If you’ve ever ventured to the top of the Bastille formation in Eldorado Canyon, you’ve likely noticed the massive steel cable that circles the summit. What you may not have realized is the cable used to be the anchor for a 530-foot highwire strung between the Bastille and Wind Tower across South Boulder Creek. That cable remained in place for decades and one man, Ivy Baldwin took dozens of trips across the line. Below is a photo taken sometime around 1905 of Ivy doing his thing, 500 feet above the canyon floor. If you look closely enough you can make out the pole tightrope artists use to lower their center of gravity and help balance.
The photo also documents the canyon before installation of the dirt road. What a different place Eldo is now than in those early days. Visit on 4th of July weekend and you’ll see the picnic capital of the world. But in Ivy’s time, through the early days of climbing and on to today, the unique sandstone towers inspire those looking to push their limits. More than a century later, picnics aside, Eldo remains rustic. No pavement collects polished campers, no restaurants collect polished people and the traditional climbing ethic early ascentionists established is still alive and well. I’m guessing Ivy would be happy to hear that.