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Offensive graffiti scrawled around X-rock climbing area north of Durango

Climbers, La Plata County government plan removal this month
Graffiti with racist, vulgar and antisemitic imagery appeared on boulders and other areas around the popular X-rock climbing area north of Durango in late May or early June. (Courtesy of Ryan Willard)

A popular climbing area called X-rock just north of Durango city limits has been hit with graffiti expressing racist, vulgar and antisemitic messages and imagery.

X-rock, on the west side of U.S. Highway 550, is one of the most widely used crags in the area, drawing people for bouldering, crack climbs and sport climbing. The graffiti spans areas from the parking lot and trail to rock faces around the X-rock formation, said Durango climber Ryan Willard, who came upon the graffiti last week.

“I did not go looking. I’m sure there’s more to be found than what I saw. I was pretty disgusted,” Willard said.

Willard said he saw a “massive amount” of graffiti. It was spray-painted on rocks near the lower parking lot, along the trail leading to X-rock and on the climbing area underneath the X-rock formation.

It was also on anchors at the top of the well-known Gold Wall route and on the base of the route, called the Gold Face. The wall is accessible by hiking and climbing. Willard said the graffiti was not there when he climbed in the area in late May.

“This one hits pretty close to home to me because I have a lot of Jewish family,” Willard said. “There was pretty nasty antisemitic, racist, and some pretty nasty vulgar stuff.”

Willard posted photos of the graffiti to Facebook with a call to action to the Durango climbing community to help clean up the area. The graffiti included swastikas, depictions of male anatomy and a racial slur.

The post drew more than 100 comments from people outraged about the incidenft and volunteering resources to help fix it.

“I have been contacted by so many people ... that have offered their services,” Willard said. “I’ve been really astounded by the energy and motivation that the local community, even outside of the climbing community, has put toward this.”

The X-rock area spans La Plata County, city of Durango and Bureau of Land Management land. Climbing groups have reached out to local governments to manage the cleanup.

“Our environmental engineer is coordinating with Durango Climbers Coalition, who’ve asked if they could help take the graffiti down,” said Chuck Stevens, county manager. “I believe we’re trying to get that scheduled for this week.”

The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office had not responded to any calls related to graffiti around X-rock as of Tuesday, said spokesman Chris Burke.

The city of Durango recently cleaned up graffiti at another popular climbing spot, Sailing Hawks in Dalla Mountain Park, this year, Willard said.

In Vallecito, residents cleared away images stomped into the snow-covered ice on Vallecito Reservoir over the winter. The image included a racial epithet and depiction of male anatomy.

“For me, it’s obviously pretty upsetting to see that in our community,” Willard said. “I have no idea who did it – it could be somebody from out of town. I really don’t know. I was just really blown away by the support of the town in general in trying to deal with the situation.”


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