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Elephant Rock - Bear Mountain - south Flatirons
Matt Samet hunts for Huecos on Elephant Rock, Bear Mountain
Matt Samet hunts for huecos
This choice chunk of overhanging, huecoed Fountain sandstone was recently rediscovered by a local climber who was a permanent fixture at a local mountain shop. Elephant Rock, which sits on the seldom-visited southern flank of Bear Mountain, is easy to miss, as it is dwarfed by its larger, craggier neighbors -- the Matron, the Maiden and the Devil's Thumb.

The view from here affords a hazy glimpse of Denver to the southeast, and on a clear day you can almost see Golden's North Table Mountain, which is 20 miles south. The rock looks like an elephant's head from the distance and the climbing is still mostly undeveloped. Some of these problems are serious highballs. Do not attempt any of these problems unless you are an expert and are aware of the dangers of highballing and soloing.

Please remember that Elephant Rock is closed Feb. 1 through July 31 each year to protect raptors nesting in the area. It sometimes opens early. For more information contact Boulder Mountain Parks at 303-441-3408. Please respect all raptor closures. Click here to view a guide to the Flatirons trails.

Getting There:

Elephant Rock from Chip's Trailer
Elephant Rock, looking from the south on the Eldorado trail
Approach 1:
The easiest access for this area is from the southern entrance to the Mesa trail off highway 170 to Eldorado Springs Canyon (2 miles south of Boulder off Highway 93 to Golden). Travel up the the trail for 2 miles to the Stockton cabin at the mouth of Shadow Canyon between Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak. Cross a little pond behind the cabin and turn right on to the trail that connects back to the Mesa trail. One hundred plus feet east of the cabin, on top of the first rise, cut north uphill for 10 minutes on loose terrain along a faint cairn-marked trail until you see Elephant Rock.
The huecoed wall is on the left side of the Elephant.
South Face of Elephant Rock, Bear Mountain
South face of Elephant Rock
Approach 2:
Take Table Mesa Drive west past King Soopers, and take a left onto Lehigh Street after about 1.0 miles. Go up (south) on Lehigh for less than a mile and take a right on Cragmoor Road near the top of the hill. Drive to the end of Cragmoor and park in the cul-de-sac.

Hike west on South Shanahan Ridge trail 10 minutes to the Mesa trail then go left for another ten plus minutes to the Shadow Canyon turnoff at the water trough.

Go up this trail until the Stockton cabin comes into view. Thirty feet west of a "Seasonal Wildness Closure" sign nailed to a tree on the north side of the trail, follow a faint trail marked with cairns up the hill for 10 minutes to the Elephant.

Approach 3:
You can also take the Big Blue Stem trail to the Mesa trail (where you turn left) then on to the Shadow Canyon trail.

The Climbing
A flesh-toned overhanging hueco wall gently rises up and west to a higher tier of highballs, although the landings are still rough and undeveloped. The lower wall will make for a great 80-90 foot traverse and a handful of straight-up problems have already been done. Virtually all of the problems here were first climbed by Matt Samet.

Upper Wall

Matt Samet sends the f.a. of Left Up 5.9, Upper Wall, Elephant Rock
Samet sends f.a. of Left Up 5.9
This 40-foot high, double-tiered wall offers a pair of fun traverses on good huecos as well as two straight-up super highballs.
1. Lower Traverse V1. Right to left or left to right on flakes and jugs on the red stone of the lower tier.
2. Upper Traverse V3. A long, fun and pumpy traverse on huecos so good you'd swear you were in hueco tanks. Begin on the far right side of the upper tier and head left on perfect huecos. The middle section is the crux.
3. Left Up 5.9. From the left end of the traverse find the sweetest line of buckets on the wall. Step left to top out.
4. Right Up 5.10. The obvious crack/hueco line
just right of the center of the wall. Strenuous.

Lower Wall

Matt Samet sends the f.a. of The Scarefest V3
Samet sends f.a. of Scarefest V3
5. Left Arete V0. Climb easy huecos just right of the left margin of the wall.
6. Potentially Undone V? A necky line on the left side of the wall 15 feet uphill from the fallen tree.
7. Scarefest V3. A beautiful line on perfect rock. Start down and right of the tree then diagonal upwards and left on bomber huecos to a slopey top-out. A perfect highball!
8. Undone Traverse V? Traverse the wall from right to left. Terrible landing in the middle.





  
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