbing Routes in The West Ridge

    Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The West Ridge:
    Washington Irving   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 130'   West Ridge - part B - Long ...
    Verschneidung Dihedral   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   West Ridge - part A - Versc...
    Mesca-Line   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch   West Ridge - part C - Pony ...
    Long John Wall   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 4 pitches   West Ridge - part B - Long ...
    Chianti   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches   West Ridge - part B - Long ...
    Ignominity   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 3 pitches   West Ridge - part C - Pony ...
    The Unsaid   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   West Ridge - part B - Long ...
    Purple Haze   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   West Ridge - part E - top t...
    Allosaur   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R     Trad, 3 pitches   West Ridge - part A - Versc...
    Positively Fourth Street   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Chockstone   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 165'   West Ridge - part E - top t...
    Xanadu   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Hand Crack (aka White Lightning)   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Handcracker Direct   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 5 pitches   West Ridge - part C - Pony ...
    Break on Through   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 2 pitches   West Ridge - part B - Long ...
    Prince of Darkness   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch   West Ridge - part E - top t...
    Iron Horse   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 2 pitches   West Ridge - part C - Pony ...
    Parallels   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch   West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Terminal Velocity   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Pony Express   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 2 pitches   West Ridge - part C - Pony ...
    Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The West Ridge

    Featured Route For The West Ridge
    Rock Climbing Photo: A send of Crazy Fingers.

    Crazy Fingers 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a PG13  Colorado : Eldorado Canyon SP : ... : West Ridge - part D - Xanad...
    Seldom done and very misunderstood (there is actually plenty of good gear, I swear!), this is an unheralded Eldo classic. The body movement through the thin sidepulls and finger locks is everything a trad climber dreams of; subtle, precise, technical and just a little bit powerful. And to top it off, the climbing is framed by stunning yellow streaks of lichen....[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

    Photos of The West Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: The West Ridge. 4/13/03
    BETA PHOTO: The West Ridge. 4/13/03
    Rock Climbing Photo: Be careful crossing the stream in the winter....
    BETA PHOTO: Be careful crossing the stream in the winter....
    Rock Climbing Photo: High Traverse.
    High Traverse.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Charlie Fowler on Parlez-Vous Hang-dog? (5.12), El...
    Charlie Fowler on Parlez-Vous Hang-dog? (5.12), El...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Crazy lighting on West Ridge after a storm.
    Crazy lighting on West Ridge after a storm.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The West Ridge near Long John Wall at sunset.
    The West Ridge near Long John Wall at sunset.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset.
    Rock Climbing Photo: The early spring and late fall approach to the Wes...
    The early spring and late fall approach to the Wes...

    Comments on The West Ridge Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By Ernie Port
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Jun 3, 2003
    Due to the raging high water, access to West ridge is a bit more complicated but can still be made from the east. However, the 4th class polished boulder next to the stream, that most folks skirt around or over, is not an option. We climbed straight up 3rd class terrain from there and rapped from a dead tree to the trail below on the other side.If your returning the same way, there's a slot that goes at (6) for 20' in the corner by the standard walk around next to the river.
    By clint dillard
    From: Louisville, Co
    Apr 14, 2004
    ROCK FALL WARNING!!! There has been some major rock fall at the north buttress of West Ridge, right of Chockstone and left of Xanadu. There are still some rocks coming down. I could not tell if any routes were damaged but there is dust all over the face.
    By Chris Cavallaro
    Jun 15, 2014
    I am hoping for information on if the comment above from 2003 is accurate and information on how to access the West ridge now as currently it is obviously not wadeable and not passable (about 50yds down and across stream from the Milton Boulder) when walking on the north side of the river and when you hit the last polished slabby boulder. The water is blocking the last scramble.
    We tried going up the most obvious gully but found ourselves cliffed out at after reaching the first level/'top' area. It appeared that people may still be rapping off a tree lying on the ground, but I am not sure how we get back out based on the comment above and if it is still accurate.

    Any information is very much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
    By Larry Graham
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jul 24, 2014
    In reply to Chris in June 2014, my partner and I were heading to the West Ridge today to do Long John and Sooberb Lite. We also found the lower, old, rock-hopping traverse and even the slick rock option impassable, but there is another decent way to access the lower climbs: at the point that you would have started up the slick red rock section, head up a gully with mostly 3rd class climbing and head up a fair way until you are basically right underneath Morning Thunder wall. Then you must downclimb 30 or 40 feet of lower 5th class to get to the trail. Wear your best approach shoes for this section. It goes pretty fast and really isn't much longer than the old way(s). It would be nice if someday a bridge of some kind would be built across the river near the Milton Boulder. The flood last year has funneled the stream in a very different way which is why even in late July the lower crossings are impossible.

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