Silt climber publishes new guidebook |

Silt climber publishes new guidebook

Derek Franz
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy Cody BlairDave Pegg cranks for the next handhold on a cliff near Carbondale. Pegg is the author of "Rifle Mountain Park and Western Colorado Rock Climbs" " a new, comprehensive guidebook for the area between Leadville, Redstone and Rifle.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A mildly historic moment in Western Slope rock climbing recently rolled off the presses.

Dave Pegg, a 41-year-old native of Great Britain, who now lives in Silt, is behind the movement that recently produced and published “Rifle Mountain Park and Western Colorado Rock Climbs.” The $29 book ” the most comprehensive climbing guide ever compiled for the area ” hit shelves late last month.

I’ve been living in New Castle and Glenwood Springs for half of my 25 years and climbing since age 11, and I’d never heard about many of the climbs hidden right out my back door until I flipped through the book’s 229 glossy, photo-filled, full-color pages.

Glenwood Springs, apparently, is at ground zero for a contemporary golden age of route development. That’s not to say El Capitan-sized cliffs of perfect stone have suddenly been discovered; by “golden age,” I mean there’s simply a lot of rock between Leadville, Redstone and Rifle that’s worth climbing and has met very few fingerprints, if any at all.

“The best thing about being a climber on the Western Slope,” says Pegg, “is all the unclimbed rock. There are so many new cliffs to find and explore that will have great climbing.”

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Indeed. Besides the world-class limestone strewn throughout the area (especially in Rifle Mountain Park), there are varieties of granite and solid, red sandstone similar to the stuff around Boulder, and other rock types, as well. It is many of these latter places that are being placed on the map for this first time, thanks to Pegg’s book and adventurous locals who’ve been exploring.

“Please credit BJ Sbarra, Jeff Achey and Nate Adams as co-authors of the book,” Pegg stressed. “(And) also for their sterling efforts discovering and developing new climbing areas. Without those guys, the book would be a lot thinner.”

Two others who deserve a mention for their efforts are Jeff Jackson of Carbondale and Bryan Gall of New Castle.

When Jackson isn’t in his office at Rock and Ice magazine, he is usually putting up first ascents around Basalt. Since he moved here in 2005, his energy seems to have bolstered the hunger for new-routing in these parts and his name is now associated with several difficult lines (5.12 trad/5.13 sport) that look to be of quality.

Gall has been a fixture on the local climbing scene for many years. When he’s not teaching seventh-grade social studies at Glenwood Middle School, he likes to bushwhack into all kinds of places just to see what’s there. He’s always looking out for the average Joe, establishing fun routes, typically from 5.7 to 5.10. His efforts have helped to round out the spectrum at a few cliffs that would otherwise be too difficult for many climbers.

All the recent activity has not come without challenges, however. At least two cliffs outside of Carbondale are neglected in the guide book due to land-use issues that complicate access for climbers.

“All land-managers should get to go climbing for a day,” Pegg said. “The same goes for any activity or user group that the land managers may have to manage.

Hopefully they would have a lot of fun and understand the activity and user group better.”

Pegg has been a steward for the Western Slope for at least 10 years. Since writing the second guide ever compiled for Rifle Mountain Park ” “Bite the Bullet” ” in 1998, he became a liaison of sorts between climbers and Rifle city officials while building a house, getting married, starting his own business, Wolverine Publishing, and writing a third Rifle climbing guide in 2001.

“Today we have 13 titles covering climbing, kayaking, skiing, parenting and horse riding,” he said.

Before all that, he’d been working as an editor at Climbing Magazine (then in Carbondale), which sponsored him for a work visa and a green card (and later helped him get Wolverine off the ground).

“I’d already climbed in Rifle and loved it, so I was really happy to be able to move to the area and be a local.”

Even after all these years living here as a local, however, Pegg is stoked to have recently earned his U.S. citizenship.

“I’m looking forward to being able to vote!” he said.

That might be a bit ironic, since climbers wanting to establish routes or replace anchors in Rifle Mountain Park basically need his vote to get official approval from the city.

So, if you see a guy at the crag with a knee brace who appears to be in his element ” “happy, focused and alive” ” when he slips into his harness, go ahead and say, “Hi.”

He might even have a copy of “Rifle Mountain Park and Western Colorado Rock Climbs” available to sell you from the back of his car.

If you’re like me and have to know everything, especially about climbing, you probably won’t be disappointed.

I’ve passed my advance copy around, fishing for any potential criticism, and I’ve mostly been getting skunked for weeks. The only quarrels seem to be with some difficulty ratings changing to lower or higher numbers, compared to previous guides. But maybe all the love is just because the photos are so pretty to look at, or because this book is the latest, hottest thing off the press for climbing bums everywhere around these parts.

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