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The Nightcrawler 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, Sport, 5 pitches, 550', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: George and Joanne Urioste
Page Views: 24,850
Submitted By: beny on Feb 16, 2007

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Colorado climbers Rich and Kevin (belaying) on the...

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


The is an excellent route that should not be missed- some of the best 5.10 climbing in red rocks. P3,4 offer some incredible stemming, laybacking, and jamming on perfect varnished rock. P2 has great climbing as well- varied.

P1: Start below the right side of the Hourglass on a left-trending low-angled crack. End on a ledge at the base of a right-facing corner with a two bolt anchor. 5.6, 150 ft. The length of this pitch will vary depending on how high you are willing to climb unroped.

P2: Step left into the right-facing crack that widens quickly to a chimney. After the chimney ends, make face moves up to the right-leaning, right-facing crack above. This pitch ends at another pretty good ledge with a two bolt anchor. This pitch protects well without large gear. 5.9, 120 ft.

P3: Stunning. Leave the belay with a right facing dihedral fist crack on your left and a perfect finger crack on the right wall. Ascend the corner using both these features until the crack on the right tapers out. Continue up the thin right-facing corner to a ledge with two bolts. This is incredible climbing in a mostly tips corner with occasional face holds. This pitch has many bolts of various ages and variety. Small wires and tcu's are necessary to supplement the bolts. 5.10b, 110 ft.

4. The excellence continues. Keep climbing up the right-facing corner and wonder why there aren't more routes like this. End on a ledge with a two-bolt anchor. 5.10b, 80 ft.

5. Resist the temptation to rap. Climb up a splitter crack of varying sizes on black rock. Overcome the roof, then trend right and up a polished groove to a two-bolt anchor. 80 ft, 5.8R?.

Notes: P3,4 combine easily with a 70, and it would appear the same with a 60m as well. If you do this with a standard rack, be ready to skip bolts and make things a bit sporty. P5 is apparently runout, but didn't seem to protect all that poorly. Above P5 is loose, sandy, difficult to protect and not so great. Enjoy.

Descent: The best option is to rap from the top of P5. The P5 anchors are 1/4" equalized with cord. Then rap from the top of P4 to the top of P2. Continue the route as described above. 2 60 m cords are required to rap. If not for the P3 anchors, it would be easy to rap with a single 70m from the top of P5 (with a small amount of easy downclimb on P1). P3 anchors are not rap equipped. Of course, the other option is the Gunsight Notch. This involves some unpleasant 5th class climbing past the P5 anchors. We did this and won't do it again.


Approach as for Brownstone Wall. After coming up the slabs, continue up and right to the base of the wall, right of the Hourglass feature. This route takes on the right-facing dihedral that forms the right side of the Hourglass.


Standard rack to 3 friend will do just fine. Don't forget the small wires. 2 60 m cords to rap the route as the stations are set up currently.

Photos of The Nightcrawler Slideshow Add Photo
Working hard on the sustained chimney.  Slinging t...
Working hard on the sustained chimney. Slinging t...
Colorado climbers Kevin and Rich (belaying) on the...
Colorado climbers Kevin and Rich (belaying) on the...
Karsten on 2nd Pitch chimney
Karsten on 2nd Pitch chimney
Climbers on Nighcrawler. Shot on 4/10/2011
BETA PHOTO: Climbers on Nighcrawler. Shot on 4/10/2011
Zoomed-in pic of me rapping off the top of p1.  Th...
BETA PHOTO: Zoomed-in pic of me rapping off the top of p1. Th...
View of the p2 chimney atop the belay.  We were ra...
BETA PHOTO: View of the p2 chimney atop the belay. We were ra...
My brother leading the sick line up p3.  It may ap...
My brother leading the sick line up p3. It may ap...
Climbers on Nightcrawler. Shot on 4/10/2011
BETA PHOTO: Climbers on Nightcrawler. Shot on 4/10/2011
Nightcrawler pitch 3
BETA PHOTO: Nightcrawler pitch 3
Leading easy 1st pitch
Leading easy 1st pitch
Karsten does a poor Jean Claude Van Dam impression...
Karsten does a poor Jean Claude Van Dam impression...
Climbers on Nightcrawler. Shot on 4/9/2011
Climbers on Nightcrawler. Shot on 4/9/2011
Collin with calves of steel.  Enduro stemming on p...
Collin with calves of steel. Enduro stemming on p...
Almost at the top of pitch two.
Almost at the top of pitch two.

Comments on The Nightcrawler Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 7, 2014
By Karsten
From: Sacramento, CA
Mar 20, 2007
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

This route has some of the best rock in the park and its spectacular position and moves make it a classic. I guess I agree with the grade but I would recommend that the leader be confident at the .10b grade when climbing this route.

If you bring along a 3.5 or new 4 camalot you would find several places to use it.

If you climb the 5th pitch go straight up the obvious crack and then angle up and right. If you look carefully you can see the anchors from the belay. I would say this pitch is 5.8 but no R rating is necessary. As for the last pitch I would agree with the post that the rock deteriorates as you move up. I would rate it R maybe just for the rock quality and lack of good protection.

The gunsight notch walkoff is super easy and DOES NOT require rappelling unless you can't 4th class downclimb.

By Gavin Boyles
From: Montpelier, VT
Apr 2, 2007

One of the best routes I've done in Red Rocks, for sure!
By Greg Barnes
Apr 23, 2007

Matt Ruppell and I replaced all ten old bolts on p3-4 last Thursday, except one pro bolt that had been replaced previously (it has an old JU hanger re-installed on it for historical sake - don't worry, they are actually pretty good hangers, and the next bolt is 3 feet higher). We didn't get to the p5 anchor.

The pitch 3 anchor has rap rings on the two new bolts.

We didn't mess with the original bolts left next to the newer rap anchors on top of p1, p2, p4 - so each of these anchors has 3 or 4 total bolts, but no one clips the old ones!

If you rap with a 70m, I suspect that the p2 rap wouldn't quite reach the p1 anchor (it would depend on how stretchy your rope is). Also, the first pitch is definitely over half a 70m and would require 5.5 downclimbing at the start of the first pitch.

By my measurement, p3 is more like 80-90 feet and p4 about 60-70, so you should be able to rap with a single 60 to a rope left on the nice ledge on top of p2. Watch rope ends as always.
By Karsten
From: Sacramento, CA
May 6, 2007
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Thanks for all the great work Greg. Those old quarter inchers didn't inspire confidence in me.
By Aerili
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 24, 2007
rating: 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

I think it is possible a #5 would be useful/safe for the p2 chimney.

Fwiw, my partner and I met and spoke with Jorge Urioste at the base directly after climbing Nightcrawler. He stated this route "has always been rated 10+" and definitely not 10b. YMMV.

One more interesting note about the route history: Jorge Urioste told us that he and Joanne named it "The Nightcrawler" because when they were putting up the route initially, they ended up sleeping overnight on top of the pillar (I believe they meant The Hourglass formation pillar).


Time is approx 2 hours and kinda burly. To avoid a bunch of the boulder hopping, once you are nearing the entrance to the canyon, you will encounter some trail divisions and a sign; it will indicate that continuing back north (from whence you originally came) is the Pine Creek Trail, whereas turning left toward the canyon is the Knoll Trail (iirc). Our guidebook (and our instincts) said to go on the Knoll Trail; this leads you very soon into the gully and up the tiring boulder-scrambling for a large part of the canyon's length. While following Jorge Urioste out at the end of the day, we found a much nicer way to go. So during approach, when you hit that sign, keep going straight on the Pine Creek trail. It will "feel" wrong, but you will be happier in the long run! Not too much farther down the hill, you will encounter another trail that intersects on the left but bears no sign marking. Turn left here and it will take you up the hill above and alongside the gully for quite some ways into Juniper Canyon (before you are forced to get in there and finish up with boulder-scrambling). However, it is mainly flat and allows you to avoid around 1/3-1/2 of the gully!
By rpc
Apr 7, 2008

If this one is rated 10b/c, La Cierta Edad should be 9/10a in my humble opinion. 3rd pitch was hard & the 4th pitch was harder...maybe different climbing types suit different people but we really struggled on the last pitch. Beautiful climbing, rock & position though! Large cams seemed handy on 2nd pitch. Many thanks to Greg & Matt for replacing the bolts!!
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 3, 2008
rating: 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

rappelled 3 & 4 with a 70m yesterday- 4 was fine, 3 was as well, but close enough to make me think that a 60m would be really close. this pitch is probably exactly 100'- so be careful if rappelling with a 60m off of 3.

really liked this route- very thoughtful and rewarding, not to mention very aesthetic!
By Bryan G
From: Santa Cruz
Jan 21, 2009

Great climb. Probably my favorite I've done in Red Rock, although there's still a lot of great climbs I have yet to do. It's a very solid 5.10b (think of a "EB of El Cap" kind of 10b), and may seem like a sandbag among Red Rock's fluffy grades. The descent gully was still full of snow and ice from that blizzard last month. Getting down took forever and required an extra rappel. I wish we had gotten an early start so we could have spent more time enjoying the summit instead of rushing to get down. If you've never topped out Brownstone Wall, it's well worth climbing the last pitch. It's an impressive ridge with a great view off the backside.
By peachy spohn
Jan 16, 2010

I thought that the chimney pitch (pitch two) was pretty hard for the grade and awkward at times. The third pitch was really really cool and balancey.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 18, 2010
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Every pitch is enjoyable involving a mix of many skills - stems, chimney, liebacks, endurance. The third and fourth are totally sustained 5.10 climbing from start to finish. Comment - although you can rap from pitch 4 to pitch 2 belay, at least have the last person stop at pitch 3 and pull the rope then rappel again - we got the knot hopelessly stuck in the crack right below the 3rd belay - not my favorite pitch to repeat on the same day even though it is spectacular.
By Josh Janes
May 11, 2010

An absolutely gorgeous route that is unfortunately marred by the presence of bolts.

[Administrator's note: parts of this message, and several responses, have been removed to keep the tone positive. See posting below for further detail. -- Larry]
By Larry DeAngelo
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jul 10, 2010

Although this route may appear to have unnecessary bolts by today's standards, it is worth keeping a little historical perspective. At the time this route was first climbed (1978), cams were rare and small cams were non-existent. The original guidebook says:

"There are two ethical considerations which are unique to the Red Rocks: the use of pitons and the quality of bolt placement. Generally, pitons offer dubious protection and it is difficult to judge the quality of their placements in Red Rock sandstone; few will hold a long leader fall. In a matter of months, fixed pins often become loose and can be removed with the fingers. The hammer blows required to redrive pitons into the rock will quickly fracture the sandstone and, after a few placements, there may be no crack left. First-ascent parties, who are concerned with preserving the rock and who find it necessary to use a piton, would be well advised to place a bolt instead. The bolt should be placed as carefully as possible as the safety and lives of other may depend on it. Shallow drilling, bent shafts and placements on loose flakes and blocks are unacceptable; such bolts should be replaced. Since the holding power of bolts on sandstone has not been determined, first-ascent parties might be advised to place bolts at closer intervals on sandstone than on granite when other forms of protection are not available."
By Jon O'Brien
From: Nevada
Oct 17, 2011
rating: 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

i appreciate the bolt replacement very much, thanks!

NOTES: the new anchors are often too low, with the in-line equalization you need to place them a lil' higher to avoid too much force pulling OUT on the lowest anchor bolt(reasonably so if people are clipping this at waist-height and then leaning back to belay). also consider using washers between the nut and the hangars.

i think the variables mentioned above have contributed to at least one "new" bolt pulling almost halfway out already(oct. 16, 2011). this is constructive criticism and not meant to ruffle any feathers. it is especially cool that you guys left a historical piece, as time moves forward i think these will be a real treat for new climbers in a decade or two.

thanks for the hard work!

By Stone Nude
Oct 17, 2011

Where's the bad bolt located? Might help replacers to know what they're looking for-

There was a significant amount of "negative" discussion removed here. I still think that climbing George and Joanne's routes and then bitching about them not bolting routes in a fashion that anticipated the invention of cams that would make the bolts redundant is both insane and stupid. They put up some of the greatest routes in the Western Hemisphere, even those who claim to hate bolts are always climbing them. Get a hobby....and buy someone who puts up a route a beer before ya start slinging mud.
By steve gould
From: blue diamond, NV
Nov 17, 2011

Phenomenal and brilliant route. A candidate for the best route in RR. Amazing climbing. I can't see p2 as 5.9 - its so much harder than say the 5.9 pitch on Armatron. Nor can i swallow the suggestion that the two top pitches are 10b - it doesn't hold water. Handren's book gives them 10c - and that's the lowest they could be.
By Michael Ybarra
From: on the road
Nov 28, 2011

Great climb all the way through the fifth pitch. Lot's of fun face climbing and stemming if you want to stay out of the chimney for most of the second pitch, although this might bump up the grade beyond 5.9. No need for anything bigger than a 4. My partner and I both thought the crux of the route was getting off the small ledge on P3--a couple of bouldery moves before the crack becomes any good. P5 is worth doing as well.

We rapped the whole thing with a 70. The P2 raps just gets you to anchor. The P1 rap requires about 20 feet of down climbing mid 5th class.
By Socka
From: Bloomington, IN
Dec 1, 2011
rating: 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

The best route ever!!! For me P2 and 3 are both crux - one mental (R)and the other one physical (good gear+bolted).
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Mar 5, 2012
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

This is my new favorite route in Red Rocks!

The chimney pitch alone is outstanding, and I will repeat this route again just to lead the chimney pitch again, if nothing else.

The dihedral is excellent! I believe the Handren guide when it says the dihedral is the best dihedral in Red Rocks! Technical and sustained. I can't thank Jorge Urioste enough for putting up this excellent route!

The anchor at the top of the second (chimney) pitch was in good shape. I didn't have any issues clipping into it or rappelling off of it. Thanks so much for replacing these bolts!

The crux move on the third pitch is very thought provoking. You pretty much have to edge with your right foot on "not much" and completely commit to trusting it. And then bump your right foot up to another "not much" edge and completely commit to trusting it again while you gain the finger crack with your right hand. That's how I did it anyways.. The crux move felt definitely 10+ (.11- ish).

The block you are standing on before the crux move is a bit loose. I put a number one cam behind it while I climbed onto it, and when I put the cam behind it, I saw the whole block flex outwards. It's a large block! I hastily removed my #1 from behind it once I was standing on top of it.

I took a double rack to 2", and was glad to have the pro options. I took a single #3 and #4. I placed my #4 about 10 feet above the pitch 1 anchor and bumped it along the crack for about 10 more feet before it started to tip out. I left it there, and placed my #3 about 10 feet higher. There is a completely welded #3 about 10 feet above that, and I clipped it. Looked like the cam was in good shape, although the lobe rivets had a little rust on them. It wasn't coming out.

The approach trail was much more obvious on the descent, which seems typical of a lot of the climbs in Red Rocks. We managed to take 3 hours to approach the climb due to scrambling around and trying to find a trail around the wash. My partner and I turned left into the wash too early on the approach. The trail we turned into the wash on the left looked about right according to the Handren guide book approach information. Don't turn left into the wash from the approach trail! Just continue to follow the approach trail straight the entire way. The approach trail proper eventually will go down into the wash and scramble along the wash for about 200 yards. The trail portion in the wash is marked well with cairns. From the wash, the path will exit to a trail on the left, go up about 75 feet up a hill, back down the same hill, and then back into the wash for about 100 feet. The trail then exits the wash on the right and scrambles towards an outcropping that leads to a weakness in the slab that allows you to walk right up to the climb (through a bit of shrubbery). This "weakness" can be seen from the approach trail as a notable triangular rubble heap with some bushes on top, below a notable white slab section. The slab section looks much more vertical from the trail. It isn't bad once you get up to it. Maybe 15 degree slab rock; totally walkable with packs on.

The approach is well worth the climb. If you enjoy chimneys and dihedrals, this route is not to be missed!
By mtnsoceans
From: Ivins, Utah
Mar 21, 2012

Climbed it yesterday, and felt the 10+ rating to be fair. Brilliant route! In the shade, so plan accordingly....
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Mar 30, 2012
rating: 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

For those equipped, a single 80m works perfectly for rappel.
By Brian Prince
From: morro bay, ca
Nov 30, 2012
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

I'd recommend topping out. The view is amazing and then you only have to bring one rope (if you don't have an 80m but who wants to carry that). The gunsight notch is pretty unique as well. After the 5th pitch it's one more pitch of easy but fragile face climbing. Definitely worth it. Oh yeah, great route. Getting onto and then moving off of that block on the third pitch was the crux for me.
By aschmidt
Dec 5, 2012

Climbed this recently and pulled out an anchor bolt at the top of p2 with my fingers. It was a 2" wedge anchor, which I would consider to be inadequate for sandstone, and it was only in the rock about 1". Did my best to equalize the remaining bolt with an old 1/4-incher and a knot but it would be nice if the missing bolt were replaced with decent hardware. The other wedge-type anchors on the route should be viewed with suspicion if they start getting loose.

We rapped with a single 70m and the rap from the p2 anchors does not quite reach. A #4 camalot and some other gear makes getting to the p1 anchor a bit safer. Be prepared to downclimb 25 feet of 5.6 when rapping p1 as well.
By Roger Suen
From: Los Angeles, CA
Feb 16, 2013

Anchor at the top of pitch 2 needs some caring for. Originally one good bolt extended via a chance part way, then continues as an old piece of cord, this is then attached via a non locker to a shackle. The shackle is equalized by a sling to an old bolt, and to a knot in a crack (originally).

I took a whipper on P3 and yanked the knot out! I've replaced the knot with a good nut, but the equalizing is not great for where it is in relation to the old bolt. It now loads the shackle a bit off vertical axis. So I've also added another beaner to connect straight to the good bolt in case shackle gets loaded wrong and blows.

The thing just needs another good bolt, else someone just bring some extra cord and equalize whats there better. Cheers!
By Stone Nude
Feb 17, 2013

Roger, thanks for the updating. I'm working a bunch right now but got word from some of my crew that this will be taken care of very soon. Thanks for good description of the problem, it helps out a lot for the replacement effort. -K
By Scott Gilliam
From: Raleigh, NC
Apr 8, 2013

Amazing route.

The belay with the missing bolt is rigged fine for now with the remaining modern bolt and Roger's fixed nut. Thank you, Roger! We re-equalized the two with a longer chunk of cord and rapped confidently.
By Kurt Ross
From: Boulder, colorado
Apr 15, 2013

I put this together from a trip a couple weeks ago:

By Rob Fielding
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 22, 2013

The anchor has been restored a top of pitch 2. A 1/2" SS 5 piece ASCA bolt was installed near the previous bolt which had came out. The old hole was patched. We weren't able to get the wedged nut out, but it is somewhat hidden. Enjoy!

Also, there is now a optional rap descent off of Time's Up (Anchors replaced) if The Nightcrawler is a little busy. The route can easily be rapped with a 70m and possibly even a 60m. I'd stay on belay while traversing over to the times up anchors.
By Dan Birman
From: Berlin, Germany
Mar 28, 2014
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

p5 is worth doing after all the tough climbing, but if you're planning to rap bring some tat to replace what's up there. We left a biner too, but the next party to top out will probably grab it...
By John Douglass
From: Seattle, WA
May 5, 2014

Great route and nice views of the Rainbow Wall. Highly recommend topping this out. We climbed a route on the jackrabbit Buttress to get to The Nightcrawler, and then did the scenic walk off down Gunsight Notch. My toes were tired the next morning from all the stemming!
By Steven James
From: Portland, Maine
Oct 7, 2014

Wow. Just wow. This route is a must do. We rapped after hanging out above the fourth pitch, but I almost immediately regretted skipping out on the fifth pitch. This is probably the most memorable route I did in my week long Red Rock trip. The stemming, and layback smearing is fantastic and the rock has such great friction.

When I got down from Prince of Darkness, which I enjoyed climbing, I was pretty happy to be heading back to the car. This thing though, I wish could have gone on for another mile or so. I am hardly a 5.10 trad leader. I was nervous about leading the third and fourth pitch so my partner took them.

Looking back at them, I wish I had at least tried to lead the pitch that starts with a thin crack on the right, and a wide crack on the left. (I think pitch three) which is more of a mixed line.

We opted to rap with a single seventy, and do the down climbing. Somewhere else I read there is about twenty feet of down climbing. But I think it's worth mentioning there is probably closer to forty feet of down climbing, but much of it after the first fifteen feet of down climbing felt like 5.1. Still, if you slipped you'd be very unhappy about the fall. If one of you is really nervous, one member could be lowered all the way to the ground, and the other could rap and do the down climbing if they felt more comfortable.

The approach is not short, and is in the sun for a long ways. Trails branch off in many directions from multiple points. I have no idea how we got to the correct location without making a mistake. Make good choices out there!
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