Gold Butte Climbing

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A classic, historic climbing crag, southwest facing Gold Butte is climbable year-round. Dozens of routes with original Sixties names like Far Out (5.9). As local lore has it, John Long and Lynn Hill developed some difficult bouldering traverses on the southwest wall.

Written by

Leah Fielding


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

8.1 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

As much time as you want to spend.


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Land Website

Gold Butte Climbing



Located just above the Rio Grande Trail and very convenient to the Stein Park parking off of Cemetery Lane, the Gold Buttes is Aspen's most accessible climbing. Don't be deceived by the ease of access to Gold Buttes. The routes on this Entrada Sandstone formation were rated in the '60s by the man who discovered and developed much of area, Harvey Carter. 

What Makes It Great

Nearly 20 intermediate to advanced climbing routes are located just a couple miles from downtown Aspen. The Gold Butte is even accessible by bike because it's so close to the Rio Grande trail. 

The area can be thought of in four general zones. The east face, facing Aspen, is a lead-area only. Top roping is discouraged because of rock fall danger onto the main access path. A classic here is the 5.8 feeling, 5.6 rated Dusty Ridge. At the other end of the spectrum is the 5.11 rated bolted Spacewalk.

Note that bolt anchors, in the venue facing the Rio Grande, are set back from the top of the cliff for those who want to top rope. Courteous climbers give a heads up to those below of potential rockfall danger as they approach the cliff edge. 

Start out on Complete Crack, 5.8 and its next door neighbor Shaft Crack, 5.8 or try the iconic well-protected trad route, Mo's Crack, 5.8.9. 

The other 16 routes here are mostly 5.10s with a three stout 5.9s and a trio of 5.11 routes: Still Hung Over, 5.11, the wicked Diablo Dihedral, 5.11-plus and its 5.11b neighbor Can do. A favorite is the 5.10-rated Hermaphrodite. Note: if you don't already have a stick clip, stop in the Ute Mountaineer. You'll be glad to have it on Hermaphrodite.

The lower buttresses or the Guides Triangle/Dusty Ridge area is a lead-only climbing zone as access to top anchors is difficult to protect. Warm up on either of a pair of 5.6 rated Rat-A-Tat-Tat or Dust Buckets, progress to the 5.7 Squealing in the Dust and finish out with the iconic and fun 5.8-plus Dusty Ridge.

It's important to keep in mind the top rating of his era was 5.9 so more than a few of the crag's 30 routes will feel like a grade or two stouter. Also bear in mind that Entrada Sandstone is fairly soft rock so protect leads on trad routes with this in mind. Climbing in this area after a wet weather pattern is not recommended, give it a few days to dry out otherwise you could find holds breaking off in your hand. Climbing without a helmet is never a good idea but the soft Entrada Sandstone makes it all the more necessary. Belayers should position themselves safely accordingly and leaders need to be responsible and warn people below if rocks are sent airborne.

Do also note that some of the original pitons placed by Harvey have been left for historical purposes. Do NOT rely on them for protection; look for the fresh bolt or cam placement nearby. For the best guide to the Gold Butte crag, visit the Ute Mountaineer or download it from their website.

Who is Going to Love It

Climbers who can handle the 5.6 and above routes or those who are looking to bag a quick climb will find the variety of routes and its convenience to downtown Aspen ideal.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The venue is accessible by car or bike. Bikers can simply hop on the Rio Grande trail from the U.S. Post Office in downtown Aspen. Those driving will head west on Highway 82 through downtown Aspen and over the Castle Creek bridge until they reach Cemetery Lane. Here make a right and continue along the road until it you reach the Stein Park Bridge. You can park at the Sunnyside parking lot, which is located just a couple hundred yards up the road from the bridge, or at the Stein Park parking lot.From the upper parking lot walk west along the side of the road for about 25 yards and turn left onto the signed trail.

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Gold Butte Climbing

McLain Flats Road
Aspen, CO, 81611
39.235943, -106.861117

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