How To

Durango rock climbing

Rad trad over Animas Valley

Looking for a cruiser classic that still takes some grit?

Apple Cider (5.8 trad) at the East Animas crags in Durango might be just what you're looking for.

“Apple Cider is a good one, probably one of the best, if not the best of those early climbs,” said David Kozak, author of the first guide book to the area, a now rare and coveted piece of local lore. “I would say that is the classic of that difficulty range.”

While the route has a second pitch of fun, broken rock with kind of a cool leap of faith, the first pitch is what draws the attention. It has several variations that funnel to an upper section and into a chimney. You can start in a large flake on the right, or the direct start in a dihedral: both lead to a small blocky roof that can be set dead on or negotiated by following an under cling passing a loose flake. All of these have options that offer good protection.

Various crack lines can be followed, with bomber jams in all of them. There are a few face moves that are well protected.

There is a two bolt and chain anchor at the base of the chimney, although it can be avoided entirely by keeping left. Many climbers stop here, cheating themselves from the highlight of the route: a 15-foot, flaring off-width chimney crack that protects well with big gear.

Wrestling through that, climbers must then figure out the unsettling move to the opposing anchor ledge. It's good to the last drop. Bring your fattest cams.

The two bolts at the lower anchor for a neighboring route and the bolts of the belay station above the chimney are the only fixed gear.

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