Type: Aid, 40 ft
FA: Banditos Climbing Club
Page Views: 6,366 total · 30/month
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Sep 27, 2001
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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Access Issue: RAIN, WET ROCK and RAPTOR CLOSURES: The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Also please ask and be aware of Raptor Closures in areas such as CAT WALL and RESERVOIR WALL in Indian Creek Details


Its hard to think of this route as a climb - its more of an experience. Looks for the line of bolts on the caprock, and climb it. I didn't have a stick clip, so my partner stood on my back and clipped the first bolt - this added immensely to the climb. The leader should leave a daisy or sling on the first bolt for the second. The route overhangs so much it is easier to reclimb it than to jug.

The summit is big and a good place to stretch out and relax. There are fixed rap anchors and interesting relics in the summit cairn.

The route is worth doing purely because it is so strange. I've never seen anything else like it.


A few biners and aid climbing hardware is all you need-the route is a bolt ladder. A stick clip is useful for the first bolt, but you get full redit if you clip it by standing on your belayer's back.
I think we have the current speed record. 9min. 45sec. Bottom of route to top. Ye haw. Peter Holcombe & Chad Greedy Oct 26, 2001
The criteria for the speed record on this route is car to summit, both climbers AND the cooler of beer. Oct 30, 2001
I soloed this route last month, sans stick clip. I'm 5'7", so clipping the first bolt was quite an experience. I had a tent pole in my car; but I'm very lazy, so I elected to use the tools I had with me. I interlaced some stoppers, a funkness device, and taped them to my hammer. Then I stood on two wobbly rocks, and jumped for the first bolt. Wee!!! Bring a stick clip--or a belayer.

Anyone got beta on the free route next to it? Looks like 5.11 - Mark Mar 21, 2002
Steve Mathias and I climbed this route in around 7.5 minutes this past Saturday and then George Bell and I did it in 5m33s. That said anyone who is halfway decent with aiders should be able to crush this time - if they have George jugging. He jugged the route in 63 seconds! Stupid, silly, FUN stuff. Oct 14, 2002
FYI- A piece of the history of this route

I was with my "Rock Guide Training" instructor, Rusty Baillie, receiving credit from Prescott College, in AZ. It was 1991, and I was 22. He was at least 62, and way harder than me.

A quick note on Baillie- He grew up in Rhodesia. He is pretty tall and lean, and his smile is broad. His climbing credits include the FA of The Old Man of Hoy (w/ Joe Brown on TV in Scotland- Baillie was on the rigging team), the 40th ascent of the N. Face of the Eiger (w/ Dougal Haston), and the FA of the Dragon route in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. He has some whole sport areas to his credit also, scattered about AZ. On winter mountaineering courses, he would anchor his students to a ridge, then jump up and down on a cornice (in skis), wherein they could practice self- arrest, then crevasse rescue.

Three of us scrambled up to the base: Baillie, me, and another student (whose name now escapes me.) This other fellow was psyched to lead the route, as he was up on his Bandito lore. The route was intimidating.

"Wait" you say, "It's just a bolt ladder- it can't be that bad!"

When we got there in '91, the first piece was a drilled 1/2" angle, pointing downward at about 70 degrees, the eye was about 1/2" out from the rock (probably bottomed- out). A huge drop to the age- hardened dirt waited below. The dude stretched from a stack of rock slabs to clip the angle, and then he set off on knotted slings in his flip- flops. The second placement was a 1/4" x 1" button- head, with the word "bandito" stamped into the home-made aluminum hanger. The dude was up it in about 15 minutes, then I followed, then Baillie. The dude descended to get a picture, then Baillie went down. When I came down over the lip, Baillie said "Stop there." I stopped, and he handed me the Hilti and bolt kit. The buttonhead came out with a few hammer- blows, and a 3/8" x 3" Rawl 5- piece went in (with epoxy) in minutes. Next came the angle. One hammer- tap, and the pin fell into my hand (I swear!) I had difficulty holding the drill at the right angle, and the hole was drilled in under 10 seconds. The bolt was tapped in and cranked tight, but the hanger didn't sit flush with the rock. About 1/2" of the sleeve is showing behind the hanger. These are the first and only bolts I have ever placed on a rock route. Baillie has the Bandito gear, probably buried somewhere in a box of climbing schwag.

Back in town, which consisted of one gas station and two bars, we sat at the bar and celebrated the last ascent of the Bandito Route. There were about ten Navajos in the small room, and us. After about the sixth round or so (I was really thirsty), this little white guy with a big mustache came in with a set of bagpipes. He set up in the corner, and started just whaling away. The din was mind-blowing. Baillie got up, grabbed two pool cues, held them over his head, crossed, then set them on the floor. He proceeded to do a sword dance, hopping through each of the four quadrants. The Navajos banged their glasses on the bar in time. I think I almost passed out. Baillie drove us home.

There is an article on the Banditos and a photo of this route in a climbing mag from the late 90s(?) The pin is clearly visible, with the leader hanging from it, presumably on the FA.

P.S. The minute details of this story have been dragged from an addled brain, and may be slightly off. After all, it is a Bandito route...

P.P.S. Baillie's Old Man of Hoy trip is in Tom Patey's "One Man's Mountains". This is a wonderful book, a must- read. Sep 3, 2003
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Russell, nice history, but I believe you're thinking of Rusty Baillie's FA of the Dragon Route on the Painted Wall in the Black Canyon, rather than the Rainbow Wall. Sep 4, 2003
A couple notes:1. When I climbed this last year, as Stu Ritchie and got our stuff together in the parking lot, a family in a sedan pulled up next to us. The woman driving got out and told us her Dad had been up there in the 1940s or thereabouts. Apparently he and his drilling buddies dragged a large drill pipe up there and leaned it against the hat, and shimmied up it. I wish I'd gotten the guy's name. Royal Robbins supposedly found a cairn on top, so this does actually makes sense.

On returning to the Hat this week, someone had drilled a baby angle, three feet off the ground, straight into the vertical graffiti-covered rock face under the Bandito route. Why? Scores of parties have managed fine for decades, why drill a pin now? Perhaps the person placing this steadied him/herself by leaning off a cam in the perfect horizontal slot about one foot above this new pin. When we did route this I recall Stu crawling around the neck and tying off the whole neck. Is this so hard to do?Maybe this helps the belayer for the free route (Jeff Achey's route I believe), or maybe this helps folks shave seconds off their time. No big deal really, except for many non-climbers go up to this ledge. If I were a non-climber, I would really wonder what was up with a pin drilled three feet up. I'd be tempted to equate climbers with the graffiti artists who have chipped their names, and treat the very same chunk of rock (and other people visiting it) with such disdain. Nov 14, 2003
This is the greatest and best route in the world. That is all. Jun 7, 2004
Did it this may. Stopped the rafts on our river trip of the San Juan, walked up the hill and clipped the bolts. Lots of fun (but not climbing in any sense) and I wore a giant sombrero straight from ole Mey'hico. Sweet, sweet shade. Oct 28, 2004
Class 3 A0. Maybe the only one in the world of the grade. Does that make it 3 stars?

Don't have the second reclimb it - just leave the etrier on the SECOND bolt so the second can get the weight off the first bolt. Note the angle of the quickdraw in my photo. I had to just haul on the draw to unclip the rope, and then (after some swinging) grab the bolt to unclip the qd. That sucked.

I led this route the next year (last March; 2004) and left the etrier on bolt 2, and the second (Chris Meloche, this time) said he had no problem jugging up. After the first bolt, there's no problem with the overhang.

Fun route for the novelty and the incredible views of the San Juan River, Cedar Mesa, Monument Valley, the Navajo Tapestry, etc. Make sure you take a good look at all the big, round sandstone slabs littering the valley floor around the Hat, and then at the crossbedded gypsum in the layer supporting the Hat. Hmmm..... Nov 17, 2004
I climbed the Bandito Route again last week. A fun roadside distraction. I just wanted to post that the FIRST BOLT is VERY LOOSE. It is spinning in the hole and should be considered suspect. If it blows and the belayer has no belay anchor (as I have witnessed, Unfortunately) the outcome could be grim.PLEASE USE AN ANCHOR ON THE LEDGE. This is a short easy climb but a fall from the ledge to the parking lot would suck.

Have fun, be smart. May 10, 2005
Bypass the shifty bolt with a hiking pole you carried up the hill for just that purpose. Bring a cam or 2 (red and yellow camalot?) for the belay. Someone should pull that "belay" angle and patch the hole. May 11, 2005
Vince MacMillan
Dolores, CO
Vince MacMillan   Dolores, CO
Sixth Class Bouldering at its finest. Better bring a stick from home though, as there are not many to be found out in that country. For me: I have been carrying my fishing pole around on my rack for years, knowing that, in spite of the repeated protests of my climbing partners, someday it would come in handy. Thanks Mexican Hat, thanks for giving me my first aid lead. I will always remember you. . . . Feb 20, 2007
Frosty Weller
Frosty Weller   Colorado
Question: Does this Hat Thingy count toward my list of Desert Towers? I vote yes! :-) Mar 20, 2007
Hell yes it counts! Mar 20, 2007
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
When I first did this route in the early 1980', one of the Bandito bolts came out with my body weight;.....I walked back to my toyota truck, got a baby angle , and whacked it in the empty hole; I can't remember if it was the 1st or 2nd bolt;.....I did this climb many more times, and my angle was still in;.....I don't know if it still is;.......always a fun stop off when in the area. Apr 25, 2007
Jesse Morehouse   CO
More a stunt than a climb but should be on everyone's "must do" list! May 30, 2008
Eric Odenthal
Moab, UT
Eric Odenthal   Moab, UT
on my way to california i decided to tick this tower... after finding the parking and heading to the base I saw a pin and heard to tie off the neck as an anchor. I used a stick clip for the first pin, realized the second pin was a ways off, then realized i was on the route left of the bolt ladder. i came down, reset the anchor and went off on the bolt ladder. an awesome summit... great view of the desert and tower that you can't climb. bummer. was looking forward to seeing the grenade and bottle... it was gone. nothing up there but an empty bottle of beer. bailed as the rain came in. fun! Nov 29, 2008
Doug Benton
Sandy, UT
Doug Benton   Sandy, UT
Looks like the first bolt is becoming a little bit of a spinner again. You can see next to the current first bolt where an old bolt was hacked. The spinner held for me, but wanted to let folks know to be cautious.

Rap anchors area solid!

Also, I saw another bolt line about 20 feet or so north from Bandito Route. I think there are two separate bolt ladders now?! One the Bandito route and the other looks recent?! The fixed pin is still at the base and seemed solid enough to clip as part of an anchor for a solo ascent.

Overall, fun experience and cool view! May 13, 2009
Ryan Ray
Weatherford, TX
  C0 PG13
Ryan Ray   Weatherford, TX
  C0 PG13
as of this last week all bolts on this thing were bomber. Still a leeper hanger on two of the bolts, but they were bomber. Looks like the asca replaced the top anchors. They had red ASCA Fixe hangers on the top anchors and rap anchors, and there were rap chains and rings on the rap anchors. To bad the bolt hangers on this and the route just north of it are not cammo, because they are clearly visible from the road below and a blatant eyesore. Was happy there was no trash on the summit. Only a cheasy geo cache and a bottle of wisky. Had fun. A must do if you have an hour to kill while in the area. It was my friend Rich's first desert summit. Had a blast watching him. Oct 23, 2010
paul bucher
moab, utah
paul bucher   moab, utah
as of 6-9-12, first bolt is spinning big time, sketch, second one good, third and fifth are old with old hangers. four was good and five was a spinner. stuff on top was bomber modern. broomstick seemed mando to me. didn't see anything lower or chopped and at 5'11" i was reaching with fully extended arms from the end of our stick. 1 drilled piton for belay. sic and must do fun. Jun 13, 2012
That was fun to do on the way out of VOTGs! But who took the bottle and grenade I was so hoping to see! What a bummer! Apr 3, 2013
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500
Climbed this route today as my first aid solo, hell of an experience. At 5'10" with t-rex arms I was very unable to clip the first bolt. I left a stick near the start of the route, maybe you'll use it.
All the bolts are in good shape, and the 1/4 inchers are entertaining.

It's a great time for something on the way to or from Moab. Don't miss it! Feb 15, 2017