Climbing

Climbers of all levels and interests can choose from more than 1,000 routes and countless boulder problems spread across Jeffco Open Space lands. Clear Creek Canyon Park and Cathedral Spires Park are legendary climbing destinations, and climbers have long enjoyed scaling the Golden Cliffs at North Table Mountain Park, accessed by the Golden Cliffs Trail on the southern part of the mesa.


JCOS does not install, maintain or inspect hardware related to rock climbing. Climbing is inherently dangerous and completely at the climber’s own risk.



Climbing Management Guidelines

As of January 1, 2016 Jeffco Open Space adopted new climbing management guidelines which were then updated in 2017 after receiving additional input from the climbing community. The 2017 Fixed Hardware Management Guidelines  help minimize impacts to the land which have increased as a result of the growing popularity of the sport, along with Colorado's Front Range population expansion. These guidelines apply to all climbing, slack-lining and other fixed hardware activities on all JCOS-managed properties.

Climbers seeking to install fixed hardware on new routes, or to remove existing hardware that does not impose a significant safety concern are required to obtain a permit by submitting a Fixed Hardware Application, which will be reviewed by the Fixed Hardware Review Committee (FHRC) and then a final review will be conducted by the Jeffco Open Space Climbing Committee. Climbers seeking to replace degraded hardware may do so without a park permit and must notify JCOS within 3 business days of replacement. Any replacement hardware must meet the minimum standards outlined in the 2017 Fixed Hardware Management Guidelines. 

about-about-climbing-in-jcos


Fixed Hardware Review Committee


The FHRC is comprised of a minimum of seven experienced rock climbers from the local climbing community who help Jeffco Open Space in ensuring that new climbing routes are installed using best management practices. In addition, this committee will give general guidance to Jeffco Open Space in all matters relating to rock climbing and fixed hardware. Interested in joining the FHRC? Complete and submit the FHRC Membership Application.

 

Local Ethics

The following ethics were generated in collaboration with prominent members of the local climbing community and Fixed Hardware Review Committee. While there is no legal requirement to follow these ethics, we highly recommend considering them before installation. 

Clear Creek Canyon

            Clear Creek Canyon has been one of the premier sport climbing areas on the Front Range for decades. While the canyon is known for it’s plethora of quality sport routes, there are, however, a handful of classic crack climbs as well that require no more than the use of traditional protection. Clear Creek Canyon was developed as an area where both sport routes and traditionally protected climbs can co-exist in close proximity, and the local climbing community has embraced this approach. Go climb one of the late 1990’s classics that Alan Nelson, Richard Wright, or Mark Rolofson developed and you will find that they were clearly not trying to turn this into another Eldorado Canyon, but instead, adopting an ethic of bolting safe, independent, and clean lines with quality hardware.

Ethics for Clear Creek Canyon are outlined in bullet points below, however, they are not limited to these bullet points and are subject to change over the years, as climbing areas evolve ethics often change. For example, if a route has 60 feet of quality face climbing that is only protectable by bolts and a 12 foot crack at the very top that can accept cams, it is accepted practice to bolt the crack at the top of the climb instead of turning it into a mixed protection climb. Alternatively, mixed climbs are also permissible; the decision whether to install a bolt in such a situation is up to the discretion of the route developer and historically the climbing community has supported this approach. That might not have been the case 20 years ago, but has changed over time with the popularity of sport climbing. On the other hand, traditional lines in Clear Creek Canyon are encouraged, with plenty of cracks left in the canyon awaiting first ascents. Bolting a crack that is entirely protect-able with traditional protection in Clear Creek Canyon would not be acceptable.

General Guidelines for Route Development in Clear Creek Canyon

  • Quality routes only, please!
  • Bolting routes on rappel is the standard for the canyon. Ground-up bolting is permitted, but uncommon
  • Cleaning routes on rappel with wire brushes, hammers, and crowbars is acceptable for the canyon ethic, however, excessive cleaning or unsafe trundling in not accepted under the JCOS Climbing Management Guidelines. Please contact JCOS if there is a dangerous block that needs to be removed from a route. You will be ticketed if you are creating an unsafe environment while cleaning your route.
  • Gluing, drilling, or chipping of holds is not acceptable in Clear Creek Canyon, however, reinforcing a hold with glue is acceptable if done discretely.
  • Rotary hammer drills and hand drills are acceptable for drilling
  • It is important to bolt routes so that there is no unnecessary ground-fall potential or unnecessary run-out. However, bolt spacing may be varied to account for varied terrain. (For example, if the route is a 5.12 and there is some 5.8 climbing then the 5.8 climbing can be more run-out than the 5.12 climbing, but if you are bolting a 5.8 with some easier climbing, then the entire route should be responsibly bolted. Easy and moderate routes should be well protected)
  • Routes should be well protected, but not over-bolted.
  • Squeeze jobs are discouraged. If it is unclear which line you are climbing and there are multiple bolts that you could clip from the same stance, it is a squeeze job. Do not bolt routes too close together!
  • Top-roping a route prior to bolting to decide where the clipping stances should be located is encouraged, and the standard.
  • Do not bolt or clean routes during busy times. Having a spotter on the ground is recommended to alert climbers approaching the crag that there is route development in progress, however, route developers should stop bolting if it becomes dangerous as people show up to the cliff.
  • Adding bolts to existing sport routes traditional routes (also known as “retro-bolting”) is unacceptable without the original route developers permission
  • Stainless steel or titanium hardware that complies with the JCOS Climbing Management Guidelines is the only hardware that should be installed in the canyon.
  • When developing a new crag, it is important to consider if it is worthy of creating a climber’s trail, disrupting the natural habitat, and putting in the time and effort needed to prepare the area for climbers to enjoy. Also, new crags require a permit from JCOS.
  • Adding a route the Clear Creek Canyon is a big deal! If it is not worth the effort of cleaning and bolting the route responsibly, then don’t bolt it!

South Platte Ethics

The South Platte is one of the largest climbing regions in Colorado, yet determining where the “Platte” starts and ends is not always black and white.  When most climbers think of the South Platte, they think of the slabs, crags, domes and pinnacles that litter the forest adjacent to the South Platte River. Currently, the only South Platte climbing venue on JCOS land is the Cathedral Spires.  The Cathedral Spires has a rich history of climbing dating back to the 1920’s when Albert Ellingwood first ascended the Ellingwood Chimney (5.8) on the backside of the Bishop.

Throughout the years, climbing in the Cathedral Spires has maintained its adventurous character.  Generally speaking, new routes have been established from the ground up, using bolts only where necessary.  In the early days, climbers would drill bolts by hand while smearing desperately on sometimes-tiny stances.  As the sport evolved and power drills entered the scene, climbers began pushing the limits of what was possible in the ground up approach.  As rap bolting grew in popularity in other parts of the state, the South Platte held on to the ground up ethic.  In the past, routes that were rap bolted in the Platte were quickly chopped or the hangers were smashed flat.

Today, the ethic has evolved in a way that blends tradition with conservation.  It is acceptable for a first ascensionist to preview a potential new line to see if it is worthy of tying into the sharp end, and then bolt the route on lead.  This approach reduces the probability of a route leading to nowhere and protects the rock from needless bolting.  The result of this ethic is that new routes are of the highest quality, as they require a tremendous amount of effort and commitment.  Additionally, this ethic maintains the historic and adventurous nature of the climbing in the South Platte.

Guidelines for bolting in Cathedral Spires:

  • Quality lines only, please!
  • Do your homework to determine if the route has seen previous attempts. There have been many bold climbers who came before you, so know before you drill.
  • Ground-up bolting is the standard, though previewing a route prior to bolting it is acceptable.
  • Gluing, drilling, or chipping of holds is not acceptable in the Cathedral Spires.
  • Rotary hammer drills and hand drills are acceptable for drilling
  • Be mindful of your bolt placements, as not everyone has a 6+ ft reach.
  • Squeeze jobs are discouraged.
  • Do not bolt or clean routes during busy times. Having a spotter on the ground is recommended to alert climbers approaching the crag that there is route development in progress, however, route developers should stop bolting if it becomes dangerous as people show up to the cliff.
  • Retro-bolting without the permission of the First Ascensionist or the Climbing Community at large is unacceptable.
  • Bolts and hangers must comply with the JCOS Climbing Management Guidelines.
  • Pins, Pitons, knife blades etc. are considered permanent hardware therefore they are subject to review under the JCOS Climbing Management Guidelines.
  • When developing a new crag, it is important to consider if it is worthy of creating a climber’s trail, disrupting the natural habitat, and putting in the time and effort needed to prepare the area for climbers to enjoy. Also, new crags require a permit from JCOS.
  • Adding a route in the Cathedral Spires is a big deal! If it is not worth the effort of cleaning and bolting the route responsibly within the ethics described above, then don’t bolt it!


Seasonal Wildlife Closures

Seasonal wildlife closures are in effect from February 1 through July 31, 2017. Each year Jeffco Open Space (JCOS) uses seasonal wildlife closures at the parks to protect species at sensitive times in their life cycles. This year’s seasonal wildlife closures will be implemented at five JCOS Parks. View all park and map closures for more information