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Shelf Road
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Shelf Road, located about 30 minutes north of Cañon City, Colorado, is our favorite off season destination. It's consistently warmer than the upper Colorado Front Range, and the sport climbing is excellent. Taken from the CHRanch, this shot shows Cactus Cliff on the left, Spiney Ridge center-right, and the Gym area around the corner on the far right.

From Left to right, there's Cactus Cliff, Spiney Ridge, and the New Gym.

Menses Prow, in the Gallery, with the California Ethics Pinnacle on the left, is loaded with quality routes. While the approach is just a bit more uphill, the view coming up the trail is great. There's normally a steady breeze running through the area too, which feels pretty good on a warm day.

Menses Prow Proper and the California Ethics Pinnacle in the Gallery at Shelf Road

Toward the end of October in 2007, Suzy and I were climbing at the Fish Wall, in the Gallery, when we got this cool shot of an unknown climber on Menses (5.10d), across the canyon on the southeast side of Menses Prow.

Unknown climber on the southeast side of Menses Prow in the Gallery

During the Memorial Day holiday weekend in 2006, with the summer heat well on its way in for the season, the west side of Menses Prow in the Gallery was one of a number of good places to escape the morning heat. The shot below was taken from the northwest end of the Far Side.

Shaded mornging shot of Menses Prow Proper west side with Memorial Day Weekend climbers scattered about, in the Gallery at Shelf Road

While my Wife, Suzy, only had a one-time-use camera with her the day she took this shot at Cactus Cliff, in September of 2004, I really like the angle.

View looking up at Climber at Cactus Cliff, Shelf Road

As I shamelessly hang-dogged up Sonic Youth, in the "Beyond the 2150 Wall" area of the Bank, April 2007, I couldn't help noticing that this route provides some of the best scenery at Shelf, with an awesome view of Cactus Cliff to the east, and The Dark Side looking south.

Beautiful view of the start of Sonic Youth at the Bank, Shelf Road Struggling up Sonic Youth, in the Bank area at Shelf Road

Lady and Crimper, hosts at the CHRanch, south of Shelf Road, posed for Suzy in this photo taken back in September of 2005. Throw their ball a couple times, and you'll have two friends for life.

Lady and Crimper, Yellow Labs residing at the CHRanch, just south of Shelf Road

In October of 2004, we took our nephew, Jaramie, down to Shelf for his first time out climbing. While looking down was a minor problem at first, after two days he was showing surprisingly good form. In this shot he's on Time Square at the Contest Wall, in the Sand Gulch area, with the Free Form Wall across the way.

Our nephew, Jaramie, climbing at Contest Wall in the Sand Gulch area, Shelf Road

Our favorite way of ending a great weekend of climbing at Shelf, is to follow Shelf Road on up through the canyon to Cripple Creek. The scenery is beautiful, and it's fairly common to see some Big Horn Sheep along the way. In April of 2005, this shot was taken looking right out the car window, just a few miles up from the Gym area.

Big Horn Sheep along Shelf Road, between the Gym area and Cripple Creek

The cacti were blooming everywhere around Shelf at the end of May, Memorial Day Weekend, 2006. This bloomin cactus was just off the trail along the west side of Menses Prow, in the Gallery.

Cactus Blooming in the Gallery area, Shelf Road

Some day, one of these wild turkeys, often seen along the road between Cañon City and Shelf, is going to push its luck too far lurking in the shadows like this. Cruising down the road back towards town on the 1st of April - 2007, I stomped on the break, once again, to avoid a kill.

Wild Turkey crossing the road, between Cañon City and Shelf Road

After a couple days of bad weather at the end of March - 2007, dumping large amounts of snow in the high country, Suzy and I pulled into the Bank area parking on the 31st. As soon as I opened the Jeep door, I grabbed the camera and telephoto lens to capture the following shot, looking south at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The high point just left of center is Humboldt Peak, with a summit altitude of 14,064 feet.

View of snow-capped Sangre de Cristo mountains from Bank area parking, Shelf Road

While I can't remember exactly where this shot was taken, probably the Sand Gulch or Gallery area though, it's worth noting that it was taken on December 30th of 2005. We initially planned to go ice climbing at Ouray on this trip, but when a warm front came in, we went rock climbing at Shelf instead; I love Colorado!

Cactus with back lighting, somewhere in the Shelf Road climbing area

Saturday, November 7th, 2009, Suzy was in the lead as we hiked back out at the end of a day climbing on Contest Wall, when she unexpectedly ran into Bob D'Antonio in the middle of changing pants on the trail. Bob had just finished the last of three new routes he was putting up on the south end of wall. His group was guessing this one would go somewhere in the 5.9+ to 5.10a range, and it looked like a good challenge. Further down the trail, I stopped to get this shot of Bob making the first ascent.

Bob D'Antonio putting in a new route on contest wall, November 7th, 2009

Area Guide Books

Rock Climbing Shelf Road
- out-of-Print

Shelf Road Rock
- Out of Print

Shelf Road Rock: A Complete Climbing Reference
- The New Guide!

Shelf Road's Cactus Cliff & Spiney Ridge
- Out of Print

Rocky Climbing Colorado

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