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Routes in Red Cap

North Gully T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
Red Cap Ridge T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Type: Trad, 900 ft, 2 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 97 total, 15/month
Shared By: kenr on Jun 7, 2017
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

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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


Interesting varied route on mostly sound rock with straightforward routefinding. Non-steep approach hike. Then the "white gully" has lots of nice scrambling, less obstructed by vegetation than might guess from below. Next on a wide ridge on white rock up to the red summit cap (with no easy way on or off).

Two crux sections much more difficult than the rest -- short and not very exposed, but a slip could result in a broken ankle. Might be more difficult getting back down than going up -- so study carefully before committing to going up.

Shoes with high-friction rubber useful (for slopy holds), but real "rock climbing" shoes (for serious edging) not necessary.

Though the shortest approach is from Sandstone Quarry parking, this route could also be reached from Calico Basin parking (outside the Red Rock Scenic Loop road).

More photos and different detail on

Up the gully, with the unvegetated rock mainly on the left (E) side. Pretty sustained with lots of slopy holds. So if someone in your party is not comfortable on slopy holds, keep in mind that it's going to feel more difficult coming back down.

A notch at its top leads to the crest of the summit ridge. From here it's another 0.1 mile (150 meters) SouthEast (left) on a wide ridge crest to the summit cap. But first there is ...

the problem of getting up over a wall -- not tall, but not with positive holds on or above. The "cheaters" way is to notice some rocks stacked on top of a pine tree. The climbers way (5.3) is to notice to the right (SW) of the tree some slopy holds going up diagonal right. Either way, an injury from slipping or a stacked rock collapsing is likely going to result in a very difficult exit and a long unhappy finish to the day.
Also good to think hard now about how you're going to get down this later coming back - (might be scarier and more difficult).

. . (There is a report with photos on of another way - ? down the other side ? South ? - that avoids this wall).

Once past this, hike about 400 feet SouthEast along the broad crest of the ridge to almost reach the red summit cap. There might be water in the depression (tinaja) just below / before (NW from) the cap.

Next big problem is to get up onto the to the cap. The least-difficult way is to find on its west side a short vertical groove (5.3) - to the right of the tinaja. The sequence to get up it take some thought. Perhaps even more thought to climb back down it, so might want to practice that now while it's still fresh on your mind. Not real tall, but breaking an ankle would make for a long unhappy finish to the day.
- - > There is no easy way down off the summit cap.

. . variation: There is a fun overhang finish (5.6) up onto the cap a few feet to the left. But still a good idea to first check out the sequence up and down the groove, since down-climbing the overhang is surely harder.

Going back the same way is the simplest route-finding, likely also the least difficult climbing.
. . (Continuing SE along the ridge to Tank Peak is much trickier than it looks).


From Sandstone Quarry parking (GPS lat long approx N36.1622 W115.4502) on the Red Rock Scenic Loop road, hike on the Calico Tanks trail (unmarked) for 0.4 mile (650 meters) at first N, then NE, then E - (where the Turtlehead Peak trail goes left, continue on the Right following the Calico Tanks trail).

Around (N36.1666 W115.4484) the trail curves farther right, but here leave the maintained trail, turn off Left onto a gravel wash. Follow more or less along this about 0.3 mile (520 meters), at first NNE, then E, then NE - (likely will find it easier to get out of the wash on its right SE side for at least one section). The idea is to go around the NorthWest end of the Red Cap ridge / peak.

Likely will meet an unmarked trail coming from the East (which might be a way to approach from the Calico Basin parking?). Can bear right on this and go East a short ways -- and the North gully comes into view. At about (N36.1685 W115.4442), turn Right and aim South for the obvious gully.


No fixed hardware for anchor or intermediate protection.

Protection for Trad leading is unknown. Might be difficult to protect the two short crux sections because of smooth rock above.


- No Photos -
We descended this way some years back after climbing up the south side of Red Cap and swinging around to the west side for the final summit block (5.4?). I recall it being a fun canyoneering-esque descent with slick rock bypasses around right. The crux was dropping into it. From the N side of the summit near the water hole, there was a kind of sketchy pour-off downclimb, maybe low fifth. Jun 8, 2017