The Crystal River valley near Redstone is the home of several ice climbs. The routes in the Redstone area, except Marble Falls, rely on snowpack to form. In a lean year, things can be pretty grim. The area has the geologic potential to go off if the conditions are right: lots of cliffs and grottos fed by large snow slopes. Keep your ear to the ground on Redstone if there are BIG snowfalls and freeze thaw cycles- the area could have many plums. In a regular year, you are better off continuing a few more hours to Ouray.
The main town servicing the area is Carbondale, which has all the facilities: liquor, beer, wine, groceries, motels etc. I recommend Dos Gringos burritos off CO Hwy 133 near GJ Pipe for good, quick Mexican.
[Eds. Please note that this well-known area has significant access issues. Please check out the issues & please respect private property boundaries. Peace.]
To get to the Crystal River Valley, exit I-70 at Glenwood Springs, take CO Hwy 82 SE (follow signs for Aspen). After about 10 miles on CO 82, exit at Carbondale and head south on CO Hwy 133 towards Redstone and Marble. The various routes are spread along the valley starting at the Narrows (the really chossy and shortlived granite section of the canyon) and ending in Marble.
Don't let the name fool you. This Redstone classic has three great pitches of varying terrain. The first pitch (crux) climbs a vertical pillar with awkward grooves and ice fins for about 50ft to easier terrain. If for some reason you're not feeling up for the first pitch, it can be skipped using a rising ramp leading in from the left. The second pitch follows thin ice at a more moderate angle up a gully which leads to the right to a sheltered ice cave. The last pitch climbs a beautiful wide...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
The Redstone Pillar looks like the best bet currently in the Redstone area. The Drool is starting to form. Everything else is not happening yet. (I suspect Marble falls could be good, but I didn't look at it.)
You can climb ice in the Redstone valley now. Marble Falls as of 12/16/01 was still marginal- you can see the torrent under a thin layer of ice at the top. Probably by now it is fine. I saw people climbing on the Redstone Pillar and heard it is decent. The same day it was reported on R&I that Avocado Gully is a rock route, BJ Sbarra and I found the first pitch to be interesting moderate mixed terrain and the second to be well bonded thin ice and a narrow runnel of new ice. The crux was avoiding the perched block at the top of the second pitch. the third pitch looked good, but we didn't climb it due to time constraints.
Poked around most of the main Redstone areas on 1/29/02. Prognosis: bleak. There hasn't been much snow thus far this winter and usually consistent seeps are dry. The Drool is not touching down- either pitch. Avocado Gully is sublimating away-don't bother with this if you have an aversion to crampons scraping on rock. On the bright side, this typically casual route is interesting and sporty - M2+?. Fat ice is happening at Marble Falls and Redstone Pillar.
When I pulled into Rifle Mountain park yesterday for some sportclimbing- it was clear, sunny and 55F- I saw two guys climbing a freestanding WI5+ pillar, with a long section of 85 degree slab at the top with rushing spring water underneath, in the SUN. This turned my stomach. Miraculously, the pillar nor the slab collapsed. Is it not common knowledge that ice becomes weak and apt to fall above freezing? Let alone when it is 25 degrees above freezing, sunny etc. Ice climbers need to wise up.
PLEASE be discreet about parking & approaching the ice around Redstone. Almost all approaches are on private land. Keep the harness, gear rope & helmet hidden in your pack. Be a ghost.
THINK before you park. Do not block driveways and private parking. If in doubt, go ahead & walk the extra couple hundred yards. Snowplowing is expensive and some owners get might cranky when a car covered with climbing stickers blocks snowplowing on their land.
We have good relations with most of the landowners around Redstone - - Let's keep it.
Both the Redstone Pillar and the Drool felt tough for the grades in current conditions. Much chandelier ice, especially near the bottom of the pillars. The Drool was very chandeliered and impossible to protect for big stretches. After an aborted lead, I ended up on TR.
Great season around Redstone; Avocado is doable, the pillar is good, Coal Creek excellent, the Crystal River Slabs are formed up, Marble Falls is doable, Hays Creek fat. Now to the point, The Drool as described in both Cam Burns' book and Jack Roberts' guide is not the Drool and is on private property. The False Drool or Dribble or Crystal River Pillar or whatever you call the two pitch falls directly behind the turn off for Crystal River Park (behind the log home next to green house) is off limits. Too many individuals have offended the home owners (a snow cat driver and a ski instructor) by walking past their house, under their porch, past their hot tub, blocking their driveway, ripping down and tearing up private property signs... They are glad of the rumors of gun toting landowners wanting rude climbers off their dream property. Leave the falls alone unless personally invited by the owners!!! Do not ignore or even worse rip down no trespassing signs!!! Be considerate before more climbs are closed!!! If you are looking for the Drool go one drainage north (closer to Redstone). It is also on private property; however, the owner rents out the house and doesn't appear to be bothered people approaching the Drool from CO Hwy 133 out of view from the house. Look for the packed trail heading into the woods. Stay away from private homes; don't rip up private property signs....
Bryan, I know you've climbed in this area for awhile and that you know the Drool and False Drool are on private property, and you know access is iffy, so why would you post that they are "in" on this site? Not the best way to keep access open at these places...
BJ, sorry to offend you by reporting conditions. I'm not trying to hold out my own candy and deny it to others; I'm trying to share current access information rather than ignore the situation. The Drool (one drainage north of the False Drool) is on private property, however the owner (who rents out the house next to it) is not adverse to climbers discreetly approaching it from the road. The False Drool (described as the Drool in two guide books) is also on private property where the owners live. They do not want climbers secretly approaching it (as many people still do after climbing the real Drool), but would prefer that if your comfortable with it, ask permission (and bring a bottle of wine). I think it's important that people traveling to the area are aware of the situation, rather than relying on outdated guidebooks and messing up access to both climbs. Again, access the real Drool discreetly and ask permission for the False Drool.
Jim, glad to see a helpful member of the community post relevant info on this site. Sorry that my dialogue here led to discreet access of the routes as described on Splitterchoss.com (great site for info unless your a "real local" and already know it all). I'm sure it would have been much better to have all access denied as other obvious invaders to your ancestral Ute homeland would have stumbled up to unknown real locals-only climbs described in two guidebooks. Oh and thanks for the polite personal email. It's always nice to make new friends. Don't think I'll be moving soon, since I have to mentor a new teacher to our school district. Maybe, I might have moved after four years of retail in the valley, but now going into my sixth year of teaching Glenwood's kids, I've grown to like your personal stomping grounds. Also, my father in-law in Rifle might get upset if I left.
Why would you need to edit your last comment Sbarra, you where spot on. Mr. Gall, you never answered my question, why aren't local Utes getting on here telling everyone to cross private property to climb? I'll tell you why. If enough front strangers come, nobody will be allowed access!