Type: Trad, 800 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Joe Herbst, Rich Wheeler, 1977
Page Views: 23,788 total · 109/month
Shared By: George Bell on Apr 22, 2001
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

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


This route is on the far left side of the Brownstone Wall and the approach takes about 2 hours. The route is in the sun most of the day so can be quite warm, although the 3rd and 4th pitch are in a recessed chimney and are shady except in the early morning.

We had some difficulty locating the start of this route. If you head up slabs which lead to the center of the Brownstone Wall, you will have to traverse left quite a ways to get to the route, even going down a bit. You are nearly back to the creek bed when you reach the base. The white overhang in Swain's topo on pitch 1 was not obvious to us. The best way to find the route is to locate the the overhang on the second pitch and the crack system above it.

P1: Climb a crack us through some soft rock to a block that is below a white roof (5.6, 120'). P2: Traverse left, then up to a crack at the far left side of the roof. Sock in some good gear (on long slings), then head up and back right on varnished plates to the crack which forms the right side of the roof (now below you). Continue up this crack to a belay ledge (5.7+, 140'). Swain calls this pitch PG but the runouts did did not seem bad to me. There is a runout above the roof but it is not as bad as that on the next pitch.

P3: Here is where you look up and say "Oh yeah, Swain did say to bring 'large gear' for this pitch ...". Above you is a fantastic black corner, but the back necks down into a fairly fat crack. I don't exactly recall the width of the crack, I just recall we didn't have anything big enough to fit in it (I'd guess it's 5-6 inches). You need a #5 Camalot or #3 Big Bro, and the crack might be too flared to fit the Big Bro (I don't think a #4 Camalot fits either). Stem and face climb up the corner, with or without pro, until you reach the base of a chimney (5.7, 130'). If you don't have any 5-6 inch gear, you will have to run it out at least 20', this is the S section. If you take big gear you may be able to walk it up and remove the S rating, please add comments below on this.

P4: Wander up into the darkness of a deep slot, exit left through a wild hole onto a huge ledge which faces south and (if it is late enough) into full sunshine (5.2, 100'). Two more pitches go more or less straight up from here, on softer rock. Great views of the Rainbow Wall to your south.

Descent: Head south into the Gunsight Gully and scramble back down to the start of the route. Pretty quick and easy descent.


Standard rack to #3 Camalot with maybe a 5-6" piece (see description). Make sure you have some longer slings for the wandering pitches. Only one rope is needed.
I don't think the runout on the 3rd pitch was all that bad - the climbing is fairly secure. But then I wasn't leading that one!

We did make one highly critical error: we didn't look at the condition of the descent gully before we started and wound up coming down lots of snow in rock shoes. The descent gets a lot hairier when covered in snow. Mar 8, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
My partner backed off the 3rd pitch after seeing no gear placements above, so I can attest that some find it intimidating. I'm pretty sure we had a #4 Camalot but it didn't fit anywhere on this pitch (the crack is even larger), but you can get smaller stuff in subsidiary cracks, particularly at the beginning of the pitch. I led it and you do have to run it out but John is right it felt pretty secure. The pitch gets easier but more runout as you proceed. Apr 5, 2004
Matt Faust
Matt Faust  
We had a #4 and #4.5 camalot, and I was able to protect the third pitch decently. Although, the widest section was runout enough to make me really stop and think about what I was doing. The views up there are amazing. Mar 27, 2005
Anthony Anagnostou   nyc
the swain guide said this route got sun all day in the spring and summer. as of 3/6/06, it went out of the sun around 11:30 or 12:00. the descent was very wet, so bring a rope you dont need the next day in early season, etc.

the ramp/chimney is not 4th class, per swain guide. i remember thinking it was more like 5.4 R, as if you fell out of the exit you'd fall a ways and then tumble on the ramp. however, i didnt look too hard for pro so maybe it sews up.

there are two bolts, slings, and rings midway up the second pitch if you decide to bail. didnt see any bail gear above that, although there was a new looking 7mm cord wrapped around the huge block on the ledge left of the p2 belay.

the rock quality of the roof you traverse left of (before pulling around and going back right) on p2 is not my favorite. i thought this section here was the spiciest part of the route, not the beautiful varnished dihedral up a couple pitches.

my favorite 5.7 in the park. this or olive oil, anyways. Mar 7, 2006
Ian Wolfe
Fayetteville, NC
  5.8 PG13
Ian Wolfe   Fayetteville, NC
  5.8 PG13
The third pitch is seriously one of the most amazing pitches I have done at Red Rock. A beautiful slick, varnished right facing corner soars above you in a very vertical fashion! I didn't think the pitch was too run out, maybe a section where I was 20-25 feet above my last piece. Slightly worrying because the rock is so slippery, but the climbing was good and I hardly noticed it.

We tried to pull the crack on the right side of the roof for pitch 2 directly. I couldn't manage it with my pack on, but it felt like it would go if I was packless at about low 10s. Instead we placed a piece in this crack and traversed right a short distance, moving up a thin face back to the crack. I'd say it goes at about 5.9ish, and you definitely avoid any rope drag problems with wandering way out left.

The descent is straightforward and Gunsight Notch is a wonderful little area to explore. The only thing that sucked was hacking our way through the scrub oak trying to get back to the Rainbow Wall trail.

One of Red Rock's lesser-known classic climbs! Apr 8, 2006
Calgary, AB
  5.8 PG13
Sandro   Calgary, AB
  5.8 PG13
I thought this was a classic route for two reasons: first because the third pitch corner is such a prominent feature, visible from across the canyon, and second because it was put up in a traditional style without any bolts.

Personally, I thought the runout section was on the second pitch right off the belay when you have to make delicate moves on marginal gear. I took a standard rack with double 1 and 2 BD's, plus a 4. There was never any time on the corner pitch where I had to run out my gear more than 15 feet, I do think though that the 3rd pitch is pretty stout at 5.8 compared to other Red Rock 5.8's like Frogland.

We approached via the pine trail that continues up towards gunsight notch from the Rainbow approach slab. This involved a few minutes of bushwacking, but was fast and straightforward. Dec 4, 2006
Las Vegas, NV
  5.8 PG13
J W   Las Vegas, NV
  5.8 PG13
A really amazing climb- the more i think about it, the more i'm convinced that its the best 5.8 in the park.....spectacular everything- climbing, rock, and position, with a breathtaking summit!

You dont really need anything bigger than a #4 for the 3rd pitch- anyplace you could put something that big, the climb is either very easy until the end of it, or there is smaller pro readily available. I think my max run-out on the pitch was about 15' or so, and I dont think you could have put a big cam in that slot- looked too flaring.

We took a mostly single rack up the route...i think we had doubles in yellow and red aliens but never used them. That said, I'd double up on purple/green camalot sizes if anything.

Oh, that 2nd pitch is spooky- the 5.7 off left is just weird enough to keep you on your toes, and the .10a version above looks friable with little pro.

Finally, ignore the rap station that leads into the gunsight proper- i dont even know why its there. The second rap station, however, is useful if you dont want to tunnel onto loose looking blocks. Mar 26, 2007
Damn!! My favorite ride for the grade so far in Red Rock land. The amazing views of Rainbow Wall from Brownstone Wall, and the fun Gunsight Notch descent tickled me even more! You won't be disappointed!

Much thanks to Herbst, and Wheeler for going first! Sep 13, 2007
Nic Gladd
Washington, DC
Nic Gladd   Washington, DC
Great route!

1) the chimney/tunnel section can be exited up and right with quality 5.9 liebacking on perfect varnish, instead of the 5.2 left exit. Recommended for extra fun.

2) pitches 3 and 4 can be linked with a 60m, although communication is difficult. Sep 17, 2007
Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
  5.8 PG13
Doug Hemken   Madison, WI  
  5.8 PG13
Nice. The word for pitch 2 is "finesse." In hindsight, it has better pro and better holds than I would have guessed from below - hats off to Herbst and Wheeler. Pitch 3, the stemming pitch, was more sustained than I was expecting, which I also enjoyed.

The only fly in the ointment was that I wasn't expecting those convenience belay-bolts. I was frankly a bit disappointed to see them on such a grand old route (kind of like the bolts on Ginger Cracks). What's more, the first pair of bolts puts you too high under the roof, and makes your first piece of gear on p2 much more likely to pop. Better/safer/less rope drag to stop lower and build your own anchor. The second pair of bolts comes much too soon after the traverse, and your partners will thank you for not stopping there. You should carry on to the ledge above the bottleneck and below the stemming.

Coming down the Gunsight could be tricky if the first time you "see" it is in the dark. But in daylight, its a hoot. There is one rappel station most of the way down that can be bypassed by finding a little tunnel down through the boulders ... as long as its not too wet. Mar 26, 2008
Las Vegas
  5.8 PG13
sqwirll   Las Vegas
  5.8 PG13
Brought a #6 Camalot C4 for the 3rd pitch. Took the bite off of the wide section.

Also, we skipped the slabs and hiked up the trail along the base of the Rainbow Wall. You only have to traverse in around 50 yds off of this trail to get to the base. It took us 1hr15m from Oak Creek to the base at a comfortable pace.

It should also be noted that there is several hundred feet of class 4 above the last pitch. Apr 6, 2009
Sherri Lewis
Sequim, WA
Sherri Lewis   Sequim, WA
This climb is quite good. The moves and rock quality on P3 are worth 5 stars!

On P2, I used a bomber #4 cam placement beside where the roof connects to the wall which totally mitigated the freak factor of pulling onto that roof from the main wall on the left with thin pro. When you get to that position, the loose white flake wedged in there looks like your only option for pro, but look just slightly above and in back of it for the solid crack.

I was glad I brought big gear(#3.5, #4, and a #5), though I can see where you could get by with less ammunition if you know what to expect. Mar 30, 2011
Took the right side variation, at the beginning of the 2nd pitch. Found one good placement just a few feet off of the belay (if i remember correctly) and then just had to commit until over the bulge. Thankfully no rock broke off for me or my partner. Jul 6, 2011
Seth Derr
harrisburg, pa
Seth Derr   harrisburg, pa
What an adventure. Long approach, no one else in the canyon, really felt alone on this one and loved every minute of it. Well... almost every minute. The wind up high provoked a very serious conversation between me and rock climbing, but it all worked out in the end. Highly recommend this for the total experience. Amazing. Mar 19, 2012
Stan Pitcher
Stan Pitcher   SLC, UT
Great route! Single set with 3, 3.5 & 4 camalot was more than sufficient - there are lots of small placements. Last two pitches off ledge are full 60's! Apr 10, 2013
Tony Lopez
Tony Lopez   NJ
We hiked up through the slabs and out through the gully. I wish i had snips for the vegetated descent and gully trail.
Belayed well below the bolts at the roof making the first pitch about 100' and pitch 2 almost 200'. Should have used double rope technique. Had considerable rope drag even with long slings for the roof and extending every placement.
Linked the beautiful corner and the chimney making another full length pitch. Had a 4 and felt secure through the runout.
Two more easy rope stretchers got us on top. The summit and descent were awesome!
One of my favorite climbs of the trip. May 19, 2015
Chase D
  5.8 PG13
Chase D  
  5.8 PG13
Excellent route. In my opinion, a #4 and #5 cams are mandatory. We placed them on several pitches and would have easily used a #6 on pitch 3. Speaking of P3, we thought it was technical and sustained for the grade. Definitely felt harder than other RR 5.8s.

There was water running down the Gunsight Notch and it was nearly impossible to keep the rope dry during the rappel. Even if you tunnel under the blocks and avoid the rappel, you and your gear will most likely get wet this time of year. Feb 22, 2016
Wide gear definitely not mandatory. Had a #4 that we placed a couple times, but if you're solid at 5.8, you can easily cruise past the wide pod without needing anything bigger. Nov 26, 2016
Max Shaffer
Boston, MA
  5.8 PG13
Max Shaffer   Boston, MA
  5.8 PG13
There is about 10 feet of 5.9 climbing on the 3rd pitch, which I wasn't expecting. The dihedral pinches down and the rock becomes quite slick. I used some face holds to avoid the corner, but I still thought the climbing was Red Rocks 5.9.
The Gunsight Gully is quite easy to descend except for one section that cliffs out. There is a sling on a small tree, but if you find yourself there without a rope, you can down-climb the face at 5.6 for about 20 feet. Nov 30, 2016
Andrea Z
Seattle, Washington
Andrea Z   Seattle, Washington
did this yesterday and it's a rly quality climb!
some notes:
1) there are bolt anchors for the first pitch, and in the middle of the second pitch if you need to rappel. didn't see any other easy to bail points.
2) chimney pitch was mostly 4th class. the squeeze through the tunnel/opening was fun! but if you aren't super experienced with chimneys it might feel a little more than fourth class--just go for it :)
3) biggest we brought was a #4. bigger gear would be nice but the wide section is pretty secure stemming with many hand holds and even a .4 in the middle. save #1-#3 for most of the gear belays. i did not and had some less than ideal anchors
4) as stated above there's a section of gunsight where it "cliffs out" and here's a sling on a tree. before you commit to a rappel, we found a tunnel below the tree--it's narrow but saved us from having to rap
5) books says easy 3rd to the top? we did not find this and had to climb another pitch through trees. anyone have different beta of reaching the top? Dec 14, 2016
Kevin Dahlstrom
Boulder, CO
Kevin Dahlstrom   Boulder, CO
This route is in a spectacular setting and the long-ish approach and gunsight notch descent make for good adventure... but IMO the climbing itself isn't that great or remotely on par with other area 5.7/5.8 classics (Frogland, Olive Oil, Dark Shadows, etc.).

P1 is a forgettable approach pitch. P2 and P3 are cool - esp the zig zag traverse on P2. P4 is a novelty but not something you'd want to do over and over. The rest is a scramble. All in all, a lot of hiking for what amounts to 200-ish feet of good climbing. In my book a 4 or 5 star climb is one that you'd do over and over. Not the case here. Nov 21, 2017
l rs
l rs  
Some of these comments were VERY helpful so I thought I would add. We came up via the trail/Rainbow wall and while long was straightforward. We walked back via the slabs, and found this also to be straightforward. They took about the same time, but the trail up is FAR less strenuous than the slabs up would be. We took a #5 and never used it...feeling the crux of the climb was the thin stemming move in the corner, not the wide section. Routefinding was really easy considering the nature of the climb. Pitch 2, is IMHO, the best at the grade ( SOLID 5.8) in all the park. Spicy, pro if you know the terrain well, and airy if you mess up. This route should be a classic- equally as good as Frogland which I would say is the most comparable climb to it. Other than pitch 1, we found no loose or questionable rock. You could bail after pitch 2, as we saw rap rings at the top of this pitch as well as pitch 1. Mar 26, 2018