Nestled far enough away from the weekend crowds of Denver but only minutes outside of Aspen, Independence Pass is a bouldering jewel in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. The many glacially carved bouldering venues are situated on the highest paved pass in the state. Keep elevation in mind, if you’re coming from lower land. The trails to the myriad of bouldering areas can be as short as parking amongst them to a 30-minute hike uphill. The vast majority bouldering areas are no more than a five minute hike along moderate to easy terrain.
What Makes It Great
If time and energy levels allow, try to experience as many boulder clusters as you can. A long weekend would give you a good taste of the variety of rock and styles of bouldering offered.
This is a Wilderness land so a leave no trace ethic should be followed and dogs need to be leashed. There are many campgrounds, picnic areas, a ghost town, and countless hikes. Be prepared for the afternoon thunderstorms and possibly chilly evenings while camping. There are bears in this area but they should leave you alone as long as you store your food properly. Watch out for fast moving cars and cyclists when you move in between pullouts. Share the road with the cyclists.
Keep in mind, Independence Pass is closed from early November to Memorial Day. There are many pullouts used to access the boulders.
Visit independencebouldering.com or purchase the Independence Rock Climbing II guidebook, for detailed maps, at the Ute Mountaineer. Here are some of the top bouldering sites along Independence Pass:
Upperboulderfield – The popular area to warm-up since there is no hike and perfect landings.
The Egg/Philosophers Corner/The Omelette – This cluster of boulders has a short easy hike and the Egg is one of the best freestanding boulders in the state. Home to around 40 mostly outstanding problems with good landings this area is not to be missed.
The Ineditable/Grotto Wall Area – The classic Ineditable boulder, and the surrounding talus field under the Grotto Walls has dozens of problems with some tricky landings. Bring a few more pads.
Sunset Boulder and Surrounding Area – The massive Sunset boulder and surrounding boulder field have many good problems and a lot more potential.
Bicep Wall – These spectacular walls have a few of the more classic hard problems on the Pass. Multiple tiers of short granite walls allow for a fun variety of climbs with perfect landings.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers who want to enjoy a variety of bouldering in an alpine setting.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Bouldering areas along Highway 82 (Independence Pass) are found throughout the 19.7 miles from Aspen to the top of the pass. Please visit Visit independencebouldering.com for detailed directions to bouldering areas.
Written by Leah Fielding for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].
Featured image provided by Mark Donoher