Radioactive Cragging in Southwest Colorado


Last week I got to volunteer on a CRMS fall climbing trip to the Paradox Valley in southwestern Colorado. I’d heard good things about the area, but never had a chance to check it out aside from driving through once on a back road trip to the Creek. What we found was fun climbing and some of the most incredible vistas I’ve seen anywhere in Colorado.

We were camped at the BLM spot below the Lost World crag, which was reached via a somewhat rough road. I was able to get my Outback almost all the way to the camping, but was stopped short by a big ditch that even gave the Suburbans a run for their money (something with high clearance and a shorter wheel base would do fine). The camping was great, surrounded by big boulders and junipers. We climbed at both the Atomic Energy crag and the Lost World, the two main cliffs in the area. There are other outcrops that look promising, but the book provided little to no information about them, and we weren’t about to take 12 high schoolers on an exploratory mission that might or might not result in some climbing ater a half hour of steep, uphill, off-trail walking. Something to come back and explore.

Lost World offered a conglomerate sandstone, a little chossy for sure, but good quick access from the campsite. We climbed on the sunny side, but it looked like the shady stuff was higher quality and I’d go back to check it out. Not many top anchors here though, apparently due to the soft cap rock? Be sure to bring lots of static cord if you want to setup many climbs at once.

Atomic Energy is billed as one of the better crags in the area, and we spent two days there. It offers a nice mix of crack and face climbing, on relatively good sandstone that climbed like a mixture of Dakota and Navajo. There were some incredible looking boulders below the cliff, but we didn’t have any time to check them out. I’d come back to this cliff for sure, it’s sunny and warm, has fun climbs and spectacular views of the San Juans and the La Sals.

Our permits were limited to those areas, but it looks like there are other great spots nearby, and we hope to be back this winter to sample more of what  it has to offer.

4 Responses to Radioactive Cragging in Southwest Colorado

  1. I stopped by here on a long roadtrip five years ago. We were headed to Moab and were planning on camping at the free BLM sites below the wall. It was mid-June and so hot that you couldn’t touch the rock. The vistas were beautiful, but we spent the day looking out from the mesa and never saw a single car or truck drive by. Just endless expanses of empty desert, sage brush, and distant dirt roads.

    In the evening, we decided not to camp. We agreed the area was so desolate that we were almost certain to be abducted by aliens if we stayed the night. I was seriously freaked out. We drove to Grand Junction and got a hotel instead.

    I’m glad you had a good time! I have no plans to return.

    Kate C October 6, 2009 at 10:19 pm
  2. Oh, here’s some pics from the day, if anybody is curious…

    Kate C October 6, 2009 at 10:20 pm
  3. Cool to see you got out in that area, lots of cool stuff. I have Charlie and Damon’s guidebook to the area (Wild Wild West) if you ever need it. Haven’t used it since i moved to bonedale.

    nick October 7, 2009 at 8:08 pm
  4. anyone know what the road is like right now?

    coop March 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm
Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

Connect with Us

Real Time Web Analytics