Rock Climbing in Durango, Co. The sport of rock climbing has become extremely popular throughout the world and the climbing scene in this little corner has evolved into something very special. Durango is situated in a post glaciation valley edged by high cliffs of mixed quality sandstone with some superb locations for different types of climbing. Many are very close to town with easy access which makes them a great choice for people wanting to practice techniques and try out new gear. Durango has the stones if you have the bones! Where to find the climbs in Durango? We will touch on a few of the popular locations and try to provide some information about what to expect from each. By rock climbing we are referring to "technical climbing" on cliff / rock faces requiring ropes and equipment preparatory to the sport. If you do not have training and working knowledge of these types of activities, it is highly advisable (mandatory for personal safety) that you take training courses or lessons from a qualified instructor. Durango has several places that can instruct people of just about any ability level which will teach you how to be safe and have fun. X-Rock: You almost can't miss this one. If you are headed north on Main Avenue (Hwy 550) at the north edge of town you can see the rock cliffs on the left side.The most prominent formation has two cracks in it that make an "X" in it. Hence the name.  There are two places for parking on the west side of the highway. Turn to the west (towards the rocks) at the light onto W. 2nd ave. right next to the Department of Transportation building, parking will be on the left. The other area is just past C.D.O.T. and is a small dirt road that dead ends at a trail. This area consists of many Top Rope and Trads  that range from 5.7 to 5.11a in moderate sandstone. Trails and anchor points are highly visible and well marked so quick setup for your climb is easy. X-Rock is a spectacular place to learn intermediate to advanced skills necessary for the sport and because of the variety of routes has become very popular for instructors. This area is popular and is one of the most visited sites in Durango so don't expect to climb alone but the people here are some of the friendliest you can ever find. East Animas: Located directly across the animas valley to the east of X-Rock, north of Durango on CR. 250 is Durango's climbing "hot spot". Taking CR. 250 going north about 2 ½ miles out of town, look for a sign on the right that says  East Animas Rock Climbing and a Memorial Marker for Durango Local Jeff Singer. This marks the main parking lot and trail head. The approach is about ½ to ¾ of a mile on single track trail that takes you to the foot of the cliff faces that hold over sixty climbing spots! These are some of the best routes in the area and have some fun challenges. Many climbs are sport double pitch with a difficulty range from 5.7 to a finger numbing 5.13c. The rock is mixed moderate sandstone face with cracks, dihedrals, chimneys and roofs that will give climbers a chance to test their skills and techniques. It has a bit of everything and is a wonderful spot for the intermediate to expert climber. Most of the routes lend themselves to traditional climbing and the rock is receptive in most places for protection. (Cams, chocks, nuts, etc.) Keeping the rock pristine in this area is important to locals and drilling tons of fresh bolts is frowned upon and in the cases where bolts have been placed, it is advisable to thoroughly evaluate its safety. A visitor can spend hours or even days in this spot and get just about every type of challenge a stone can offer. It's awesome! Pinkerton Flagstaff: Traveling further north out of town along hwy 550 is a small patch of rock along the "Pinkerton Flagstaff Trail." Take hwy 550 north about 12 miles and take a right (east) onto cr. 250. Make a left (north) at the first junction parallel to hwy 550 and go for another ¼ mile. The dirt road will be on the left with a sign that says "4x4" only and the road takes a tunnel under hwy 550. Park on either side of the tunnel and walk along the 4x4 road to the west for about 1/8 of a mile. The rock faces will be to your right and offer some great single pitch trads and top rope routes. This spot is much less utilized and not very crowded most of the time. The rock is mixed condition limestone that might need some cleaning in a few places. Routes range from 5.6 to 5.10 (with some exploring 5.11?) and are a great quiet place for intermediate to advanced climbers. This spot is a diamond in the rough and worth exploring. Golf Wall: Onward along hwy 550 north about 20 miles is a very popular spot called "Golf Wall". So called because of its close proximity to the Tamarron golf course. The parking area is just a dirt pull off spot on the west side of hwy 550 and the cliffs will be visible to the east. The approach is along a well traveled dirt trail that heads east about ¼ of a mile and splits at the base with one path leading up to the anchor points and the lower leading to the climbs. The rock is mixed quality limestone and the area is broken down into a few defined sections. The first spot you come to on the approach is called "Girl Scouts Wall" and has some of the easier routs ranging from 5.8 to 5.10. These are single pitch sport climbs. The second spot is in a cave called "Country Club" and has the best of the more difficult sport climbs ranging from 5.9 to 5.13 which will have you pumped very quickly. The "Right Side", furthest to the east has the highest concentrations of routes and largest variety ranging from 5.9 to 5.13 if you want to try the roof. None of these climbs are very long (all single pitch) but they offer a lot of bang for the buck. As with X-Rock you can begin climbing here in the morning and before you know it, the day has climbed away! Cascade Canyon: Moving even further north on hwy 550 another 27 miles from Durango is an amazing and beautiful spot that is popular all year round. Cascade Canyon is located right off of hwy 550 as soon as you make the hairpin turn past cascade village. Parking is available on the East and the west side with plenty of room. The approach is along a dirt trail on the southwest side of the canyon 1/8 of a mile with most of the routes on the northeast. Challenges range from 5.9 to 5.13 sport climbs on mixed condition limestone (some choss and debris in the spring to look out for) single pitch short to medium length. This area is a great break from some of the traditional desert type sandstone climbs in that you are in a lush green canyon with pools and waterfalls around you. The scene is peaceful, tranquil and relaxing and the climbs are very formidable. A great mix that you do not want to miss. In the winter cascade canyon gets some good solid ice for climbing and provides a good place to practice or learn the skills. Turtle Lake Rock Garden (Bouldering): If you are looking for places to boulder there are a couple of spots that will provide all the problems you can work. The "Turtle Lake Rock Garden" is located a few miles out of town near turtle lake (aka Chapman Lake). From main avenue take 25th st. west (Junction creek road) about 3 miles and then make a right onto CR 205 for about a mile (just past the lake). Look for a large boulder on the left with a small parking pull off to the right. The garden is to the west (left) surrounded by gamble oaks and has well defined trails. The boulders allow climbers to build strength and refine skills without needing a rope. A crash pad and spotter is still a good idea to have along. Dalla Mountain Park: The next popular spot is "Dalla Mountain Park" which sits right on the edge of Animas City Mountain and is along the same road you take to get to Turtle Lake Rock Garden. From Main Avenue take Junction Creek Road west about a mile and you will see a dirt road with a big red gate and a large dirt parking lot on the right. The trails lead Northwest about ¼ of a mile and the boulders are dispersed all along for about another ¼ mile. To the west there are some larger cliffs that can be climbed (Traditional with ropes) in areas worth exploring. The trail is surrounded by massive old growth ponderosa pines and gamble oak that make it a very beautiful spot to hang out. Rocks are mixed condition sandstone that might need some cleaning if you explore new routes on your own. Again, crash pads and a spotter are recommended for protection while working the problems. Rock climbing is NOT just a summer sport, ICE climbing is becoming more and more popular.  In fact  the Southwest corner of Colorado hosts one the largest ice climbing competitions in the WORLD each year just outside of Ouray at the very popular “Ouray Ice Park” in January.  If you have never witnessed this competition it is well worth the trip!  Below is a video giving a glimpse of the 2013 competition. These are just a few of the more popular spots and the great thing about the Durango area is that there are so many trails to get out and find spots to climb on your own (if you are proficient enough, bad idea if you are not).  There are literally hundreds of great places a purist could search for their own little private climbing spot and first ascents are still claimed every year. So if you want some great stone at a cool scene, grab the chalk bag for a climb in the DuranGO Outdoors! 

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