Winter might inspire some to call it quits on outdoor climbing and move into the rock gym for the season.
But some bouldering spots nearby can be pretty pleasant through the winter — especially with a little help from a bluebird Boulder day.
Other perks of winter bouldering? Lighter crowds mean more climbing for you and your friends. When the rock bakes, you might be stripping to a T-shirt.
And, of course, the sticky rubber on your climbing shoes sticks best in the cold.
1 Mount Sanitas
Sanitas’s bouldering is mellow: plenty of easy to moderate problems, lots of safe landings. Great for beginners and doing laps after class. Plus, a trail run to the top could finish off the workout.
When to catch winter sun: Most of the problems face west, so afternoon.
Range: V0 to V5-6
Try: Leaning Overhang, V5
Where: From the Mount Sanitas Trailhead (west of Sixth Street on Mapleton Avenue/Sunshine Canyon Road), head west up the trail toward the summit. The first rock is a few minutes up the trail, past some steps, on the right, and the boulders continue up the hill.
2 Flagstaff’s Cloud Shadow
Cloud Shadow gets some shade from the trees, but the southern exposure keeps it relatively warm on a clear winter day. Plus, there’s enough to climb at every grade to entertain you and all of your friends through spring.
When to catch winter sun: Midday
Range: V0 to V12
Try: Consideration, V3-4
Where: Take Baseline Road west and head up Flagstaff. Pass Flagstaff House; after the next switchback, look for parking on the left. Cloud Shadow is just past this parking, on the right and down a short hill.
3 Flagstaff’s Monkey Traverse Wall
This west-facing wall only has a couple of routes, but the namesake Monkey Traverse is long, varied (and popular) and bakes in the afternoon until the sun dips behind the mountains.
When to catch winter sun: Afternoon
Range: V1 to V4
Try: Monkey Traverse, V4
Where: About 1.5 miles up Flagstaff Road (past Cloud Shadow) park at a trailhead on the left. Head south on the trail, following the rock on the left to arrive at the Monkey Traverse.
4 Flagstaff’s Red Wall
The Red Wall faces south and hosts some of Flag’s tougher bouldering problems (read: tiny holds). Chose a project that’ll take you until spring — or longer — to send.
When to catch winter sun: Most of the day
Range: V1 to V9
Try: Right Side, V4
Where: Cross the road from the Monkey Traverse parking and follow the trail past Pebble Boulder to the east.
Complain all you want about the kooky bouldering problems at Morrison — it’s the warmest spot around for winter bouldering. It’s further away than Flagstaff or Sanitas, of course, but it’s a good spot to spend a cold but sunny Saturday working out a tricky problem (after you get someone in the know to tell you how to find them).
When to catch winter sun: midday, but especially afternoon
Range: V0 to V11
Try: Wisdom Simulator, V7
Where: Park off of Colo. 8/Morrison Road on the east side of town and walk up to the rock — you can’t miss it.