Alpine Bouldering

Alpine Bouldering

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in News

This summer has been a great year for bouldering development in the alpine realms, not only in Colorado, but around the country as well. For a number of years, Colorado was one of the only places in the US that had a legitimate alpine bouldering destination, Rocky Mountain National Park. This was followed (in a few years) by the discovery of Mt. Evans, and then in 2010, the rediscovery of Lincoln Lake. There were never claims that these were the best areas for bouldering, but they were (and are) good. There is a good concentration of hard problems in an unbeatable mountain setting. While the rest of the country swelters under the increasing heat of a globally warming summer, Colorado has become the warm-month destination for serious boulderers.

It was only a matter of time until those who traveled here turned to their own backyards and started hiking up into the mountains. In addition to our trip to Alaska, a number of new alpine areas have popped up around the country and here are a few that have caught my eye:

1. Natasha Barnes has a great write up about some new bouldering at Burst Rock. in California. It sounds like there is a ton of rock there and only a handful of developed boulders. Natasha is one girl out there who climbs outside at a high level, has been climbing for a long time and has put up a number of FAs.

2. Mike Bockino, Mike McClure, Ryan Guerra and Tammy Stowe-McClure from Idaho have been making the hike to Braxon Lake. This place looks potentially incredible.

3. Davin Bagdonas, David Lloyd from Wyoming have also been hiking into the mountains.. This area seems totally new and the rock looks excellent.

4. Paul Otis, Noah Kaufmann, and Joel Zerr (I know others have climbed here and developed, I’m not sure of their names but would be happy to know their names) have climbed at Sierra Buttes in California for a few years now.

5. Kelly Sheridan, Johnny Goiceochea, and Joel Campbell and others have been hiking around Washington and putting up new problems at areas like Skyline Ridge. Washington seems primed for the discovery of a destination alpine area. Leavenworth and Gold Bar are in the mountains, and are destination areas, but I don’t think they would qualify for their roadside nature, low elevation, and lack of a concentrated talus field.

In the early 90s Hueco Tanks was the mecca of American bouldering, and in the following years there was a ripple effect, as roadside areas like HP40, LRC, Joe’s Valley, and Bishop came into there own. The pattern seems to be the same now with talus field bouldering.

Are there any other new alpine zones out there? Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, BC, Oregon? My list is not intended to be comprehensive, but it would be better if it were. The kind of hiking, work and exploration it takes to develop these areas is to be commended. Well done everyone, you’re getting me psyched to get out and find some more stuff here in Colorado!

Finally, it was John Gill who bouldered at a small cluster of boulders high in the Snowy Range of Wyoming, near Laramie. This may have been the first alpine, talus-style bouldering done in America. Gill’s foresight is once again almost hard to believe. Gill also climbed at Jenny Lake, near the Tetons, and while these boulders sit near the base of the mountains, they lack a few qualities to really be considered in the list.

IMG_8930Upper Chaos Canyon, the zone with the most potential in Colorado’s Front Range.

31 Responses to “Alpine Bouldering”

  1. TK

    08. Aug, 2011

    Alpine bouldering in MT? Certainly.

    Gill in east Rosebud is another early example.

  2. EC

    08. Aug, 2011

    TK – I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of Rock Creek for Gill, that’s where his well known problems are in the B-Tooths. The Verm may have bouldered in East Rosebud, though. As for the original post, I don’t think there’s any bouldering, let alone alpine, in Montana… 😉

  3. big poppa chosscrush

    08. Aug, 2011

    dear lord, braxton lake and burst rock….


  4. rocster

    08. Aug, 2011

    The Baker Boulders from Sparker’s new development in the Bitterroot Mountains, MT.

  5. TK

    08. Aug, 2011

    Yeah, Rock Creek, that’s the one. The mind was moving slow this am…

  6. sam

    08. Aug, 2011

    I have been bouldering in WA for a few years and what Kelly, Johnny, and Joel have put up, and continue to put up, is mind-blowing. Reading your blog posts about Wolvo-land and other discoveries has inspired me as well and I’ve spent some time doing research on the alpine areas of WA as it gets hotter and hiked to some remote places. It may seem obvious to some, but I must remark anyway at how hard it is to find good new bouldering; I’ve looked at talus fields with thousands of large granite boulders and found only a few climbable lines, or at least lines that would warrant the amount of hiking I did with pads. Perhaps I haven’t developed the “eye” for finding new boulders, but I think that it’s important to keep in mind that the parameters we boulderers are seeking are extremely rare geological oddities, but it is totally worth it none-the-less!

  7. Davin

    08. Aug, 2011


    The rock is Excellent!

    Hope you can make it up sometime.

  8. JP Whitehead

    08. Aug, 2011

    There is something to be said about the Adirondacks of New York… specifically in Keene Valley. ROADSIDE talus bouldering, almost completely untouched.

  9. LG2

    08. Aug, 2011

    Indy Pass has almost a thousand problems now with a lot more potential.

  10. LG2

    08. Aug, 2011

    Recently went up the South Fork of the Frying Pan river near Basalt. TONS of potential.

  11. All Canadian Man

    08. Aug, 2011

    This post is lulzworthy. Ppl were bouldering in the Bugaboos since the 60s frinstance, Toni Lamprecht crushed some V9 there in the 90s, but going to the Bugaboos to boulder would be like buying a Lambo for the sound system instead of for driving it.
    But if u demand alpine talus flds in Canada theres always stuff lk this, nr Whistler,-122.867037&spn=0.001977,0.003921&t=f&z=18&ecpose=50.22740596,-122.86703645,825.96,-0.698,0.329,-0.001

  12. B3

    09. Aug, 2011

    @All Canadian Man. Thanks for your information. My knowledge of Canadian alpine bouldering is admittedly minimal. This is a bouldering website, and I would much rather climb on the boulders at the base of any wall than the wall itself. I walked through that talus field on my way to Pemberton in 2005 and I don’t remember being very impressed. I was impressed with the featured and large boulders in Cheakamus Canyon, which is near there as I recall, and the outstanding rock at the Green River Bastion.

  13. Michael

    09. Aug, 2011

    Failing to find humor in foolish things is succeeding.

  14. Sander Pick

    09. Aug, 2011

    Someone must come and beast the 8C-ish jaw-dropping project on the far right side of Teen wall (the Dali-esk mammoth face at Burst Rock). It has a perfect rail start, just the right feet, and three nails moves of increasing difficulty that form the direct start to “Semi Sweet” – the right variation of “Sweet Sixteen”. (to the right of Ethan flashing Sweet Sixteen) (Josh trying the second move) (Josh trying the third move)

  15. big poppa chosscrush

    09. Aug, 2011

    pander sick, note that your v8 and these photos of the 8c-ish (or is it 8c-shi*?) is proof positive that v7 – 9, with v8 as the pinnicle, is GOD/ALLAH/RAH/JAH’s chosen grade range.


  16. bongowurm

    09. Aug, 2011

    Around Salt Lake there is the alpine ridge from Lone Peak up to Snowbird, people have climbed and hiked there for many years but no one has taken the bouldering too seriously yet. Silver Lake has the shortest hike at one hour


    10. Aug, 2011

    omg BIZZARO WORLD! this post has been up for longer than 24 hours without any strong evidence of hatred oozing onto the comments page. is this the sign of the world’s impending DOOM?


    dear jamie/pig copulator: i hate you and everything you say and do and what you don’t do or say. i have boulders that i cannot climb, am unwilling to share with others. though i believe bouldering is worthless, i believe that i should selflessly take a bullet to save obscure bouldering areas from your evil manipulations with the ferver of a father savagely protecting the virginity of his slutty hot daughter by murdering all those callers captivated by her siren song. to say i am a complicated man is a friggen understatement and anything you say to the contrary means that you cannot comprehend simple english sentences, let alone the unintelligeble ciphers i spit. please do not reply with facts and illustrations and just digest the spirit of my post: YOU SUCK.

    –“every one” aka the royal “we” aka one or two trad climbers


  18. entropy

    11. Aug, 2011

    Justin, my internet world would be a much more boring place without you. Thank you!

  19. damo

    11. Aug, 2011

    if you have the cojones to walk 17 miles, HAMILTON LAKE is the place to be. Sequoia National Park, developed by Shawn Diamond, Damon Corso and Charlie Barrett. look for a video on DPM next month. VB-V13

  20. Kelly

    12. Aug, 2011

    Thanks for the mention Jamie. We are still looking for Washington’s version of RMNP though…

  21. jays

    12. Aug, 2011

    Justin, for the love of all that is sacred – please get another hobby. Your well thought out, witty comments will get you no where on the internets. Don’t you have some lawyering to do? Sincerely,? yes.

  22. Michael

    12. Aug, 2011

    @canadianman, this topic is not funny this topic is awesome

  23. cardboard_dog

    15. Aug, 2011

    so what are some of the other alpine areas in CO?? Most of the boulders on the 14ers are either too far to drive or too far to hike or both to be logistically worth developing .. but what about all the 13ers????

  24. Todd

    15. Aug, 2011

    Something to think about is the importance of crashpads, and the development of crashpads as opening the door to alpine bouldering.
    Talus field bouldering would not be reasonable without them, which is part of why bouldering originally developed where it did.
    I have really fond memories of my first homemade crashpad when I was living in Laramie and going down to Horsetooth in ’96, but I would never dream of using it in the talus fields nowadays….

  25. Adam M

    16. Aug, 2011

    @cardboard: We got a couple alpine areas left. Not a big hike at all for one area. Pretty good hike for an area of boulders the size of Vail…

  26. climbhighco

    17. Aug, 2011

    And everything tendon has been doiing for the last five years dont forget bout that …

  27. Davin

    26. Aug, 2011

    maybe late for this but here are a few others on the Wyo-Colo Border in the Rawah.

    Look at the bottom of this post for Rawah alpinish bouldering. The pics of Guili and Mike are the ones.

  28. big poppa chosscrush

    29. Aug, 2011

    the ocean. omg. add that one to my list, jamie.

  29. Mike B

    31. Aug, 2011

    that is kinda funny that the wyoming guys said with an 8 mile walk you would have to be crazy….how bout 8 miles one way?

    @JJ-take some time off and come to Idaho so that you can come to Braxon and expend some of that legendary morning energy!

  30. Davin

    07. Sep, 2011

    Crazy because an 8 mile walk in Wyoming will provide somewhere in the neighborhood of a million boulders. Thats crazy!

    The Braxon stuff does look crazy good and worthwhile!

  31. Sweeney

    03. Jun, 2013

    The others who have contributed to the Sierra Buttes climbing development are:
    Ty Fairbiarn
    Scott Thielin
    Dustin Sabo
    Brian Sweeney

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