Get a grip, take a climb |

Get a grip, take a climb

Chad Abraham
A young climber shows 'em how it's done on one of the popular rock faces of Independence Pass near Aspen. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

If you are into rock climbing, or have considered giving it a try, the local mountains are a great place to get a grip.

Some of the best climbing around can be found on the outskirts of three towns in the vicinity: Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Rifle. If you’re looking to expand your comfort zone, rock climbing is a perfect means. When you’re ready, here are some suggestions:

Aspen Expeditions/Rocky Mountain Climbing School offers tips and training for everyone from first-timers to experienced climbers working on new techniques.

Prospective climbers will be schooled in the ease of the sport in an environment that stresses safety. Certified guides will lead groups up to the Grottos, for instance ” a gorgeous rock outcropping on Independence Pass with spectacular waterfalls fed by the Roaring Fork River. Other amazing climbs include the Cardo’s Corner, Wild Rock and Ptarmigan.

Some of the routes are for beginners, while others are multipitch endeavors that require technical skills. Aspen Expeditions/Rocky Mountain Climbing School offers low ratios of guides to students to ensure that climbers receive the instruction they need. Once on the pass, climbers can enjoy everything from simple top roping to challenging multipitch routes.

Aspen Expeditions/Rocky Mountain Climbing School offers guided trips from June until September. Call 925-7625.

What’s better than climbing in one of the world’s most beautiful places? How about convenience? The climbing spots on Independence Pass are just 30 minutes outside of Aspen.

The climbing scene near Glenwood Springs is just as convenient, and offers something for everyone. Nestled in No Name Canyon are routes that test the mettle of the most hardened climber. But the wonder of this spot is that it has plentiful routes for beginners’ too.

With the canyon’s wild beauty all around, it is easy to get outside oneself and see what you can really accomplish. No Name branches off from the famous and stunning Glenwood Canyon. To get there, take the No Name exit off I-70 (it’s the first one east of Glenwood Springs). Drive to the end of the road (there are only a handful of parking spots available, though); a five-minute hike will take you to the base of the first crags.

This spot offers sport climbing (meaning anchor bolts are already drilled into the rock) on a wide variety of terrain. Most of the climbing is single pitch, but there are two multipitch routes.

Even closer to town is The Puex spot. This is for climbers who don’t scare easily. The site caters to traditional climbers, or those who put in protective gear as they climb. All you need are the three C’s: a crack in the rock, chalk on your hands and courage in your cranium. And the right equipment, of course. To get to this spot, again take the No Name exit and head back to Glenwood. Pull off onto the dirt parking area just before the tunnels outside town.

For more information, contact the climbing experts at Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood (945-6994).

Yet another hot spot for rock fans is outside of Rifle, west of Glenwood Springs on I-70. Thirteen miles outside town is Rifle Mountain Park, one of the nation’s top sport climbing destinations.

The area offers 2.5 miles of routes on steep limestone walls (ice climbing is offered here in the winter). Most routes are for advanced climbers, though a few will suit novices. Climbers pay a daily fee of $4 or can buy a yearly pass for $40.

Camping is available in designated sites for $7 a night. Call (970) 625-2151 for more information.

Feel like familiarizing yourself with the sport in a more controlled environment before tackling the big stuff? The Aspen Recreation Department can help you get a toehold in the sport. At the ARC, as it’s known locally, climbers will find a 32-foot tower that offers more than 25 routes and four auto belays.

The ARC is located on Maroon Creek Road, a short drive southwest of town, across from the Aspen schools campus.

The true indoor secret in Aspen, though, is at “the Red Brick,” as the former school, now an arts and recreation center, is known. The Red Brick, at 110 E. Hallam St., boasts Aspen’s largest indoor climbing facility ” a wall with 3,100 feet of climbing surface. The wall is well-suited for climbers of all ages and abilities. Skills that can be practiced here include working on top-rope routes and lead paths.

For more information, call 920-5140.