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Deep Space

5.9, Trad, 800 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III,  Avg: 2.3 from 12 votes
FA: Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton, May 1975
Nevada > Southern Nevada > Red Rock > 10-Pine Creek C… > Mescalito > E Face
Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


Air temperatures rose well past 100 degrees on the day of the first ascent, but the chimney stayed cool -- hence the route's name. Offbeat and varied, moderate climbing. See Urioste guide for a photo showing the approximate location.

Begin in a deep chimney on the NE side of Mescalito. After two pitches of easy climbing, the chimney widens.Pitch 3 -- Stem the wide chimney to reach a jam crack on the right wall, pass a small roof and belay (5.9).Pitch 4 -- Face climbing leads up and left to a shelf. Belay below an offwidth crack (5.9). An old piton, predating the first ascent, used to exist on this pitch.Pitch 5 -- The offwidth crack.Easier climbing continues for hundreds of feet, eventually moving left into a long hand-sized crack. One final pitch achieves the summit of Mescalito.


No fixed anchors. The FA party took one set each of hexes and stoppers.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Joe Herbst starts the wide stemming section on Pitch 3 of Deep Space, FA.
[Hide Photo] Joe Herbst starts the wide stemming section on Pitch 3 of Deep Space, FA.
In the famous chimney. Photo by Kyle Willis
[Hide Photo] In the famous chimney. Photo by Kyle Willis
Larry Hamilton on the first ascent of Deep Space.  This well-shaded route was done on a hot day in May, 1975 (photo by Joe Herbst).
[Hide Photo] Larry Hamilton on the first ascent of Deep Space. This well-shaded route was done on a hot day in May, 1975 (photo by Joe Herbst).
Routes on east face of Mescalito.
[Hide Photo] Routes on east face of Mescalito.
The upper jam crack on Deep Space
[Hide Photo] The upper jam crack on Deep Space
Approaching the upper jam crack
[Hide Photo] Approaching the upper jam crack
Nondescript terrain in the middle part of the route.
[Hide Photo] Nondescript terrain in the middle part of the route.
Pitch 5 is more of a squeeze chimney than an offwidth.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 5 is more of a squeeze chimney than an offwidth.
Thin face moves on pitch 4
[Hide Photo] Thin face moves on pitch 4
Above the small roof on pitch 3
[Hide Photo] Above the small roof on pitch 3
The old piton
[Hide Photo] The old piton
Don't slip. Deep Space March 2014. <br>
Photo: Kyle Willis
[Hide Photo] Don't slip. Deep Space March 2014. Photo: Kyle Willis

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] This is a really great route. Larry D'Angelo and I did this route a month or so ago and I have to hand it to Joe and Larry H. for the first ascent. This route is 'bold' in a great way. The piton is still there, looking rather mangy, but luckily, there's a nice cam placement next to it. Again, great route! Dec 7, 2004
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] This is a neat and challenging route for those looking for a more challenging way to the summit of Mescalito. The 5.9 stemming chimney is very serious and the runout is a long one.

Bring gear to a #4 camalot, as I recall, and a couple of small to medium tricams for the odd pocket. Mar 6, 2005
Red Rock, NV
[Hide Comment] We did the chimney pitch differently. Deeper in the chimney there is a great (although sandy and somewhat brittle) hand crack in the back left. Jamming and stemming will take you to the roof where you can transfer sides to work your way out of the long horizontal roof. Pro is pretty good, so it skips the "R" rating of the conventional route but adds technical difficulty (5.10+). However, a heady PG13 traverse out of the chimney is dependent on small gear and added rope drag.

Overall, really fun pitch for the chimney lovers out there. Sorry, no photos to add. I was too busy catching my breath. Apr 24, 2012
[Hide Comment] "An old piton, predating the first ascent, used to exist on this pitch."

An old piton, predating the first complete ascent?
An old piton, predating the first free ascent?
Was there other evidence of passage or of a bail anchor? If not, would it be safe to assume the first ascent had already happened (certainly the first four pitches had already been done)? Apr 19, 2015
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] Regarding the old piton-as memory serves, there are actually several fixed pins on the route- the one in question is above the crux chimney, but below more hard climbing (also 5.9), and it's certainly likely that if whomever placed it got that far, they could have quite possibly summited as the spooky climbing is behind you at that point, although the real route finding begins not far above that piton.

Below the piton there are, if i recall correctly, enough drilled angles to get down from the base of the crux chimney to the top of that hill with a single 60m line- can't remember if it's 2 or 3 anchors worth. This could mean a path of retreat for the party that first explored it- the pitons location is such that its also likely the party could have lowered off that pin back to the base of the chimney, then drilled enough angles to get back down safely. Or those angles could have been placed later after Larry and Joe's completed ascent.

It's a good question as to whether Deep Space had been done in its entirety before Larry and Joe got to it. Honestly, after having done the route, I'd be curious if any one of the very few parties to have repeated it followed the exact line that they did- perhaps there are more pins above, just placed left or right far enough that they haven't been spotted? Apr 20, 2015
L. Hamilton
[Hide Comment] The old piton on pitch 4 marked the high point of a previous foray by Joe Herbst, as I recall. There may have been other left gear that we cleaned when we completed the route on our hammerless FA.

On many of the longer routes I did with Joe, he had made earlier attempts with other partners that fell short for one reason or another. That includes attempts on Triassic Sands, Frigid Air Buttress, the first pitch of Rainbow Wall, and -- I think -- the chimneys on Velvet Wall (which nowadays form the crux of Epinephrine).

One notable exception was the FA of Aeolian Wall, which nobody had ever seen up close. Apr 25, 2015
L. Hamilton
[Hide Comment] Sensing a mystery, Larry DeAngelo started an email exchange with Joe and me about that "old piton" on P4 of Deep Space that I mentioned. Joe's recollection agrees with mine except much more detailed. In his words:

"yes, i do remember placing the piton prior to our first ascent. i believe that i had been up there with jim rosser at least a year before returning with larry. i recall rappelling or lowering off of the thing and leaving a sling and carabiner. a z shaped peg carried a lot of value to me at the time and they seemed to be a particularly good piton for our softer rock or at least so we reckoned. not much of a story but the piton was definitely mine."

As for drilled angles or other ironmongery, those must have been later additions. As the description notes, we left no fixed anchors. May 1, 2015
Larry DeAngelo
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] I've added a photo of the historical piton. I imagine that rappelling off that even when new involved some degree of apprehensiveness. Let us hope this piton remains as an artifact from a bygone era. It is already within a few years of being formally archeological. May 1, 2015
Santa Rosa, CA
[Hide Comment] Maybe I'm crazy but the chimney pitch seemed like no big deal to me. It was fun, but required little chimney technique or skill IMHO. HOWEVER, after the chimney and jam crack there's probably 80 feet of hard face climbing right off the small ledge that felt real stiff to me. I'd call it every bit of puzzling 5.10 or so and the first 20 feet is unprotectable. That's the crux. Be warned. YUR GONNA DIE! Jun 18, 2015
Flava Flav
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Soloed to left side again to a loose steep section, pitched it up and right to a tree. That face climbing section is unlike anything else on the route. Thought the #5 was unneccary after the second time around, and even really small cams seemed overkill which we forgot to bring. Extras in the .3-#1 range was helpful on many long pitches. Take the off width pitch up nearly to the base of the L facing chocolate corner, then the next pitch halfway up the hand crack 200+ ft, then up to the top, 230 ft. there is some loose scrambling for 15 ft above this depending on which way you go after that, seemed reasonable. Done in 6 roped pitches. Jun 21, 2015
Alex Fletcher
Anaheim, CA
[Hide Comment] I’m going to start off by saying this is now one of my favorite routes I’ve done in red rock.

I don’t usually upgrade things, but I’m going to have to agree with Royal and say that the pitch above the chimney was definitely hard. Quite possibly harder than 5.9.

I enjoyed thoroughly the fact that this is a less traveled route but would recommend those looking for an adventure to come and test themselves.

I think I enjoyed the upper hand crack pitch the most.

I took Kyle’s advice to bring extra .3-1 and was glad to have them. Didn’t bring small cams and didn’t miss them but I did appreciate my #5 on a couple occasions. Apr 22, 2018
Sean Cooney
[Hide Comment] So....someone put a bolt in the chimney. It is well-placed in terms of protecting the dangerous moves, but not in the spirit of the route. Not sure if it was put in by or in consultation with the first ascentionists or not.

I struggled with the star rating, because the lower pitches are really good and the crux pitches classic. The upper pitches, however, had so-so rock quality. My 220 lb partner broke several holds and it detracted from otherwise fun movement and climbing. I ended up at 3 stars because the the good far outweighed the bad in my mind. But, if you are a heavier climber, you may have a different experience than I did.

I second Alex on the gear beta - extras in the .3 to #1 size and a #5 are useful. I personally didn't find the crack above the chimney that spicy. It is easily protectable at the start with a green alien (.3 BD size) or comparable totem. Not sure a .3 BD would fit because the head might be too wide. It requires a few delicate face moves into some very solid 5.9/5.9+ crack moves.

We ended up taking the south fork descent because we topped out in the dark, got off the trail for the north fork descent and the cairns just led us to the south fork. A bit long, but pretty straight forward. Mar 31, 2019