Here is a route with an approach that will take you longer than doing the route itself! If this turns you off, no need to read farther. This route looks intriguing from the loop road, but it is a huge effort to get to the base and the route is shorter than it looks (only 5 pitches). It is best to take a very small rack as the climb is not that hard. This route is the Snake Dike of Red Rocks, but that perhaps is too big a compliment. Still, I highly recommend this route if you are up for an adventurous day of mostly hiking.
Approaches (from hardest to easiest): (1) Climb the Frigid Air Buttress, then wander up through the maze in front of the summit to the base of the climb. In my photo this approach goes directly towards the summit dome from below. Be warned that the easiest routes on the Frigid Air Buttress are considerably harder than 5.6, and could be up to 9 pitches long! I don't know anyone who has done it this way, although I'm sure some parties have done it.
(2) Hike up the broad ridge south (left) of the entrance to Refrigerator Canyon. This is the way we went, marked by the black line in the photo. Most of this route appears to be easy, and indeed almost all of it is scrambling. At one point there is a 200' high cliff (visible in the sun on the ridge before cutting back right), we couldn't find any way to scramble around it. So we did 2 pitches up grungy rock with some 5.8 to climb the wall directly. 6 hours to the base of the route! We marveled at the climbing ability of some bighorn sheep on this approach.
(3) Take the trail up Bridge Mountain (requiring a long hike from Willow Springs or 4WD to get to the trailhead). Before reaching the summit, you will see the arch the peak is named after and beyond that the "hidden forest" in a pocket of soil in the slickrock. Head NE down a slot and traverse east to the base of the route, I believe this approach is the red line I have marked in the photo although I have not done it. See Swain's guide for more info.
The climb itself follows cracks on a blunt arete and goes quickly. The setting feels surprisingly remote.
Descent: I suppose one could go back down using the descent on approach (3) and then down the east side using (1) or (2), but this sounds like an epic. The usual descent is to go down the trail. Beware that this route follows bare rock at the start and is not that easy to locate. You can try hitchhiking back from the trailhead but no SUV's passed us and we ended up walking along the road all the way back to our car at Willow Springs, a distance of 8-10 miles from the summit.
Light rack to 2". You might want a larger piece if 5.6 is your limit.
|By phil broscovak|
Mar 4, 2004
George: You truly are an adventuresome soul. Not many people would endeavor to put in the effort to explore the further reaches of Red Rock Canyons. Subsequently, not many others would discover the secret treasures like arches and hidden forests. There is so much to discover out there once you get away from the scenic loop road. My hat's off to you. I have not yet, but have long wanted to do a route on Bridge Mountain as it is such a strikingly beautiful swath of stone. Thanks for posting so many good routes and concise information. Philop.s. Your digi-pic of Wilson is awesome you should think about posting it.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 4, 2004
Thanks for the comments, Philo! Regarding this route, you probably do not want to take a skeletal rack if you use approaches 1 or 2, as they both involve climbing of at least 5.8. The shortest route up the Refrigerator Buttress is "Burlesque (5.9)", for which you need some big cams, I believe. Bummer to have to haul all those heavy cams over the summit.
Apr 13, 2006
This is a full day event packed with an interesting and beautiful hike. The climb proper is easy and fun-icing on the cake. A light rack is preffered considering the long hike, but some may want a few #3 cams to "sew-up" the chimney pitches. A storm had brought snow down to 5,000 feet and some snow remained in the chimneys after 5 days of 70+ temperatures.
Rocky Gap Road is SERIOUS off roading-do not underestimate the difficulty. It took an 1.5 hours to get to the summit of Rocky Gap Road in a stock Chevy Trailblazer, which barely made it. You will want something with even more clearance.
All said and done, this is a great adventure worth doing.
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Mar 17, 2009
I really enjoyed this route....it's kind of like the snake dike of Red rock. Except the hike is more fun. Some of the best views and fun hiking(is there such a thing?).
The climbing itself is very good at the 5.6 level...lot's of fun. The approach really wasn't to bad...pretty cool exploring! I approached from the Rocky Gap road.
From: las vegas, NV
Jun 19, 2009
I can usually get to the trailhead at Red Rock Summit from Willow Springs in about 45 minutes or less in my 2004 Toyota Tacoma 4x4. There are some big rocks in the wash you have to negoitiate around. Having a narrow wheel base makes this easier. I have never had a problem, but apparently many vehicles have gotten stuck, and needed to be towed out...Parking before the big wash-out will cut a couple of miles of the approach from Willow Springs, but is probably not advisable if you do not have a 4x4 with a high wheel base........I am dying to do this route, and hope to lure someone into it sometime soon.
|By SexPanther aka Kiedis|
Nov 17, 2011
So much fun. Brought wires, single set cams .4-3, and large hexes. Never placed a wire, 2 pieces per pitch felt fine. The only 5.6, if there was any, was in the first ten feet. Approach notes are most needed-
From the car on Rocky Gap, head up to the limestone ridge, hang a right at the sign for Bridge/North Peak, and follow the ridge for a few minutes til the well-worn trail dumps you down towards the red-pink sandstone. From here, some "REAL GENIUS" has painted black arrows and parallel lines, which, until they get removed (hint hint), supplement the cairns to help you find your way to the base of the 3rd class crack that leads up to the arch. Walk under the arch, head over to the Hidden Forest (obvious), then head down from the left side of the Forest, following a drainage system (pretty) down until an obvious stopping point (steep) with a ledge system that's home to a beat up tree that's lying down on the right. Walk this ledge a few feet to the starting point of the route (cairn).
The route is easily protected, follows a continuous crack system for its entire length, and needs no topo or route description. A chopped 60 would work fine, the last "4th class" pitch is 3 5.2 moves to walking. Four real pitches, easy to simul and/or pick ledges based on what gear you have left. Mostly finger and hand cracks, hexes worked great. Do this route!! [and take a wire brush up to help erase the spray paint arrows-shameful horseshit, needs to go]
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Nov 24, 2011
I'm pretty sure those arrows were painted there by the BLM as trail markers. This is a BLM built trail.
You might want to make sure before erasing them.
Oct 31, 2012
even more reason to erase them..
|By Jim R|
Dec 21, 2012
Hiked in from Pine Creek with Nick H. following cairns up the slope 30 minutes past Dark Shadows. The approach passes below the false south face of Bridge Mt before passing through a notch where you can see the route. Beautiful day, but a bit of ice and snow added some spice.
Have to agree that the crux is off the ground. Did it in 2+ long pitches, 70m exactly to the small pine, another 70m to a comfortable ledge (there's a better ledge 10m lower) and then continued up to the top. We were in the shade but sheltered from the wind; nice with temps in the 40's at best.
The ramp back to the base was pretty icy, so we took a chance and walked down past the forest, through the arch and down the saddle. I won't describe the descent since it involved some sketchy down climbing, exposed ramps, a short rappel and a ton of backtracking. It's doable if you take your time, but not much fun. Got back into Pine Creek at dusk, but had a big moon, so didn't need our headlamps.
All in all a great day in the canyons and a fun little route!
|By SexPanther aka Kiedis|
Dec 22, 2012
Maybe they could just pave the approach, or put in a via ferrata all the way up Rocky Gap Road....
Dec 25, 2012
Not steep enough. Tourists wouldn't go for it. Plus, that would take away the only possibility for manly driving in the vegas area. Pretty sure arrows not fed work. the trail and sign from Rocky Gap are not technically official, yet. I'm sure some wire-brush work or a little discrete use of a proper solvent would be sufficient to restore this little bit of wilderness character.
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Dec 25, 2012
The sign at the trailhead is exactly the same type of sign the BLM uses at all of their other trailheads and they list it on their website as a reccomended hike. There are also BlM like signs marking a fork in the trail a mile or so in. Wouldn't surprise me to much though, it's not like the BLM has ever really been on top of things. You'd know better then most of us though! (sidenote; Dude! we still need to get out. You are right up the road these days.)
In regards to the spray painted arrows.
This type of trail "building" is utilised throughout both our National park(and BLM and forest service)and trail systems worldwide.Ever walk off the top of the Chief in Squamish? Primarily it's used for trails that go over terrain where other methods of trail marking(like digging, water barring, rock walls etc.) aren't feasible.
I'd personally rather see some painted arrows then chains, concrete and handrails, Angels landing trail anyone?
I've found the arrows that are painted on this trail to be just enough to keep me on the trail. Which is better than having me and hundreds of other visitors trapising around creating social trails in an area that has alot less impact than other parts of RRNCA.
They really aren't that big of a deal.
Dec 29, 2012
Yeah, personally they never bothered me. There are a few notable exceptions of trails that are officially promoted/signed, but not officially "designated" as of yet - fire ecology trail being the first one that comes to mind. Straight shooter tr. was in a state park in-holding when it was constructed. Since then it's been incorporated into the NCA, but the People in Charge of Such Things didn't seem to notice there was a trail there. So as a social trail, it's not designated and can't receive official volunteer maintenance work, which it could use in places... Ah well, letters have been written and it's in the Man's Inbox. (Yeah, we should get out sometime)
|By Ben Townsend|
Apr 14, 2014
Six hundred feet of perfect finger to hand crack in a low-angle stemming corner; what's not to like? After an awkward move or two right off the starting ledge, it's pretty much cruiser alpine-low-fifth the whole way. We took a minimal rack and a single 60m X 8.5mm rope (tying in with bowlines-on-coils to eliminate harnesses), and climbed in approach shoes, all of which seemed pretty appropriate for the level of difficulty.
We approached via the north fork of Pine Creek Canyon, following the hiking directions to Bridge Point on Summitpost.com. That worked fine until we got over the Bridge Mountain-Bridge Point saddle. Frustratingly, we could clearly see the traverse ledge out to the climb, but it took us forever to get to it -- there's a confusing mess of cairns, some leading too high and some leading too low. We elected not to return that way, instead taking the hiking trail back to Rocky Gap Road, which was probably more of an adventure than the climb itself.