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Although much of Red Rocks climbing is indistinguishable and unmemorable, every once in awhile I chance upon a gem of unprecedented quality. Drifting is one such route, and given that it is relatively new, it proves that Red Rocks still has much untapped potential. The route is largely up perfect rock, has a lot of variety, and a few outrageous sections. Bolted right where it needs to be, this route has demanding climbing both mentally and physically, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
Begin on the large, open face just right of the main Jet Stream Wall at a pine tree growing near the base of the route. Scramble up a right-leaning ramp past an obvious bush to a bolted belay atop a flake and below a small roof.
P1: Pull the roof to a stance, and perform a difficult, inobvious sequence up incredible features to a stance below a bulge. Climb out right under this to a bolted anchor. 8 bolts, 80', 5.11c.
P2: Step left off the anchor to a tips lieback and punch it up to a bolt (small RP protects run to the first bolt). Three more bolts leads to a stance and a traverse left to gain a hidden seam. Ascend the seam 10' to bomber gear (this whole bit is run out). Continue up the seam with good gear to an overlap, then traverse left on fragile holds to a bolt. A pair of small wires protect this 25' stretch of climbing. A couple thin moves left past the bolt to reach an easy flake with poor gear that leads to a bolted anchor on the ledge. Bring the full rack, runner things well. 150', 5.11c.
P3: Climb easy rock up off the belay to a stance on a ledge at the base of a leaning, left-facing corner. Clip a bolt, step up off the ledge and climb the arete (makes up the right side of the corner) on thin, difficult holds past a few more bolts. At the top of the corner, step left and follow a hand crack up to a belay in a loose alcove below the huge roofs. 100', 5.11b.
P4: Step around right and tip toe up the wedged flakes to a steep, left-leaning, left-facing corner. Use long draws on the gear in this, then step wildly out of the corner to the right and clip a bolt. Pull the roof above on a jug and edge up the steep face to a reasonably comfortable semi-hanging belay. Exposed and crazy! 100', 5.11a.
P5: Step left off the belay and climb the flawless varnished face past eight bolts to a bolted anchor. 100', 5.11c.
The route can be rapped with a single 70m rope, but be very careful!
Rap 1: No big deal.
Rap 2: Down over the roof and into the alcove. This one is very close and you have to keep swinging in order to prevent getting stranded in space. Also, this rap requires a difficult pendulum to reach the anchors. Use an autoblock for this rap and tie knots in the ends! Also, bring quicklinks for this anchor as it is the only one without rings and twists the ropes annoyingly (really, a separate rap station directly under the rope line would be nice here).
Rap 3: No big deal.
Rap 4: Straight down the the face to a dedicated rap station that is invisible from above. Very close; consider tying knots.
Rap 5: No big deal down to terra firma.
A dozen draws and slings, a single set of cams from purple TCU to #3 Camalot. Wires, RP's. A 70 meter rope.
Adrift on the long second pitch
Near the top of the tips layback on P2
Josh is setting up for the crux on P1. On a cold ...
Josh is at the end of the powerful 5.11c section o...
|By Isaac T.|
From: Rockville, MD
Feb 13, 2009
Interesting that the FA is confidential... Is there chipping, gluing, or erroneous bolts concerned?
|By Bob Rotert|
Mar 22, 2009
This is route is amazing!! Congratulations to the FA party for seeing this line and establishing this gem. Excellent climbing on every pitch and what a line.. First & second pitch ratings seemed right on. After that the upper pitches, in my opinion, felt a bit softer than the grades given in the above description. Regardless of ratings the climbing was brilliant!!
For some advice on logistics. If you want to travel a little lighter you could easily do without the #3 Camalot. We simo rapped the route & they went very smooth with no issues. Bring a leaver biner for the second rappel from the top. After rapping for 50 ft or so swing over and place it on one of the bolts above the roof, clip your rope thru, before you drop over the roof. This makes it easy to hit that rap anchor without any dubious pendulums below the roof.
I was up there on 3/20/09 climbing this route. Had my camera on the last pitch but did not have it when I returned to the car. If anyone finds a Nikon digital camera in a black case I sure would appreciate its return. It has all my pictures from my trip to Red Rocks that week. If you find it please contact me via email from this site. Thanks!!
|By J. Albers|
Sep 11, 2009
Where is the PG-13 portion of the climb?
edit: thanks Jeff
|By Jeff G.|
From: Fort Collins
Sep 23, 2009
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- E4 6a PG13
I think pitch two has a few sections that could be called PG-13. Runouts on 5.9 type terrain. All the harder climbing is well protected on all the pitches.
|By Rob Fielding|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 4, 2012
1st pitch - 8 bolts, No gear needed.
2nd pitch- Sustained and awesome. Bring the rack. Don't forget the RP's, thought that it was pretty heads up.
3rd pitch - amazing. Bolts/gear
4th pitch - crux is in the beginning, liebacking up a left slanting crack, then it's 5.8/9 climbing w/ spaced bolts on plates/petinas. Bolts/gear.
5th pitch - slab/petina climbing, bring a single 2 or 3" for protection in a horizontal after the 8th bolt.
Like others have said, you could probably go w/out the number 3", but definately bring the rp's for the 2nd pitch.
From: Oakland, CA
Mar 24, 2013
Approach: We approached via the Rose Tower descent gully recommended in Handren. We walked out past Challenger Wall and out the south fork of Pine Creek. I'd recommend approaching via the Pine Creek/Challenger Wall option. It keeps you on flat terrain longer and then rolls up some easy slabs to the base of Jet Stream.
Gear: Didn't find the 3" piece to be crucial. There's smaller protection available throughout the few sections that would take the bigger piece.
Rappel: The first down from the top pitch can drop a quickdraw into the last bolt above the roof and swing into the belay pretty casually. The second can clean it and get pulled into the station.
|By Luke Stefurak|
From: Mountain View, CA
Apr 3, 2013
WOW! This route should be on top of your to do list!!
Hard to tell if the first or second pitch is harder. Pitch 1 is a pretty rough warm-up. Really tricky sequences and stunning climbing.
Gear: We brought a single purple, green, and red C3. Plus a green alien, 2x yellow alien and a single grey alien. We also brought singles of #.75 - #2 camalot. Next time I would leave the #1 since I never placed it (no need at all for a #3). The #2 was pretty key on P4 and P5. I would also bring the red and purple C3s for the last pitch.
No gear at all on P1 as noted. I missed the first small wire on the P2 Traverse. This section is 5.10 climbing on good edges with 20+ foot fall potential. This was the most runout section of the route. I was able to get gear to supplement the bolts on the other pitches. A bolt protects the final 5.11 moves on P2.
Rappeling: Not sure if the anchor got moved but it was easy to rap from P4 to P3. I did clip a draw but my partner made it to me without assistance. We also cut the tat off this anchor and added rap rings courtesy of the ASCA.
The P5 anchor is confusing and could use help. There is one bolt with a rap ring and a 3/8 hole next to it. Not sure what happend to the other bolt... There is a third bolt up high that currently has a double length sling and biner on it. Someone should fill the empty hole with a fixe double ring hanger. The hole seems deep enough, but you might want to bring a drill in case you need to deepen, or enlarge the hole to 1/2 inch.
Approach:. I took us 90 mins via Olive Oil. I think next time it could be shorter since we were slow descending from the ridge to the base of the route. We built a few cairns to help with route finding. Going up the Olive Oil descent is pretty strenuous.
|By Drew Bedford|
From: Wasatch Back, UT
May 2, 2013
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a PG13
Amazing and engaging route. It has to be in my Red Rocks all-time top five.
Two approach notes: if you use the Adventure Punks/Challenger approach, do not get pulled up into the Challenger alcove: stay low and left (look for cairns). Otherwise you have to gain and lose elevation for no reason.
We did Drifting at the end of April. If it's warm, there's no need to rush - the base of the route does not go into shade until 10:45 a.m.
From: Mojave, CA
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- E4 6a PG13
This route is a harder version of Fiddler on the Roof. The hardest part is that the first move off the ground is 5.11 and it doesn't let up until after the crux on Pitch 1, so no warm-up. There is no move harder than 5.11c on the route. IMO the crux pitch of Levitation 29 is harder than any pitch on this. Every hard move has good protection close by, although it is not as well bolted as a Urioste route. It is a great climb and should not be missed.