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Orange Clonus

5.11a, Trad, 600 ft, 4 pitches,  Avg: 2.7 from 49 votes
FA: unknown
Nevada > Southern Nevada > Red Rock > 10-Pine Creek C… > Straight Shooter Wall
Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


Orange Clonus is a wonderful traditional multipitch climb. It has a good variety of face and crack climbing with excellent position and exposure. Also a plus, all belays are on huge ledges if done in 4 pitches. The heart of the route is a huge 200 foot widening splitter which may be done in as little as 1 pitch or in as many as 3 which is what the guidebook suggests. The nature of the climbing and the non-trivial descent make for a fun adventure.

P1 (100ft, 10d): The first pitch is the technical crux of the route. Climb the clean varnished dihedral past 5 bolts to a small ledge (10d). Continue up the corner on more fragile rock to a big ledge with a tree (5.7).

P2 (150 ft, 5.5R): Carefully climb the very delicate and runout face for 20 feet until you reach a wide crack which you can chimney inside. Continue until you reach an enormous ledge at the base of a chimney. Belay with a great view.

P3 (80ft, 5.8): Avoid the ugly chimney by going straight up the steep face (5.8) to a ledge system. Walk rightwards across the ledge, battling trees and other desert flora (2nd class). Belay underneath the obvious crack system.

P4 (200ft, 10d): The heart of the route. Climb the widening splitter crack for 200 feet. The pitch ends when the crack ends, at a huge ledge. (Alternatively, this pitch may be broken into three pitches as the guidebook suggests: 60ft of 5.8 fingers to a piton belay in a slot; 60 feet of 10d thin hands to a belay in an alcove below a roof; 80 feet up the 10a hands and fist crack to the big ledge.)

Descent: Three rappels and downclimbing into The Beer and Ice Gully.
Rap 1: Walk across the ledge and rap off a tree.
Rap 2: Downclimb to the right (towards the gully) to another ledge and rap station at a tree.
Rap 3: A short rappel off of another tree will get you to the ground. (This last rap is very cool!)


The first pitch begins in a very clean left-facing corner on the rounded buttress to the right of the entrance of The Beer and Ice Gully and to the left of the Straight Shooter Wall.

From the Straight Shooter area, walk leftwards contouring the wall. The clean left-facing corner with bolts marks the first pitch.


Standard traditional rack to 3.5 inches, doubles or triples of 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and many long slings.

Crux pitches beta:
P1: 5 bolts, single set of .5 to 2 inches
P4: If done in a single pitch, I recommend taking 2 purple, 3-4 green, 2 red, 2 gold, 2 blue, and 1 gray Camalot (and no more).

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

As requested, here's the line of Orange Clonus.
[Hide Photo] As requested, here's the line of Orange Clonus.
A view of the entire last splitter crack pitch
[Hide Photo] A view of the entire last splitter crack pitch
The Heart of the Route.  200 foot splitter.
[Hide Photo] The Heart of the Route. 200 foot splitter.
Me and Nicolas on top of Orange Clonus
[Hide Photo] Me and Nicolas on top of Orange Clonus
The Magnificent Last Pitch!
[Hide Photo] The Magnificent Last Pitch!
Looking up at the last (awesome) pitches
[Hide Photo] Looking up at the last (awesome) pitches
looking back at the pitch 2 finish
[Hide Photo] looking back at the pitch 2 finish
from top of pitch 1
[Hide Photo] from top of pitch 1
A little beta for the upper crux 5.10d pitch - no hands rest (one of many).
[Hide Photo] A little beta for the upper crux 5.10d pitch - no hands rest (one of many).
Pitch 2 Orange Clonus
[Hide Photo] Pitch 2 Orange Clonus
Upper portion of the first pitch
[Hide Photo] Upper portion of the first pitch
Pitch 1 high up
[Hide Photo] Pitch 1 high up

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] Great Route Info, looks like a good one. Jan 24, 2008
[Hide Comment] Good Job on all that beta. Looks like a sick route, Hopefuly I'll get on it this weekend! Feb 6, 2008
Scotty Nelson
[Hide Comment] Nice page! Finally something off the beaten path! Feb 12, 2008
Josh Audrey
[Hide Comment] get out and climb this rig. May 29, 2008
Aaron S
[Hide Comment] I can’t believe this climb doesn’t get more traffic given the short approach and rad climbing. Here are some comments after climbing this the other day.

--- The Handren guide lists the 4th pitch as 50’ 5.6. It’s more like 300’ of third class. When you get to the ledge atop p.3 un-rope and scramble up a gully to the right. This will lead you to a wide open brushy area where you can walk to the base of the splitter.

At the bottom of a small chimney you stem across for the scramble there is currently a large skeleton. I don’t know what it is but it’s bigger than any bighorn I’ve ever seen. Do mountain lions ever venture that far out? It kind of gave an ominous feel going into the business pitch.

--- I highly recommend doing the splitter in two pitches. First is about 80’ of 5.8+ to a decent stance with a fixed pin and some small alien placements. Next pitch starts with the 10d section then eases off towards the top. Doing it this way allows you to bring a lighter rack and avoid rope drag for the upper part.

--- The rack, doing it the above way, would be doubles to #2 with a single #3 and #4.

--- The descent is pretty easy to find but the raps kinda suck. About 40’ below the first rap station is a rope eating crack. It’s not really visible from the station but try to cast your rope out far. A section of ours completely stuck itself way down out of sight in the crack. Not fun.
It would also be a good idea to bring some webbing and another rap ring or two.

The hard sections are all on great rock. There are a couple easy run out spots with marginal rock but overall better than expected for an obscure RR route. The last pitch is one of the best I’ve done in RR. The others range from decent to quite fun. Hopefully this route will get more traffic now that it’s up on MP. May 30, 2008
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] really fun, demanding route. i thought the first pitch was a bit of a sandbag at the grade- definitely harder than the last pitch, but maybe i'm a wimp at face climbing.

we did the last pitch in two, but we belayed on top of the pillar at the actual start of the splitter- done this way, the last pitch is about 150', with a single purple, 3/4 greens, and doubles of 2/3 working nicely. the #4 is also handy.

the descent is a challenge- we added a rap station where we felt that the downclimb, while doable, is steep enough with enough exposure that another short rappel made more sense. i think, though, that some more exploring, a southern rappel route would be better and faster.

oh, we lost about 2' of rope in that crack- we filled it with some small rocks to hopefully prevent it happening to future parties, but be aware that losing rope is a distinct possibility. Dec 12, 2008
Luke to Zuke
[Hide Comment] I think this is a total sand bag... I say its a 11b or +...10d my ass Feb 12, 2009
Josh Audrey
[Hide Comment] i could see that on the first pitch. Feb 25, 2009
Michael Ybarra
on the road
[Hide Comment] While I placed the #4 I don't think it was really necessary. Wish I could remember which of my ropes we had to cut. A stellar route. Mar 3, 2009
Los Alamos, NM
[Hide Comment] To make the entire second pitch into one long stretch from the top of p1 to the giant brushy ledge creates horrendous rope drag regardless of how little pro you place. We broke it up into two parts and it still went super fast.

One #4 (new style) comes in handy. We used triples of #2 and #3 and doubles of #1; this was useful because we broke the 10d and 10a into 2 pitches (vs one longer pitch), and the extras are needed for belays. Take some really small cams and really small nuts to finish protecting the exfoliating top corner of p1 as well.

The 3rd, 4th and easy 5th classing on pitches 2-3 somewhat detracts from this route, but otherwise it's pretty awesome, a quick climb and descent, and a great choice for cold winter days. Jan 19, 2010
Darren in Vegas
Las Vegas, NV
[Hide Comment] from wikipedia
Clonus (from the Greek for "violent, confused motion") is a series of involuntary muscular contractions and is associated with certain neurological conditions. Mar 29, 2011
Jon O'Brien
[Hide Comment] ha, rad sniper! i think i experienced a "clonus" during my OS attempt of the 10d crack pitch! LOL... and i get a lil' turtle-head clonus peeking out every time during the walk in to lead that first bolted pitch too!

"turtle-head clonus" = when your anus engages in violent, confused motion due to excess coffee, orange juice, and anxiety mixtures while approaching a climb you know to be difficult for you to send. (this often results in "almost" farts and/ or "almost" shits. an almost shit is highly preferred to an almost fart as almost farts require wet-nap clean-up and a changing of the underwear and/or pants.)

i'm glad we had this talk y'all.

jon Nov 14, 2011
[Hide Comment] Jon, I'd shake your hand for that comment, if not for...ya know what? Never mind. Air high five, how bout that. Long distance style.

I don't know why the "variation first pitch" has become so popular as a start to this route...OC is known for an amazing splitter, so another pitch of goes-fast splitter at the start seems like a no-brainer. The variation P1 has one bolt hanging out more than 1/2 inch, and the top two are really unnecessary. The rock at the top is pretty crunchy, but there are good placements in solid pods, and you're climbing the face up there, anyway. The anchor tree at the top is dead/dying and could use some modern hardware, before someone pulls the tree out and gets hurt. Needs to be done in the next year or two, for sure. I see the variation first pitch as more of a random single pitch to do while cragging; would not reccommend getting bogged down on this facey slowdown if trying to get the full route done. The jet black splitter around the corner was Herbst's choice and I think it suits the rest of the route better. Nov 16, 2011
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] The first pitch deserves to be done just for its own sake. Great pitch. As others have commented, I would suggest it is a bit harder than 5.10d as an onsite. Once I flew off and had time to see the holds it went but it was still hard. Bring some tiny cams for the last, easier half of the pitch. Unfortunately you then have a few hundred feet of not such good climbing to the final great pitch, which distracts a bit from a higher star rating. We did the final splitter as two pitches - climb the 5.8 to the belay, do the last section as one pitch since the belay below the roof would be uncomfortable. Double cams from purple through blue. It would have been nice to have 3 red Camalots. Jan 29, 2012
Burton Lindquist
Madison, WI
[Hide Comment] I agree with Killis above about this so called 1st pitch variation of the route Orange Clonus being treated as a seperate little one pitch mixed gear and bolt climb. The description or line topo doesn't make sense in the latest guide book I have either concerning this first pitch?? And he is also extremely correct about the crappy dead tree anchor at the top. I used it as the rap anchor because there was no other option but did back it up with a cam back behind it to the left when I belayed my second up just to be on the safe side....I made the rappel off first just to be sure the long dead tree rig did hold and gave my second a bit more confidence in that less then desirable anchor. The opening moves are 5.11 a/b I think too and not 5.10d.... really technical and there is strict pattern of foot placements on those skimpy edges on the left. Apr 9, 2012
[Hide Comment] Finally got out to finish this one after checking out the first pitch variation (.11)a while ago. Hangover day meant the #5 was forgotten at home, which was a major bummer trying to get up the slick offwidth black crack around the corner. Got a wild hair up and hopped left onto a finger and hand splitter that was crunchy enough that it might have been virgin before today, .10- range, techy and pretty fun, minus snapping all those virgin footholds. This and a little creative thinking puts the first pitch options at five by my count:
1 The bolted corner from the ground, .11ish thinness with bolts.
2 Starting just left of this, following pins through rotten and improbable looking choss.
3 Starting around the corner to the left, traversing right across the ledge just above the crux on the bolted corner. This may involve tunneling/a crawl, but puts you above the boulder problem and in position to knock out the 9/10- corner above quickly.
4 #5 (new) splitter to finger crack, starting from the traverse ledge. This is what I believe Herbst originally climbed, it's the best looking option aesthetically, but the wide gear's pretty mandatory. Herbst 9+?
5 Same start as #4 but break left to splitter that goes from tips to hands, traverse right at top to ledge with rap tree.

None of the lower half of the route even scratches the surface of how nice the summit splitters are. The top pitch reminded me a lot of the Classic Crack of Calico's best moments. The 10d was pretty tough for bigger hands but not super sustained, way easier than Our Father and some other 10d sandbags in the area. We brought doubles .5-3 and triples of .75 and #1, single .3+4and #4, used everything.

This route doesn't have a super well-traveled feel, especially on the low 5th pitches. I understand the desire to solo these but didn't feel like the rock quality made doing so very smart, though we did run up the chimney to the huge ledge ropeless. The raps were all in decent shape in Oct 2012, a single 60 worked but a 70 would have eliminated a little downclimbing. The first rappel, 50 feet from the unroping point, looks steep and sketch but is mellow downclimbing and prevents rope snagging issues, there are several pinch spots I can see causing serious problems. We did four raps out of a possible five, nothing was too hard to find. The last rap is from the tree atop 29 Posers, Posby etc and allows TRing these steep routes if there's still daylight. Clonus is a great route, nice onsight on the crux pitch by Shirtless, even weighed down but a shirt AND "the brim"... Oct 14, 2012
Nelson Day
Joshua Tree, CA
[Hide Comment] Climbed this on 12/6/2012. The first pitch required a mono hold that tweaked my middle finger pretty hard. Definitely harder than .10d. I think I almost tore my pulley on my middle finger. That aside, good moves and well protected with bolts. The fourth bolt on the pitch was junk, but was easily backed up by a #2 right above it. The second pitch was basically a free solo for me. I slung one big piece of choss, but didn't feel it would really do much in the event of a fall. Easy pitch nonetheless, but I didn't exactly trust the chossy rock. Third pitch is short and leads to a huge ledge where lunch can be had. I did the last three pitches in 2 pitches as recommended here, and had just enough gear. I could have used a couple more 0.75 cams (only took 2), but I managed to climb above some pieces, remove them from below, and replace them above me. The first 5.8 pitch had interesting movement and goes up to a 0.75 crack. If there weren't feet outside of the 0.75 crack, this section would have been very hard. I put in an anchor at the piton belay, but had to leave behind a #2, a #1, and a 0.5 C4. The initial section of .10d above that belay takes 0.5 and 0.75 cams well and is amazing! Made the whole climb worth while. Pulling out of the somewhat roof was strenuous but felt about .10d. The rest of the climb wasn't nearly as hard or sustained. Pulling the second roof to gain the .10a section was a "gun it through some good jams" to a good gear placement situation.

The last three pitches of the climb (which I linked as 2) made the climb worth doing, for sure! Especially the section above the piton belay. Beautiful... Was happy to onsight those pitches. Dec 11, 2012
Garrett Bales
Lake City, CO
[Hide Comment] We added a new sling rap anchor 3/2/13 to the higher tree at the second rappel so you no longer have to wrap off the scary tree. Mar 7, 2013
[Hide Comment] "Definately the most sand bagged route i've done in RR so far. I think 5.11b/c would be more appropriate"

Not a chance. It might be 11a, but that's it. If you want to see 11b/c thin / technical face climbing, go check out the first pitch of Ixtlan in BVC. P1 of OC is miles easier. It has a single hard move.

All the moves are technical, but only one is strenuous. It *might* be hard for .10d, but there is no way it's anything harder than 11a. Remember, a route's grade is based on doing it right. If you do it wrong, it's going to feel harder. This pitch requires precise and technical footwork. Sloppy clown shoeing it will for sure make it feel like a fingery boulder problem.

I didn't onsight it, and it took me 3 tries to work out exactly how to do it, but it's not that bad. Again, go try P1 of Ixtlan and then come back and report how that felt in comparison.

Past that, the 10d body bridging--->laybacking bit on P6 is epic, and fairly stout.

Linking it into the 10a pitch above would be heroic.

A great route! Apr 12, 2013
[Hide Comment] Ixtlan's stout, that doesn't make all other routes easier by some arcane algebra.

A route with a hard move gets rated as its hardest move. A route with a few dozen hard moves can still be that same grade, or, if you're at the Red, 13c.

That first pitch is a finger-wrecking mean mutha. Call it 5.2 if it makes you feel better. I'm not buying it. Apr 12, 2013
Daryl Allan
Sierra Vista, AZ
[Hide Comment] P1 is a technical challenge off the deck for two bolts then it's a well-protected 5.7 run to the ledge. Our party broke two holds off the 3rd pitch - I would recommend not soloing anything there or on p2 for that matter.. your choice.

The rest of the route after the vegetated ledge is pure gold. Build anchor at piton belay with #2 (up high) and #3 plus the piton. That frees up all your .5-1" doubles for the last pitch.

As stated before, there's lots of potential for stuck ropes on the rap off. Be cognizant of where your last rapper lays the rope over ledges and you should be ok between that and some dumb luck.

The death block under the boulder at top of last rappel (marked with an 'X') has been removed. Jan 14, 2014
Kevin Dahlstrom
Boulder, CO
  5.11b PG13
[Hide Comment] In an area with generally soft ratings, this route is a huge exception - perhaps the biggest sandbag I've encountered anywhere. A few comments:

1) Per other comments, the first pitch felt about 11b. Not paticularly strenuous but very technical.

2) The pitches between the first pitch and the splitter on top are absolute junk. Chossy rock, marginal pro (albeit on 5.easy), and uninteresting, discontinuous climbing.

3) I have big hands, so the 10d thin hands corner was off-fingers for me and felt significantly harder than 10d. By comparison, Our Father, which has a very similar feel, felt cruisy with bomber jams and good feet.

4) The upper finger crack, flare, and crux corner gobbles up green (0.75) camalots. I only had 2 and would have liked two more.

Overall, I give this route 1 star. It climbs like two short routes separated by junky approach pitches. With so many routes at Red Rocks, there are better places to spend your time. Feb 9, 2014
Climbing Ivy
[Hide Comment] glad to see comments from the good people that P1 right off the deck face moves is the biggest sandbag ever! my partner declined to rate the pitch and simply called it "5.something" but it's definitely harder than any 11a i've ever followed or dogged on...

the upper 10d splitter pitch is gorgeous with a non-sustained short crux, but maybe because i have micro hands and fat-fingers folks will get fuller value out of the pitch for sure. superb fun nonetheless!

the rest of the climb (middle pitches) is an "alpine mud climb" with long sections of uninteresting and meandering alpine-in-the-desert traverses and 5th class slogging over highly suspect rock, guarding a few fun moves in between. my partner broke a foothold on the final 10a pitch on lead and miraculously recovered and saved from a 40 footer - sure sign the route needs more traffic :) Feb 24, 2014
Short Fall Sean
Flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] The tree at the top of the first pitch is getting really bad. I "backed it up" with a red camalot placed as a chock in one of the chossy pods behind the tree and then just tried not to weight it.

I fell once on the first pitch variation. It's tricky, but not that bad. It's probably 5.11, but not the hardest 11b in the universe or anything.

I took three green camalots after reading some of the comments here. I desperately avoided placing them in the lower angle crack beneath the crux section, which meant I didn't place any gear since that part only really takes greens. Then I got up into the crux flaring scoop thing and placed a purple, a red, and clipped a fixed red. I pulled onto the ledge below the roof, looked down, and still had all three greens on my rack. Whoops. I think it would be better to emphasize reds on the rack, especially if you want to belay before the roof, as they seemed to be the best size for that.

Overall this is a pretty cool route, but the rock in the middle section is REALLY bad and kind of detracts from the experience (unless you love choss-wranglin). Apr 25, 2014
Michael Richichi
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] Seven pitches as per the guidebook.

The low crux on Pitch 1 was not very intuitive...I took at both bolts to think through the sequence. I didn’t place any gear after the last bolt and opted to run out much easier territory to the ledge/tree belay.

Pitch 2 was definitely not R-rated. There are plenty of options for cams, nuts, and slinging. I followed it in my approach shoes.

I lead Pitch 3 in my approach shoes and placed a few pieces, but most people willing to tackle a hard 5.10 wouldn’t have any fear free soloing this pitch.

Pitch 4 was basically a free solo, also super casual. I hesitate to call pitches 2-4 “junk pitches” because the rock formations are super awesome and I’ve never climbed anything like it, even though it’s very easy.

Pitch 5 was short and sweet. When I finished it, I opted to belay from the rock pile on top of the easy corner crack/ledges instead of starting the crack on the left face.

This left a good length of rope for Pitch 6 for when my partner fell at the crux, and kept me out of the crash zone and comfortably positioned in the sun (it was maybe 45°F today).

I recommend building the anchor just after coming out of the crux of Pitch 6 for a semi-hanging belay, instead of going up a couple feet to the better ledge. This will keep the belayer safe from leader falls at the roof, because the leader can stand comfortably and get a cam in before the crux of Pitch 7.

I lead Pitch 7 and was happy to have a BD 4 about halfway up. The hand jams to pull up and around the roof were super tight for me. My hands are pretty average size. I placed doubles from BD 1 to BD 3 on this pitch. I only ran out one section that was perfect hands for me.

We did four rappels, not three.

Ultimately, I think this is worth doing! The hard moves are well-protected. Even the rappel is pretty cool!

Rack: one 0.4 & 4
two 0.5, 2, and 3
three 0.75 & 1
six alpine draws
two long slings Feb 25, 2018
Andrew Schrader
Helena, MT
[Hide Comment] Recommend building a belay after the 5.8 finger crack to reduce rope drag and have belayer watch you on the money pitch.

Can also go right on P1, skipping bolt 2 and plugging some 0.2 / 0.3 cams in a slot. Apr 11, 2018
Sean Cooney
[Hide Comment] I think 11a is a good consensus grade. Managed to onsite the first pitch, which required a bit of clinging to a couple tiny holds while I worked out the sequence. Thankfully, the hang-boarding and campus workouts paid off. While the crux moves felt harder and were more insecure than anything on Good Mourning (11b) or Native Son (11c), it was really a 2-move crux. Stout, for sure, but once you work the sequence out I have a hard time seeing it as more than 11a. Just make sure your fingers are strong because the holds are pretty small.

I did not lead the upper crack crux, but it worked me pretty hard and I'd rate it 11a as well. It was a lot of #0.75 BD C4 sized crack, which is ring-lock size to me. And, as I learned, I am terrible at ring-locks. For the small-handed leader, tight hands might seem easier. Dec 11, 2018
[Hide Comment] This is a good route for winter, all day sun. The first pitch is contrived, with the bolts pushing you into a weird face move. Instead of going to the second bolt I would recommend going right and following the natural line. I think the fourth bolt was garbage and was sticking like an inch out of the wall. The terrain between the first pitch and last pitch are pretty meh. The raps are in desperate need of new slings. Jan 3, 2019