Colorado Front Range Crags. Chockstone Press, Evergreen, CO, 1993. 279
pages, black-and-white photographs, topos, maps, $18.00.
Colorado Front Range Crags is the latest guidebook to focus on the lesser known climbing spots that dot the Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins area. This book further accents the variety of climbing to be found in Colorado. Within an hour of the Denver metro area lies an abundance of climbing little known to the masses. Overshadowed by Boulder and Eldorado Canyons, areas like Cache la Poudre, Jackson Creek, and Lyons have remained “aces up the sleeve” for climbers hoping to avoid the crowds on sunny, Front Range days.
A 1992 Rock & Ice issue (#54) showcased some of the then up-and-coming Colorado rock-climbing spots (i.e., Rifle, Clear Creek Canyon, and North Table Mountain). By the summer of 1993 Mark Rolofson’s 1993 Boulder Sport Climber’s Guide appeared in mountaineering shops and area indoor climbing gyms, and last December Colorado Front Range Crags was released. The two seem to be in direct competition with one another (Mr. Rolofson’s book was self-published, whereas Chockstone Press produced the latter). However, upon closer inspection, you will find that both authors exchanged information, and although the two books have overlaps, they cover many different areas. Those chapters that do cover the same regions show very distinct and divergent approaches. For example, on the cover of Colorado Front Range Crags Robyn Ebersfield is featured on a climb called Evil (5.13b) in Clear Creek Canyon. Hubbel offers no route description whereas Rolofson devotes a quarter of a page detailing the dangers of this climb (Evil is NOT RECOMMENDED! Due to its location directly above the road and the loose rock on the lower-off landing—Evil is an accident waiting to happen. Although bolting has not proven itself an access issue in Clear Creek, a car wreck or death due to climbers will put climbing access in a tough situation).
Colorado Front Range Crags catalogues climbs surrounding Fort Collins, Lyons, Gross Reservoir, Golden, Mount Evans, Highway 285, Jackson Creek, and Castlewood Canyon State Park. This translates into 250+ pages of routes. Hubbel offers good directions to the crags, with the “newcomer in mind.” This book is among the new generation of guide books that target the sport-climbing market. However, there is plenty of information given on traditional, aid, and ice climbs throughout the book (even a few boulder problems). He dedicates a section of the chapter on Castlewood Canyon to ice climbs, and you will find areas like Mount Evans, Highway 285, and Castlewood, filled with protection- sucking cracks.
The book was designed with maximum compression in mind. There are no route descriptions, quality ratings, or route history given. What it does offer are pages and pages of first-rate topos. I found these computer-generated images highly accurate and incredibly informative. They are among the finest I have seen. Hubbel also includes paragraphs on access and the environment, references for area camping, equipment, and further reading. If your motivation is climbing away from the crowds, exploring new areas, and getting route facts without having to read through paragraphs on its history, then Colorado Front Range Crags is a worthwhile pound to add to your pack.
Many areas covered are quite pristine. I would hope that all climbers at any location will tread lightly and treat the environment with affection and respect.