Rock Climbing Trip to Shelf Rd

Looking South from the Mural Wall

The ski season is about to start here in the high country, and that is when work gets busy for me! So we decided that one last vacation was in order. Shelf Road is always a great short vacation because its only 2.5 hours away and its always warm and the climbing is stellar. Matt just bought a Thule cargo box, and it was a life saver. Frank came with us and both the dogs so we needed as much room as possible in the car. We packed so much stuff in the Thule it was amazing!

We arrived in Canon City on Wednesday night, picked up some firewood and smores supplies and headed out to Shelf Rd. We picked an awesome camping spot at Sand Gulch Campground and made some dinner. The sunset was beautiful and when it got dark we played around with our cameras for some cool long exposure shots with our headlamps.

Sunset from our Campsite on Wednesday Night
Playing with Long Exposure Shots and our Headlamps

In the morning some friends came to meet us and we headed to the far right of Cactus Cliff to hit Chompin’ at the Cholla (5.9) for a warm up. We had three ropes with us, so we also set up ropes on Commitment (5.9) and Six More Bottles of ‘Basco (5.10a/b). I lead both Chompin’ and Commitment, and top roped ‘Basco. Chompin was a really nice route, with a challenging bulge move. Commitment had a really great traverse move and then a huge roof, and ‘Basco had a really tricky first couple of bolts and then the top part was cruiser.

Frank Climbing Commitment, The Blue Rope is on Chompin’ and then the Red Rope just out of view is on ‘Basco.
Beautiful View of the Mountains to the West from Spiney Ridge.

After Cactus Cliff we kept moving right over to Spiney Ridge. At this point we were all beat from the sun and Matt, Frank and I climbed a 5.8+ called Damn Right I’ve Got the Moves and everyone else climbed a 5.10 a little ways down. After that we headed back to camp to drink a few beers and then our friends left, and we headed into town to resupply and get some pizza for dinner.

Shea Hanging Out at the Wall in the Shade
Frank on Damn Right I’ve Got the Moves.
Looking at Cactus Cliff from Spiney Ridge.

On Friday it was just Matt, Frank and I and we headed to The Gallery and were pleasantly surprised to find the Mural Wall in the shade and we didn’t see another climber all day. At the Mural Wall we warmed up on a route called Protect the King (5.9-). It was a great warm up, we all took turns leading it, the last couple moves were skimpy but it was fun. After Protect the King, we climbed Frank’s favorite route called Anguish and Fear (5.10a). This was my first 10 lead and it was a really great one because its all bomber jugs but its very steep so its also really pumpy. The route is very protected and the bolts are all easy to clip so I had a great time!

Climbing Protect the King!

Next we climbed a 5.7 crack called DeMartini, it was okay, but I was starting to get tired and I suck at crack climbing. But I lead it clean until the last move which I had some issues with. Our last climb of the day was John Cruiser Melloncrimp (5.10b). Matt took a nice clean fall on lead but made it to the top and Frank and I top roped it. It definitely had some tiny crimps and with tired arms it was super difficult. I cleaned it and messed up my ATC twice, but made it down safely.

Matt Clipping his Quickdraw on John Cruiser Melloncrimp. Photo courtesy of Frank Bowman (

It was such a wonderful little vacation, and now I feel ready to take on the winter and get into snowboarding again! The Moab Trail Half Marathon is in a couple weeks, so its time to taper, although I have been sort of tapering anyways because of the snow and cold. I can’t wait to run in the race though and spend some time in Moab, most likely doing some climbing as well!