American climbing is as vast and varied as our people and cultures. From Joshua Tree to Red River Gorge to The Gunks and everywhere in between, we are lucky to have so much at our fingertips. But through the history of American climbing, two places stand tallest – Yosemite and Eldorado Canyon.
For the last three years, I’ve largely devoted my climbing to Eldo’s beautiful maroon sandstone. Steve Levin’s recent guidebook documents over 1,100 routes. Many, if not the majority, of these lines are rarely-repeated historical notes. But scores of Eldo’s climbs are true classics and several hundred amazing routes await those with the desire to explore and the temerity to face the “old school” standards.
Though numerous excellent moderates and lines up to 5.14 are available, Eldo is the land of 5.11. If you can muster the craft and courage to lead 5.11 on devious gear and bewildering rock, Eldo will reward you with the best tasting warm sunset PBR that’s ever graced your tongue.
Whether vague or specific, setting goals has always helped me stay motivated and excited to keep getting out for great climbing. Last year, two goals became apparent for my Eldo adventures. First, I wanted to either redpoint or onsight at least 50 Eldo 5.11s, on lead. Second, I wanted to climb at least 200 Eldo routes of any grade. In October, I ticked off Eldo 5.11 number 50. Unfortunately, I came up just short of the 200 route mark with 191.
Though every climb and every day climbing holds great potential and great value, some climbs are better than others. I’ve put together a few lists that you might find useful if you’re looking to sample Eldo’s vertical terrain.
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