The Dead Horse Crag is a newly developed area in Glenwood Canyon, featuring "Gunks-esque" climbing on hard, compact, horizontally banded quartzite. The climbs are almost exclusively mixed climbs, with a mix of bolts, gear, and an occasional fixed pin. While this crag is only 40 to 50 feet tall, the climbs all pack a punch, as the cliff is steeply overhanging and stays dry in the heaviest of downpours. It's an excellent summer area as you can find ample shade in the morning but it also receives great sun in the second part of the day, making climbing on select winter days a possibility.
All of the climbs here are excellent, in my opinion, and they offer a healthy break from the typical forms of climbing offered on the Western Slope. There are currently eight climbs and one hard project that hasn't been bolted but has anchors. In addition, the setting is nearly unbeatable, as the crag is nestled in a quiet, beautiful recess of Glenwood Canyon.
Bring a single rope, a set of cams to #5 Camalot, a few stoppers and some draws.
Park at the Hanging Lake rest area in Glenwood Canyon (exit 125). Hike upcanyon on the paved bike path to the Hanging Lake trail on your left. Go 1/4 mile up the Hanging Lake trail and then take a right on the Dead Horse trail, which immediately crosses the creek. Hike for a few minutes up the Dead Horse trail until you see a small cairn at a grassy break in the trees. This will take you to the base of the right side of the cliff. As you hike up the Dead Horse trail, the cliff will be obvious on your right.
A. Cage Monkey, 9, gear + bolts. B. Touron Death March, 10-, gear + bolts. C. Homage, 9, gear + bolts. D. The Days Between, 10, gear + bolts. E. Quartzite Jungle, 11, bolts + pin + gear. F. Surrender to the Air, 11-, bolts + pin + gear. G. Woober's Day Out, 11-, gear + bolts.
This was the first route established on the wall and was named for the first ascent, a ground-up lead with no bolts. When we first came to this cliff, we asked if we should hike around and drop a rope down to toprope it first. To pay "homage to Kor and the boys," we thought it fitting to go ground-up, as Kor did numerous times on climbs in this area. We added a couple of bolts later to make it safer.At the start, clip a bolt and make a big pull through the roof to mantle onto the shelf above. Pl...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
I've entered the Dead Horse area just in time for winter. It's a fun little area and hopefully it will get some traffic on mild winter days. It will be included in the upcoming second edition of the Western Sloper guidebook and you can get a listing of all routes from splitterchoss.comhere. Enjoy.
Fun area, climbs are short but interesting. The gear is less than solid- likely due to newness of crag, all the rain this season and nature of the rock- as the saying goes- the real safety is in not falling. I definitely didn't want to fall on my gear at this crag! NOTE for dog owners: dogs are not allowed on the Hanging Lake trail- so they can't join you at this crag.
That line is called Death Wish. I understand that it is "adventurish" to say the least. Here's some beta from the American Alpine Journal:
1977 American Alpine Journal
p. 196 “Mike Kennedy, Molly Higgins, and I wondered if a classic rock climb could be done on the not so sound limestone walls of Glenwood Canyon. We made the climb, Death Wish, on April 10. The route is located up the Hanging Lake Trail on the left, identified by a large vertical and overhanging corner. The first two pitches are of F8 and the last crack pitch calls for all kinds of techniques. NCCS III, F10.”