rock climbing is inherently dangerous in all of its forms. even with substantial experience, climbing can result in severe injury, paralysis, and even death. castlewood canyon involves even greater danger than other rock climbing areas as it is riddled with rattlesnakes in the warm months and its conglomerate rock can shatter, break, crumble, and explode at any time, without warning, on even well-traveled climbs.

this guide is intended for mere reference by experienced climbers only, who have substantial personal knowledge in climbing safety, equipment, and technique, and who understand and fully accept the extreme risks inherent in this sport. in no way should this reference be confused as an instruction manual and those who do not have substantial experience with all of the safety and technical aspects of rock climbing should seek professional instruction, which can often be arranged through local climbing gyms. be safe!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


HOBBLE COBBLE BOULDER: a great little block for castlewood standards... just beyond the parking for the Font Area, there is a trail that cuts up to the cliffline marked "Cave Trail". Park opposite the trailhead and take it uphill to the cliffline, always trending up at any split-offs. once at the cliff line, turn left and walk about 40 yards, passing under Tunnel Block in the process. Save for the margins of the well-trodden, established trail, this is an ivy-free approach and good for a quick session.

All variations on the Hobble Cobble boulder start sitting on an obvoius hueco. Over the winter of 2006, runoff removed additional dirt from the landing allowing a lower, but awkward start from a lower hueco. Adding this lower start to the problems adds a bit of difficulty but not a grade.

1. Hobble Direct*** v6ish - from the sit, bust to the lip of the arete, then tension directly up on sloping holds.

2. Hobble Cobble*** v7ish - the original. from the sit, gain the lip of the arete then follow it through poor left hand slaps until gaining the right corner, switch directions and top out.

3. Early and Often*** v9ish - sit start and bust out through the steep roof to the far side of the boulder, slap that arete until you can gain the lip of the slab, then top out directly. there are a few edges that can break on this one, but they resisted marcelo montalva on the FA and remain yet.

4. Hobble Extension* v8/9ish? - do hobble cobble but continue around the upper corner with funky high tension, top out as for Early and Often.


1. Willis* v5ish? - start in the center of the main slab with crazy awkward, Will Lemaire-like, highstepping action to climb up and slightly right to exit.

2. The Slither Fox Method** v5ish? - start somewhat matched on the right arete just over head height, tension to dualing sloping sidepulls and up... don't dab on cliff behind you or smash your head! [this one was named after a Lemaire-coined term of climbing smooth and sketchy, though i believe the full term is slither-fox-cobra-strike-method, where one lurks and eases up part of a balancy desparate move, then strikes dynamically right before the shoes or fingers pop off].

Monday, February 11, 2008

FONT AREA - Overview

This is a popular area for top roping and bouldering due to its short approach and established trails ( which help avoid summer poison ivy and rattlesnakes), flat landings, and relative density of well-traveled lines. Enter Castlewood Canyon State Park at its north/western entrance, drive past the pay station for about [0.2?] mile and park at the first lot on the right, which holds about 5 vehicles [if full, there is an additional lot across the street].

From the first-described parking lot, walk up the established trail to the cliff line and cut right/north. Follow a climber’s trail along the base of the cliff for about 100 yards and pass through a corridor.

- The cliff section to your left is the Grocery Store Wall
- Super Mario and the Bloodsport Cave are straight ahead another 50 yards
- The Stagecoach Boulder’s main face is towards you, just downhill and right of the corridor,
- The Fountain Boulder is immediately downhill from the Stagecoach Boulder,
- The South Block is around the corner from the Fountain Boulder about 20 yards
- The Distance Boulder is downhill and left northeast? of the Fountain Boulder about 50 yards


1. cobbler's delight* [v5ish?] – start sitting, establish, and slap around the left of the short arête to gain an obvious pocket and top out.

2. Pocket Full of Hate*** [v6ish] – a classic by area standards and Adam McKenzie’s redemption for the Corridor Arete problem! Start matched on a small ledge like hold at chest height under a shallow roof section, gain shallow pockets on the upper headwall and lunge for the ledge above, mantle and walk off to the right, or more awkwardly, to the right. Presumably a sit start on the large low features would not add anything, but you decide.

3. Pie in the Sky** [v0ish] – …start to top rope climb, left of bulge. Finish on ledge, exit left or right.

4. Bulge Direct** [v6/7ish] – start standing with hands at an obvious seam/break in the bulge at about chest height, lock off your choice of sloping crimps up the bulge to the ledge above without using the large, incut layback hold around the right of the bulge. Sit Start* [v7/8ish] – start sitting on steep, chossy terrain using a very low left hand oblong cobble and a right hand sloping sidepull feature with crystal texture, establish and grab higher, well chalked holds, move to a juggy pocket, and continue through the standard line. Try to climb as directly from the sds as possible, though it is certainly possible to throw left or lock off right form the start for slightly easier encounters [var.].

5. Bulge Standard** [v4ish] – start standing on the right side of the belly/bulge, establish, and gain an incut, right-facing, layback flake to gain the upper ledge without using the seam in the right-more dihedral or anything right of that [this is the downclimb]. Sit Start** [v7ish] – sit start as for Bulge Direct, but use a bomber right heelhook to perform a powerful lockoff to some sharp pockets before joining the stand start.

6. Strawberry Jam** [vBish] – climb the dihedral, which is the beginning of a top rope line, then downclimb it. heh. This is also the downclimb for the bulge problems.

7. Gorilla Milk Direct**** [v0ish] – scamper up the jugs to the right of the bulge problems before embarking on a journey up the center of the clean pocketed face on the pinnacle that visually separates from the main cliff line as it rises. This is an established toprope route that deserves respect despite its moderate grade. We found it helpful to top out at the right side of the main face. [The meandering photo of this ‘direct’ line is the best we could decipher at its guidebook grade of 5.9… a true direct start to this wall would be significantly more difficult].


1. Super Mario /aka/ the gimp*** [v7ish] – start standing with hands in a deep sloping break under the steep mushroom cap feature, climb out steep roof at a square jutting cobble, turn the lip, and mantle. The v-grades i've been quoted for this line differ by four, so don't get too caught up on what is listed...though upon recent repeat, i feel seven is fair...

2. power up ** [v3ish] - start in the same break as for super mario, but just right beneath the blunt arete of the boulder, reach out to a ledge feature visible in the above photo and gain a good crimp and cobble to do the crux mantle. though awkward at the crux, this is a pretty good line and a good mantle trainer for taller, harder encounters.

Various** - various vertical climbs can be done on the face right of the roof section of this boulder, the left most of which are visible in the above photo. these are primarily slabby with generous features and if someone puts in the time to substantially clean them, the lines could be great for beginner boulderers. [Any specific descriptions will be added subsequently, so check back!]


1. Bloodsport** [v8ish] – a Mike Hickey/Jade Whitney special… start on an incut pocket [or two?] at shoulder/head height on the overhang inside the large cave and dyno over the sloping rock landing. The distance of the huck is greater than depicted above since it travels somethat left to right. to start sitting does not add any grade, but coolness. quite honestly, i don't know if hickey/jade started sitting or not. deal.

1b. Van Damme *** [v-very hard] - start sitting at the far right of the cave on the matched jug, make a strong cross over to the starting pocket and continue the rising traverse on large reaches and extremely powerful moves to exit the left side of the cave. Chuck neglected to rate this line, but it may be one of castlewood's very hardest.

2. Apacalypto** [v5ish] – start on incut features at about 6ft to the right of the mouth of the cave, traverse left over the bad landing on incut features to a powerful and awkward finish at the far left arête… try not to bail or dab! Sit Start** [v6ish] - the start sitting at the arête down and right of Bloodsport with left hand and heel on an obvious edge feature and right hand on a sidepull. **See "Segal", in no. 3, below...

3. False Idols* [v5ish] – sit start as for Apacalypto and climb up and right from the stand start over the poor landing on very dirty and suspect pebbles and cobbles. [Stand start v3ish?] Full Sit / Segal? [v-hard] - Chuck Fryberger recently sorted out the proper sit to this line, matched on the jug just inside the cave... use some crazy strong moves on sidepulls and the pebble with good feet to gain the edges for the stand start. Though this essentially climbs two moves into the normal sit start from the stone pedestel, starting lower seemed to change the sequence entirely.

4. Pagan Idolatry* [v3ish] – start standing at the bathtub feature to the right of the cave opening and ascend crimpy pebbles over a poor landing. Loose and dirty is the rule.

5. Short Round*** [v3ish] – start on a positive pockety feature at chest height and hop to the perfect lip sloper, mantle and exit up and left. Again - very short, but with extremely fun moves… Kali** [v6/7ish] – start on the arête of the chimney feature inside the Bloodsport Cave, tension and swing out poor pockets to gain the start of Short Round and up.

6. Pankot* [v5ish] - opposite short round, start crimping on your choice of very sharp crystaline 'features' just over the lip of cave on the slab and bare the pain to pull on and grunt your way onto the slab. continue up and slightly right on sloping crimps and positive but suspect pebbles over the ankle twister landing. this is merely a 'clean up' climb is not recommended until you have nothing else to do.


minute bus /aka/ deep in dis-pear [burchfield/montalva/calrusso problem] v7/8ish? - on the backside of the critical mass block. climb this very short line from a lay-down start at a large pocket just beneath the bottom lip, climb through small, tweaky features to gain the top. significantly more difficult than it looks. good rock quality.

1. Critical Mass Arete**[v4ish] – start sitting on incut holds and climb up and right, following the arête on fat, sloping pinches until it pushes you back to holds on the left, slabby face to gain the top out. The fat pinches on this problem give it some stars, despite its short stature and semi-contrived nature. Variation [unknown] – it appears possible to traverse onto the right face over the poor landing on interesting sloping rails. Try it and let me know!


1. Fa Arete*[v-moderate] – start low on the left arête on a huge gaping mouth and climb straight up the short bulge with a big move to a jug pocket, or small moves on shallower pods. dirty.

2. The Distance*[v7ish] – make the big intro move of fa arete but traverse right, droppin down slightly, to join the Distance Overhang.

3. Fa Traverse*[v2ish] – start a bit left of distance overhang, underneath the jug in the diagonal seam, pull into the jug and traverse up and left to top out the bulge of Fa Arete.

4. Long Shortcut*[v6ish] – start sitting as for distance overhang and get the pirhana mouth pocket to move left to a jug, then cut back right and up through a couple edgy/sloping features on the left side of the main bulge. this is just a tad easier than distance overhang from the sit.

5. Distance Overhang**[v4ish] – start with holds at chest height [LH on a shattered cobble incut and RH slightly higher on a positive edge/ear/pocket thing] and climb the main bulge of the boulder with a powerful move to the lip from an insecure sloping hold. to me, this problem feels about as difficult as "hagan's wall" on flagstaff in boulder but it was originally given a v3. Sit Start*[v7ish] – start sitting slightly left of the plumb line of Distance Overhang on some sloping edge pod things with a huge foot ledge just above the dirt and suffer through some sharp moves, including a strong pull off a two finger pihrana mouth pocket. A more direct low start using a smooth egg-sized undercling/sidepull cobble and ? has not yet been done as far as i know.



1. Fountain Face*[v1ish?] – start standing at the start of the traverse and climb straight up, with some dirty, awkward moves to slide around the left of the upper bulge. Sit Start *[v3ish?]

2. Fountain Lip Traverse**[v2-4+ish] – start standing or sitting at a pod feature on the left of the boulder and traverse the lip all the way left, culminating with a difficult match and reach to an incut-flake, before rolling over and topping out. The grade of this line depends on how low one stays for the traverse - the lower the harder.

3. Left Cave Direct**[v6ish] – start with LH low on a sloping feature on the arête and RH on an angled crimp at chest height; pull to a thin crimp and move to the font scales higher on the arête and top out as for the Fountain Lip Traverse. The starting holds have crumbled consistently over the years, including the winter of 2007/08. This start is validated due to its fun factor and since the powerful move required from the sit will eventually result in the explosion of the RH crimp. 4. Sit Start**[v9ish as of summer 2007, but significantly harder now that the holds have broken even more] – start sitting with LH on the same hold as the stand start and RH on an obvious gaston pocket [the lip of this broke in 2007]… using tricky foot work, power up to the diagonal right hand crimp and finish. 5. Ben’s Wall**[v11ish, also harder now after the 2008 breaks] – climb Left Cave Direct from a sit, but starting with LH in the pocket that is used for the right hand start of the regular sit start. This variation is also probably more difficult now due to the breakage.

6. Cave Route Direct***[v7+ish, for real] – NOTE: A GOOD, POSITIVE HOLD ON THIS OFTEN TRIED ‘CLASSIC’ BROKE IN MARCH OF 2008, and even though I previously believed this line to be solid 7 before, the loss of this hold makes the lower sequence a bit more stretched out and more powerful, thereby buttressing the argument for at least v7 [numerous strong climbers had called the pre-break line v8]. What’s worse is that the entire hollow starting flake seems to be flexing more than in years prior. BE CAREFUL since if this rips off, it will weigh many pounds. Start sitting on the center of the obvious rail system and make a couple moves right, lock off up to another rail up left, and lockoff or dyno left to a sharp pocket before the top out… historically, feet hitting the adjacent block on this move does not invalidate the ascent due to its close proximity and avoiding this ‘dab’ probably adds a grade. Without this meddling block and the flexing flakes, this problem could fetch four stars. 7. Cave Route Indirect**[v5/6ish] – follow the rail right and top out with horribly flexing flakes above the stone in the landing. 8. Variation [add a ½ grade] – start sitting slightly left in the cave right on the edge of the mini-drop off, do a large, powerful move to gain the main flake system as for the traditional start.

9. Unknown – on the backside of the boulder a few dirty, slabby climbs can be done.


[Pictured Above]

10. Standard Arete** [v2ish] – start sitting and climb arête with powerful opposition and balance, topping out somewhat on the left face. V0 if climbed from a stand. Ridiculousness [v-whatever] – start sitting and climb the arête half way, traverse the face leftwards through the corridor, and reach over to the other boulder to climb cave route direct or cave route indirect [#s 6 and 7].

11. Doom Flake Slab** [vB] – start on a huge, HOLLOW, horizontal flake at chest height and climb up and right to top out. CAREFULL OF THE HOLLOWNESS ! Variation * [v-much harder] – start from a crouched position on underclings, power slap to horizontal flake above and top out.

12. Effing Goofy** [v4ish] – start at a large break and climb the blunt arête with awkward opposition, heel-toe locks, kneebars… whatever you can think up to top out the arête. Be mindful of the skull cracking block behind you.

13. Polish Falcon* [v?] – climb the three-ledged arête and beware of dirty holds.

14. Corridor Wall* [v2ish] - start on thin holds and ascend the middle of the face, but trending left. Top out in roughly the middle of the boulder with a committing but reasonable mantle. Top out left or right for a variant.


1. south block left* [v2ish?] - start sitting on the central feature and make a few moves left on biting pockets, then up on the right side of the blunt arete to a mantle finish.

2. south block right** [v2ish?] - start sitting on the central feature and climb straight up to a mantle finish. this is a pretty decent little climb. it seems possible to take a right-more line through the upper face, so do it and post in the comments about it. it is also possible to start this problem and traverse through the squeeze to join number 3.

3. south block cave** [v5ish?] - start sitting on sharp, thin crimps and make a strong move to your choice of sloping crimps in the font-esque patina above before topping out. if all problems had the grippy, solid stone that the top half of this midget has, castlewood would be a worthy local destination.