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Durango sport climbing

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Like the song says, “sleep with one eye open.”

Since this 5.10 sport route was bolted it has created a wave of new development at a Durango’s East Animas climbing area. A blank, forgotten wall for decades, now three lines and a few variations move over the unique and featured sandstone face, ranging from 5.10 to 5.12. The Sandman wall has been called Durango’s version of tufa climbing. Tim Kuss, a long time local climbing authority, calls it excellent climbing and hugely popular.

To Enter Sandman there are three spots that stump climbers. One is getting to the first bolt. A stick-clip can make this a bit safer, but the moves are there, using an uncomfortable three-finger pocket to hang from while clipping.

Then, it simply cruises. Knee bars provide killer hands-free rests. You can sit down on a ledge and take in the view over the valley.

On your ascent, you may notice a rather tattered fixed piece. A relic.

“I drilled an angle,” said Fort Lewis College professor of anthropology David Kozak. He was there decades before anyone, living in a hand-me-down beater pick-up truck, climbing, and going to college. “At that time, whenever I’d do new routes I’d tend not to place many fixed pieces. I was a pretty poor student,” he said. “I tended to run things out.”

After you’ve already clipped four bolts, remember, this angle was his first.

Beyond here things pick up, and the Sandman comes to life, bringing many climbers to a halt. After the sixth clip, is a slabby mantle. Don’t overthink it. It’s heady. Cerebral. If you’re confident at climbing at this level, it will come to you.

Following the well-protected second crux comes a roof where you can place a small cam, but many climbers eschew the protection here. It’s another exciting, awesome move. Lie back onto another mantle and figure out the thoughtful sequence following three more clips to a hanging three bolt anchor with chain and biners.

Off to never-never land.

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