Grand Junction Rock Climbing: A Climber's Paradise Awaits

Grand Junction, Colorado, nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Colorado National Monument, is a haven for rock climbing enthusiasts of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran seeking challenging trad routes or a complete beginner eager to experience the thrill of the climb, Grand Junction offers a diverse playground of rock faces, canyons, and cliffs waiting to be explored.

Unveiling the Gems: Where to Climb in Grand Junction

UNAWEEP CANYON - Grand Junction Rock Climbing

A climber’s paradise south of Grand Junction, Unaweep Canyon boasts hundreds of routes on soaring granite and sandstone cliffs. Crack climbers will find a paradise of offwidth, hand, and finger crack climbs, while sport climbers can tackle a variety of exciting single-pitch and multipitch adventures. The breathtaking views from the canyon rim add another dimension to the climbing experience.

Grand Junction Rock Climbing
Grand Junction Rock Climbing

ESCALANTE CANYON - Grand Junction Rock Climbing

Often referred to as the “Indian Creek of Colorado,” Escalante Canyon offers a remote desert setting ideal for honing your crack climbing skills. Hundreds of wingate sandstone crack climbs cater to climbers of all abilities, from beginners tackling their first hand crack to seasoned veterans pushing their limits on challenging off widths.

COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT

Nicknamed “The Monument,” this iconic landscape provides a variety of climbing opportunities for all skill levels. Beginners can experience the exhilaration of their first tower climb on the sandstone walls and towers, while more experienced climbers can tackle challenging intermediate and advanced multi-pitch routes, honing their crack climbing and technical skills.

Ratio 2:1 Participant to Guide

Suitable for beginner to advanced climbers

Beyond the Rock: Essential Information for Your Grand Junction Climbing Adventure

Climbing Seasons

The ideal climbing season in Grand Junction varies depending on location and elevation. Generally, spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures for outdoor climbing.

Safety First

Rock climbing is an inherently risky activity. Proper training and the use of certified guides are highly recommended, especially for beginners.

Gear Up

While some climbing gyms offer rental equipment, for outdoor climbs, you’ll need essential gear like a harness, helmet, belay device, carabiners, and appropriate climbing shoes. A detailed gear list is available below.

Guided Adventures: Elevate Your Climbing Experience

Looking to take your Grand Junction climbing experience to the next level? Consider partnering with a certified guide. Our experienced guides can help you:

  • Discover hidden gems: Explore lesser-known crags and routes that perfectly match your skill level and interests.
  • Master the techniques: Learn proper climbing techniques, improve your safety practices, and gain valuable insights from seasoned professionals.
  • Push your limits: Challenge yourself on routes you might not attempt solo, and build confidence in a safe and supportive environment.

PERSONAL GEAR YOU NEED TO BRING:

• Climbing harness with belay/rappel and gear loops.

• Climbing helmet.

• Belay device.

• Two locking carabiners.

• Crampons for technical climbing. (Step in, not strap on)

• Technical ice tools, with hammers. An adze on a tool creates a significant risk to you. If you don’t have a hammer, you may cover the adze with tape and foam so it can’t cut your face if it pops out.

• Ice Tool tethers. This is a long elasticized leash that prevents you from dropping an ice tool. (optional)

• Climbing boots. These must be mountaineering boots. Leather hiking boots won’t work. Good quality climbing boots can be rented from Ouray Mountain Sports. Contact them directly to reserve at (970) 325-4284.

• Hooded shell jacket. A waterproof/breathable (hard shell) jacket is desirable when climbing water ice. If you use a soft shell jacket make sure it is freshly washed and dried as the drying helps to restore the water repellent finish. If we climb in a soft shell we often carry a light waterproof/non-breathable shell such as the Alpine Houdini jacket made by Patagonia.

• Technical climbing pants. Soft or hard shell. Should fit closely around the tops of your boots.

• Gaitors. Nice if your pants are baggy and/or don’t have integrated gaitors to keep the snow out. (optional)

• Synthetic long underwear top and bottoms. Two different weights for different temperature conditions.

• Synthetic mid-weight top. Slightly heavier than the above layer. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a popular example.

• Warm fleece or sweater top.

• Warm insulating down or synthetic parka that can be worn over all other layers.

• A warm hat which can be worn under your helmet.

• Neck gaiter. Optional, but recommended.

• Two to three pairs of good fitting, non-bulky, warm climbing gloves and mittens. Gloves/mittens usually get wet or damp when ice climbing and it is nice to have a back-up pair with you at all times. Personally we bring two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens for a day of winter climbing. One thin pair of gloves that are protective but not very warm; these get the most use. One medium pair of gloves that are warmer, but we can still climb with. And one pair of mittens for belaying and for extra cold days. Ski gloves usually have too much material in the palms for climbing.

• Thin synthetic or wool liner gloves. (optional)

• Wool socks to wear in climbing boots. A second thin pair of liner socks is optional for those who tend to get cold feet.

• Sunglasses.

• Sunscreen.

• A 30-40 liter backpack to carry extra clothes, water and food for the day.

• Small headlamp.

• A small personal first aid kit containing bandages and a blister kit.

• Water bottle and/or thermos: You should have one to two quart/liter capacity.

• Lunch/snack food. When climbing in the Ice Park, it is possible to go into town for lunch.

• Camera!

• Bathing suit for hot springs.

IMPORTANT:

Let us know what you DO NOT have. We may have it.

EQUIPMENT WE PROVIDE:

Ropes, protection, slings and other team technical equipment.

PERSONAL GEAR YOU NEED TO BRING:

• Climbing harness with belay/rappel and gear loops.

• Climbing helmet.

• Belay device.

• Two locking carabiners.

• Crampons for technical climbing. (Step in, not strap on)

• Technical ice tools, with hammers. An adze on a tool creates a significant risk to you. If you don’t have a hammer, you may cover the adze with tape and foam so it can’t cut your face if it pops out.

• Ice Tool tethers. This is a long elasticized leash that prevents you from dropping an ice tool. (optional)

• Climbing boots. These must be mountaineering boots. Leather hiking boots won’t work. Good quality climbing boots can be rented from Ouray Mountain Sports. Contact them directly to reserve at (970) 325-4284.

• Hooded shell jacket. A waterproof/breathable (hard shell) jacket is desirable when climbing water ice. If you use a soft shell jacket make sure it is freshly washed and dried as the drying helps to restore the water repellent finish. If we climb in a soft shell we often carry a light waterproof/non-breathable shell such as the Alpine Houdini jacket made by Patagonia.

• Technical climbing pants. Soft or hard shell. Should fit closely around the tops of your boots.

• Gaitors. Nice if your pants are baggy and/or don’t have integrated gaitors to keep the snow out. (optional)

• Synthetic long underwear top and bottoms. Two different weights for different temperature conditions.

• Synthetic mid-weight top. Slightly heavier than the above layer. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a popular example.

• Warm fleece or sweater top.

• Warm insulating down or synthetic parka that can be worn over all other layers.

• A warm hat which can be worn under your helmet.

• Neck gaiter. Optional, but recommended.

• Two to three pairs of good fitting, non-bulky, warm climbing gloves and mittens. Gloves/mittens usually get wet or damp when ice climbing and it is nice to have a back-up pair with you at all times. Personally we bring two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens for a day of winter climbing. One thin pair of gloves that are protective but not very warm; these get the most use. One medium pair of gloves that are warmer, but we can still climb with. And one pair of mittens for belaying and for extra cold days. Ski gloves usually have too much material in the palms for climbing.

• Thin synthetic or wool liner gloves. (optional)

• Wool socks to wear in climbing boots. A second thin pair of liner socks is optional for those who tend to get cold feet.

• Sunglasses.

• Sunscreen.

• A 30-40 liter backpack to carry extra clothes, water and food for the day.

• Small headlamp.

• A small personal first aid kit containing bandages and a blister kit.

• Water bottle and/or thermos: You should have one to two quart/liter capacity.

• Lunch/snack food. When climbing in the Ice Park, it is possible to go into town for lunch.

• Camera!

• Bathing suit for hot springs.

IMPORTANT:

Let us know what you DO NOT have. We may have it.

EQUIPMENT WE PROVIDE:

Ropes, protection, slings and other team technical equipment.

The Ice Clinic Workout:

Pull-ups, 5-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Strict sit-ups. 10-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Isometric Ice-Tool Hangs. 15-20 second one-armed hang off each tool. It helps to wear the gloves you’ll wear climbing. If you can’t do this one-armed, then do it with both arms, but shift more weight to one side at a time for the required time for each side. 30 seconds rest. Then:

Push ups, 10-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Repeat circuit three times with a 3 minute rest between laps of the circuit for one workout. Do this workout twice in the first week.

Repeat circuit four times with a 3 minute rest between circuits for one workout. Do it twice a week the second and third week. In week 3 reduce rest between circuits to 2 minutes

Repeat five times the fourth and fifth week. In week four take 2 minutes rest/circuit. In week five take a 1 minute break between laps of the circuit

The sixth week do the workout only once. Do four laps of the circuit with two minutes rest between laps to allow for recovery and super-compensation.

Why pull-ups and push-ups? Because these simple exercise works all the main muscles-groups involved in swinging, and holding onto, an ice tool. If you can’t do five pull-ups, you may want to contact us about a customized strength training plan.

IInterested in a more structured approach to training?

• Read Steve House’s and Scott Johnston’s Book: Training for the New Alpinism

• Check Out Uphill Athlete’s training and coaching options

Ready to Scale New Heights? Let's Climb!

Grand Junction beckons with its diverse rock faces, breathtaking scenery, and endless climbing possibilities. Contact us today to discuss your climbing goals and plan your unforgettable Grand Junction rock climbing adventure.