Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado USA. Where the strong come to send (eventually) and the weak come to weep.
First impressions? Way more beautiful than I expected. Rifle is a long canyon with 60-80m high limestone walls on either side (which means there's always shade, even in summer) and a rushing alpine stream running through the middle. The stream is conveniently filled with brown trout so you'll share the campsite with fisherman and camping families. Bring your fishing gear or buy a complete setup for $16 at Wal-Mart like I did.
The camping in Rifle costs $7 a night, plus $5 per car, or buy an annual car pass for $40, which makes sense if you're staying for more than eight nights. Amenities include toilets and firepits. That's about it. The nearest showers and food are in at the town of Rifle which is about 20 minutes away by car, or (better) Glenwood Springs (45 minutes away).
Easy routes? Pfft! Good luck! There's maybe one or two sectors which have a handful of routes in the 5.8 - 5.10 range (17 - 19 or 5c - 6a+). If you're climbing under 7a / 23 / 5.11c I wouldn't bother. Just go elsewhere. But for this grade and upwards (especially the 7c / 27 / 5.12d grades) the place offers some serious quality. To me, the routes all seem hard for their grades. Who cares though when the quality is so good?
Walk-in's vary in length from zero minutes to about 1 minute. Great for lazy sport climbers.
I've found the climbing to be less steep than I'd imagined. With far fewer kneebars damn it. Maybe I'm just not finding them? There's lots of just gently overhanging sectors (which I love) and the routes demand a ton of endurance. There's a lot of polish, so you have to learn to trust those "buttery footholds".
Nearly all the routes have clip and lower anchors which is nice. And nearly all the classics have permadraws like these. These are also nice, although the wear on the biners means that your rope will turn black (from the aluminium oxide) and you should wear gloves when belaying.
So we're one week in and those are my initial ramblings. As for routes, I really enjoyed Beer Run 5.13a and Easy Skankin' 5.12b - both rated as the best of their grade in the wider Crankinverse. And I've fallen in love with The Anti-Phil 5.13b, so I'll see if I can get that sent before we leave.
Enjoy some pics...