This is a beautiful area with alpinish rock on the West face of Twin Sisters that catches your eyes as you drive south from Estes on CO Hwy 7. There are many crags. The rock is rough granite & gneiss. There are a mix of some traditional routes and some new sport development with lots of potential. The routes vary from 30 feet to 4 pitches here. The beautiful setting and a vigorous but enjoyable hike will fill your senses. Some might say the walk is not worth it; for those, climb elsewhere. You may even get lost for a while in here, but that is part of the experience. Note, there is some hunting allowed on the south side of the mountain in the fall.
One advantage here is that you can often watch the weather coming in from the west.
South of Estes Park on CO Hwy 7 above the Lily Lake Visitor Center. Park past the red Baldpate Inn for the northern rocks or up the dirt road past the visitor's center. Hike up hill 45-60 minutes.
72 Total Routes
['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',30],['2 Stars',28],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]
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Errett Allen climbing at The Crags.
Photo by Blitz...
The Crags nearing sunset.
Photo by Blitzo.
Photo by Blitzo.
The Crags - as sketched in the 1986 Kimball guideb...
Estes Park Valley from The Crags.
Photo by Blitzo.
|By Craig Quincy|
Jul 8, 2002
If this is your first time visiting the Northern Crags (Mid Rib, Rib Rock, Sharksfin, etc.), prepare to be lost. There is no trail that we could find and the approach is not as simple as "heading up hill from Baldplate Inn". We followed the instructions from Rock & Ice #116 after parking just north of the Inn and headed mostly straight uphill above the fence. After following a faint trail and several pieces of flagging, we ended up at a survey marker, then we thrashed up hill and ended up somewhere in between the Northern and Southern areas. We tripled the approach time and ended up nowhere near the climbing.
Here's what I would recommend instead: Park Northeast of the Inn. Hike Northeast on the road for about half a mile (or park further down the road), and look for a large abandon culvert on the south side of the road. This is where we came out on the descent, so somewhere past here head into the trees. Trend Southeast and diagonal across the hillside. We found numerous flagging and orange paint on the trees that may be from a logging operation and goes mostly in the right direction. Thrash around in the trees for a while always going uphill and a little to the left (East) if in doubt. When the crags finally reveal themselves, head directly up the talus.
|By Tod Anderson|
Jan 24, 2003
I visited this area about 15 years ago and didn't go back until the new article came out. I reconfirmed my previous opinion that this stuff is not worth the walk despite hype from some high profile climbers. A better alternative would be to head up into the high peaks and do routes there.
|By Brian DeCamp|
Aug 11, 2005
I just went up there this weekend for the first time. My approach worked well. I parked just before the Baldpate, walked past it and onto a road blocked by a gate. When the road splits, I went right and followed it to an obvious end blocked by a large boulder. From there, I went up the hill through loose pines moving slightly right when I had a choice. It took about 45 minutes to get to the base of the first rib, and another 15-30 minutes of wondering where I wanted to climb. It actually wasn't hard to figure out. I followed my feet to the base of Shark's Fin and did the North Face Right. A sweet little two pitcher with spectacular views and a nice summit. If it weren't for the Harleys on the Rt. 7 below (weekend), it would have felt like pristine alpine climbing. We never saw another person the whole day.
The descent from the Shark's Fin is a little suspect. There are two rusted pitons with an aluminum rap ring on the south face that I wish I had just chopped. That anchor needs to be replaced before anyone with common sense tries to use it. We chose the 5.2 downclimb which worked fine, but there is some loose rock that could be catastrophic if you're not careful.
Sep 12, 2006
The place kind of looks like a choss pile!
After the horrendous "Death March" approach, one finds that the rock is really good.
This place is cool!
The view of the Diamond is awesome!
|By david goldstein|
Aug 6, 2007
The southern approach is not that bad, particularly if your destination is Castaway Or Lower Great Face.
Most of the better climbs in the area are not in Gillett's guide. Terse descriptions thereof can be found in a mini-guide in Rock and Ice 116.
|By Mike Pharris|
From: Longmont, CO
Jun 9, 2008
Regarding the approach - I'd recommend the northern approach - it's a bit less steep on the hiking and you can see the crags the whole time your hiking. Just don't go up too high in the talus, and you've got relatively easy access to all the rock there.
Carry some webbing and rap rings or leaver biners. We left a sling on Woodstone. The webbing on Sharksfin is ok but could some new would make you feel better.
Fun area - we had the whole place to ourselves - certainly feels alpine in nature.
|By John Maurer|
Jun 19, 2008
The Baldpate has the best cornbread you will ever try. Great place for vegetarians, but anyone would love the salad bar, cheeses, and soups they serve.