Steamboat's Local Climbing Area: Butcher Knife

Steamboat’s Local Climbing Area: Butcher Knife

Butcher Knife Beta Report

As the weather gets warmer, we’re slowly packing away our winter gear, trading in our ice axes and crampons for our quickdraws and cams.  The rock walls are calling. So it’s time to kick our approach shoes into gear and check out Steamboat’s local climbing area, Butcher Knife. 

If you’re a local to these parts, Butcher Knife is no secret to you.  This little crag isn’t the most striking climbing area in Colorado by any means, but it’s something.  And it’s smack dab in the middle of town.  There are roughly 10 routes in the canyon to choose from, which range from 5.7 – 5.11d.  So this spot is perfect for beginners, as well as more advanced climbers looking for a little workout.  

Getting to Butcher Knife


The best part about Steamboat’s local climbing area, other than the fact that it is just blocks away from downtown, is that the approach is only a matter of minutes.  Once you turn off of Lincoln Ave., you’ll drive a few blocks down 7th St. near the middle school and you’ll run straight into the small gravel parking lot. Once you’re there, you’ll follow the trail through the canyon for a few minutes until you notice the crags on either side of the trail.  You can’t miss it.

What To Expect


The majority of the climbs at Butcher Knife are top ropes, sprinkled with a little opportunity to place a few trad pieces if you choose to go for a lead.  You won’t find any bolts on these routes.  So no need to feel obligated to bring a full rack. That’s what is really nice about this local area.  This little gem is not only convenient, but it doesn’t require you to be an expert climber to just go have a good time with a few friends and learn some new skills.  Just bring some cordelette and a few locking biners and you should be good to go. It’s a great spot to work on your anchor building skills, as well as your technique on both cracks and arêtes.  

I will say that the bolts for the anchors aren’t in the best position I could hope for.  It’s a little awkward setting it up, but definitely doable. Just scope out the best approach to the bolts, find some good footing and make it happen.  A couple of the routes share an anchor so a good cordelette anchor with a nice master point should do the trick. This will give you the opportunity to make quick and easy adjustments in order to equalize your anchor for the next climb.

Safety First

I will point out that one of the bolted anchors on the right side of the trail is missing one of the bolts.  I have heard that people do trust that climb with just the one bolt, but to be honest, that goes against everything I’ve learned about climbing.  Safety and redundancy is key.  So I’d personally feel better if people avoided that one.  At least until someone feels like slapping a new bolt up there.

There you have it folks.  Just a little nugget of information for an awesome day outside here at one of Steamboat’s local climbing areas.   So come on down to Ski Haus and let us set you up with a new rope or pieces of pro by Petzl and Black Diamond.  Maybe some new Scarpa climbing shoes.  The sky’s the limit here at your friendly neighborhood Ski Haus. So get out there and send it!

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