Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


The big boy of the Red Rocks. Mt. Wilson is an arduous adventure in desert big wall rockaneering. There are many high quality trad routes and a few bolted lines. Be forewarned, however, that this is not the Calico Hills; approach and return are real efforts. You are on your own out there so don't expect help.


SCOPE: Mt. Wilson is a huge mountain with complicated terrain. This section addresses the main eastern side of the peak, from the mouth of First Creek Canyon along the main face to the Aeolian Wall. Cactus Flower Tower, the smaller sub-peak just north of Wilson is listed in a separate section.

37 Total Climbs

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Location: 13-Mt. Wilson Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at 13-Mt. Wilson

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Lady Wilson's Cleavage
Trad 9 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Sentimental Journey
Trad 15 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Battery Park
Trad 6 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Pink Tornado Left
Trad 8 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Dream of Wild Cheeseburgers
Trad 18 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Gwondonna Land Boogie
Trad 10 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Gift of the Wind Gods
Trad 10 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A1
Resolution Arete
Trad, Aid 24 pitches
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Inti Watana
Trad 12 pitches
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
The Wicked
Trad 15 pitches
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Woman of Mountain Dreams
Trad 17 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Trad, Sport
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13
Impact Event
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13
Dying Breed
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Lady Wilson's Cleavage Horseshoe Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 9 pitches
Sentimental Journey Horseshoe Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 15 pitches
Battery Park Lower E Side
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 6 pitches
Pink Tornado Left Horseshoe Wall
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 8 pitches
Dream of Wild Cheeseburgers Aeolian Wall
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 18 pitches
Gwondonna Land Boogie Horseshoe Wall
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad 10 pitches
Gift of the Wind Gods Aeolian Wall
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 10 pitches
Resolution Arete Aeolian Wall
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A1 Trad, Aid 24 pitches
Inti Watana Aeolian Wall
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad 12 pitches
The Wicked Aeolian Wall
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad 15 pitches
Woman of Mountain Dreams Aeolian Wall
5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Trad 17 pitches
Dogma Horseshoe Wall
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad, Sport
Impact Event Mass Extinction Block
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13 Trad
Dying Breed Mass Extinction Block
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b PG13 Trad
More Classic Climbs in 13-Mt. Wilson »

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I highly recommend Joanne Urioste's new book, Red Rock Canyon the Red Book Supplement. Beautiful pictures and descriptions of twenty six classic trad routes. It just came out last year and isn't easy to find. So ask your local shops to order it in and consider yourself lucky if you get a hold of one. These will probably end up being coveted like the original "Red Cover" Red Books are. Really nice work Joanne! Mar 5, 2004
Eric and Lucie
Boulder, CO
Eric and Lucie   Boulder, CO
Ditto about Joanne's supplement to the red book: extremely well made, and a great selection of otherwise undocumented routes, mostly long ones. Very good and useful photographs as well. Oct 26, 2004
I loved this book, kudos Joanne! I climbed most of the routes that you outlined and completely agree and appreciate your summary! Keep up the awesome work! Aug 16, 2005
Olympia, WA
Drederek   Olympia, WA
Went up to Willy's Couloir on Monday. The step across at the bottom of white rot gully looks really sketchy. However going up WRG 300 feet or so to where it opens up on the left and then going back down about half that got us back on track in 20-30 minutes or so. Definitely a bit faster on the way out as we had it wired. May 4, 2006
Brad G  
Dose anybody know the descent information off Mount Wilson? I plan to climb the Woman of Mountain Dreams route in a month. I’m a little confused on the approach but I cant find any info on the descent. Feb 15, 2008
m-earle   USA
My partner Andy and I climbed Resolution Arete a day or two ago. All we knew about the descent was hike towards the back of oak creek canyon and go down the third gully. We went down what we thuoght was the third gully, but in hindsight i think it was probably the second. It was the big gully that cuts accros the side of the mountain. Anyways... After our fate was sealed by a couple raps off slung chockstones, we found our selves in a narrow-cliffed out gully/corridor. As the light was fading, and the canyon floor was still quite far below us, we continued rapping, and fixed shit kept appearing. After seven or eight hair-raising rappels, a stuck rope and a wade through 20' of knee-deep water, we found our selves in fourth-class terrain. I would definitely avoid this descent option, as it has the potential for being a major epic. 16hrs car to car-five or six hours on the descent. Anyone know where we went wrong? Mar 9, 2008
M-earle You were indeed in the desperate and often mistakenly taken 2nd gully. It really does look inviting doesn't it.
Newberry almost died descending the 2nd gully in a freezing storm. He rapped into a frozen pond only to have the ice break. The weight of his over stuffed haul bag took him underwater and held him there. He thrashed desperately till Madman could rap to him and haul him drenched and sputtering back to life. You don't want to get caught in those gullies in a storm.
You need to keep heading up stream all the way till you are in the limestone then look for the descent gully. It is a long descent but find the right way and it should be rap free. Mar 10, 2008
m-earle   USA
Thanks Phil, thats good to know. We got pretty drenched, but lucky for us, there wasn't too much ice or snow. I believe we had to walk through that same pond you speak of. Mar 11, 2008
Eric and Lucie
Boulder, CO
Eric and Lucie   Boulder, CO
By far the easiest descent from Mt Wilson is down first creek canyon.
From the summit, head back toward the limestone to a saddle in red sand. From here, follow gentle slopes and slabs (trail and cairns), into the top of First Creek canyon. Water can usually be found here into May. Scramble down the drainage to the first creek trailhead on the main road (easy, but long and with endless scrambling around boulders). Walk 0.5 mile up the road back to the pullout at the old Oak Creek Campground, and your car. Takes 3+hrs. Straightforward and absolutely non-technical. Can be done in the dark if need be, but it's best to plan to be in the drainage before dark. May 10, 2008
Sandy, UT
notmyname   Sandy, UT
I'm giving my vote for the Oak Creek Canyon descent. It's really quick and easy - only one rap is needed and it's a fixed line already set-up, it's really pretty and FUN (yes it's fun). We did it in 2.5 hours back to the car from the summit. Also, the walk to the car at the oak creek pull-out off the main highway is way shorter than the 1st creek slog. I've done it twice now.

Simple simple beta:
1.From the top, head down the gentle ridge until you are funneled into a gorgeous grove of ancient pine trees nestled in a medium sized ravine boarded by short cliffs on both sides.

2.Walk quite a ways staying near the edge of the cliff above oak creek (but never go down any gullies or anything remotely steep) until the sandstone abruptly turns to limestone. There will be a gully, possibly wet, with a white chossy limestone tower on the left and a gigantic boulder atop a small tower on the right. The boulder resembles a VW van and is almost as big. Go right around this tower and scamper down waterstreaks and slabs, doing one ez rap.

3. when you are almost out of the canyon, take a path right and trace below wilson and behind wilson's pimple, then back to the car. Oct 29, 2008
We climbed Lady Wilson's Cleavage yesterday - I'm sorry that we didn't check here first to see the descent discussion. Amazingly, the day before we ran into the Urioste's at the First Creek pullout and got some descent beta from them. They recommended the Oak Creek Canyon descent and said it was faster but harder to find than the First Creek Canyon descent. They said to go back almost to the limestone to a gully marked with a stand of large ponderosa pines, passing by earlier tempting gullies. We tried to follow their beta, but I think we failed to find the correct gully because the one we choose cliffed-out. We ended up doing a single double-rope rappel - found a slung tree and left another sling & biner. Our descent took about four hours. Oct 19, 2009
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
I also reccomend the oak creek descent. I've done it twice now and it really is NBD. I'd also add that, if you are fast enough, parking at the oak creek trail head is the way to go. You knock off the hike from the highway and back to it on the way out.

josh Dec 3, 2009
harihari   VANCOUVER
Approach questions:

I want to do Pink Tornado and then Gondwanaland (sp?). The Brock book says, park on highway and walk in; others say, park at oak Creek parking and walk across to the base of Willy's (which I think you have to scramble up a bit of to get to the start of P.T.).

Anybody want to advise on the best approach?

chris Oct 31, 2010
Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
Approaching Wilson depends on how much hiking/daylight you need. If you're willing to get up 20 minutes earlier, parking at the pulloff just past the exit of the loop and hiking as the crow flies straight into Oak Creek, then dropping left into and through the wash over to the White Rot Gully area is probably the fastest approach from outside the loop. The hike down the old road is easy, but longer.

From the Oak Creek pulloff in the loop road, its about 20 mins faster, and probably a wash since it'll take you 20 mins on the loop to get there. Nice at the end of the day, though. Nov 2, 2010
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Adding photos to supplement notmyname's Oak Creek descent description. We did this today and it was fairly straight forward if you can see the landmarks (would be "interesting" in the dark).

Recap: If you head in the general direction of the junction between Rainbow Mountain and the limestone, more specifically aiming for the top of the wide brushy gully (far right side of photo, marked with a light green dot) with some triangular dark red rocks behind it, you'll end up at the right place to drop in. Note that you descend the adjacent open sandstone bowl, not the shrubby gully. As of May 2015 there was a short fixed line on the rap station lower down the descent. We didn't need to rap anywhere else.

May 18, 2015
David Bruneau
St. John
David Bruneau   St. John
Another vote for the Oak Creek descent being a great way to get down. No real exposure or danger and a lot of sliding down smooth slabs once you're in the gully. There is a good 30ft fixed rope (13/11/2016) for the steepest section which can be used to hold onto, no rappel necessary. The often-photographed red tower is visible from the summit of Wilson - the gully you want to descend is behind this tower, i.e the gully goes west before arcing to the north. We didn't go particularly fast and it took us a little over 3 hours in the daylight to get to the pullout outside the loop. Nov 14, 2016
San Jose, CA
Alaina   San Jose, CA
Detailed Descent Beta (check out the beta photos from Woman of Mountain Dreams - google earth is a very helpful tool if doing this in the dark)

Start at the top of Mt. Wilson on yellow slabs with carins. You may have to ascend a bit to get to the right starting point (36.091746, -115.485560). Look West, at the far end of the sandstone, just before the limestone is a steep curving sandstone ridge – this is your goal. Do not go down to soon, do not start down any gullies until you are sure you are in the giant ponderosas (not the scrub Junipers- ponderosas are big). Follow the summit rock ridge via carins until you get to red dirt (36.091057, -115.488973). Walk the crest of the red dirt ridge a few paces until it turns to grey rock. Turn right-ish here and work your way down and leftward on gentle slopes (shouldn't be super steep) until you come to a drainage with a smooth white sandstone bottom. Cross this drainage and traverse out above the white sandstone rocks (stay on dirt, there's a faint foot path). Continue traversing this slope over a ridge to the ponderosa pines at (36.093553, -115.498375). Do not descend anything prior to the ponderosas. It will likely feel like you are walking too far back, but you must go until the ponderosas. If in doubt, from the end of the red dirt ridge after the summit ridge, hug the line where the grey rock turns to red/white sandstone- this is not the greatest walking, it would be awkward and steep, but it will also get you to the ponderosas.

(The rest is from Tim Wolfe) At this ponderosa stand descend to the right down and north into the small drainage - it feels too small but it is the right direction. After a few minutes you will come into an open section with a huge red tower that has a rock balanced on top. Traverse around the right (north) side of that tower then back left onto the steep water worn multicolored slabs. Weave you way down these slabs into the start of the South fork of Oak creek – descend all the way to your car. The upper section has some big drops that can be walked around except in two sections where there are fixed rappels or fixed rope to hand over hand descend. After the fixed rope, there are two additional potential rappels that are awkward to set up off slings in bushes.

For a reasonable party doing this for the first time, plan on 4 hours to descend to the car. Nov 28, 2016
Denver, CO
MileHighMitch   Denver, CO
HOWDY! Lost a blue northface jacket and purgatory water bottle on the approach to blood wall. We were actually returning and quite bit and I had not noticed my pack unclipped and dropped these items. :) they are crucial pieces of my big wall gear and I would love to get them back. if you find them, please message me on here and I will pay you to ship them back. I will toss you some bones as well. Climb on!

THIS IS A REPOST FROM A WHILE BACK. I have not heard anything and am trying various other pages. PLEASE let me know if found! Thanks! Mitch Aug 12, 2017