Route Finders: Guide to the Swan Mountain bouldering wall
Special to the Daily
Type: Bouldering, top rope
Rating: V0-V7 and 5.8-5.9+
Signature climb: The Traverse
Distance from trailhead: 300 yards
Season: Late June to October
Most outdoor activities in Summit County are a mind game of some sort.
Whether you are mountain biking, skiing or climbing, you come across all sorts of hellacious climbs and descents. Sometimes, it seems as though you arrive at your destination by the grace of god, and, many times, you do.
Normally, though, you assess the best line to take, mentally commit to that line and focus on the next step. If you spend all your energy focusing on every obstacle in your path, looking at the ground, then that is exactly where you will end up.
Although I have always considered myself more of a sport climber, as I explored different bouldering locations in Summit County this week, I was reminded that bouldering is a sport of its own. It’s a form of climbing without ropes or harnesses that consist of shorter, more technical problems.
“Don’t hold the rock tighter than you need to,” my friend’s words echoed through my mind as I left the ground further and further behind. With bouldering, if you can focus on relaxing your hands while you climb, then you can avoid the increased fatigue that comes with the stress of climbing outside of your comfort zone. Needless to say, it tests your mental strength as well as your physical.
The Swan Mountain wall
Swan Mountain, one of the more popular bouldering areas in Summit County, offers climbers a large wall with excellent traversing, as well as smaller boulders scattered throughout the area. Some of these boulders are for confident, veterans. Most other climbers will want equipment to set up a top rope for added safety. Top roping is a great way to provide safety and comfort for the more novice climbers.
Swan Mountain Wall consists of a 100-foot-long wall that can be traversed from one side to the other, keeping the climber relatively close to the ground from start to finish. It is a great place for a warm up or a good game of “add on” (That is, a climber and spotter add holds to create a sequence, similar to playing “horse” with a basketball.)
The problems in the area range from V0 to V7. Next to Swan Mountain Wall is a separate pillar that has several different variations for traversing. The best part about this area is that all climbs can be top-roped, even the bouldering wall.
When you are done warming up on the traverse, there are two 5.8’s and a problem called “The Overhang.” It’s a 5.9+ climb that the guidebook describes as a “pumpy overhanging jug fest.” The wall is only 30 yards away from surrounding bouldering areas and has a beautiful view of the Dillon Reservoir and the Tenmile Range.
The surrounding areas have more bouldering, top-roping and a few bolted routes. Another perk of bouldering is that it can be enjoyable for spectators along with climbers. Just being outside, with 360 degrees of breathtaking views and good company, is a reminder of why we live here.
To access the trailhead, take Swan Mountain Road from Breckenridge or Keystone and turn into the Prospector Campground parking area (on the lake side of the road). Behind the parking area, you will see a dirt road with a gate across it leading to other campgrounds. Park near the gate and follow the path leading up the hill. After about 300 yards, Swan Mountain Wall will become visible on your left. You can also access nearby camping from the same trailhead. For more information about climbing in Summit County, consult http://www.mountainproject.com or any of the Summit County Guidebooks.
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