Dolores Canyon is a very nice, accessible canyon on BLM land that has camping, a river (sometimes), and quality Wingate sandstone rock. The climbs are 1-2 pitches in length, and the approaches are mostly short. The climbs face east or northeast, so this can be a bit chilly in the winter. This area offers seclusion in a wilderness setting.
Just south of Dove Creek on US Highway 666, there is a turn by the airport. There is a BLM sign that says "Dolores Canyon overlook." Turn down this road and take your first left by the airport, do not go to the overlook (unless you want to see the view). There may be signs to Mountain Sheep Point or the pumping station. Follow this road down into Big Canyon and the boat ramp at the pumphouse. Continue past the boat ramp to where the cliffs come closer to the road and the rock quality improves dramatically. There are several obvious buttresses, and some of them have routes on them. There are still opportunities for FAs here, too. The local ethic here is traditional (ground up). There is one particularly good buttress, just to the right of a drainage system, called Beehive Buttress.
This climb starts with hands and breaks over into a easy, wide pod. Then it steepens up a finger crack and ends at wide hands. The crack is lined with a smooth layer of silt, so set cams to ensure a bite. ...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Are people still climbing here? We put up several lines in this area in the late '90s/ early 2000s. The "unknown" photo of the 5.7/8 is the Red Rocks Simulator. Don't remember the name of the one called 5.10b in the photo, but Crystal Davis and I did the FA. I remember that we called the thin crack/seam that it shares an anchor with The Seamster.
Lots of new bolts have been popping up lately, most recently on the left-most route at The Pumphouse. The bolts being used are total crap, hardware store Redheads (hanger is on a tiny grade 3, 5/16" stud), meanwhile the rest of the route is bomber Rawls. If you're gonna place a bolt, spend the money and order bomber ones from a reputable source, not Home Depot. As is stands now, all the Redheads should be replaced with something that is trustworthy.
Dolores River Canyon topos - "Pump House Crag" 4.3 miles from Dove Creek, CO. Our crew began climbing the obvious crack lines here in 1995 and quickly ventured onto the faces ground-up style throughout the early ots.
This one is well worth the river crossing and the steep/loose approach. A real gem with one of the better Wingate finger cracks in the canyon! A unique stem box (protected by 4" Rawls :) to a dead vertical, splitter and locker finger crack surrounded by foot holds.
DOLO topos - The Wind Tower - FA I. Altman, K. Allinger, & J. Kelly, 1995. FFA - I. Altman, J. Hooten, 2001.