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Good scrambles in RR

Original Post
Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 35

Rained and we're stuck in town waiting for family (in a good way!). Anyone have a nice 3rd 4th ish class scramble or loop around the canyons? Possibilities seem nearly endless, but maybe there's something especially scenic.

Kevin Ranck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 20

Hi Matt,

We we there a couple of weekends ago, and while this is not in RR, I highly recommend the Arizona Hot Springs. Hike from the highway for three miles down a fabulous canyon to the river, head over one canyon and there are hot springs! Hike back.…

Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 35

Thanks for the reply! We actually did that yesterday hahaha, but bump for others because it's incredible!

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 156

There are tons of Class 3/4 scrambles out there. It sounds as though you are looking for something longish to take up much of a day, so here are some favorites:

Red Cap and Calico Tank Peak out of Sandstone Quarry (actually will only take a few hours)

Traverse of Gunsight Notch and Juniper Peak (good route-finding skills required or you will be turned back between the peaks)

Rainbow Wall and Rainbow Mountain via Oak Creek Canyon

If you want a really long day, consider White Rock Pinnacle-South Wilson-Wilson. This involves several summits and routes, but you can use this page as a base to research them-- Mount Wilson You can also add Cactus Flower Tower if you have the time and energy. I did all of these once on a winter day, starting shortly after dawn, and it was just getting dark when I returned to the car. It was a massive loop involving First Creek and Oak Creek Canyons.

Finally-- The Monument As far as single peaks go, this might be the coolest in RR.

Be forewarned that although these are scrambling routes, some of them have sections that will be hazardous if the rock is wet.

Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 35

Thanks! These are exactly what I was looking for. Appreciate the reply!

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 156

Added: you can also do Red Cap and Calico Tank Peak from Calico Basin if you want to skip the Scenic Drive. You can go up Ash Canyon and find a Class 4 route to Red Cap from the head, traverse to Calico Tank Peak, descend to the saddle above Calico Tank, and then go down Ash Canyon, but by a different, more challenging branch.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

The hills in and around calico basin has some pretty awesome scrambling if you aren't looking for a specific route and want to just fuck around on a rest day. If you want to sleep in till noon on a rest day it makes for a nice half-day adventure.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

There is a substantial guidebook of class 3 + 4 + low 5th scrambles around Las Vegas, if you check local shops. And another one for SW Utah by the same author,

The obvious "concept route" at Red Rocks would be to traverse the Calico Hills roughly NW to SE (though of course if it rained recently, the consequences of one of the sandstone "scrambling" holds breaking off would be serious). Anyway ...
unfortunately the logical scrambling traverse is blocked by at least two deep chasms. So each section is very interesting scrambling, but linking up the sections requires large sideways maneuvers. So the realistic traverse of the Calico Hills is mostly more of a rough hiking trail (or some loop which goes out scrambling and back hiking.

Keep in mind that Zion National Park in SW Utah is not much more than 2 hours from Las Vegas. The great easy scramble route (indeed it's one of the few "via ferrata" routes in USA) there is
Angels Landing (class 3). Long, very scenic, with exposed sections. Highly recommended.
. . (Nearby is a worthwhile class 5 route, Lady Mountain).

. . (SW Utah also has lots of non-sandstone sport climbing which is climbable sooner after rain).


fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,957

- Mescalito loop, up the N Fork of Pine Ck (aka Fern Canyon), over the saddle and out the S Fork.

- Lost Creek Canyon/Graffiti Canyon loop

- Bridge Mt

- Terrace Canyon

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 5

Calico loop is a great one

Bradley Pazian · · New York, New York · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 0

I am also interested in this thread. I'll be in vegas from Feb 9-21. From the 13-17 I am without a climbing partner. Assuming I cannot shore up a partner any of those days I am hoping to do some fun hikes/scrambles. I'm very interested in 4th class to low 5th scrambles. Any other advice would be appreciated. I had some of the scrambles listed on my radar, Calico Hills, Mount Wilson, Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain.

I'd be very interested in exploring some dry slot canyons if there are any nearby. Maybe Valley of Fire? I am also interested if any of the higher peaks like Charleston or Mummy Peak etc are doable in the winter. I have microspikes but no crampons.

I plan to buy the Rambles and Scrambles book to help with ideas.

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,957
Bradley Pazian wrote:I'd be very interested in exploring some dry slot canyons if there are any nearby.
Check out Bluugnome for the slots. Many of the more popular scrambles are detailed on Summitpost (I would look there before you buy the guide).
Matt Carroll · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 35

I scrambled up and over Mescalito today before the rain and it was awesome! I think I went up the S fork and out the N fork, as I had planned on soloing CITH if there was no crowd (lol), and continued up the canyon once I noted the gong show. Super super fun! occasional 5th class moves on the up and down, tons of choose your own adventure climbing through the bands between terraces. Would recommend for a nice half day outing.

Thanks fossana and other repliers!

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,957

Glad it worked out, Matt.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

South Calico ridges were great for me today. Lots of interesting low 5th on pretty rock. In two parts.

EDIT: Now I've found some guidebook stuff for summits in both parts -- which I didn't take time to check before I tried it, because I'd just gotten off the airplane and getting settled.
. . . (Actually I'm glad I didn't know so much in advance). . .
Courtney Purcell's guidebook Rambles & Scrambles -- Unexpected that page 72 has a very different perspective on route choices and difficulty for "Red Book Point" and "Calico Hills - South" - (I think because its focus is on peakbagging, while mine is on ridge traverses).
Branch Whitney's Hiking Las Vegas book has the "Calico Hills Traverse" on page 22 -- basically the same as my part 2, but with a very different assessment of difficulty. I guess for two reasons: (a) that he knows it better and has found some clever maneuvers to make it easier; and (b) that I'm more tenacious about trying to stay close to the ridge line and seek out interesting climbing.

... my day ...
I started from Red Springs parking (N36.1466 W115.4189).(elev 3600ft /1100m) on E side of ridge, which I reached by the Calico Basin Rd. Hiked about 0.85 mile NE to an obvious col (N36.1534 W115.4323).(elev 4225ft /1290m), with an obvious slackline.
Part 1: Next I scrambled N up interesting obvious gully to its top; But I didn
t get to "Point 4608" on - Red Book Point on p72 of the Courtney Purcell guidebook).

Part 2: From the Col (N36.1534 W115.4323) going South on the ridge to its far southern end (N36.1422 W115.4207).(elev 3800ft /1150m) which is about 0.3 mile SSW from Red Springs parking (or could be reached 0.7 mile SE from 1st pullout on the Loop Road). Lots of thoughtful low 5th climbing (maybe a bit of 5.5-5.6?) and navigation over multiple summits (all about the same elevation 4320ft /1315m):

Overall quality of climbing moves + rock comparable to some High Sierra ridges - (though less dramatic position and views)
--> but way shorter approach hike.


EDIT: moved the details into route descriptions under the Calico Peaks sub-area.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

My recent exploration of the Calico Hills got me sufficiently excited that I created a new sub-Area under the Red Rock canyon area on MountainProject for scrambling routes on summits and ridges around the Calico hills ...
- - >

I'd be glad for corrections and suggestions -- and for descriptions of more scrambling routes.



kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Short access is a key advantage drawing me to explore the Calico Hills -- so I get a high proportion of scrambling on interesting rock with non-long approach hike.

Last Monday I got to spend a few more hours in the southern Calicos, exploring around Red Book Point (Courtney Purcell's name for Point 4608) - (GPS lat long approx N36.15581 W115.43359).

So now I've added several routes + photos from different sides for
Red Book Point

I felt that the S->N traverse was very interesting:
Red Book Ridge
. . (and could be linked with the
South Calico Ridge to make an even longer traverse).

My next step is to post a little Map showing the scheme of the peaks + ridges of the Calicos.

So far I haven't found much detail on the ridge traverse routes in the Calicos. I guess this is because Branch Whitney's guidebook is focused more on hiking (and so trying to avoid class 5), while Courtney Purcell's guidebook (and some other websites) are more focused on reaching summits rather than traverses.

I'd be glad for links and comments and improvements.


kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Map -- took more work than I'd have guessed, but I posted a "simple" schematic map of some key ridge lines and summits of the Calico Hills:…

Hope it inspires more exploration -- and more reports.


kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Got out late yesterday afternoon (after getting off the airplane), started from Sandstone Rd parking (N36.1568 W115.4207) on E side off Calico Hills, up to Calico Peak (N36.1602 W115.4387).(elev 4890ft) -- my first time. I guess it's the highest point in the Calico Hills. The "tank" lake below N from Calico Peak / Tank Pk pass was bigger than I expected.

My main goal was to check out extending the S->N ridge grand traverse from Red Book Point . . . but
the S ridge of Calico Peak was blocked by a chasm. And E side of S ridge didn't look very promising (or esthetic in the context of the traverse route).

So my next working assumption is that the way to continue the ridge traverse N from Red Book Point (N36.1558 W115.4336) is to go around the SW side of Calico Peak, then get up onto the NW ridge and take that to the summit of Calico Peak. Then descend NE to the Calico - Tank pass.

My scramble from the pass to the peak was fairly nice. I took a ramp running N -> S (aimed down straight at the "tank" lake). Pretty clear from vegetation, one fun little climbing section with hands on a rail, then high up a delicate exit (N36.1603 W115.4381) W up from the ramp on slopy holds for like 20 feet to reach the summit plateau. I'd call it hard class 3 (especially for those inexperienced with down-climbing) - or easy class 4.

Finding the ramp connection from above during the Calico Hills S->N "grand ridge traverse" could be tricky: My idea will be to look along the SE edge of the summit plateau for a couple of 4ft x 1ft long rocks with a bush.

I think today I'll explore the NE end of the grand traverse, hopefully then I'll have a good enough GPS track to link up the whole thing in one long day with a bike or car shuttle.


Peter Lewis · · Bridgton, Maine · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 160

This may be a bit more than your asking for, but a few years ago my partner and I traversed the entirety of the limestone crest behind the major RR peaks from North Peak to Windy peak. We got dropped off on the Rocky Gap Rd. about a mile up from Willow Springs and spotted a car at the parking area for Windy Peak. It was a fantastically rugged traverse and we hit about half of the summits, including North Peak, Sandstone, Hidden, Black Velvet (which was awesome), and Windy. We tried to tag Bridge Mt., but got confused (we tagged it later, from Pine Creek) and we skipped Mt. Wilson because we were just knackered. We did this over a leisurely (!) 1.5 days with a bivy near Hidden Peak. This is mostly cross-country, although you do hit bits of real trail near Bridge Mountain and there are herd paths and climber's trails that help along the way. It's mostly just rough 2nd class hiking, but there is plenty of 3rd class and even 4th class if you want it. And yes, this could be done in a long day (my friend Jerry did it once in a day, hitting ALL the summits, but he's an animal), but it would be a VERY long day. This is also a dry scramble: we encountered NO water on the entire traverse. A great adventure, rarely repeated. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Wow -- that's​ amazing!
Great that you're stretching our vision for the Las Vegas area.

meanwhile, back to "mortal" scale . . .

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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