ELYSIUM AKA IVY LEAGUE
"new" area was apparently found in the 1990s by Don Wood, who largely
passed on developing its granite blocks due to the presence of poison
ivy and sumac throughout the sloping valley. In early Spring of 2003,
this South St. Vrain area was rediscovered by Justin Jaeger and Chip
Phillips. After executing a highly sequential wet-rock hop across
the torrential spring flow, JJ found a sprawling field of seemingly
untouched granite basking in the warming sun on USFS land (without
the endemic ivy and sumac grown in for the season), inspiring the
name Elysium. Several times over the next few weeks, JJ and CP went
back with brooms, brushes and pads. The following information is provided
for those who may desire a day away from the masses. A typical problem
at the Elysium is a face or bulging face problem up small crimps,
culminating with an interesting and/or scary topout on sloping terrain.
The topouts are oftentimes the crux, so be prepared for hard exit
moves on small holds and the possibility of awkward falls. Fortunately
most of the landings are very good. As the area is still quite fresh,
bringing a couple durable brushes is advisable, as the rock is still
exfoliating and a bit fragile due to the lack of traffic and the lichen
can be quite hearty. Expect to feel some crumbling, although - once
the top layer is clear - the core of the boulders seems quite solid.
We suspect the area will only improve in the future as boulderers
venture up to and explore the Elysium. Don Wood's tentative name for
the area, "Ivy League," can be quite fitting from late spring into
fall. That said, keep your eyes on the ground during your approach
and take precautions (long pants, no wrestling with dogs or each other
in the foliage, etc.). As the trails and landings become naturally
worn (though we would all like to think this can be avoided), avoiding
the "leaves of three" and the sumac bushes should become easier.
Drive 7.0 ± 0.2 miles (depending on your odometer) up CO Highway
7 from its intersection with Highway 36 in Lyons. The parking lot
is a quick dodge off to the left side of the road just before the
road takes a sweeping right turn. The parking lot is large enough
for a couple dozen cars and easily distinguishable due to the "DAY
USE ONLY" sign. A wide valley is discernible to the east/southeast
and some boulders can be spotted through the trees about 150 yards
away if you are looking for them.
Crossing the River:
Perhaps the first thing worth mentioning about the area is the difficulty
one can encounter in crossing the river. 1) During winter conditions
along the South St. Vrain, it may be easy to cross the river due to
the presence of thick ice. This is certainly the easiest time to cross.
2) During low flow conditions one can easily wade across the river
to the south from a point 10 yards from where you can park you car.
Start at a small sandy area halfway between the two left-hand bends
in the river. We've gone across here when the water is knee to crotch
level and it's pretty casual. The riverbed's rocks are slick and the
water is cold, but it's possible to maintain your balance here with
2 dogs on leashes while carrying a large pad. You may want to take
your pants or shorts off, as they will in all likelihood be soaked.
Once on the other side, head downstream about 50 yards, then up a
faint trail 100 yards to the first boulders. Another approach for
the more adventurous during low flow conditions is to perform a rock
jump. When one looks toward the boulders from the parking lot, the
launching block is down and to the left. One must scramble onto this
relatively steep slab, set up on obvious slick foot holds and launch
down to the gentler slab directly across a chute of water. Together,
these boulders both angle towards the river, creating a narrow, yet
quickly flowing section. Once you pull yourself together on the other
side, skirt left around the suspicious-looking plants on the riverbank,
then head up and right away from the river to join the faint trail
to the boulders. Be forewarned that the jump back, while carrying
a crash pad, is the crux. One must run down the gentle, yet often
wet, slab and jump to the higher boulder across, grabbing the sharp
juggy lip. A good soaking and potentially dangerous situation awaits
those who don't catch the lip … loosen your shoulder straps so as
to avoid drowning. 3) During high flow conditions, the rock you jump
to may be quite wet and slick with algae. Under these conditions,
we were able to use an old rope affixed to a chunk of talus on the
road side and a cluster of trees on the river side to create a sketchy
tyrolian traverse to cross at this same launching spot. Send one person
across, thread the rope around the trees, throw the rope back and
tie both ends off very tightly on the side you started on. Done properly,
it is very easy to get all the pads across both ways and for everyone
to avoid the treacherous jump back. Be aware that if someone pulls
your rope while you are bouldering, getting back will have officially
become an epic potentially worthy of publication in a humorous Climbing,
Rock & Ice or, more likely, frontrangebouldering.com article. Use
common sense and prepare for the worst if you use such a system.
The theme of freshness applies here as well, as the area has seen
very little human traffic, the majority of which was probably to access
some of the obscure crags and top-roping found in the area. No clear
or faint social trails around the boulders were evident. An effort
to place cairns has been undertaken and faint social trails now are
present, though the end product is not all that obvious. Many of the
best problems have short approaches, as they are fairly close to the
river. Three problems in particular have long approaches that are
worth it (Elysium Arete AKA Kenney Corner, Brooding Cumulus and Dexitrim).
Climbers should try to follow any discernable paths in the effort
to consolidate our collective impact (and to avoid poison ivy and
sumac, thorns, loose gravel, and intense bushwhacking).
1. Fat City V8 * Ascend the high rounded prow on the first boulder
sitting in the wash on the right as you approach the boulders. Props
to Will L.
2. Silly Warm-Up V2 sds. On the north face is a short problem with
a bunch of good holds. Start from the sit, reach left to goodness
and pull over.
3. Project V? (R/X) Hang off the northwest arête all the way
to the top and pull over. For those with NO FEAR.
4. Project V? (R/X) Pull low bulge any way you want, then negotiate
the far right side of the slab 20 feet to the top. It's a long way
down if you blow it.
5. Shorebreak Direct V6/7 sds * From sds at base of the NW arête,
move left, pull the bulge & steer a little left to top.
6. Shorebreak V2/3* Start in middle of the north face, below an obvious
bulge. Pull the bulge onto the slab and steer left a little to the
7. Like Glass V1* Left of the trees, but right of the crack is a
steep northeast-facing slab. Zig-zag up perfectly spaced holds to
the top, finishing with Shorebreak.
8. Flip-Flop Slab VB. On left side of the crack is a low-angle slab
that is perfect for warming up in flip-flops or sandals.
9. Reef Rash V2 sds* From sds, do a thrutching move to start, then
pull up and over, possibly using a mantel.
10. Big Wednesday Traverse V7 sds * From sds with Reef Rash, traverse
right into Big Wednesday and go to the top.
11. Project V? sds. From a sds on obvious holds with Big Wednesday,
move slightly left and top out above an obvious prow, avoiding all
the good holds higher up on Big Wednesday. Contrived, but appears
to be quite a challenge.
12. Big Wednesday V4/5 sds * Begin from a sds on good holds under
the overhang and climb up and slightly right past good holds to the
13. Bailing Out V2 sds. On the far left side of the overhang is a short
2 or 3 move problem where the object is to pull around the corner
onto the slab. Harder than it looks.
14. Miserlou V7 sds* From Bailing Out's sds, continue zoom right
to topout with Fear of the Closeout.
15. Charlie Don't Surf V8/9 sds * From Bailing Out's sds, continue
right all the way across the overhang to top out with Lip Trick. Extreme
16. Fear of the Closeout V6 * Reach or jump to thin crimps on the
lip in the center of the overhang, then heel-hook and mantel like
you mean it if you want to top it out.
17. Charger V8 sds * From a sds on the far right with Lip Trick, heel
hook left all the way into Fear of the Closeout and pull over.
18. Lip Trick V5 sds * From a sds on the far right move up and left
a few feet, then do a balancy mantel to top out.
19. State of Love and Trust V8 (R/X) * Ascend thin hard-to-see crimps
up the north face for 15-plus feet to a wide almost horizontal crack.
Follow the crack left to the top. Or, continue straight up the face
to the top 30+ ft. up if you dare (undone).
20. Grievance V4/5 * Twenty feet left of State of Love and Trust or
just right of Red Mosquito, this problem climbs straight up good but
thin edges. Pass a flake at 15 feet just before the top.
21. Red Mosquito V7 * Just right of Nothingman, decent hands and piss-poor
feet to pull on and move up and into better holds just before the
22. Nothingman V4 * Ascend the northeast corner to thin finishing
23. Last Exit V4 sds Pull up into the slot from a somewhat awkward
sds with a meddling boulder behind you. Also the downclimb or downjump
24. Rearview Mirror V7/8 * Ascend the obvious dihedral up and over
the bulging thin topout. A low or sit-start seems possible.
25. Breakerfall V7/8 (R/X) * This 35-footer will scare all but the
brave away. Jump or lean in from the adjacent block to get started
and do a hard move or 2 to establish in a crack. Climb small hard-to-see
holds up the face, pass a horizontal crack at 25 feet and go 10 more
feet to the top. Will LeMaire gets credit for this insanity. Yowsah!
on Big Wednesday
Chip on Nothing Man
25. Crumble Cake V1/2 15 yards north of the PJ Boulder, under a tree,
is a bulging problem on a blunt aręte.
26. Skid Mark V5 Ten feet left of Crumble Cake, Pull a short bulge
onto a thin slabby face. A couple moves and you are done.
27. Out of Your Element V1 sds On short boulder 10 yards south of
the Lebowski Boulder is a short problem that can be done from a sds.
28. The Dude Abides V4/5 * Ascend thin blunt southeast aręte to even
thinner finishing holds.
29. Over the Line V5 Start in the thin seam on the south face, lunge
left to the ledge and mount the ledge, cursing this crappy thing all
30. Mark It Zero V0 Ascend the west face to the top via very good
holds. The ledge in the middle takes away from the fun.
31. No Frame of Reference V3 Start low & do a couple hard moves
on the northwest corner, arrive on the ledge and go to the top.
32. Doors of Perception V4 * Start on edges a few feet left of a tree.
Pull a bulge 12 feet up, then dance up thin crimps between the branches
to the top. Serious and sketchy up there.
33. Island V3/4 * Left of Doors of Perception, start in a thin seam
and surmount a bulge on your way to the top.
FISTS OF FURY AREA
34. Fists of Fury / Project V? Climb out the southwest overhang via
an obvious right-arching crack above talus. The landing is bad, so
bring crashpads, spotters and big balls.
35. Crispy Critters V2/3 The right-hand crack. The rock is sharp and
so is the lichen. If it ever cleans up, it should be a decent line.
36. Mean Green V1/5 The left-hand crack surrounded by lichen. For
V1, use the ledges and aręte out left or don't (V5).
37. Tapping the Source V5/6 * Ascend the southwest face of this pillar
of rock past some underclings. A long reach to a fragile looking flake
at 15 feet is the crux.
sends Reef Rash
38. A-Frame V2 * Start low and ascend the thin triangular northwest
face to the top.
39. Exfoliation V0 Start near a seam and go up a slabby face to the
40. Project V? Climb the short west-facing bulge from a sds on the
41. Napalm in the Morning V3 From atop the meddling boulder below
the face, ascend edges to the top.
42. Napalm Direct V7 * Start underneath the overhanging southwest
aręte on a right hand crimp and left hand pebble. Do a long move to
a painful edge and ascend the face to the top.
43. Tetris V? Ascend the west face where a 500 pound flake used to
44. Project V? Ascend the low-angle southwest aręte to the top. The
flake 6 feet up may blow off at any minute. Tread lightly.
45. Flair V5/6 * Climb the southeast corner via slopers and edges.
THE ELYSIUM BOULDER
46. Superfly Traverse V2 Hand traverse the lip left to right all the
way around the boulder and pull over.
47. Elysium Arete / Kenney Corner??? V6/7 sds * Ascend the prominent
slightly overhung aręte to the top and over. A sds may be possible.
BROODING CUMULUS WALL
48. Proj. V? Ascend the wall left of the dihedral.
49. Stormy Monday V4/5 * Ascend southwest-facing dihedral. Be ready
for a long reach to a dicey topout.
50. Wanderlust / Project V? sds From sds, climb right out a very thin
seam and pull the bulge. Potentially very hard.
51. Wayward Vagrant V5 sds Climb the north side of the boulder from
a sds using a large flexing flake. Finish on slopers above the flake.
52. Dexitrim V3/4 (R/X) * Climb right side of the south face a few
feet right of the tree. Pull yourself on the wall via the thinnest
of crimps, then climb up to a slopey topout.
53. Pull the Trigger V2 (R/X) Pull onto the southwest corner, reach
high for the top and find a way to pull or mantel over.
JJ sends Elysium Arete
Chip on Lip Trick