Top Ten Less-Extreme Rock Climbing Routes

Ellingwood Arete, Colorado
By Cameron M. Burns

Ellingwood Arete: Crestone Needle, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado

Let's face it: Bagging "fourteeners" (mountains that are 14,000 feet or higher) is fine, but climbing those high peaks by technical routes is where it's at these days. Luckily, for folks doing Colorado's famed fourteeners there's the Ellingwood Arete on Crestone Needle.

This climb is without a doubt the best easy rock climb on any of Colorado's "Gang of 54 (fourteeners)." Not surprisingly, you'll see it appear in both rock climbing guides and mountaineering guides for Colorado. It's airy, interesting, and remote.

The route follows a faint prow comprised of strange yet comforting horizontal ledges to a short rock wall that requires one move of 5.7 to negotiate. Then it's solid rock to the spectacular 14,197-foot summit.

So which is it really? A rock route or a mountain climb? As one climber put it recently: "a great combination of both.

Just the Facts

First ascent: Albert Ellingwood, F. Frissel, E. Davis, S. Hart, M. Warner, 1925

Time required: 1/2 day from South Colony Lakes, below the mountain

Technical grade: III, 5.7

References: Rock Climbing: Colorado by Stewart Green

Check out San Isabel National Forest, home of the Sangre de Cristo Range

More South-central Colorado Resources


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »