Ben: Benjamin W. Bruestle.
Grew up in Pueblo West. Live in Golden.
FRB: How did you get into climbing, Ben?
My freshman year at CSU I lived on the outdoor adventure floor of Edwards Hall. The pictures my dorm mates had in their climbing mags of mountaineers blew me away. I sold the car my dad had given me and bought everything I needed for mountaineering. I met Jason Sramek, who had a bunch of gear and maybe a little rock experience. We taught each other how to ice climb.
FRB: Where do you usually climb?
The Wet Mountains or Clear
FRB: Who do you usually climb with?
FRB: Tell us about the climbing scene down and
is pretty quiet overall. There aren't many local climbers. You always
have the place to yourself. There is a lot of new sport development
being done by Nelson Lunsford and Bill Schmausser.
FRB: What was the motivation for your climbing guidebook?
Ben: Pueblo has always been viewed as the stepchild of Colorado. I wanted to get the word out that wasn't the case for its climbing. It has seen its share of famous climbers putting up routes: John Gill, Harvey T. Carter, Jeff Lowe, Earl and Art Wiggins, Pat Ament, maybe even Layton Kor. Some of the locals are incredible too. Brad Shilling is now the climbing Ranger at City of Rocks. He can climb 5.10 in plastic boots. Tom Greisan grew up in Pueblo too. He used to set up top ropes for John Gill. He could also crank a one armed pull up while calmly drinking a beer with the other hand. I also thought that if the locals knew more about what they had, they may get more organized and get some of the private areas opened up.
FRB: Do the locals like the idea? That is,
there's a guidebook
to the area, now?
far I've only received positive responses from locals. I contacted every
current and past local climber I could before publishing "The Ripper".
A few of them wanted certain areas left out of the guide, so I respected
their wishes and left them out.
FRB: What about the potential for bouldering in the area?
There is a lot of potential but much of it is on private land. A friend
of mine has went to the court house, found out who owned the land, spoken
with the land owners and actually had some success with legal access.
FRB: The Trinidad area has a vast potential for new
what can you tell us about Trinidad?
All that I know about
Trinidad bouldering is what I've seen on the internet about Monument
FRB: Where else is there new climbing/bouldering
the Pueblo/Trinidad area?
There is huge potential
in southern Colorado. The problem is that much of it is on private land.
There are many sandstone canyons on the eastern plains.
Apishipa Canyon comes to mind.
It has some huge sandstone blocks, as well as old Indian campsites,
and petroglyphs. It's a really cool place and is public land.
Nelin Creek has some good looking
boulders. It is on public land too.
The Sunshine Wall a mile upstream
of the Royal Gorge has huge potential for sport and trad routes. It
is on BLM land.
The dikes around La Veta and
Stonewall have tremendous potential, but again most of them seem to
be on private land. Shane Self used to tell me about big canyons out
by Sterling. I've heard of possibilities near Kim too. And then there
is all the stuff in the San Luis Valley.
FRB: Any plans for an addendum for
of plans. More history, more pictures and topos, new crags.
FRB: Who are some of the more outstanding
down Pueblo way?
of course there is John Gill. He lives outside of Pueblo and still gets
out a bit for what he calls "geriatric exercise". Next would be Nelson
(Lunsford) and (Bill) Schmausser. They have put so much time, energy,
and money into developing areas. They have spent thousands on bolting
some really stellar routes. I think the approach trails they have constructed
are even more impressive though. Last but not least would be Dondo Garrison.
He is the father of sport climbing in Pueblo, and quite a local legend.
FRB: Got any fun, interesting adventure climbing
to share with the FRB readers?
First was when Jason
Wilson took me to the Fatted Calf. We were having a great time until
the land owner started shooting at us! Next was when my wife and I climbed
Culebra Peak and Red Mountain from the east side. We hopped the fence
and quickly snuck past the houses. It was about a 14 mile round trip
day. We saw deer, elk, turkeys, bears; the place is just incredible.
At the end of the day we got back to the ridge overlooking where we
had parked and saw a bunch of people and vehicles parked around my truck.
Busted. I guess my Montero with climbing stickers all over it wasn't
too low profile. It was the ranch manager, sheriff, and game warden.
The ranch manager was pissed, the game warden wanted to know if we had
been poaching, and the sheriff arrested us for "Trespassing on Agricultural
Land". We went to court in Trinidad and were fined $130 each and got
6 months of unsupervised probation. There is a lot to be said about
contacting the land owners before you are on their land.
FRB: What does the future hold for Ben Bruestle?
Grad school. Getting my
17 month old daughter, Marina, climbing. Travel to South America. Legalized
climbing in the Royal Gorge and at Beddows Dome.
FRB: Thanks for the interview, Ben.