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The Palisade at Gateway --- 4th & low 5th class rock climbing to summit

The Palisade at Gateway

4th & low 5th class rock climbing to summit

When you drive through Uniweep Canyon and approach the Dolores River/ little berg of Gateway, a huge red sandstone fin looms above the valley where West Creek/Uniweep Canyon and the Dolores River canyon join.

That huge fin is known as The Palisade. I have not been there but from what I have read and photos I have seen, it has been climbed by miners and others who have taken such wild things as a steel frame and springs bed up there.

The ascent now is:

  • a walk up a big talus slope
  • traversing on sloping sandstone ledges and scrambling on 3rd and 4th class rock
  • using a climbing rope at a few spots to give you protection &/or peace of mind on 4th class to 5.0, 5.2 and a 5.4 sections of rock climbing.
  • then, you reverse it all by down-climbing much of the route combined with 3-5 rappels

If you have some rock climbing, canyoneering or other scrambling, rope work and rappelling experience, come on along. We need to limit this to 6 persons since it is an exploratoty for our group and to control the time needed for rope work.

If you canyoneer with WSA, if you were with us last month on Parriott Mesa, if the rock gym is a place you go for exercise; or, if you have outdoor climbing experience . . . come on along.


Meet at 8 AM under the City Market sign and row of trees at the City Market just off Hwy 50 heading south, in Orchard Mesa before the fair grounds and on the opposite side of the road.


  • Helmet (required)
  • Climbing harness and rappel/belay device
  • 2-6 carabiners (prefer that at least some be locking)
  • 1" webbing, 5-9mm accessory cord or a daisy chain for a safety teather
  • 1" webbing (15-60' of it in case we need to leave rappel anchors on the descent)
  • leather/ fake leather or rubber face-cotton back gloves to avoid rock abbrasion
  • pack to carry it all
  • lunch, snacks, water
  • dress for weather from cool to warm; calm to breezy; sunny to . . . sunny

Ropes (I have all the 11 mm climbing rope we may need; 60,90 and 165' lengths but if you have a rope and want to bring it, that'll be good too)

Rock climbing 'rack' of cams, hexes, stoppers, etc. (I have a rack but if you do too, bring it along so we can pick n choose what to carry up)


Doug Van Etten [masked]

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  • A former member
    A former member

    this was an awesome day! i'd do it again any day... the slog up the debris fan to get to the base of the climbing is a bit tedious, but great exercise nonetheless. amazing views! 5 stars

    November 8, 2012

  • Ralph

    The Palisade behind Gateway just begs to be climbed. Fun hike/climb/rappel. The top rope was welcome on the 5+ sections.

    November 6, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    If the 'bed' is still up there we sure did not see it. There is a summit register that we signed right out at the very prow overlooking the river, town and resort below.

    November 5, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    Group of 4. Perfect size to move easily up HUGE talus slope to start the fun. Short headwalls, airy walks on slabbly ledges, following cairns to the left, the right, back again. Perfect 60 degree weather. Topped out on the mesa (though not highest point) to lunch on the big orange dome just to the right of where we reached the skyline. A 20 minute walk took us to very tip of the prow overlooking the town and resorts of Gateway. Spectacular views up the Dolores River valley, Unaweep and John Brown Canyons. Descent involved 3 short - to ~80' - rappels and following the cairns back across the ledges. Left no anchors behind. Suggested gear is 2 90' ropes (one to rappel on and a lighter pull cord), helmets - lots of loose junky rock. Brought small rock climbing rack but did not use any protection. One headwall had a very secure crack and 2 or 3 others were unprotectable short steep spots on sandstone slabs. Turn off CO 141 at 4.2 Rd, go ~2.7 miles. 1 mile up this road. Go right at a 'Y'.

    November 5, 2012

  • Ron S.

    I assume the times posted will be MST? What time to meet at 141 X 50?

    November 1, 2012

    • Doug Van E.

      For ALL COMING TODAY --- be sure to note last night was the end of Daylight Savings time. Set your clock to 'fall back' 1 hour at midnight then BE ON TIME at the new 8 AM Sunday morning. For the 2 coming from Montrose, please meet us at the US 50 & CO 141 junction at ~8:30 AM.

      November 1, 2012

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