Telluride draws rock climbers from all over, the new and the experienced. The San Juan Mountains offer a variety of rock climbing experiences, but climbing in the Telluride area is usually a traditional climbing experience.
Traditional climbing entails placing your own protection as you go, but there are climbs in the area that don’t involve the use of cams or other technical equipment. There are companies that offer guided experiences, including San Juan Outdoor School, who offer both full and half-day climbing experiences. With a knowledge base that includes where to go and how to be safe, those new to climbing can trust the qualified experts. Prices begin at $150 and some retail stores, like Jagged Edge, located on the east end Colorado Avenue, can assist in purchasing the proper gear.
For experienced climbers, there are a number of destinations in the area. Local resident and climber Raegan Gottlob is a fan of the Mine Boulders at the end of the Telluride valley. “The approach is super easy and the boulders are good quality, although there aren’t a lot of them”, she said. Gottlob and others, including some of the local youth climbing programs, like Telluride Academy, also enjoy bouldering in Ilium Valley. “It’s a great sunny spot in the afternoon. Ilium has problems for a variety of abilities, so it’s a good place to go with a varied group,” Gottlob advises.
The gravity of Works of Telluride, also located on the main street, Colorado Avenue, features a climbing wall for the public. Fees are reasonable, and routes are sometimes changed offering 90 linear feet of climbing. Children must be four years of age to participate. The Telluride Middle School/ High School also has an indoor climbing wall with $5 admission several nights a week. Here, locals and visitors with varied abilities can meet for a climbing as well as socialize. Additionally, the Mountain Village has created an outdoor climbing rock in the village core. It is free for the community. Just around the corner from this climbing spot is Boot Doctor’s retail space that offers quality gear. For the more experienced, like Gottlob, the Streaked Wall is a cherished local place.
“Our favorite spot climbing area around Telluride is the Streaked Wall, which is on the right side of the valley when you’re looking at Bridal Veil. It has some stellar rock quality, conglomerate with some limestone-like deposit over it which makes it really solid”, – Gottlob said.
According to Gottlob, there are only a few routes with this quality rock, but they are good enough for climbers to hike up there all the time. She says rock fall is an issue during the approach to the Streaked Wall though it is safe at the base of the steeper routes, and climbers are safe while climbing on these routes also. Climbing safety is always recommended. Regardless of ability, Telluride wants its visitors to stay safe, and have fun.
“I suppose helmets are a good idea for the approach, although they honestly are unlikely to really help you in you are hit by rock fall”, Gottlob says. “We wear them anyway”.