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The Dark Side

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
27 Tons S 
Acetylcholine S 
Animatronic S 
Asym S 
Audition, The S 
Beginner's Outing S 
Black 'N Dicey S 
Black Awareness S 
Black Dihedral T 
Blank Frank S 
Bonnie S 
Call From Overseas S 
Clyde S 
Corner Pockets S 
Counter Balance S 
Crack Happens S 
Crack's On Top, The S 
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest S 
Dark Side Roofs S 
Eagle has Landed, The S 
Eat, Drink, and Beat Larry S 
Edge Of Fright S 
El Guapo S 
Enchanted Porkfist S 
Face The Music S 
Fat Like Butta S 
Fight or Flight T 
Fragile S 
Go East, Old Man S 
Hangers Regained S 
I Scare Myself T,S 
Kashmere S 
Kinesthesia S 
Levels of the Game S 
Line of Strength S 
Lumina S 
Mannequin S 
Missing Hangers S 
Muted by Reality S 
Plum, The S 
Porkus Procurement S 
Puddle Of Holes S 
Punjabi S 
Redlined S 
Rip It S 
Route Fluffer S 
Shelf Road Virgin S 
Stink Finger S 
Stuck in the Middle With You S 
Suspender Man S 
Teenage Wristband S 
Thank Heaven for Little Girls S 
Trolling For Holds S 
Two Hearts S 
U Pump It S 
Unknown S 
Viaggro S 
Void Lloyd S 
Way We Were, The T 
Welcoming, The S 
Whisper To A Scream S 

The Dark Side  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,800'
Location: 38.6281, -105.2239 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 28,267
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Sep 28, 2001
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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".

Climbing Season

Weather station 7.3 miles from here

61 Total Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',21],['2 Stars',31],['1 Star',5],['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 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Fight or Flight   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   
27 Tons   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   
Teenage Wristband   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Edge Of Fright   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Corner Pockets   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Trolling For Holds   5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Porkus Procurement   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Enchanted Porkfist   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Muted by Reality   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Dark Side Roofs   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
The Crack's On Top   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Crown of Thorns aka Box Lunch aka Lou Raven's Rest   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Suspender Man   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Two Hearts   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
The Welcoming   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
The Plum   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
El Guapo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Blank Frank   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
The Audition   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   
Browse More Classics in The Dark Side

Featured Route For The Dark Side
High steppin' up the sustained crux of Muted Reali...

Muted by Reality 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c  CO : Shelf Road : The Dark Side
I have what I call the "Holy Trinity" of the Dark Side black slab routes: Black Awareness, The Crack's On Top, and Muted by Reality. Enchanted Porkfist is my most climbed route in all of Shelf, but I use this as a warmup for these climbs. I LOVE!! slab climbs but I hadn't even gotten on "Muted" until this past spring, being warned off by all the "leaver gear" that used to adorn this route; but last spring I noticed it had been retrobolted and jumped on it. At 11a, I thought th...[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.
By JenH
From: Denver, CO
Mar 15, 2015
There are 3 bolted routes between Bonnie, and Fight or Flight. I'm curious of the grades of the routes.
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