Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 10 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 17,784 total · 344/month
Shared By: J tot on Oct 19, 2014
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

101 Opinions

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


Climb the first 4 pitches of the normal "Dark Shadows" build your last belay at the furthest right of the three anchors.

P5) Clip a bolt and head up. Pull an easy roof/bulge and follow the crack up and left. Some squeeze chimney (or face climbing) will put you on a small detached tower with two rusty old bolts. Recommend a gear anchor in cracks/huecos at the back (wide hand size pieces for anchor).

P6) Path of least resistance up the chimney behind the tower. After passing a short roof on its right (~50' from belay) head up and left eventually finding one new and one old bolt on low angle face to belay off of. (can be backed up with thin gear).

P7) follow the crack up and slightly right, placing thin gear. Build a belay on the varnished bench 20'-30' below an obvious roof. Gear takes big nuts and ~1" size cams (or that was just what I had).

P8/9) Climb off the ledge and pass the roof on its right. Head up and easy flaring hand crack and hit a series of bushy ledges. (potentially belay here with a 60M). Launch off of these ledges up some steep (for the grade) cracks for another 30'-40' and belay on a comfy varnished ledge with a two bolt anchors. ONLY ONE HAS A HANGER (Oct. 2014)!

P9/10) Climb the right facing dihedral and when it rounds off to the left, go straight up the varnished face and into the cracked roof above. Massive jugs make pulling this roof consistent for the grade. Cruise up low angle flaring hand crack for many more feet to find yourself at a well cairned massive ledge. Easiest belay is off one of the big trees. Might be tight with a 60M.


Start the normal first four pitches of Dark Shadows and keep going.

Finish on a big ledge. With cairns. To get down you still have several hundred feet of easy 5th free soloing or adventurous/wandering/easy leading to the summit. Head a little up and a bit left to a left facing dihedral hand crack with a cairn (Oct. 2014) to start the last ascent to the summit.

From the summit, follow the ridgeline then cairns northwest until they take you to a descent gully. This led us to a three rappel gully (with a 70M) the last rappel was into a tree with a few inches of rope left. Followed by 15' of downclimbing the tree. I can't recommend this, however maybe another gully for a single 60M exists. This puts you in the wash upstream from the base of the climb. Hike it back to your packs.


Possible on a single rack with runout and a strong leader. Otherwise bring a double to 2" or 3".


Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
There are several descent options off Mescalito- two that I know of off the north side, one off the south. The north side options are either double 60m rappels (or what you did with a 70m) or a walk-off with no rappels (tricky, but doable- aim for the second fork high in the drainage- you come down about 150' up the left hand side of the fork).

The south side is pretty well cairned as I understand it- Branch Whitney and crew use it for their hikes, so it may be doable with no rope or a single rope, but I have not done it so i can't comment on it. Oct 20, 2014
Wakefield, RI
Ksween   Wakefield, RI
John, can you also reverse cat in the hat from here? Dec 22, 2014
Squamish, BC
Hans   Squamish, BC
Some beta on the descent.

From the summit of the Mescalito we followed a heavily cairned path southwest as per the description on SummitPost. This was extremely easy to follow, and led to a gully that brought us down to the south fork of Pine Canyon, perhaps 200-300 metres up the canyon from the start of Cat in the Hat.

Two rappels were necessary (about 10 metres and 22 metres respectively) from chain anchors near the bottom of the gully. Prior to this there were some very short sections of 4th or low 5th class down-climbing. One of these sections seemed tricky enough that we made a short rappel off of a small tree.

I don't know anything about the other descent options but this seemed like a really good way to go. Mar 16, 2015
Doug Hemken
Madison, WI
Doug Hemken   Madison, WI  
Better than I was expecting! Apr 13, 2015
WookieStick69 Thomas
Boulder, CO
WookieStick69 Thomas   Boulder, CO
Excellent route. Definitely worth doing the entire climb if you're looking to hit Dark Shadows anyway. Besides, this is one of the rare climbs in RR that allows you to top something out, giving it a little more of that alpine feel.

Some quick beta that I have yet to see mentioned: you've actually got another 200-300 feet of climbing when you get to the top of pitch 10. None of it is hard, but we roped up and placed a couple pieces of gear here and there. Added another hour or so to the climb. Just be prepared to have to do this.

We left nothing at the base and descended via the southwest gully on Mescalito. I'd recommend this route as we ended up beating a couple parties that were in front of us and went down the north side. Very well cairned at the top/getting you to the gully. We made 5 rappels plus a bunch of down-climbing to get to the bottom. Rappels are generally good, but there is some potential for rope drama, so good idea to carry some extra webbing or chord up this route.

Car to car it took us 12 hours, but had two parties in front that we ended up waiting on. 10 hours is a good round trip estimate for an unencumbered party of two. Nov 1, 2015
Griffin Costello
San Francisco
Griffin Costello   San Francisco
gets cold in the shadows. did the first four pitches and had a blast!!! Nov 28, 2015
Poughkeepsie, NY
rgold   Poughkeepsie, NY
I hate getting lost on the approach and wasting time... and I did. So here's something to save you time.



That track, as displayed, is way off. It crosses the flanks of Bridge Mountain half-way up the walls and ends up on some summit on the South Flank of Bridge Mountain. Jan 14, 2016
Climbed this on Feb 28, 2015. I highly recommend topping out on Mescalito and doing all 10 pitches - the rock quality is much better than we had thought and the route-finding was much easier than expected. For a 5.7 / 5.8 multipitch, I think it beats out many of the more popular and crowded moderate-grade routes in the canyon, if only because we were the only ones on it!

Thank you John Hegyes for the beta photos - those were super useful on this climb. Also, do not let that photo of one bolt and nut scare you -- it is in front of a huge ledge and not a hanging belay.

After topping out of pitch 10, I agree with the other reviewer that it took about an hour more to rope up and climb the final 200 ft or so of "5th class scrambling" to get to the top of mescalito. There's a lot of choss, loose dirt, and bushes that you have to manage around and it's not straightforward. We placed gear and roped up. There is a beta photo on summitpost that was super helpful.

I would budget 1:15 to 1:30 hours of sunlight after topping out to find the descent. We headed west and across the southern edge of the Mescalito "saddle" (Handren guidebook) before going another 50-100 feet and dropping into a gully to scramble down. Once you find that gully, you're fine (and don't need sunlight), but finding that gully in the dark would be near impossible imo. This descent required only one rappel (1x60m should be fine) at the very end of the gully before merging into the wash. There were shiny rap rings as of Feb 2016. The entire descent path was marked with cairns and took us roughly 3 hours from the top of Mescalito back to the parking lot.

Also, for faster climbers, I would recommend rapping down two pitches from the top of pitch 4 and doing Chasing Shadows. It adds 2 pitches of very solid face climbing to the whole route.

We only rapped down one pitch and did the 2nd pitch of Chasing Shadows. Wish we had time to do the first pitch.

Car to car was 13.5 hours. Feb 29, 2016
Bob Johnson
Philadelphia, PA
Bob Johnson   Philadelphia, PA
Great route! I agree with Andy.C's comments about easy route-finding and generally good rock. I also agree that John Hegyes's beta photos are good (thanks John)!

A couple comments:

Route-finding cruxes
Pitch 6: It's easy to see which way to go if you look at John's picture. You can definitely see the bolt from below. Just aim for that. Don't go up the chimney, which could be tempting. The Handren guide does mention the chimney/gully feature, but does not explicitly say that it is off-route.

Above pitch 10: When you top out on the big ledge above pitch 10, look for a big cairn on the far left side. There is a corner that initiates the low 5th class to the top of Mescalito. Here is what the corner (5.4ish) looks like:

Poor rock
There are really only two sections of poor rock quality. The first is at the pitch 5 roof. My partner broke off a hold and took a lead fall there. Good thing he had a piece in above his head. There are solid holds abound, but be a little cautious there. There is also a ~20ft section on pitch 7 that climbs past some hollow sounding flakes.

We intended to descend the gully into the south fork of Pine Creek as described on MP as well as in the Handren guide. The trail towards the gully is well-marked with cairns. However, we got suckered in by trampled bushes and went down the wrong gully. It wasn't the end of the world because we made it down with a single rope. However, unless you are looking for a long exercise in Red Rock canyoneering, don't head down the wrong gully (marked in picture below)!

Mar 13, 2017
Northside decent beta for three single 70m raps: Go this way if you want to leave a pack at the base and only carry one rope. It really wasn't that bad. Follow the ridge, finding cairns, as it gently goes West and then down the North side. Curving more and more across some slabs until you get to a very large cairn with a steep chimney/gully before and after it. We explored both gullies and chose the gully to the left (West) of the large cairn, for no great reason. There were slung anchors in both gullies, but the one we chose left/West had carabiners on them, which might help distinguish it. We had two 70m ropes, but didn't need both. Three single 70m rope raps and you're in the main canyon a short ways up from the start of the route. Mar 20, 2017
If you can't find the cairns for this walk off, it's time to hang up the rack and walk away. Apr 17, 2017
Trevor Faxon
Las Vegas, NV
Trevor Faxon   Las Vegas, NV
It would be a shame to only climb the first 4, as pitches 9 and 10 were excellent. At the top of pitch 10, follow the zig-zagging shrubs on the face directly in front to the summit, ~5.4 From the summit we followed cairns down to the southwest which led to 2 bolted rappels in a steep narrow canyon into the south fork, fine with one 60m. Oct 12, 2017
A little on the north side descent. First of all, this is definitely doable with a single 70 and puts you in Pine Creek North Fork just a few minutes up from your packs. I think Aubrey Joe's descent beta is the most helpful, but just a couple lines of clarification. The initial part of the descent is very easy, just following cairns essentially due west and eventually trending down the north (right) side of the ridge. Your first main objective is a HUGE white slabby bowl area. If you're questioning whether or not you are in the right bowl, then you ain't there yet. You'll come over a small saddle and it will be apparent that this bowl is the one. Follow cairns down into the bowl and trending towards the west end of the bowl. Then the cairns will double back and trend pretty much straight east to the lower east side of the bowl. From here there are two options, both of which are the two eastern most gullies in the big white slabby bowl. The skiers right (east) gully has a huge cairn at the top of it and a 3 nut anchor with a quicklink down a ways on the left wall of the gully. This descent involves one short rappel and then two very long rappels, the last of which will completely max out your 70 (it will look like it comes up short before rope stretch). Consider a simul-rap to really stretch the rope. It cannot be done with a single 60. The skiers left (more western, but still on the east side of the bowl) gully has only one small cairn right above a tree at the very bottom of the bowl. This one is less obvious because its less well marked and starts in a tight slot, but has easier rappels. There will be a slung tree or bush with each rappel and each is easily doable with a 70. The top anchor is a single slung tree with 2 carabiners and drops into a tight, rather ominous slot gully. I'm not positive, but I think this descent could be done with a single 60 even.

Also, just a heads up that the last 200 feet of low fifth class above P10 is more than just a scramble. Even our experienced party was taken aback at how surprisingly serious it was. A 5.8 leader pushing the grade would likely be very disappointed if they were expecting an easy scramble. Consider roping up or simul-climbing if new to leading. Oct 25, 2017
Sam Elander
Bullhead City, AZ
Sam Elander   Bullhead City, AZ
Finding the rap belay to the climber's right after topping out the summit was slightly tricky, but no big deal and made it super easy to get to the bottom to our gear. (Follow the cairns and then the white sandstone bowl to its base then make two raps with a 70m rope. (60m might be okay).

  • To summit you have to do 1 more pitch of scrambling on loose shiz. I would maybe take the rope to not risk terminal failure. The last little bit is a bit sketch without a rope.
4 days ago