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Routes in First Creek Slabs

Bad Moon Arising T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Big Sky T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
Comeback Corner T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Falling Stars T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Hot Flash T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Lady Luck T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
NOPE.NOPE.NOPE.NOPE.NOPE. T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Rising Moons T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13
Romanian Rib T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Romanian Rib - Left Side T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Smiley Face T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Smooth Sailing T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Sunset Slab T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Sunset Slab Direct T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Monica Miller, Catherine Conner, Jodie Bostrom, Larry DeAngelo
Page Views: 16,460 total, 139/month
Shared By: Larry DeAngelo on Apr 1, 2008
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route


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RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone in Red Rocks is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Details

Description

I try to resist giving out too many stars, but this route deserves them. Good line. One thousand feet of easy climbing on perfect sandstone. An occasional minor crux thrown in to keep it interesting. This could be the best route on the First Creek Slabs.

The first three pitches ascend excellent slabs to good belays on comfortable ledges. On the third pitch go up and left (where Big Sky moves right to the next rib) and set up a belay beneath a beautifully varnished left-facing corner. Pitch 4 goes straight up the corner and exits right to a small belay perch even with the big overhangs. Pitch 5 does not continue up the crack, but instead makes a few improbable, but easy, steps left to gain a finger crack directly above the overhang. Continue up the rib, locating belays when suitable anchor options are available. The route finishes up the clean hand crack in a small, right-facing dihedral. (This is the same finish as Sunset Slab, which has joined this route from the left.)

Although the climbing on this route is rarely more difficult than 5.2, it still maintains a good level of interest. Protection options on the slab are limited, routefinding is important, and belay sites must be chosen with care. Beyond that, the route is fairly long for a beginning climber, and retreat would require leaving gear.

Location

Hike in the First Creek trail and climb to the top of the hillside beneath Rising Moons. Scramble and bushwhack right (west) along the base of the cliff. Continue about 60 feet beyond the jutting overhang of Big Sky.

Protection

Standard rack, maybe some extras on the small stuff
Idaho Bob
McCall, ID
  5.7
Idaho Bob   McCall, ID
  5.7
A good fun route. The run out sections are on very easy terrain. Rock quality was good to very good. The last pitch wakes you up a little. We used single 60m, a couple of raps starting below the big pine, then lots of 4th and 5th class down climbing, then another rap trending skiers right followed by more down climbing to the Algae on Parade descent. More down climbing on skiers left to the tree with rap station below. From here 2 more raps. Next time will try the Rising Moons exit. May 5, 2017
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, Maine
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, Maine
We did this route in late April of 2016 on the first day of a longer trip, just as an easy warmup to get some mileage and shake off the jet lag. I know a lot of people praise this route, and some of it is deserved, but it seems a long way from classic to me. The climbing is exceedingly easy (and yes, I am a big fan of easy). There are a few moves of 5.6 in the varnished corner and about 20 feet of 5.7 in the final corner, but the rest is barely 5th class. Additionally, there is a lot of runout terrain, especially on the upper pitches. Take care and make belays where you find them. We simul-climbed between decent belays. And the rock is a bit crispy in places. Now, having said all that, the positioning on the upper pitches is spectacular, and that is reason enough to scamper up this little route. Good? Sure, as long as your expectations are reasonable. Classic? Hmm maybe not so much. The descent is no problem. A bunch of raps beginning below the huge ponderosa about 300 feet down and climber's left from the top, with some scrambling between. Typical RR stuff. No big deal. May 13, 2016
Josh Janes    
 
I think it's a bit of a stretch to call this a four-star classic (and probably to call it 5.7 for that matter) - considering the descent is perhaps more stimulating than the route... that said, this would be a fun route to take your adventurous grandmother up prior to dinner at Robuchon or a late night at Hakkasan. Apr 28, 2016
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, Maine
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, Maine
Thanks, John. Sounds good, fun, and fast. And I think we'll pay attention the entire way--been climbing since 1976, and paying attention has paid off so far. [wink] Mar 5, 2016
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
If you're both solid at 5.10, you'll have no problem simul-climbing this (and you should) if you're planning on Celtic Cracks or one of the other Labryinth wall routes. Bring a 70m line and you can put a piece in here and there where its needed. It protects nicely for the 5.7 climber.

The last bit you may want to actually belay (or at least stop a ways below to get some gear), as its the crux and actually requires you to pay attention. Mar 2, 2016
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, Maine
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, Maine
Is there enough gear on this route for it to be a reasonable simul climb for two 5.10 climbers? Just thinking of efficiency, but don't want to compromise safety beyond prudence. Enough gear? Straight enough pitches? Clean of loose rock? Looks like a fun romp. Thanks. Mar 2, 2016
We hiked to the start of Rising Moons then traversed over. We hung out for a while at the start of Big Sky, trying to match up the pictures and descriptions to what we saw. Eventually we figured out that we were at the wrong place and had to traverse just a little bit further.

After climbing pitch 3, we stepped down from our belay location to the ledge at the base of the pitch 4 corner.

I did not find anything that looked like a belay at the right distance as I was climbing pitch 5. (Apparently it was off to the right) I ended up climbing almost to the end of my 70-meter rope to reach the good ledge with a big oak tree just to the left of the face. This shortened pitch 6 considerably.

The pitch 6 belay that "appears just as you are about to give up hope" is not an obvious ledge or anything, it is a tiny perch with just enough crack to build an anchor. If you are 50 feet below the final crack, and you see a spot where you might be able to stand, and you might be able to get three pieces of gear in, then you are probably at the right place.

We followed the Major Tree descent line in 5 double-70-meter-rope rappels. The fifth one is the same as the Rising Moons rappel. This descent was quick and painless. May 5, 2015
chrisbe
Reno, Nevada
 
chrisbe   Reno, Nevada
 
Had a lot of fun on this route.Pitch 5 was probably my favorite, wandering face with small gear. Be prepared for the long descent. Sep 18, 2014
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
 
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
 
Did a 5.5 R variation to the 4th (dihedral) pitch. Just climbed to the right of the dihedral up the middle of the face to the same belay just above the overhangs.
Pro was iffy in some spots and impossible in others.
Not awful, but not really a better way. Mar 15, 2014
SP Boston
Watertown, MA
  5.6 R
SP Boston   Watertown, MA
  5.6 R
HS and SP climbed lady luck yesterday.

Read this if you want detailed beta, but ignore it if you want the true adventure without the details!

Overall this was a fantastic day. Some of the climbing is very easy and run out. Some of the climbing is slightly more challenging. Given all of the comments and guidebook descriptions, we still had some route finding challenges. So the comments below may be helpful for the approach the ascent and the descent.

Approach: from the first Creek parking lot which is clearly marked with a sign, hike several miles in on the primary trail. Unlike many of the guidebooks that show the trail emerging on the east side of the gully and crossing the wash to the west, our approach stayed entirely on the west side of the wash. Stay out of the wash whenever possible. Take the trail that is about halfway up the west embankment, moving under rising moons which is obvious on your left, across an open section of dark red slab as part of the trail. Just at the end of the 30 yards of dark red slab there is an obvious trail straight up to the cliff. The trail is newer and follows the red dusty scramble that people have used. Move slightly up and right as the trail peters out, into a alcove with large overhead rocks and an obvious fourth class scramble to get up onto the first belay ledge. We roped up for the scramble which added an additional pitch to the climb.

The ascent: The other descriptions here accurately describe the climb except for a couple notable features. First, the slabs feel more like 5.2. But they are almost completely run out. Climbers should be comfortable with 40 to 50 feet between protection. On two of the pitches, I believe we used only one or two pieces of protection.

The second recommendation is on pitch 5. We used 190 feet of rope. The leader will feel desperate finding a belay station. Follow the advice of one of the comments here and move to the right side of the slab face to find a surprise pocket area to set up a reasonable belay station.

The third recommendation is on pitch six. The rock quality deteriorates slightly with some lichen, but the real challenge is that to get all the way to the crack climb of pitch 7 requires about 240 or 250 feet of rope! There are two or three sketchy belay stations that can be formed as intermediate points to break up pitch six. Or you can simul climb. Just be prepared to get creative. We had very windy conditions which further hampered logistics and communications on this very long pitch.

Descent: this took us an hour and 45 minutes. Bravo to those who down climb and are out in under an hour. Here are the details:

1. From the top of pitch seven, scramble and bushwhack up a gully to the right, a considerable steep ascent of 40 or 50 yards.

2. A cairn marks the sharp left turn which brings you quickly to the very exposed 30 foot traverse. The footing on the traverse is fantastic, and once you were on it you realize it is very low angle slab with good hand pockets if you need them for extra comfort.

3. Follow the well-worn trail with cairns, further west and slowly down into a gully to the major pine tree that marks the top of the rappel sections. This is fourth class scrambling, and if you are short some of the moves are a little exciting. Total distance traveled beyond the exciting traverse is probably 100 or 150 feet.

4. We used double ropes, 60 m, for the descent. The first station is very obvious 30 feet below the major pine at the low point in the gully. Rap 100 feet and look skiers right for the next station.

5. The next rap is longer and continues down the obvious gully to a station on skiers left side of the gully.

6. Some comments suggest skipping the third rap. If you're comfortable down climbing it can be skipped, or use it to rap off the slab into obvious short bushes with a short trail down 50 feet to the next station. Cairn visible as you rap.

7. This station is clearly visible on skiers left. Some people suggest scrambling over the bulge on skiers left and descending through boulders and bushes without ropes. We used the station, staying to skiers right on the slabs and going a full 190 feet to the obvious tree.

8. Find the next and final station 10 feet below the obvious tree, with well marked cairns. The station has slightly extended slings, which we think are longer to accommodate 200 foot ropes getting to the bottom! You will use all but 8 inches of your ropes to bottom out in an alcove which for us at this time of year actually had a pool of water in it.

9. Down climb directly down and to skiers right over several bulges about 40 feet total. This is slightly spicy down climbing. This gets you to the ground. The trail down is meandering and we had two more very short down climbing moves to get to real trail.

Taking our time and a few rest stops along the way, car to car total time was nine hours and 30 minutes. At this time of year we were in the shade the entire climb.

A fantastic day overall, somewhat reminiscent of solar slabs, and long days out East or at Tahoe or Yosemite. Feb 17, 2014
saxfiend
Decatur, GA
  5.7
saxfiend   Decatur, GA  
  5.7
If I'd known what the descent would be like, I'd never have gotten on this route. An unroped 8th pitch followed by scrambling, thrashing and rapping was possibly the most miserable two hours I've spent on rock. I guess I'm too old for Red Rock . . . May 12, 2013
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
 
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
 
I just did this descent again and added my descent beta to the First Creek Slabs page.
The only addition here is, from the top of the climb, the scrub oak scramble is longer than you think; probably 100' to the exposed ledge (which still has a small cairn on it) Mar 17, 2012
Decent, not great. We broke holds on every pitch, but the rock quality wasn't as bad as I expected. I caught myself having fun up there a few times. Best thing about this one versus Hot Flash, which is a more interesting route overall would be the consistency (upper+lower Hot Flash are like night and day-half great, half terrible) and the fairly quick nature of the climb. Maybe a good first route up the 1CSlabs for locals-but unless your limit is 5.7 handcrack, I think visiting climbers will find that there are a lot more interesting and sustained climbs out there. Descent took less than an hour, I think Wilder's right about just doing the first rappel and scrambling down the rest of the way to the Rising Moons raps (3 single 70 raps from this point). Doing about five raps burned a bunch of time and the way down was easier than I expected, fine in approach shoes with a pack. I'd do the minimum number of raps possible for your ability level, much less fun getting off these in the dark, I bet. Nov 25, 2011
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
 
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
 
Good point, John. While the two stations at the trees might prevent some wear and tear that could damage these trees - the others are unneeded - and all of them set a bad precedent.
The descent should take less than an hour to the main/starting ledge. We usually do it in well under 40 min. Pretty good for climbs that are often well over 1,000'.
IMO - almost as easy & straightforward as Angel Food Wall.
If anyone is worried about the descent - feel free to PM me. Mar 20, 2011
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
fwiw- the bolted stations on that descent were placed illegally and acts like this can jeopardize our chances of being able to bolt legally in the wilderness.

also fwiw, aside from the very first rappel, the rest is easy 4th class and no rappelling is required until you get to the top of Rising Moons. Mar 20, 2011
Brad Warne
Calgary, Alberta
 
Brad Warne   Calgary, Alberta
 
I didnt say it was difficult. Its just not worth it, considering you can spend more time on the descent than on the climb. Mar 20, 2011
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
 
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
 
If you don't like the descent - you weren't on the easiest line down. Particularly now: someone has replaced the first rappel (that was on the pine tree) with two nice bolts off to the side.
They also added a couple of unnecessary stations that bypass cl.3 downclimbing.
Do it the old way - lots of down scrambling and a total of 4 rappels on a single 60m. Or use the new stations - at least 8 raps - most of which require double ropes.
Either way - a fairly straighforward descent. Mar 19, 2011
Brad Warne
Calgary, Alberta
 
Brad Warne   Calgary, Alberta
 
Climbing is fun and all, but not worth it after doing the descent. Oct 10, 2010
Alex Abramov
San Diego, CA
Alex Abramov   San Diego, CA
Did it 5.6.2010
A fine scrambling with a couple climbing sections.
Here is 10 min video for almost every pitch:

youtube.com/watch?v=N4RPBR1… May 29, 2010
Richard Denker
Portland OR
Richard Denker   Portland OR
Fun 900'+ romps with something less than 100’ of fun moderate climbing. Agree with Karl K (Apr 13, 2008) pitch descriptions. A few more route comments:

1. For a new route the rock is very solid and we did not find much (if any) loose and feeble rock.
2. Recommend 70m rope makes the couple long pitches nicer (esp. the 6th pitch) and it helps with the descent.
3. Once you find the start, route finding is not a problem until the descent. Just remember P5 does not follow the crack but wanders left onto the face above the overhang before going up.
4. The 5.3 pitches have long runouts, which actually adds to the fun of the climb. We went 40 to 50-feet between pro. If you spend the time and energy looking for more pro placement you may be able to run it out less.
5. The crux of the climb is an 8-foot (easily protected) vertical section of 5.6 (pitch 4) and not the 5.7 pitch.
6. Belay stance at the top of P4 is a bit uncomfortable. Ethics (and the band on bolting) aside a bolt to complement the trad gear placement at the belay station would greatly improve the belay.
7. At about 165 to 180 feet up on pitch 5 there are two bushes/small trees on the right; we belayed at the upper one. Good trad placement, but not the most comfortable belay.
8. Pitch 6 is long. We ran out all but 10 feet of our 70m rope. The belay station is slightly right of the middle of the slab and about 50 feet below the easily viewed 5.7 crack of pitch 7. Setting up the belay, requires some skill – not the best belay setup for a beginner trad climber and again not a comfy belay station.
9. Pitch 7 has the best climbing. The 5.7 crack is located in the corner of a left facing dihedral. Protects well. About 2/3 the way up the crack one can escape left to the outside face and finish the climb on a blocky face.
10. The descent is a longer affair than one would like for such a fun climb. Maybe if we had previous experience with the descent gully I would say it is as easy descent. However, not knowing the gully we rapped it. There are nice rap anchors every 30 to 35 meters or so. A single rope is all that is needed. May 4, 2010
Jay Holland
Marietta, GA
 
Jay Holland   Marietta, GA
 
This is a fun climb. Was in the shade all day, so it is getting cooler for doing this one. Need lot's of small nuts for most pitches. Not extremely difficult climbing but good practice for setting pro. The decent was a thrash getting to it but not bad. Good Rap stations and an overall good climb. Pitch 2 and 5 don't have lot's of options for pro, but are fairly easy climbing. pitch 4 and the short 7th were fun. The 6th is a nice clean long pitch! Cool Day ut fun day. Car to car about 8 hours. Nov 16, 2009
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
Very nice route that reminded me of climbing the Third Flatiron in Colorado. Not a lot of gear is required, long slings are nice due to all the wandering. Yep, p6 is exactly 200'. We did this for a "rest day" but didn't feel all that rested after the descent and walk out! Apr 24, 2009
Dana Marie
Cold Spring
Dana Marie   Cold Spring
An absolutely beautiful, fun and excellent moderate. Be prepared for the descent...it's long and a little grungy but well worth it. Apr 21, 2009
Great route, descent is easy to find and not too bad. Oct 25, 2008
Brandt Allen
Joshua Tree, Cal
Brandt Allen   Joshua Tree, Cal
This casual route was a joy to climb. There are some great belay ledges along the way. The easy slabs were still interesting enough to be fun climbing. We thought the best climbing was the varnished corner on pitch 4. The character-building descent is somewhat long and arduous.
A great stress-free day in Red Rocks! Sep 30, 2008
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
  5.7 PG13
absolutely amazing route- definitely not challenging, but a joy to climb if you're looking for a good day out with friends with no pressure....

couple of notes:

first- if you're going up to the Labryinth Wall- this is the route to do it by. Solo up to the top of the 6th pitch, and short rope the last 5.7 section....

3rd pitch is not 200' from the big ledge- maybe 180' or so.

there's a fairly nice stance on the right side of the rib you can belay for the top of the 5th pitch. however, if you belay here, it is exactly 200' to the next belay, so any rope thats not new may not reach.

also, the gear was pretty sparse in places...but the climbing is never difficult. In fact, the big challenge here is that although this route is spectacular and deserves to be among RR's great moderates, the descent is non-trivial at the moment as it involves a fair bit of downclimbing that may leave some beginners a bit uncomfortable.

at any rate, an amazing route- much credit to Larry and friends for putting this one up. Apr 27, 2008
Karl K
Phoenix, AZ
 
Karl K   Phoenix, AZ
 
Excellent fun!
Here is my breakdown of the pitches:
#1: 120' to big ledge; funky seam start then trend right up the middle of the face; 5.4
#2: 150' to trees/bushes; middle of the face; 5.3
#3: 200'+ to huge ledge below varnished corner; fun face; 5.3
we had a 60m rope and had to move the belay 20 feet into the corner
#4: 110' up varnished corner; fun & easier than it looks, maybe 5.6 at the top; very small stance for belay 5.6
#5: 180' Head left just above the overhangs, then wander up the face. I kept mostly to the left side.5.3
#6: 200' Straight up the fun varnished face, mostly in the middle, aiming toward the right side. A belay appears just as you are about to give up hope (about 50' below the start of the finishing hand crack); 5.3
#7: 90' up the face to the obvious corner; its good climbing, but will be great if the lichen ever clears up. 5.7
The 50 yard up-and-right above to find the gully was a full-on thrash through the bushes. We found a small, very exposed ledge system that we traversed to the left after going up the gully. Not obvious.
Once in the gully proper, the descent is eay to follow (head for the big pine tree and turn left..) Downclimbing was not too bad.

New rappel stations are great. Thank you!!! Apr 13, 2008
John Hegyes
Las Vegas, NV
  5.7
John Hegyes   Las Vegas, NV
  5.7
Whats the descent? Apr 3, 2008
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
 
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
 
This climb shares the same last 2 fantastic pitches as Sunset Slab. Apr 2, 2008