BETA PHOTO: Overview of the main south-facing buttress.
There is some question as to legal access to this crag. Please read through the descriptions and if at all possible, speak to someone whom has recently been there. Thanks. JM.
This crag begs for a glorious name, and while a lot of people have contributed to the first ascents here, no one seems to know its name. Wonderland is one name that has come up in discussion, and the crag is indeed one of the few "new" cliffs of real significance, and is arguably one of the best finds in the last eight years. It is largely south-facing, granite, and relatively huge. Imagine The Lost Angel and you would not be far off the mark. The crag is close to 300feet at the high point, and 1,000 feet wide. It is now host to 50 or so routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.13, and the rock is brilliant.
Getting the information organized will be a bit of a chore, inasmuch as nothing has yet been written. Furthermore, there are several subsidiary outcrops that belong in the same general description. These lie above, forming a distinct tier, and adjacent to the main cliff. The main crag rises right out of the river, and it is split at 150 feet by a long ledge system from which most of the routes originate. I was unable to locate anything below the ledge, but this does not mean that nothing has been done.
By no means is this just a sport area, and a light rack covering a full range of options is required. Many routes here are mixes of sport and trad climbing.
Eds. Note, walking on RR tracks is not authorized by railroad owners. Please DO NOT walk on the the RR tracks! Mountainproject.com does not condone any violation of the law.
Excerpted from below: Wonderland can be reached without ever entering a tunnel via the cable tyrolean. Approaching via the trail (which takes you right down to the river for most of the way) that picks up at the bridge is not difficult, solves any issues with the RR and saves running the tyro.
There are approaches from many directions (from Wondervu, from Pinecliff, from Magnolia/Lazy Z, and from Gross Reservoir). All of these, except for Gross, involve parking problems (railroad or community owned land) and an approach that includes some degree of trespassing of railroad, community or privately owned land. The approach from Gross requires hours of bushwhacking after you have made your way around the entire reservoir.
Gilpin County has an ordinance that is clearly posted and enforced that does not allow parking on the side of the road!
Historically, people have parked and approached from Pinecliffe. There are two places to park: 1) at the top of the hill on what seems to be Pinecliff community property, 2) down next to the tracks, which must either be on Pinecliff community property, private property, or within the railroad right of way. There seems to be no National Forest land on which one could park anywhere in the general vicinity.
From Pinecliff, there are three routes to the Wonderland – 1) down the tracks to the tunnel and the Tyrolean, 2) down a shorter section of track to the path on the north side of the river, or 3) up past the routes at Pinecliff over the top of that ridge and back down into the drainage to the east that leads down to the river much closer to the Wonderland. The latter two approaches are significantly harder and more time-consuming. A note of caution here: the river between mid-May and the beginning of August becomes a class V or VI raging torrent and has taken the lives of 4 people in the past several years, so be careful!
Following the RR tracks east (downstream) from the main Pinecliffe area is not legal...thus its description has been deleted.... Assuming you can find a legal approach...hike up its west side to gain the ledge system. The routes begin exactly where the trail intersects the ledge, and spread out along the ledge for several hundred yards.
Alternately, pick up the trail right at the bridge. Just drop down as though you were going to the main cliff. The trail is picked up right by the river. Just stay on it instead of hiking up to the crag. You will encounter a few places where it leads right into the river, but these are easy to negotiate.
Crossing the tracks is not legal...please approach via legal access.
Dana Ernst has requested that this crag be removed from MP.com citing potential issues with the railroad and large numbers of climbers that may compromise access. Additional feedback would be appreciated before removing this important crag.
The railroad has put up new signs along the entire Front Range stretch of tracks, including Mickey Mouse, the West Bank and Wonderland. Of course this really isn't anything new, they have always had a no-trespassing policy. Wonderland can be reached without ever entering a tunnel via the cable tyrolean; however, the easiest walking for that approach is along the tracks. There are other longer approaches that avoid the cable business.
The big slab area is called The Petrified Ocean and the sector to the right of that is called the French Quarter. Most of the bolted routes were put up by a few Coal Creek Canyon locals, and there were other routes previously done by others. Quite a few people have known about this place for awhile, so I don't think that there will be a big rush on the place as you either have to deal with the cable or walk a long way. The crag itself is on National Forest land. There is also another small crag with 4 very steep 5.12s near Wondervu too, but that's a secret.........
There are also several crags on the approach and east of Wonderland that will hold, and some may already hold, very interesting routes. So, in fact, the potential here is far from tapped out. Most of these subsidiary crags appear to be of excellent quality as well.
This place has been worked for several years, and just like MM, the RR will harrass ya. I'd vote for removing this area from MP. There has been a lot of bolted lines put in (by whom?), and there are a lot of existing trad climbs that should never see a bolt near them. . . I haven't been in for about a year, but I know that this last year has seen more activity. Imagine a bunch of people hiking the line trying to find this place, and running into a few maintenance boys, or trains. Get the approach figured out (obtain RR ROW maps that show their true property, etc.) and secured, and then post it at MP. I'm just afraid that this may do more harm than good.
That's great! Richard, did you do this recently in the snow? If so, how much snow is there right now? Also, where are you parking to pick up the trail by the bridge? I've been parking at the top of the hill before the town of Pinecliffe.
Dana, funny you should ask. I did hike over in the snow, and I did the tracks as well on the same day. I didn't think the trail was bad at all. I ended up hiking on the ice half the time since the trail takes you right down to the river for most of the way. The only troublesome part was in the narrows where you can creep over the little falls, but this gets really slippery. This section stays open for a lot of the winter despite most of the river being iced over. The tracks were really a slog in the snow - no advantage at all really. There is just no reason to avoid the trail if we anticipate running into the RR personnel. This actually is a real potential, as intimated by Cameron. I have watched several pick-up trucks run the tracks in advance of the train, and these guys can come up fast and apparently out of nowhere - not much fun in the tunnel. As to the parking: I have parked in the pullout by the tracks and routinely use the tracks to reach the bridge. You are probably right that it could approached from above where you can drop down very close to the bridge. You can also avoid the tracks for some of this way by staying to the right just off the pullout, but some of this land may be private. I don't know if anyone will find it useful or not, but there is also a trail on the other side of the river. This one stays close to the water and is pretty well open for most of the distance.
Thanks for the beta, Richard (and all). Can someone better explain the trail access that is being discussed? Cross the first bridge from the Pinecliffe parking area, and. . . .? Also, in reading the posts, I didn't see where the question of trespassing was identified or not. Is this trail route trespassing? I don't mean to be a pain, but I sure in hell don't want trouble. . . for me or any of my climbing comrades! This trail sounds like a good choice for RR trespass elimination.
No. Pick up the trail right at the bridge. Just drop down as though you were going to the main cliff. The trail is picked up right by the river. Just stay on it instead of hiking up to the crag. You will encounter a few places where it leads right into the river, but these are easy to negotiate. I'll pull the topo's and see what I can learn about ownership.
Wonderland: this area has pretty much gone unnoticed by the climbing community for the past 8-9 years. During that time, a Coal Creek resident by the name of Will has been investing his time and money into developing the sport routes at this area with the help of a couple of other CC locals. Will is a nice guy who likes to keep a low-profile, but he would be willing to accept any contributions for his hardware endeavors for those of you who enjoy the routes. There are well over 100 pitches in and around the area; all of which are documented in the "yet to be released" Wonderland guidebook to the area. From the sounds of the comments, the reason for trying to preserve the secrecy by not putting a guidebook out is obvious; access. It's true that the approach involves being on or around the RR. It's also true that the RR recently put up new 'no trespassing' signs. I would advise anyone planning on visiting the crag to absolutely stay out of the tunnels. This is not only due to obvious danger, but also threatens access to the crag. All sport routes are bolted with special consideration given to proper ethics and safety. Pretty much a person could get on any one of the climbs without fear of unforeseen dangers regardless of beta. With this being said, a guidebook would do nothing more than draw in the crowds. But if you see me or Will out there, and we’re out there a lot, we’d be happy to give you any beta. Let's be honest, in an age of over-crowded crags and mountain scenes, it's nice to have something that is a little hard to get to and maybe even a bit secret. I'm all for removing the Wonderland Crag from MP.com.
So, I started to post this that first day Richard put the crag up, but... Tim has nicely stated the feelings of many who know the crag, and were introduced to it by Will. The history has been that Will, or Tod, or Tim had shown you the spot, with the explicit understanding that it was fine to bring others, but to come with them, do so carefully, and to suggest they do the same - not to publicize it. There are so few crags like this in the area - a little tough to get to, the approach being part of the excitement - whether because of needing to search for the appropriate pulley (one of the few things McGuckins never had, though they certainly knew of us looking for them), or the surreptitiousness of the most convenient approach, certainly the isolation of place. When you do see someone there, it is the kind of crag to politely ask - "Who showed it to you?" The fact that it has been non-published for 8-9 years bears accolades to those who have visited it. Clearly anyone can 'find' it, and doing so take it on themselves to publicize it, though I doubt that is the case for the first posting, despite their apparent lack of knowledge of the history of the area. One can only hope we each might come across such a place that is indeed loaded with routes designed with "special consideration given to proper ethics and safety", and nobody there. Climb, and go away knowing you lucked out, quietly. It's not a secret, but as long as the option of keeping it unpublicized has been raised, please do remove Wonderland from the website. Thanks.
Please remove wonderland from mp.com. The access issues do not appear to have been fully investigated for the approach and the main description still describes access along the RR tracks which is trespassing. At a minimum, the entire Wonderland description should be removed until all approach issues are fully sorted out.
A question for those who want Wonderland removed from MP.com:
Do you use the railroad tracks to access the crag? That certainly is the easiest way to get to the tyrolean cable across the creek.
If so, then it seems the argument is this:
"My buddies and I access the crag using the RR tracks, which is trespassing, and we don't want any more publicity of the crag, which may cause other people to trespass like we do. That may cause the RR to clamp down on trespasssers even more than they do now. This will jeopardize access to the crag via our preferred approach."
If you don't use the RR tracks, and don't cross private property, then what's the problem with having the crag on MP.com?
I invite anyone who has found an approach that does not use the RR tracks or cross private property to post it here, in sufficient detail so others can follow it.
On my one visit to the crag, we walked along the RR tracks for about 15 minutes and used the cable tyrolean to get there. We hopped into the woods to avoid being seen by passing trains. Did not go through any tunnels, though. We met a fisherman on the trail, close to the crag, who had come down from the north, via Lazy Z Road. Don't know if he had to cross private property, however.
From Google Earth, it appears that there are some dirt roads north of the crag, east of Ponderosa Way, that may provide access, but this may involve crossing private property.
This crag will never be popular (regardless of the amount of information on the web) for one simple reason: the approach is too long for many people.
Agree, Dave. The approach is a bit longer than getting to the Monastery. Even using an approach via the RR tracks and cable tyrolean (without going through any tunnels), it took us about 55 minutes to get to the crag, and 50 minutes to get back to the car. There are uphill sections in both directions.
The approach instructions for Isolation Canyon in AZ say: Show and tell only. I think that it would be appropriate to delete the current "Getting There" under Wonderland and replace it with something similar until a nontrespassing approach is found.
In reading the comments here on the site I felt it might be useful to make an entry. I hope not to get bogged down by opinion, either my own or those of others, but rather to present some information in the spirit of clarification.
History First, here is some history about the Wonderland. While I’m sure it was discovered by non-climbers long ago and then again a few decades ago by early generation climbers, my ‘discovery’ of the Wonderland, along with Dave L. occurred in 1998s. Dave L., Tim H. and myself have established all of the bolted routes, except one, with help from Jim R. We established the majority of bolted lines in the late 90s. There are also a few obvious trad-lines with good protection. Our goal has been to establish safe, enjoyable routes. We have also worked to establish and maintain good trails so that the hike in is reasonable and erosion is minimized. As Tim H. stated in an earlier comment, all route development has been documented. Routes have been named and rated with detailed descriptions including pitch lengths, bolt counts and descents. Please be advised some of the pitches are long, 95-140 feet! A 50-meter rope would be a hazard. A 60-meter is potentially dangerous but will get you off everything with some scrambling at the base of some of the longer bottom pitches in The French Quarter and a 70-meter is really the way to go. The ‘record’ of the Wonderland routes has been sitting for many years without any circulation even within the small group of Coal Creek climbers who frequent the Wonderland. I figured that publicizing the area would become an issue of debate at some point and wished to be prepared to avoid possible misinformation going public. It is my hope that such publicity will not happen at least in the near future as there are important access issues that have not been fully considered, let alone resolved.
Access I have hiked in to the Wonderland many times from many directions (from Wondervu, from Pinecliff, from Magnolia/Lazy Z, and from Gross Reservoir). All of these, except for Gross, involve parking problems (railroad or community owned land) and an approach that includes some degree of trespassing of railroad, community or privately owned land. The approach from Gross requires hours of bush-whacking after you have made your way around the entire reservoir so this is not a viable option. Even if there was a ‘legal’ approach that was only twice as long as the regular approach from Pinecliff people won’t use it. All of us will always take the more convenient approach until we are personally penalized for doing so. This brings me to my biggest concern. Pinecliff is the place people will park and approach from. There are two places to park. One is at the top of the hill on what I understand to be Pinecliff community property. The other parking area is down next to the tracks. It must either be on Pinecliff community property, private property or within the railroad right of way. As I understand it there is no national forest land on which one could park anywhere in the general vicinity. From Pinecliff, one takes one of three routes to the Wonderland – down the tracks to the tunnel and the Tyrolean, down a shorter section of track to the path on the north side of the river, or up past the routes at Pinecliff over the top of that ridge and back down into the drainage to the east that leads down to the river much closer to the Wonderland. The latter two approaches are significantly harder and more time-consuming. I should add a note of caution here. The river between mid-May and the beginning of August becomes a class V or VI raging torrent and has taken the lives of 4 people in the past several years, so be careful! No matter which approach people take, if the volume of people going in and out increases to the point that either the railroad or the Pinecliff community decides to enforce ‘no parking’ and ‘no trespassing’ regulations then I fear there will be many fewer people visiting the Wonderland than there are today. One person pointed out that the police won’t hike around on the railroad track trying to ticket hikers. That’s correct. They will just wait in their comfortable police cars next to your car until you emerge at the end of the day. If you are lucky you’ll get a parking ticket. If you are unlucky they will take your name and issue you a personal ticket. I am not suggesting that this reality will be right around the corner or that I know for certain it would happen at all. I can say, however, that it was the exact demise of a climbing area I helped to develop in another state. So, I hope people can continue to enjoy the Wonderland for many years to come. And, I am not suggesting that I know the ‘right’ thing to do here. However, I hope Ron Olsen, and others who are considering publicizing information about this area to exponentially more people than currently know about it, will think this choice over carefully for its long-term ramifications. If you then make the decision to publicize the Wonderland to the climbing community at large I hope you will at the same time make a personal commitment to share the responsibility for resolving the access problems which will arise from the publicity. It would be a sad day if your wish to share broadly resulted in a loss for all. If you chose to publicize the Wonderland, I have one suggestion. Before any publicity about the Wonderland continues, do the research on obtaining legal parking for climbers and then, if necessary, do what it takes to create this legal parking first, before we are at odds with the non-climbing community. Although it is not my first choice, if others choose to pursue this seriously with their time, energy and possibly money, I am willing to help toward this end.
Please forgive me if I am misinterpreting what I have read on this topic, but I don't think it is fair to blame Mountain Project and this forum for the Wondervu area becoming more popular. Clearly, the initial route developers tried to keep the area secret, but somebody told somebody who wasn't part of the plan and now the word is out.
In some respects, I think the Mountain Project forum can be a positive aspect of the development of Wondervu. The forum and resulting traffic will force issues that have otherwise been neglected, mainly lawful access, to be dealt with in the proper manner. And, the forum can help spread the word on what needs to be done to resolve these issues.
Rather than try to live in the past, I suggest that the route developers and climbers at Wondervu embrace the inevitable and look to the Mountain Project forum to help them resolve issues that should have been taken care of long ago.
Good point, Bruce. However, some of the administrators do feel that they have a responsibility to maintain crag secrecy if they feel that access could be compromised as a result of increased traffic. For an example of this, check out Last Chance Canyon, NM. I am by no means saying that this is what should happen here, just pointing out that administrators have removed directions from the site.
I join the others who have asked that this page be removed.
Another point of discretion would be to advise climbers to keep their gear inside their backpack as they hike around the railroad. I have met RR construction personel twice. One crew was eager to know what we were doing there. The other warned us that management sometimes comes around, and does fine and prosecute for trespassing on federal property. I've also seen a boulder fall on the rail right across from the cliff and a maintenance vehicle arrive in a matter of minutes.
What's so hard about having one cliff not listed on the internet?
Checked out the access to the area today, and I did not see any No Trespassing signs. I did however see signs warning hikers and fishermen to stay along the riverside trails as well as private property signs stating No Camping or Fires. I accessed the area from two different points, just out of curiosity. First from the pullover that goes in to the steep gully, which doesn't really allow access to the trail across the river, and second from the small pullover just a thousand feet past the previously mentioned one headed towards Wondervu for tyrolean access. Also thought I'd mention the fire ring and the strewn beer cans I found in numerous areas. WTF.
I would like to see this page removed as well.
I do not know any of the people who established this area and neither did the guys who showed me it, it just goes to show how closely we're connected without knowing each other and how fast problems could accrue. I would be willing to put forth effort to clean up the area as I live a half mile away and will definitely be spending some time there this summer. Feel free to contact me.
To anyone who goes there: be advised that Gilpin County has an ordinance that is clearly posted and enforced that does not allow parking on the side of the road! This would force everyone to park at the tracks just across the county line. I like this area and would like to see it remain open and in that interest everyone who uses it is responsible for knowing the rules and regs. Hiking the tracks is clearly trespassing. As Boulderites continue to show up back there by using the tracks the railroad is likely to put the foot down. Don't be lazy! Look on topo maps and educate yourself about the property lines. Hike in 'the long way' if you have to in order to preserve this area.
To Will et al: while I have bolted many routes in my life like you, I can appreciate your hard work; however, you know better than anyone that the tracks are technically off limits. Placing the tyrol might have aided in your projects, but it only begs people to use it, read; hike the tracks. In an effort to preserve all your hard work, I suggest you remove the cable.
Rereading these posts early 2011 leaves me with two thoughts. First, since there is no significant access issue, it would seem that the only reason for removing the crag from MP.com would be to protect the interests of a few climbers and given the approach, technical difficulties, etc. this concern seems largely unwarranted. The crag just doesn't see that much use. Second, lots of crags don't get listed on MP that are host to numerous high quality routes. We have a new crag in the South Platte with over a dozen excellent routes, but access is potentially difficult, albeit not presently. So, leaving it unlisted seems to be the prudent course. As much can said for lots of other crags in wilderness or just off the beaten track. Thunder Ridge went unreported by the FA teams and was only listed after several of us checked out their work. This is a general state of affairs for prior art in climbing or anywhere else, so the best way to guard your own secret is to tell no one. In which case, why establish anything?
People should know that there is no access issue if you park where you do normally to go across the tyrol. You can park there and hike west down the hill, cross the bridge, and go across the tracks. You then can follow the Fisher trail along the creek, head uphill above the crag where the tyrol is, and hike back down the other side and follow the main climber's trail to the crag.