GOLDEN CLIFFS, COLORADO

Sarah Hamilton, Jim Adelman and I climbed Lemons, Limes and Tangerines (right) on a dazzling winter day, just after a snowstorm. We enjoyed its fun moves past a small ceiling and up perfect, vertical rock. Ice still lurked on the shaded holds, but the Golden Cliffs felt like the best place on earth to be. About a year later, on the day after Christmas, Sarah and I introduced California girl Laura Hamilton (left) to this superb and distinctively aromatic winter crag.

The Golden Cliffs hold a curious interest for me. I grew up west of Denver, and drove past these crags thousands of times. But even as a dedicated climber, living in Eldorado during the 70s, I never noticed the potential for climbing around Golden. The rock in Clear Creek Canyon seemed chossy as well, although we did climb there once. On July 20 1969 -- the day Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon -- Steve Weaver and I were nailing our way up the first ascent of the central line on what a later generation would call "The Wall of the Nineties." We topped out and hiked around the backside of the cliff, returning to find that during the few minutes we were out of sight someone had heaved a rock through the window of Steve's Volkswagen, and stolen our gear. What a tough place to climb, we thought.

Larry Hamilton climbing page