Bastille, North face crack, 5.8

Eldorado Canyon, The Bastille.
North Face Crack, 5.8

by Lloyd Garrick

With Steve Johnson (guide, Colorado Mountain School), and Tyler Peterson (client).

Eldorado Canyon State Park is one of the wonders of Colorado, indeed it is world famous as a tourist destination, and is primarily known for it's absolutely world-class technical rock climbing. People come from all over the world to climb here. Even if you don't climb, you can hike a number of excellent and scenic trails such as Rattlesnake Gulch, Eldorado Canyon, and Fowler. Heck, even if you don't hike, you can just take a drive while enjoying the view from your car or motorcycle. Although to feel the clean, crisp air a motorcycle would be the best choice and if you don't already have one there's always motorcycle classifieds. Then, once you get there you can hang out an picnic for a day, and enjoy the sights of the some of the most impressive rock formations you have ever seen, and which will convince you that God is indeed a showoff!

I am fortunate to live 25 minutes away, but for how much longer I do not know. From Route 93 (Broadway) just South of Boulder, head West on Route 170, which is quite a scenic drive itself. After a couple miles you will pass thru a small town and then enter the park. The rocks will grab your attention immediately. The Bastille is a few hundred feet past the entrance to the left.

Bastille.   French: "castle" or "stronghold", building or fortress. Aptly named, this rock is an impressive monolith, wide at the base and stabbing Westward into the sky just into the entrance to Eldorado Park; it is one of the first things to catch your eye. The climb we will do is known as the "Bastille North Face Crack", or simply "Bastille Crack". It is rated 5.7 or 5.8 depending on the source; I would call it an easy 5.8 or a hard 5.7; maybe just say 5.75! And it is known as a world classic. Having done it now, I can understand why.

View of the North face from a nearby rock.
The West face from the base. Some 5.11-5.13 climbing routes there.

Maybe next year ...

Zoom shot of the North face.
The base of the famous Bastille Crack.

The fun starts here.

You start by scrambling up that little rock pile in the lower right, reach up and grab that beautiful flake, pull yourself up and maneuver your feet over to the base of the guitar rock. From there you can reach the crack and begin climbing.

The Bastille, with it's massive vertical face, like many Eldorado rocks, looks dang intimidatin' at the start. But once you hop on and start climbing it goes all nice and smoothie like.

Close up of the 1st pitch crack.

Closer up of the 1st pitch crack.

The first pitch is short, can't be quite a hundred feet. It is said to be the crux of the climb; I will not argue with the experts, but I thought it was quite easy. A few moves on the 2nd and 3rd pitches were what tripped me up. This crack is perfect. Not too narrow or wide. Great hand and foot jams, just right. It is said to be "greasy", presumeably from so much use. I didn't notice that. And I never even use chalk.

Zoom shot strait up the 1st pitch crack.
The climb is close to strait-up vertical at this point.
Other climbers gearing up to do a neighboring route. That bridge leads over to the Whale's Tail and Windtower rocks.

Looking down from the 1st pitch.

Strait down but not too high. Scared yet?
Looking down from the top of the 1st pitch.
From the 1st pitch, looking West into the canyon.

Strait vertical. You believe me now?