Imagine a striking cliff of bullet hard stone, with routes from 1 to 5 pitches long, both trad and sport, sitting at an elevation of 10,000′. Sounds like a popular summer spot, right? Think again. Somehow, despite all this, Monitor Rock remains a sleepy little backwater crag, but those willing to sample its delights wont go home disappointed. Monitor lies on the east side of Independence Pass, and is a perfect spot to escape the summer heat. Most of the routes are on the west face, offer shade all morning, with a few steeper outings on the east side. The rock is a polished granite of some sort, very hard with only a smattering of cracks here and there. Some of the polish has to be seen to be believed, it reminds me of some of the quartzite at Seneca or the Gunks that looks like glass. Most routes, however, climb up nicely featured stone. The majority of the climbing is less than vertical, with a few steeper things thrown in for good measure. And as for grades, you’ll find everything from a multipitch 5.4 trad route to a steep 5.12a sport route, with the majority of the climbing falling in the 5.10 and 5.11 range.
Most of the routes here are sport bolted, and very user friendly. If you do get a hankering to place some gear and get off the ground, checkout the Trooper Traverse (5.8) for a moderate, 5 pitch adventure. And if you want to step it up a notch, the Mother Load offers 3 long pitches of 5.10, with lots of good crack climbing thrown in.
Even without trad gear, you can still get some air under your butt, as there are several multipitch sport lines. That’s right, this is one of those rare spots (in Colorado anyway) where you can climb a couple pitches up with just a rack of quickdraws. Check out the 3 pitch Squid Kid (11b/c) or Printer Boy (11b) to Dazed & Confused (11a) for 4 pitches of bolted fun.
Camping options abound, from a smattering of free sites, to paid camping at numerous forest service campgrounds with 15 minutes of the cliff. The most scenic has to be the camping at Twin Lakes, overlooking a pristine body of water surrounded by towering peaks.
So next time you’re wondering where to go for the weekend, head on over to Monitor. It’s a fun spot in a great setting, you wont be dissappointed.