By Ashley Peterson
When I first moved to the Gunnison Valley last year, I had no idea that I was moving to a low-key climbing hotspot. Within an hour from Gunnison, you can find yourself in a wide range of crags; there is something to suit every style of climber. If you love slab (power to you), Hartman Rocks just south of town offers many slabby sport pitches and the views are amazing! Beginner slab is out there too, so it is a great spot for newbies.
Close by, Taylor Canyon and Spring Creek are located near Almont and offer plenty of trad climbs across a wide range of difficulties. You can also find some multi-pitch climbs out there, including The Jackal and Spring Creek Tower. There is no approach to many of the routes in Taylor Canyon, you could literally belay from your car, if you felt so inclined.
If trad is not your thing, the Roadside crag in Spring Creek offers some awesome sport climbs, including a 13-bolt wall. Be careful here though, the approach is short, but it is just an entire hill of loose scree.
West of town, in the Powderhorn Wilderness, you can find The Point. The Point is some of the neatest climbing you can find around Gunnison. The drive takes about 45 minutes, and the approach adds another 10. The climbing is all on conglomerate rock. It is all sport climbing here, and you will love the holds, all the rocks sticking right out of the wall. Routes here range from a 5.6 called Inca Roads, to a 5.12a called Frequent Flyer Miles. This crag is rarely used; I have never seen another group here but climbing here is worth the drive!
Hold your horses boulderers, I am getting to you. Just a few miles north of Gunnison on your way to Crested Butte, on the left-hand side in Lost Canyon, you can find a small gravel pull-off on the side of the road. Parking there, you can find a small trail that works its way up the hill, the approach only takes about 10 minutes.
At the top of the hill, there is a long cliff band that goes out climber’s-right. You have made it to the infamous traverse wall! Well, it is infamous to the 10 people that know about it and regularly climb here. You can traverse along the wall for as long as you feel comfortable, all you need are shoes and chalk.
If you drive nearly all the way up to Crested Butte, you can hit Skyland for some great bouldering. Bring your crash pad and find a spot to park down in the subdivision, then hike up, the approach takes about 15 minutes. There are great boulders here with a variety of grades, suitable for all levels.
On a weekend, you might choose to venture further from town, which opens your options even more! Near Buena Vista, there is an incredible multipitch sport route called The Tao. The views from the top here are insane. Check the photo.
At some point, every climber should make their way to Shelf Road in Canon City. The number of routes here is endless and the scenery is fantastic. Be sure to check out the Piggy Bank crag while you are here. For those slab climbers, head to Penitente. Great pocketed and slabby climbs abound here.
Of course, you should also check out Mountain Project, it provides a good overview of all the climbing areas that I have mentioned. There is also one book on climbing in Gunnison Valley called Gunnison Rock by Leo Malloy. I recommend picking that up and having a look at all the great routes in the area.
Here is your intro to climbing in Gunnison Valley; Be safe and happy sending!