Gold Butte opens to climbing
October 14, 2013
Gold Butte near Aspen is once again ready for rock climbing. The area officially reopens Monday.
The pinnacle of Entrada sandstone, perched high above the Rio Grande Trail and the Roaring Fork River, was a popular spot with local climbers in the 1970s and '80s before public access to the private property was closed off. The area was acquired by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails in January, leading to its reopening.
Now, with a management plan in place for Gold Butte, local climbers have been at work re-establishing routes on the rock. Hardware has been bolted into place, debris has been cleaned from the craggy feature and new trail access off McLain Flats Road provides an easy hike from the Sunnyside Trail parking area to Gold Butte. Volunteers from Aspen Expeditions, Aspen Alpine Guides and a Boulder-based organization called the Access Fund were involved in Gold Butte preparations. So were Aspen Skiing Co. employees and enrollees in Jaywalker Lodge, a rehabilitation program in Carbondale. The American Safe Climbing Association donated hardware.
"The climbing community really stepped up to make this happen," said Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of Open Space and Trails. "This is our program's first foray into rock climbing, but knowledgeable climbers have been a huge help, offering their advice on managing the area and actually getting out there, roping up and getting it ready."
There are routes for climbers of all abilities, according to Bob Wade, a climber and member of the steering committee that helped the county reopen the area. Roughly a dozen routes have been bolted since mid-summer, he said.
"We're excited that Gold Butte is ready to open. It's been a challenge with all the wet weather," added Wade, who has spent plenty of time over the past two months reacquainting himself with cliffs he climbed 25 years ago. "I'm psyched. I feel like I want to get another eight or 10 routes done, but there's plenty for people to go out and enjoy. It'll be great to get people's feedback on how it's going out there."
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There are plans for an online guide to let people know which routes have been bolted. It will be updated as additional routes are established, said Wade, who intends to post the guide on his Aspen mountaineering shop's website, at http://www.ute mountaineer.com.
A few guidelines for climbing at Gold Butte have been posted at the site: Dogs are not allowed there, and climbers are advised to avoid the soft rock when it is wet or damp. Helmet use is recommended while climbing or belaying, or standing in close proximity to the rock faces. Access is only via established trails.
No additional bolting is permitted on the rocks without first seeking permission to establish a new route. Climbers are urged to contact Open Space and Trails at 970-920-5232 to request new, fixed hardware and to report unsafe conditions.
For more information, contact Gary Tennenbaum, Open Space and Trails assistant director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-920-5355.