Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pay Dirt: Grand Bouldering

A couple years ago when I first explored Unaweep Canyon just outside Grand Junction I was impressed with the amount of rock and disappointed with the overall quality.  If only there was a canyon like this that wasn't 90% choss.....  

Well last year I headed south of Gateway on Hwy 141 a mere hour from Grand Junction and noticed the rock type changed from the disappointing Dakota to the much better Wingate sandstone.  Due to time restraints and a sleepy 3 year old I was limited to only a quick inspection of roadside blocks but I saw enough to know I needed to come back.

So this year I was back in the hood and excited about seeing what this area had to offer.  It only took a few hours of running around boulders before I saw enough to last multiple days and I had only scratched the surface.  The rock was good and formed awesome features that make for great lines and climbing.

Super psyched I recruited Matty and I went back for a half day of brushing and further exploring.  We put up two great problems and left 3 sick projects and I became even more excited about the area.  I was even thinking I could spend a couple weeks in Junction developing when the weather gods decide to shit on my plans and make the entire USA a snowy icebox.

It's been a week now since I last climbed (weird to go that long between climbing while on a climbing trip) and while I've left for warmer temps I can't help but wonder why people haven't climbed in that canyon.  The boulders are super obvious with approaches that are laughably close.  Only one hour from Grand Junction I don't see why boulders haven't been flocking there.  I saw almost no signs of climbing and I later learned that what little chalk I did see was attributed to a friend (and kindred spirit) that lives 5 hours away (he was also dumbfounded by the lack of established bouldering).  Seriously, Grand Junction boulders should drive past the choss in Unaweep and get to work.  The rock is way better and there are gems of every grade sitting a stone's throw from the road.

Anyways, if I'm still around when the snow clears I'd love to head back.  And I'd love to hear if anyone else has actually checked this place out.  Amazes me that it is practically untouched.

On a side note, Saint George is covered in snow and it looks like we'll be heading to Vegas as it seems the only place with pleasant temps.  Here are a few pictures from the "new" area.

Matty on the best problem we put up, a striking arete with a technical sequence.  It took some time to work out the subtleties and we called this one Pimps Don't Cry

Matty on Pimps Don't Cry.  It required almost no brushing.

We thought this one would be a moderate but we couldn't do the first two moves and decided to move on.  Deceptively difficult. 

A sweet problem on perfect rock.  Matty got super close to this one.  I called it Plain Sight.  

I was hoping to go back to this one.  Directly behind Plain Sight I wanted to clean the top with a rope before going for it but it's probably under a bunch of snow now.  You can see how far the approach is.

Another roadside block.  I managed to unlock a sequence using improbable holds but daylight ended the session.  Would love to go back.


dakotaconcrete said...

Hey, cool blog post! There is definitely good rock down that way, and the abundance is impressive as well.

Some of what seems untouched, may have seen an ascent or two. Signs of previous activity can fade amazingly quick out here. The fact is, it's an unpopular destination, and it's a very isolated area with a small, local population.

I would bet you've already checked it out. But Christian Prellwitz put out a good guidebook for many areas located in the vicinity of what you're describing here. I think the title was something like "Southwest Bouldering of Colorado and Telluride Areas".

Anyway, it's great you're getting out there. And I hope you continue to post what you find!


walkerkearney said...

Glad you liked the post. Would be awesome to climb with some locals next time I'm in the area.

I'm 100% certain folks have climbed a bit down there but it seems safe to say that the traffic has been limited. The things we did definitely hadn't been climbed but I would be doubtful of claiming fa's of anything easy to moderate.

I remember thumbing through that guide last year and it seems like there is a shortage of climbers in the area.

I guess most folks need to have chalk and grades but at only one hour away it's practically a local Junction area. Just need to get a little spray and maybe folks will skip the haul to Joe's.

Happy hunting.


On-Line Blog of Bradley Edwards said...

Hey thanks for the post. If you've got more info on the area, I'd love to hear it. I go to Unaweep a lot (and while I think there are plenty of gems out there if you're willing to hike/explore), but it doesn't hurt to have another area to go check out. You have any info on how to get there, where to camp, etc, etc?

dakotaconcrete said...

I visited the area you described here this past weekend. Great stash of premium rocks!

I brought Christian Prellwitz's guidebook along, "A Guide to Bouldering in the Telluride & West End Areas". He has a pretty lengthy section covering this area, maybe a few dozen problems, it's called the County Line and Wash Boulders. Looks like "Pimps Don't Cry" (sick looking problem!) was called the "Knife Arete". He didn't have anything in there for the other problems you highlighted here though.

From what I understand, Damon Johnston, Charlie Fowler, Christian Prellwitz, and probably others that I'm unaware of, have over the years frequented this area and others nearby.


walkerkearney said...

I guess I need to check out that guide and see what else is around that region. Thanks for the info.

and as a belated reply to Bradley I guess I would recommend checking out that guide as well as it probably has the best beta. I was only there for a day but will hopefully be back next winter.