Type: Trad, 400 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Richard Harrison, Nick Nordblom. 1982
Page Views: 4,928 total · 45/month
Shared By: J. Thompson on Apr 16, 2010
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

12 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

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


Pitch #1: Begin at the left side of a "tunnel" at the base of the wall. Climb up to a good ledge at the bottom of the main crack system. 5.7, 75ft.

Pitch #2: Climb the steep varnished crack. Mid way up you encounter a roof that is, obviously, turned on the right. Continue up to a nice trianglar ledge and belay. The belay takes acouple of small pieces where the wall meets the ledge and or #1 camalots. 5.10+, 110ft.

Pitch #3: Continue climbing the sick varnished crack. Starting out #1 camalot size and the progressing through the sizes to a #4. Belay near the top of the formation. 5.9+/5.10-, 215ft.


The route is located on the obvious varnished wall at the top of the Gemstone Gully.
After gaining the notch between the Approach gully and the Gemstone gully, drop down and then go up the middle of the Gemstone gully. When you reach a cliff/ impasse go up and left. Leave your pack here. Go up the chimney on the left. Continue going up left until you can traverse out(right) onto the terrace directly below the varnished wall. Scramble up to the base and pass through a short "tunnel". The climb begins from the left side of the tunnel.
To descend, go down to the left of the wall. Either drop down into the stick gully(which I did not do) or head back east aiming for a large pinon pine. Do a short rappel off the tree(currently no slings) into the chimney to the east. Scramble north down the chimney to a rappel off a large scrub oak. After this rappel scranble down onto a large ledge. On the east side of the ledge rappel from a large block aiming for another large Pinon Pine. From this pine it's possible to scramble back onto the terrace at the base of the wall. Towards the center/bottom of this terrace is a good bolted rappel anchor. 1X 70M rope puts you back at your pack. Then descend the Gemstone gully.


Nut's 1 set.
1 Green and 1 Yellow Alien.
2 each Red Alien to #4 Camalot.
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
Ok personal comments.

This route is sick good. One of the top 3 crack climbs in Red Rock. The rock is as good as it looks in the pictures, maybe better.
A true splitter the climb itself is easily 4 stars.

The approach and descent, however, are quite involved. If this wasn't the case people would have been screaming about the quality of this route for years.

So if you want to go have a long adventerous day, and do a kick ass climb this is a good choice.

As far as the grade goes, I gave it 5.10+. My partner seemed to think it was closer to 5.11-....I wouldn't argue that point. Go decide for yourself.

Have fun!

josh Apr 16, 2010
That approach and descent are HEINOUS! Went up to climb Gemstone last year, my girl has never let me forget that one. You do so much more hiking than climbing, it means you really have to want these routes. For myself, I thought F+L looked good, but haven't been able to muster the interest in the approach a second time. My legs got cut to shit THROUGH a pair of Levis, I remember a big scratch on my neck from the approach got a lot of comments from work about vindictive ex-girlfriends. Glad the route's good-it HAS to be for me to brave the "Nightmare on Elm Street" hike... Apr 21, 2010
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
More like the nightmare on OAK street.

josh Apr 22, 2010
Incidentally, what do you consider the other top 3 crack climbs here? And do you have to hike through, under, and over as much scrub oak to get to them? Apr 23, 2010
Jon O'Brien
Jon O'Brien   Nevada
psyched to see peeps getting up there, thanks for the post Apr 23, 2010
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
Well Killis as you know there aren't very many pure crack climbs in RR. Definitely not to many longish ones. So for the longer ones I'd have to say Cloud Tower, and maybe Triassic. Jet stream has some good crack climbing but is more facey/stemming at it's cruxs, as is Adventure Punks. The Warrior Might deserve an honorable mention.
For short ones I'd put The Fox, Atman, and Out of Control. Handbone is defiantly in there as is Desert Gold. I've not done the Schwa, but it looks pretty classic and Splitter.
I've done a bit of climbing in RR over the last 11 years or so and those are the CRACKS that stick out. To figure out my true top 3 I'd have to really sit down and think about it. I think I'd have to have 2 different lists...one for short routes and one for long.
Why don't you hike up there and see for yourself?
What did you think of Gemstone?

Jon, it was good to meet you when I was in town.

josh Apr 24, 2010
maybe add red zinger in there as well. good list josh! Apr 26, 2010
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
I've not Done Red Zinger, but I hear it's a sweet and splitter route.

The photos I've seen of the OW "Bro's before holes" might put it on the list as well. Anybody done it?
Anyone have any others?


josh Apr 26, 2010
The approach hike was cairned. We found a rope coiled near a tree well below the climb. Interesting. We approached the climb from the north, not Gemstone Gully. There are some very tight slots that would be tough getting a big pack through. May 15, 2010
Way late replying-Gemstone felt sandbagged as hell at "10a", the anchor was "interesting" as in we had to re-cord the whole thing and still backed it up until the last/lightest person went down, 2nd pitch wasn't obvious and Captains Forethought and Preparation goofed on a topo/description. Rock was way crunchy where you place gear, kind of a separated patina that was pretty easy to bust out, not encouraging in terms of confidence in the pro. I remember saying I'd bring every .5 cam I owned when we came back for P2, that's still the plan when I feel like paying my karmic debt and getting leg-caned by scrub oak. It looks sexy as hell but I bet F+L's probably a better line. When I do the 2nd pitch I'll post up a decent description. The Tricam in the P1 anchor is home to a way rotted sling; don't get on this one without a real-deal backup plan on how to get down or one of those snazzy Cliffhanger things that everyone seems so infatuated with. Oct 20, 2011
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
I climbed Red Zinger a couple of weeks ago...it should totally go on the cracks list.

josh Jan 14, 2012
Andy Hansen
Longmont, CO
Andy Hansen   Longmont, CO
What's with the discrepancy in route descriptions (J. Thompson v Handren)? Feb 3, 2012
Josh has obviously been on it. Jerry did a shitload of legwork for the guide but it doesn't mean he repeated everything. I'd trust the most recent description, with the caveat that everyone's experience is subjective. I still maintain that the "10d" crux of La Cierta is more like 5.9 cruiser. Your impression may vary. The only constant is that the hike sucks donkey balls.

Oh, and Josh: Weenie Juice. Has to be climbed to be believed. Feb 8, 2012
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co

There's been alot of different info about these routes over the years.
Supposedly when the FA's went up there both of the "cracks" had been climbed...one being named "fear" and the other "loathing". When they got up there they figured out quickly that neither had been climbed (and the one on the left looks awful)...thus creating the route.

When we went up there we used Handrens description...and what we found was very different. The route is very obvious, and there is no way we were off route. So what you see above reflects my experience climbing the route.

The more routes you climb the more you'll take even Handrens quality book with a grain of salt.

BTW...you've been climbing a lot of obscure routes lately, congrats! And thanks for adding them to the database, I've been enjoying seeing them pop up.

josh Feb 17, 2012
Xavier Wasiak
Las Vegas, NV
Xavier Wasiak   Las Vegas, NV
Climbed this today with Lisa Buchina. I thought Josh's info was spot on. Some may want additional #1-3 for the third pitch. We had doubles and still had long run outs on the sustained 200+ third pitch. Great job with the cairns, Branch! It got dark and they saved our butts. Added a sling to the first and last rappel. Mar 12, 2012
Andrew Yasso
Las Vegas, NV
Andrew Yasso   Las Vegas, NV
Four star climb in a a four star setting on four star rock with a 2 star approach. The best pure crack I have been on in Red Rock so far. Would really like to see more people getting on this. Extra incentive? We got a #3 stuck on the third pitch so you don't have to carry as many up there (and you might get a free cam in the process).

My thoughts on the beta:

The approach is no longer hard to find or heinous at all via Dale's Trail and the North side gully. It is extremely well cairned and takes you right to the base of the route. We found the directions as to how to approach the base of the route mildly confusing so we just walked a great trail until we were right under the route, and bushwalked for 30 feet until a short scramble led us to the "tunnel" described above. The approach took us around an hour and 30 minutes with a little bit of looking around.

The descent from the top of the route was also straightforward, with no rappels required. We simply walked West from the top of the climb for roughly 40 feet before picking up a cairned trail down into the Stick Gully, before following cairns back up towards a notch which led us into our packs. At first we thought the cairns were taking us too low, but we descended to a bench/terrace of white rock which led us back up to the notch, quite straight forward. From the top of the climb back to our packs, maybe 30 minutes.

P1 is essentially an approach pitch on mediocre rock.

P2, in my opinion, was 5.10+ but only for a move or two. Extremely well protected and fun, exposed, committing movement. I highly recommend bringing three BD #1 cams and saving at least two for the belay. The "small cams belay" was on the ground, making for an unnecessarily awkward and annoying hanging belay, whereas having two #1s and a baggy .75 cam would make for a bomber three piece anchor.

P3, 215+ feet of what I felt was still upper 5.10 climbing. There were sections of pure jamming, and less straight forward jamming that kept it strenuous enough for me. I brought 4 #3s and still bumped them for a little bit. Sadly, we fixed a #3 which I'm more bummed about because the route has no fixed gear and I would loved to have kept it that way. Someone go clean it off! If you happen to have a 2.5 cam, you'll avoid any of the tight placements I had to make with my #3s.

We descended by retracing our approach. Didn't make much sense in my opinion to try and find a new descent with rappels, etc. when our approach was cruiser, and really pretty at that. Jan 16, 2014
Weston L
Fantastic route with a significant approach. Heed the advice about extra cams, unless yer a hardman...in which case....hardman can...

RE: the approach...there are two gullies that you can wander into as the "Upper Gemstone Approach" gully chokes off and offers its first two forks:

Option #1 is the left of the two once you are in the "Upper Gemstone Approach" gully. This one will be cairned, includes a significant amount of scrambling, and IMO was more of an undertaking than the approach to The Warrior.

Option #2 is the right of the two once you are in the "Upper Gemstone Approach" gully. This will also be cairned, and is the way more mellow than the left hand option. Take this one.

We took Option 1 on the way up and 2 on the way down, and on the way down were quite sad we didn't take Option 2 on the way up.

BTW, Andrew, your cam was long gone by the time we got up there. Your descent beta to the base of the route is absolutely on point, thank you. Also, the cairns are awesome...thanks Branch! Dec 25, 2014
josh holcomb
Las Vegas, NV
josh holcomb   Las Vegas, NV
Dog Police should be mentioned as one of the best 5.10 cracks at RR. Nov 14, 2015
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
really nice route.a #5 could definitely be used on the top of the 2nd pitch if you don't want to squeeze way inside.

Here's a pic of Gemstone. First pitch, at least, is definitely worth doing if up there. It is easy and quick to get to from the approach gully-gemstone gully notch. Can also get off with one 60 from the tricam shit anchor.

Dec 4, 2015
When we finally got to the base of Fear and Loathing after a (fun) roped pitch up a crack climber's right of the rappel, some hikers ambled past. They said they'd come through a higher notch between the Approach Gully and Gemstone Gully on a well-cairned path to a summit. Mar 26, 2018
North Las Vegas
Rprops   North Las Vegas
The bolted anchor to rappel is much further climbers left (and inline with the base of the climb) than I expected. Hopefully the photo and cairn help. Dec 19, 2018