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The Big Horn

5.8+, Trad, 6 pitches, Grade III,  Avg: 2.9 from 71 votes
FA: Joe and Betsy Herbst, Matt McMackin, Randal Grandstaff
Nevada > Southern Nevada > Red Rock > 10-Pine Creek C… > Brass Wall
Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


The route begins under the crack that splits the middle of the Brass Wall Left face and runs into the right side of a bushy ledge. Start underneath a large boulder.

Pitches 1 and 2 (5.7) follow the first two pitches of Birdland up the crack to a ledge and then up (or next to, depending on how you are feeling) the chimney system to a large bushy ledge. Bolted anchors.

Pitch 3 (5.3): Scramble left up some bouldery pillar features to the base of the enormous right-facing corner at the bottom of the obvious crack and build a trad anchor. 50 feet.

Pitch 4 (5.8): Climb the crack through the center of the varnished face. It starts wide and narrows to hand size before running into a lip, which forms the short crux of the climb with good hands but little feet. Finish up as the crack narrows to finger size with good face holds to a bolted anchor and rap slings. This pitch is the reason to climb this route!

Pitches 5 and 6 (5.7 R): Not recommended. Climb the face to the top of the cliff.

Rappel with 2 ropes.


Standard Red Rock rack to a number 3 camalot. I found a set of nuts very useful on this climb.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Ted & Doug on top of The Bighorn.
[Hide Photo] Ted & Doug on top of The Bighorn.
Near the crux of The Big Horn.
[Hide Photo] Near the crux of The Big Horn.
The Big Horn. There is a slung chockstone near pitch 3
[Hide Photo] The Big Horn. There is a slung chockstone near pitch 3
Party on The Big Horn, April 2011
[Hide Photo] Party on The Big Horn, April 2011
The crack
[Hide Photo] The crack
Climbers following the crack pitch.<br>
License: CC-BY-4.0 (please reuse as much as you want but with attribution)
[Hide Photo] Climbers following the crack pitch. License: CC-BY-4.0 (please reuse as much as you want but with attribution)
The Big Horn pitch #3
[Hide Photo] The Big Horn pitch #3
Looking down from the anchor above the classic pitch. Check out the rock, insane! On the other wall you can see bird land belay
[Hide Photo] Looking down from the anchor above the classic pitch. Check out the rock, insane! On the other wall you can see bird land belay
5 star pitch
[Hide Photo] 5 star pitch
can you see the mistake? Sketch!
[Hide Photo] can you see the mistake? Sketch!
the second pitch if linked from the tree.
[Hide Photo] the second pitch if linked from the tree.
Started left of bird land on the shelf, climbed up and to the first belay, but with some rope management linked to the second belay with a 70m. Second pitch climbed 30' to a shelf and up the stellar crack splitting the face. In my opinion one of the best 5.8 pitches around. Rapped to the shelf with one 70m and down climbed 30' to the anchor. Two rappels down using the 70m.
[Hide Photo] Started left of bird land on the shelf, climbed up and to the first belay, but with some rope management linked to the second belay with a 70m. Second pitch climbed 30' to a shelf and up the stella…

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
[Hide Comment] Pitch 4 was wonderful. Use your feet, they will stick better than you think.

Pitches 5 & 6 reminded me of Sunspot Ridge. If you go that far, bring a long sling or cordalette for the final anchor. You can rap the chimney to climber's right of the the route, there are slung boulders every 100 ft or so. But bring some webbing or cord to leave behind, as most of what is there is brittle. We did 2 raps down the chimney and then went out to the third stance on Birdland. Nov 24, 2006
Greg Barnes
[Hide Comment] Really good, and not much wide crack climbing despite what it looks like. The crux (fingers past a tiny roof) is perfectly protected and very clean. But it is significantly harder than either Straight Shooter or the final pitch on Frigid Air Buttress (both called 5.9 or 5.9+), and so I'd call it a couple moves of 5.10a, which is of course standard for "old school 5.8" - especially Joe Herbst 5.8! Apr 12, 2008
Chris JD
Golden, Co
  5.8 R
[Hide Comment] Descent information in the Brock/McMillen guidebook is dangerously vague. We took the climb to the 7th pitch to find that walking over to rap Spectrum was impossible and getting to the Beer and Ice gulley would have been grueling at best. However I will say that the top of the climb exposed a beautiful slot canyon and a perfect place for an emergency bivy - as evidenced by an old fire ring and rock shelter.
After time spent exploring (in spite of poor descent info it truly was a beautiful and secluded summit area) we down climbed the chimney to the top of the 5th pitch and did three double rop raps to the base of the crux pitch. Apr 30, 2008
Brian in SLC
Sandy, Utah
[Hide Comment] We approached the classic "money" pitch on Big Horn by climbing the first two pitches of Rawlpindi which I thought made for a better start than trying to get on the crowded Birdland. Great route! I'll agree Greg, the crux is harder than 5.8 and harder than a bunch of routes rated 5.9 at Red Rocks. Two moves in a row from a flaring finger crack with poor feet. Great pro, though, so load up and fire it!

Here's another route that would benefit from a separate rap anchor, straight down the first two pitches of Rawlpindi. There's a bunch of rope eatin' terrain to rappel off the good Big Horn pitch (180'!) all the way to the 2nd pitch rap anchor on Birdland. Then, you end up tossin' ropes either on folks climbing up from below, or standing in line waiting to rappel that route. Oct 19, 2008
cassondra long
[Hide Comment] Starting on Rawalpindi is the way to go. There are features less obvious than the finger crack that make this route go with less difficulty. Really fun route, and not much competion to get on it. Nov 16, 2010
tom donnelly
san diego
[Hide Comment] Starting on Rawlpindi: combine P1 & P2, 195 feet
Combine P3 & P4, 170 feet. P4 is the fun 5.8 crack.
We rapped from the chain anchor over to a big ledge at the middle of Rawlpindi, and climbed the upper pitches of that route. Dec 1, 2011
[Hide Comment] did rawlpindini to get to big horn. thought rawlpindini was choss but big horn was awesome!!! great view of the clusterf*ck of people on birdland too! we counted 15 people on the route!!! Mar 5, 2012
Sara Ann
Sunnyvale, CA
[Hide Comment] Deep in the wide crack in the middle are some hollow flakes... I wouldn't put cams there. That makes for a bit of a run-out but on pretty easy terrain.

I was glad to have a #4 as my first piece!

If you rappel from the top of P4, you can make it pretty easily to the anchor of Psycho Date, on the varnished face. HOWEVER: be prepared to lead back up to your rope (on P2 of Birdland and the 5.3 traverse), WHEN your rope gets stuck in the 5.3 section. There's got to be a better way to get down. Mar 6, 2012
Edward Pyune
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] What a great climb! We climbed the first 2 pitches of Rawlpindi to get to the base of the good pitch of The Big Horn. The top of the crack has 2 bolts with rap rings, where you can rap with 2 ropes to a slung chockstone (with 2 slings and 2 biners) which can take you back to the base of the climb. We got our rope stuck on the last rap though... Jan 3, 2013
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] The best way to rappel is to rappel from the new anchor at the top of the Big Horn crack down to the ledge at the base of the crack with one rope. From there, scramble over to the Birdland anchors and rappel that route. Jan 3, 2013
Sherri Lewis
Sequim, WA
[Hide Comment] This route was a delight--fun moves, striking features, beautiful varnish, and no crowds.

I was surprised to find that the climbing was much friendlier than its appearance would suggest, with more 5.6 moves than there were 5.8 moves. Also, there were generous edges and plentiful stances from which to place gear(which was great once you get that first bomber #4).

I'm 5'1" and found the crux to be at no harder than the grade implies. (not reach-dependent, which was a nice surprise.) As Cassondra mentioned upthread, don't overlook the other features available besides the crack.

The approach via the first two pitches of Rawlpindi made a nice warm up. Will definitely come back again for this one. Nov 13, 2013
Oak Park, CA
[Hide Comment] awesome feature pitch up a curving crack that splits the steep black varnish wall, with bulletproof jugs aplenty

the wide start up that feature crack has many positive holds. easy runout, if one doesn't want to bring up a #4

as mentioned, best to rap back down to the base of the feature crack, pull and coil up the rope(s) there, then scramble to climber's right and down to Birdland P2 rap anchor (easier than it looks). pulling joined ropes from lower than the base of that feature crack would very likely get the rope snagged, or risk long stray coils slipping down one of the many sliver slots and get stuck deep inside Nov 19, 2015
[Hide Comment] Climbed a nearby route on Sat, Jan 9th 2015 and unfortunately dropped a rack of nuts (wild country offset superlights, and a few DMM offsets) on a red wild country helium carabiner. If anyone finds it please PM me. Thanks! Jan 11, 2016
Kevin Dahlstrom
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Pitch 4 was a real disappointment. It's mostly 5.6/5.7 face climbing next to a crack. The crux is two somewhat athletic 5.8+ moves to get established on the upper headwall. There are better routes in the area so don't waste your time. Jan 29, 2016
[Hide Comment] I thought pitch 4 was great. I can't understand people saying it's a bad pitch. Also, it's not sandbagged. It's totally 5.8. No worse then other solid .8's in the park. Mar 19, 2016
[Hide Comment] Also did Rawlpindini to get to the Big Horn. Great route especially the Big Horn pitch. Easier than it looks as you climb it mostly using the face moves. The short crux is about 2/3 up and involves one or two probably 5.9 face moves. I was caring 2 #4 Camelots and never used them. I could have bit found other protection. Rapped 4th pitch and finished on the upper pitches of Birdland. Oct 21, 2016