While scouting out the spring conditions on the Colorado 14,000 foot peaks in the Sawatch Range this last weekend, May 23rd, 2004, Suzy and I stopped at Elevenmile Canyon at Lake George, as we headed toward Colorado Springs. We've climbed here before, a couple years ago on a holiday weekend, but wanted to get another look at some of these cool granite formations and scout out a few new routes for the wish list.
While there's some excellent climbing on the Elevenmile Dome, not even 3 miles into the canyon, it's so close to the road that I would have needed to cross the river to get far enough back for a shot of it, and I wasn't going to do that on this trip. While it doesn't seem worth going into the routes without a picture to look at, I would like to add a little about one route called Cheryl's Peril (5.9). This route has an exciting crux finish that tends to take your mind away from the fact that you've just climbed 110 feet, and you can't simply lower or rap down on a 60m rope. I ended up rapping down to a lower bolt and doing a second rap from there. The next day, I was told that if the belayer moves off to the right and further up some where, that a climber can be lowered down, but I don't know; sounds kind of funky to me.
Moving on up the canyon, about 4 miles in now, the next formation I like is Arch Rock. On its far left is a beautiful 3-pitch 5.5 called the Staircase, that's one of the best easy routes I've been on. It's also got a nice alternate 5.8 fist crack / off-width finish if you feel like increasing the difficulty a little.
I haven't been on Turret Dome yet, less than a quarter mile up from Arch Rock; but despite it's less than vertical appearance, I see a lot of good moderate lines on it. Furthermore, with White Stress, a 3 star 5.12- running up the face between the obvious roofs, this formation may be more challenging than it looks.
Just over 5 miles up the road now, the Teale Tower Route (5.11-), on the Teale Tower, has my name written all over it. This would be my hardest lead attempt "Don't look so bad!", if I could get back there again in a little better shape.
Roof By-Pass on the Pine Cone Dome, 8 miles into the canyon, is one of the most enjoyable climbs of its grade that I've done: excellent jamming and stemming. The guide book for the area only gives it one star, but then the guide book also only rates it 5.6 when it should probably be a solid 5.7.
A full 8.5 miles into the canyon now, Baboon Rock sits right above the Cove Campground area. For the most part, any climbs here are hard 5.10 or 11. I was surprised though, that the obvious chimney doesn't seem to be documented. I'm sure it's hard, but it looks good.
At the end of the road, way above the Spillway Campground, sits The Fortress. Although most of its climbs are located on the lower rocks, not seen in this shot, I've got my eye on this beautiful dihedral on the upper rock, Vapor Drawings (5.10+).
Mueller State Park/Elevenmile Canyon, Colorado
Rocky Climbing Colorado