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The Dark Side

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
27 Tons 
Audition, The 
Beginner's Outing 
Black 'N Dicey 
Black Awareness 
Black Dihedral 
Blank Frank 
Call From Overseas 
Corner Pockets 
Counter Balance 
Crack Happens 
Crack's On Top, The 
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest 
Dark Side Roofs 
Eagle has Landed, The 
Eat, Drink, and Beat Larry 
Edge Of Fright 
El Guapo 
Enchanted Porkfist 
Face The Music 
Fat Like Butta 
Fight or Flight 
Go East, Old Man 
Hangers Regained 
I Scare Myself 
Levels of the Game 
Line of Strength 
Missing Hangers 
Muted by Reality 
Plum, The 
Porkus Procurement 
Puddle Of Holes 
Rip It 
Route Fluffer 
Shelf Road Virgin 
Stink Finger 
Stuck in the Middle With You 
Suspender Man 
Teenage Wristband 
Thank Heaven for Little Girls 
Trolling For Holds 
Two Hearts 
U Pump It 
Void Lloyd 
Way We Were, The 
Welcoming, The 
Whisper To A Scream 

The Dark Side 

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Elevation: 6,800'
Lat, Long: 38.6281, -105.2239 Map Incorrect?
Page Views: 22,923
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 28, 2001
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53° | 37°
68° | 43°
Chance of Rain
59° | 39°
63° | 39°
66° | 43°
Las montaņas de la Sangre de Christo, above the Da...


The name says it all. Dark rock, in the shade, and a good choice for pulling limestone pockets on a hot day. This excellent crag offers a somewhat unique experience from other crags in the main Shelf area. This is one of the "old school" crags at Shelf, with bolting & grading more in line with the original lines at The Bank, Sand Gulch & The Gallery. If you're used to Cactus Cliff style bolting, be prepared for spaced-out bolts, and be prepared to supplement some routes with gear.

As for the climbing, many of the walls are relatively slabby, with fluted black rock that can be uncommonly sharp in places. There are numerous longer lines, but generally the routes here are shorter than those at Cactus or The Gym. Overall the route quality is excellent, despite the mysterious sparsity of stars in the latest guidebook from Sharp End.

Finally, despite the name, in the height of summer, when shade is at a premium, this crag bakes in the sun 'till mid-day. Thankfully the crags sickle-shape provides shade for the East end of the crag a bit earlier (~10am). There are a number of dihedrals that provide earlier shade for routes such as Punjabi, and the routes around Suspender Man.

Getting There 

There are two ways to approach the Dark Side, depending on the routes you're headed for. Park at the newly expanded parking lot just past The Bank campground for both approaches.

For routes on the West end of the cliff, hike down from the parking area toward the Bank. Shortly after the road drops down a bit you can pick up a trail to the right. This trail will take you to the 2150 Wall, Cactus, etc, or to The Dark Side by staying hard right ~15 feet after leaving the road. Head East just below the cliff band, where you will encounter various scrambling sections not suitable for young kids.

For routes on the East end of the cliff, hike ~100 yds back down the road, towards Canon City, to a turnoff on the left (N) side of the road that leads to the Group Camp site. Walk towards the Group site, which is surrounded by a ridiculous fence. Once you reach the fence pick up a faint trail that heads East along the fence line. Follow this for ~30 yds to the cliff band atop the bank. Locate a fixed rope or two, and down climb the 3rd class chimney to the base of the cliff. There are ~5 routes located East of this downclimb, but the rest of the routes are to the West. The first route encountered to the West of the downclimb is "Slap Me".

60 Total Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',19],['2 Stars',30],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Dark Side:
Lumina   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Fight or Flight   5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   
27 Tons   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   
Teenage Wristband   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Edge Of Fright   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Corner Pockets   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Porkus Procurement   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Dark Side Roofs   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Enchanted Porkfist   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Muted by Reality   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Suspender Man   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Redlined   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
The Welcoming   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Levels of the Game   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
The Plum   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
El Guapo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Call From Overseas   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Blank Frank   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
The Audition   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Browse More Classics in The Dark Side

Featured Route For The Dark Side

Blank Frank 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6a  CO : Shelf Road : The Dark Side
The Dark Side is the "technicians choice" of Shelf. Vertical to barely slabbing (don't judge these routes' steepness by how they look from the trail), these routes inspire the ballet dancer in all who attempt the climbs here!Blank Frank is a great dance up one of the best faces in the Dark Side. A few moves up less then perfect rock soon gain the long, very sustained crux on small crimps and side-pulls to a great rest ledge below the final roof-bulge. A devious sequence on monos and underclings ...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of The Dark Side Slideshow Add Photo
Overview showing Porkus Procurement
BETA PHOTO: Overview showing Porkus Procurement
The Dark Side from Cactus Cliff.
BETA PHOTO: The Dark Side from Cactus Cliff.
Waiting out the storm at the Dark Side.
Waiting out the storm at the Dark Side.
Comments on The Dark Side Add Comment
Show which comments
By Jesse Ryan
Oct 13, 2005

Interesting route, worth doing. Crux on arete and at chains. Probably 11c or 11b/c.

By b hof
From: Pueblo West, CO
Jun 12, 2012

Directly below site 7 there is a small pinyon with webbing to make a clean rappel to Corner Pockets.