Rock Climbing Golden, Colorado
Located just 15 miles west of Denver, Golden is a popular destination for rock climbing in the greater Denver area. With an array of stunning crags and world-class climbing routes, the town’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains and its long history of climbing culture make it a favorite among climbers of all skill levels.
Golden offers a multitude of climbing areas with different rock types from basalt to granite and mostly gneiss. One of the most popular climbing areas in Golden is Clear Creek Canyon, a narrow, winding gorge that offers some of the best sport climbing in the area. With over 1,000 routes and grades ranging from 5.6 to 5.14, Clear Creek Canyon is the perfect spot for both beginner and advanced climbers.
Another favorite destination for climbers in Golden is North Table Mountain, a massive mesa that towers over the city and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the infamous Coors brewery. With over 400 routes to choose from, North Table Mountain has something for everyone, from easy slab climbs to challenging and short crack lines.
One of Golden’s other favorite rock climbing destinations is Lookout Mountain. This North facing cliff near the top of the mountain is a great location to escape the heat of the summer at higher elevation and more options to find shade. The iconic peak of Lookout Mountain towers over Golden and offers some of the best moderate climbing in the area. The rock formations on Lookout Mountain are primarily gneiss, which provides excellent grip and texture for climbers. The routes on Lookout Mountain range from 5.6 to mostly 5,9’s with very few higher rated climbs, making it an ideal spot for beginner climbers and climbers who want to learn new technical skills. Easily climbed in two pitches, we often recommend Lookout Mountain for our learning how to multi-pitch climb courses in Golden Colorado.
The history of rock climbing in Golden can be traced back to the 1930s, when local climbers began exploring the cliff bands in Clear Creek Canyon. These early climbers used rudimentary gear and techniques, such as hemp ropes and pitons, to ascend the cliffs.
In the 1950s and 1960s, climbing in Golden began to slowly evolve. Climbers started using more advanced gear, such as nylon ropes and chocks, and began pushing the limits of what was possible on the local crags.
Notable climbers from this era include Jim Erickson, Layton Kor, and Pat Ament, who put up some of the area’s most challenging routes. By the 1970s, Golden had established itself as a world-class climbing destination. Climbers from all over the world were flocking to the area to test their skills on the challenging gneiss cliffs. During this time, local climbers were also instrumental in developing new climbing techniques and gear, such as the camming device and sticky rubber shoes, which revolutionized the sport.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the climbing community in Golden continued to grow. Advances in gear and techniques made it possible to climb harder and more challenging routes, and climbers began exploring (back then) new areas such as Lookout Mountain and North Table Mountain.
Notable climbers from this era include Lynn Hill, who famously free-climbed The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, and John Sherman, who invented the V-scale bouldering rating system. Today, Golden remains one of the premier rock climbing destinations for the greater Denver population. With its rich history, world-class climbing routes, and vibrant climbing community, it is easy to see why many climbers continue to flock to this picturesque town in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.