Adventure Projects is hiring an Android engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Routes in Calico Peak

NorthEast Ramp T 4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b
S Ridge + S Groove T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R
SouthEast Gully T 3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a
Order Wrong? Sort Routes
Type: Trad, 700 ft
FA: Ken Roberts + Dan Young : hardware lower part 2018
Page Views: 165 total · 12/month
Shared By: kenr on Jun 8, 2017
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen

You & This Route

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


Lots of interesting climbing in a variety of situations (much on ridges).

The main parts of more difficult climbing are separated by a (not very long) hiking section.

context: This route fits well into a "grand traverse" of the Calico Ridges S to N.
Or a less-long ridge traverse from the 2nd Pull-Out parking: first hike/scramble up to "South Pass", next traverse Red Book Point summit and ridges from S to N to reach "Middle Pass", then SSE Ridge + SSE Groove to Calico Peak, and descend SE Gully and back to 2PO parking.

Lower part with finish to the Calico Viewpoint makes a varied exciting shorter outing.

: Tight-fitting technical rock-climbing shoes are not needed, because very few moves depend on stepping on small edges. But many moves stepping on slopy footholds, so a sticky-rubber rock-climbing style sole on a well-designed climbing=oriented approach shoe is valuable.

Using Trad gear to "fill in" the long runout sections of the lower part is unknown. Many climbers with lots of outdoor experience are well-capable of solo-ing this route in approach shoes (except for the risk of a hold breaking).

Two quickdraws and a single rope sufficient for leading. Might want to bring a "trad draw" with extendable runner/sling for the second intermediate bolt on the Pitch 5 of the Lower part.

Hiking poles (collapsable) useful for approach and descent.

South Ridge part:
Pitch 1 (less than 90 ft): Start up R side of ridge and up left about 12 ft on positive handholds (5.3) to reach the ridge and cross over to L side (4th class).
. . . Variation easier: Scramble down gully to W and find and get onto the face on L side of ridge and start up that.

Next go up close to the ridge (4th class), or more interesting to find crack system on the face farther left. Reach 2-bolt anchor on flat platform.

. . . (? project - Not yet checked by us) Variation Start:  Leave the hike/scramble up to Middle Pass much lower and traverse W into a different wide gully (N36.1574 W115.4370). Scramble up that gully 100-150 ft and find a favorable place to get onto the continuous rock along L side of ridge to join current main route. Or (? project upon project) instead of scrambling up the other gully, get on the rock immediately ? short 5th class section ?).
. . . (Perhaps this will become the main route once it gets checked).

Pitch 2 (less than 90 ft): Start up L side of ridge (can join crack) and up to 2-bolt anchor on platform below menacing overhang with giant pockets (4th class). Avoid big flat loose rocks resting just below top.

Pitch 3 (90 ft): Climb up around left side of overhang (5.5) - (Variation: easier if work out far left on ramp, then back right), with additional thoughtful 5th class moves to reach 2-bolt anchor on flat platform at top (N36.1581 W115.4372) - with a chasm behind the platform. (2 intermediate bolts on this pitch).

Pitch 4 (12 ft downward): Down-climb delicately into the narrow chasm (5.5 exposed to ankle-breaker fall). Could be done on rappel from two-bolt anchor at top of previous pitch. Of course "following" climbers could instead go down this before the "leader" with belay from above, or get lowered, and then the "leader" comes down to join them.

Pitch 5 (70 ft): Starting from in the narrow chasm, traverse up Left to meet another ridge (2 intermediate bolts). Up that to a broad ledge with 2-bolt anchor before the top. Then walk up above the anchor to flat platform at top (N36.1584 W115.4375).
. . . (Leader do not omit to clip the intermediate bolts just because you do not need their protection . . . The first intermediate bolt is to restrict the following climber swinging to the left in case of a fall. The second intermediate bolt is to prevent the rope from getting sawed if following climber falls and swings to right in case of a fall).

between parts: NNW into obvious wide gully (not the narrower gully to left) about 250 ft (75 meters): At first on ledge staying high on Left slope, then into slot on floor of the gully. Around (N36.1591 W115.4380) turn right and go NE about 100 ft (30m) across an easy wide gully (the SouthEast gully route).

. . . Variation: Here could turn Left and go up to the Calico Viewpoint, then come back and continue.
. . . Variation: Could end the climb here and descend the interesting-scrambling SE Gully route for an excellent shorter outing.

(optional) South Groove part: Next up a ramp diagonal right to the base of a chimney (N36.1593 W115.4377). Up the chimney and N up a groove to another high point on the Calico ridge, then N up to a short overhanging groove (5.6-5.7) to pop up onto the South end (N36.1596 W115.4379) of the Calico Peak summit ridge. Ridge lovers can continue another 400 ft (120m) to the North end of the summit ridge (N36.1606 W115.4386).

descent: Finding the SouthEast Gully route works nicely to get back down to Middle Pass and then to 2nd Pull-Out parking.
. . . (Attempting to rappel the Lower part South Ridge will get you into difficult pulls and stuck ropes. The anchors on that part are designed for belay only, not rappel).

warning: Many loose rocks and weak breakable hand- and foot-holds on and around this route - (even when the rock plenty dry). The rock becomes especially weak for a couple of days after significant rain or snow, so holds are even more likely to break off.


From the "Second Pull-Out" parking (N36.1518 W115.4374) on the Red River Scenic Loop road, hike about 300 ft N on trail descending, at junction sharp Right down 130 ft E into wash. Next about 300 ft N without obvious trail, along left (W) side of wash, and NNE 250ft downward into center of wash (N36.1549 W115.4365).
. . . (or perhaps best is to follow your favorite route to Sweet Pain wall).
Into long uphill with some scrambling sections and sometimes vegetation to avoid, would be about 1000 ft N to reach the "Middle Pass" (N36.1581 W115.4368) ...
But about 100-150 ft before reaching the top of the gully, see a gully up to left with prickly-pear in middle. Scramble up mini-ridge forming the left side of that gully. Next flat about 30 ft over to the bottom of the S ridge, around (N36.1576 W115.4371).

- - > Also consider the "project - Not yet checked by us - Variation Start" above under Pitch 1 of South Ridge part.

From Calico Basin parking:
Middle Pass can also be reached from the SE, starting from parking in Calico Basin (outside the Scenic Loop road) -- but much longer, with a little higher difficulty and lots more quantity of scrambling/climbing ...
First up to the "Middle Sand Flat" (GPS lat long approx N36.1577 W115.4354).-.(elevation 4325 ft /1320m), then about 400 ft WNW in a narrow gully.

See directions on the Calico Peaks area description page (under the Pass crossings section).


Protection for Trad leading the Upper part (South Groove) is unknown. No fixed hardware for anchors or intermediate protection in that part.

The Lower part (South Ridge) now has 4 two-bolt belay anchors (not designed for rappel / descent), also 2 intermediate bolts on each of the upper two pitches. Nevertheless the sections outside the cruxes on Pitch 3 are unprotected / very runout, with much of the unprotected climbing at difficulty sustained 4th class with perhaps some low-5th-class moves.

. . . All hardware is 304 Stainless Steel, installed in 2018. The bolts of the lower three belay anchors are 4 x 0.375 inch Powers five-piece sleeve bolts. The bolts for the upper belay anchor and the four intermediate points are 2.75 x 0.375 inch Fixe wedge bolts - (Not the best mechanism for sandstone, I now know -- so if someone thinks it's important to replace those wedge bolts before twenty years, feel free).

My feeling is that if you think you might actually take a leader fall on one of those intermediate wedge bolts, better to choose a different route. I installed them on Pitch 3 mainly for just in case one of the rock holds breaks. The one on Pitch 5 are intended mainly as directionals for a follower.


More About S Ridge + S Groove