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Frigid Air Buttress
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Middle Earth 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, 600'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: FRA Ryan Mcphee, Bill Thiry, John Wilder, Larry DeAngelo
Page Views: 1,729
Submitted By: Larry DeAngelo on Jan 1, 2005

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Crawling into the squeeze on pitch 1 of Middle Ear...

Climbing in Red Rocks after heavy rain can permanently damage the rock! MORE INFO >>>

Description 

This is an interesting route with some good climbing. The name relates to the long, fully enclosed tunnel on the fifth pitch. Two ropes are needed for the rappel.

About a hundred yards to the left of the Frigid Air Buttress, a rounded whitish apron leans against the lower wall. Scramble up ledges on its left side for a few hundred feet to a rope-up point where the rock steepens.

Pitch 1: On the right, climb a convoluted offwidth crack formed by the left edge of a huge flake (5.9). The easier chimney above is unprotected. The flake rounds off to a good belay ledge (which is also the ledge beneath the 5.9 handcrack halfway up the Frigid Air Buttress route).

Pitch 2: Avoid the FAB crack, and instead climb the left-leaning jam crack in the clean varnished wall on the left. (5.8)

Pitch 3: A short pitch up and left to a big ledge.

Pitch 4: Move to the back right corner of the ledge and climb a varnished corner, then go left and belay among broken rocks in the main gully system.

Pitch 5: Climb to the back of the gully then go up a dark, tight, fully enclosed vertical chimney tunnel.

Pitch 6: Easy climbing leads to the top.

Descent: Scramble left to the standard rappel route (2 ropes) down Burlesque.

Protection 

Big cam for the opening offwidth


Photos of Middle Earth Slideshow Add Photo
Very clean jam crack on pitch 2 of Middle Earth.
Very clean jam crack on pitch 2 of Middle Earth.
Will on P5
Will on P5

Comments on Middle Earth Add Comment
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By Kyle Willis
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 2, 2015

CONDITION REPORT 
We started just to the left of where the beginning was, figured that out as I started leading. Traversed 8 feet right to the ledge at the start of the burly part, cool moves!

On P1 at the exit of the easy (runout?) chimney, I did some necessary rock removal to avoid knocking more rock down on the second, and alleviate heinous rope drag. I didn't feel comfortable picking up a 125lb loose block on lead above the follower, and the second didn't feel good about it either. There's not a good place for a redirect to keep the rope from sawing behind the flake (disconcerting). My suggestion would be for a 2nd to pick up the flake and move it to the belay station, or throw it over the face. I would like to climb FrigidAire Buttress first to ensure that doing the latter would not jeopardize the safety of climbers on FAB or Middle Earth or the routes themselves, but the block can be accessed on the ledge that both routes share.

Also, the tunnel pitch has a little bit of looseness in it, I purposefully ripped off a few loose flakes to clean it up while following. My suggestion would be to belay outside the chimney/cave to avoid rockfall, even though it's a pretty cool place to hang out in, at least until the belay area is cleaned up.

Cool shorter route!
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 8, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This was a good route. The first pitch is burly at the grade, I thought, but then, what offwidth isnt?

The handcrack is a delight to climb- heck, it was the inspiration for the rotue!

Thanks for this one, Larry, glad I got to be a part of it.
By WillF
Apr 2, 2015

The hand crack/face pitch and the tunnel pitch were fun. The tunnel pitch was more exciting than tunnel vision's and easy to protect.

However it was a tight squeeze to exit the tunnel, my chest and hips barely fit through (is there such a thing as a hip jam, because I did some) with a 36 inch waist.
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