Gift of the Wind Gods
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Emily on the approach just before sunrise, with th...
Gift of the Wind Gods is an excellent climb: lots of pitches of fun, varied climbing on an improbable face far away from the crowds. When you look up at the wall from the base of the climb, my mind tricks me into thinking it is vertical to overhanging for the first six pitches. However, there is only really one steep bulge on the whole climb. The rest is a nifty face climb that links cracks and weaknesses to a ledge system beneath broken climbing to the summit of Wilson. It is a definite step up in difficulty/commitment from Inti Watana, but nothing like Resolution Aręte.
The rock is generally quite good. The crux is real 5.10 for Red Rocks. However, you should be prepared for some less-than-perfect bolts near face climbing, and some serious feeling climbing on the lower grades. In my book, there is definitely some 5.8 R on this route, and depending on how you feel about the bolts, some dicey sections at higher grades too. There are no bad pitches on the route.
As of 4/22/06, the first pitch and a half get shade in the morning from the rock formation to the left of the route. The upper pitches go into the shade in the early afternoon around 1:30.
All belay stations except for the top two are bolted. Most pitches are 120-150', but I wasn't paying much attention to the lengths. See the Urioste supplement for estimates.
See Approach beta for P1. awkward 5.8ish.
P2: Traverse right (bolts) to a weakness. Follow this up to a station beneath a couple bushes. hard 5.9? easy 5.10?
P3: Head up, over bush, and step right to the other obvious crack and follow this to a station with a ton of bolts. 5.8ish
P4: Step left into another weakness, follow it up to the bolt-line above through a bulge (good bolts at crux) and another belay station. easy 5.10ish. feels like doing a pitch at the Gallery, except a thousand feet off the ground.
P5: shorter pitch. head up the crack to a station on the left. 5.8ish.
P6: another shorter pitch. follow bolts up, then step right and pull onto the belay ledge. 5.9ish. (There is a variation here heading up and left over a bulge past two visible bolts that looks like solid 5.11.)
P7: A full-value heads-up pitch. A technical traverse (1/4" bolts, cool climbing) heads right, then up sustained face on more 1/4" bolts (see protection notes). There is an off-route bolt about 15’ up before where you traverse around the corner. 5.10.
P8: Short pitch with fun and squirmy wide climbing. Walk the #4 with you and place pro in the back of the crack. There are a couple bolts too. Pull past the juggy bulge to another station. 5.9ish
P9: links to P10 for one long easy 180’ pitch to tree in easy broken terrain, or belay off a tree in the middle to break it up. 5.7 at the bottom, easier up top.
That's the climb, but it ain't over yet.. Unrope and scramble NW along a loose ledge system with trees and an excellent flat bivy spot under a headwall (heading towards headwaters of oak creek). While traversing, when you walk around corner, you find yourself in a big gully system that leads down to the main gully formed by the weakness between Cactus Flower Tower/Mt. Wilson, which then heads down W to Oak Creek.
Note: there are no good descent trails that I know of on Mt. Wilson. The descent described here is based on only one descent with a local. It works well, takes about three and a half hours from summit to car, but may not be the best way possible. Feel free to root around and post up. It is possible that the enormous gully heading NW between Cactus Flower and Wilson would get back to Oak Creek, and It would be a great shortcut if it worked.
To get to our descent, you need to get higher on Wilson to get your bearings and access the right ramp system. Head up, pretty much to the summit of Mt. Wilson. Follow this big broken gully (big pine trees up a ways) on 3rd and 4th class to its top. There is one slippery sandy section that we roped up for, but you might be able to find an easier way. From the top of the gully, hike eastish to the summit of Wilson, then head W towards the distant grey limestone slopes.
Approach as for Res Aręte/Inti Watana. Instead of turning left off the approach gully to get to those climbs, keep heading up. The ‘trail’ gets a lot fainter here. Continue up past polished red water runs at the base of the wall (3rd/4th class) to where the approach opens up into a big area beneath Cactus Flower Tower. A ledge with a big pine tree marks the beginning of the route. The first pitch starts out by climbing an awkward low-angle ramp/flake heading left, jogging up and right around some blocky terrain, then up/left again.
The descent should be an entire other section for this piece of rock.
From the summit of Wilson, the rock appears to make a long ridge/ramp stretching west towards the headwaters of the south fork of Oak Creek. We walked west, down the gully on the skier’s right side of this ramp (north of the ridge) until it was easy to walk on top of it still heading down westish. For the record, you are not heading straight for Oak Creek. You may think, while descending from Mt. Wilson, that you are walking too far to the left, but that is what you need to do to be able to enter the drainage without a mess. If you went too far left (south) it would probably mean more walking. If you go too far right, it will probably mean rappelling and 4th class down-scrambling. There are numerous good looking gullies branching off to the north which look like shortcuts into Oak Creek. Some of these might work, but good sources tell me that they are generally awful.
Keep heading down, occasionally trending skier’s left (south or south-west) to get the drainage between Mt. Wilson and the limestone hills. There is a large stand of ponderosa pines here (mentioned in the Urioste guide) that was hidden until arriving in the drainage. Now head down the drainage on improbable-looking polished slabs that are almost always easier than they look from above, zigzagging to find the path of least resistance. A few minutes after entering the drainage, we came across a steep section with a small moabesque chossy sandstone tower with a perched boulder on top. Walk north around the skier’s right side of the tower, then head back left into the drainage. Follow polished slabs down until the north/south fork confluence in oak creek past several obstacles. There is a fixed rope/rap station at the first headwall, and four or five other steep sections can be avoided by scrambling left or right of the drainage.
Note: this descent was relatively painless, but we had daylight. Routefinding the polished slabs (exposed 3rd class and occasional 4th) descending into oak creek would be a slow process in the dark. If it was dark and I hadn’t done the descent before, I would probably opt for the First Creek descent. The First Creek descent is brutal and wet (or at least, when I did it it was) but generally routefinding and danger-free. To go down First Creek, summit Wilson. Then walk westish until you can see below and to the left an area of beautiful red sandstone gravel with bushes. Get onto this and follow it (southish) to the first creek drainage, then drop into the notch at the top of the drainage and follow this down past a few hours of boulder hopping and creek evasion until it spits you out on a good trail below the lotta’ balls area. It's been a year since I did the FC descent, so feel free to correct me if I'm off.
A number of pitches follow weaknesses in the sandstone that take intricate, but good pro. When approaching these weaknesses, it often appears that they will be closed cracks with no pro, but this is generally not the case. A double set of nuts is key, and consider mixing the shapes you bring (a few offsets, etc). In addition to this, bring a single set of cams blue alien to #4. The #4 is most useful on P8. In addition to these, consider bringing some extra large hands cams. A number of the lower-graded pitches (3,5,8, I think) would require some healthy runouts, or some leap-frogging or other tomfoolery that wouldn't be an issue with extras. Personally, I'd bring a single set of cams, but triple up on the #3 size. Same size hexes would also work.
Notes on bolts: This is a trad climb, but there are face sections where the weaknesses bottom out, or while connecting systems. To protect these, there is a veritable grab bag of bolts. Everything from good looking 3/8” wedge expansion bolts with metolius hangers to rusty ancient compression stud 1/4”ers with rusty SMC hangers. The bolts are generally, but not necessarily, better where there is cruxy climbing. Prob about half 1/4" and half 3/8”. For what it's worth, most of the 1/4" are the best 1/4"s ive seen: wedge expansion bolts with beefy homemade hangers. Not too much rust on these. They might actually hold a fall. Either way, if you're a pansy like me, consider bringing a few screamers. All bolted stations have at least two 3/8” bolts, or one 3/8” and two decent 1/4” bolts.
Looking down from 2nd belay
Tunneling under chockstones climbing up the approa...
By John Kear
From: Albuquerque, NM
Oct 21, 2010
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
This is indeed a great route. The climbing is steep, clean, interesting and sustained. The belays are all solid. The 1/4 inch protection bolts don't detract much from the route, although if all the old 1/4 inchers were to get replaced this would become a neo-classic for sure. I would call it better than Inti Watana. Very good traditional climbing!
By Greg Barnes
Apr 22, 2011
If anyone climbs this route and brings a digital camera, could you take a few close-up shots of the 1/4" bolts, and also note exactly how many there are? We've been asked to replace this if possible, and it's a big project that would benefit from details.
Also opinions on exactly which bolts would be best to replace in case rebolters could only get 5-8 or so in one day. If anyone gets these sorts of details, post here and/or email me if you get a chance!
Thanks - Greg Barnes firstname.lastname@example.org