American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Colorado, Colorado National Monument, Various Ascents

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996

Colorado National Monument, Various Ascents. One of the most beautiful areas for desert climbing, Colorado National Monument has traditionally been overlooked by the majority of desert climbers. Not entirely, however. Each year the deep sandstone canyons and intriguing fins, spires and buttes see a handful of new routes and previously unclimbed summits attained. Activity in recent years has centered on two areas: any area not visible from the road, and anything on the hike into Independence Monument.

One of the Monument's most classic routes yet lies not on a tower but on the obvious prow just north of Independence Monument. Climbed in the winter of 1994-95 by Joel Arelland and Michael Ohm, the unnamed route goes at III 5.9 A3. There is another route reportedly located on this prow.

In April, Jon Butler and Cam Burns climbed the ultra-classic Safeway Spire, a 400-foot virgin pinnacle the pair measured to be as big as Independence Monument. Their route, Cleanup on Aisle Nine (IV 5.10 A1), lies on the southeast face. The pair also climbed the 160-foot WalMart Tower (II 5.6 A1) via Twelve-Pack of Tube Socks (II 5.6 A1) just a few hundred feet away from Safeway Spire.

Also in the spring, Dougald MacDonald and Dave Goldstein climbed the northernmost of Squaw's Fingers, a series of towers visible from Rim Driver. They called the tower the Pinkie and their route Mano A Guano (II 5.9). It lies on the northwest face of the tower.

In early September, Butler and Jesse Harvey climbed the Rainbow Tower, in upper Independence Canyon. This semi-detached, 250-foot tower is rated III 5.9 A1. It lies up canyon from the Bell Tower, beyond Pharoh Point by about one-half mile.

Also in the fall, MacDonald and Mark Hammond climbed another of the Squaw's Fingers, dubbed the Ring Finger, via Cold Feet (5.10), which lies on the northwest face. The pair also climbed a route on the northernmost Coke Oven. The Coke Ovens are a series of rounded sandstone domes, located relatively near the Squaw's Fingers, on the southern side of the Monument. Slot with a View (II 5.10+) lies on the southeast face and features a chimney system that tunnels through the tower on the third pitch. The pair did not climb the rotten overhanging summit block, which they called Coke Bottle.

Mike Baker climbed two new wall routes within the past year and a half. In October, 1994, he soloed The Binge (III 5.8 A4). The route lies in Independence Canyon on the wall above the switchbacks on the trail that leads to Independence Monument. Baker also climbed Book of Pleasure (III 5.9 A1) to the right of the Ribbed Buttress with Leslie Henderson.

Cameron Burns

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