Type: Trad, 750 ft (227 m)
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,721 total · 27/month
Shared By: kenr on Jun 8, 2017
Admins: Justin Johnsen, Larry DeAngelo, Aaron Mc

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


The main (east) south ridge of Calico Peak rises up above the Stone Wall and Sweet Pain sport crags. And its stone climbs sweet - [ see GPS track on Map ].

Lots of interesting climbing in a variety of situations (much on ridges).
. . . Also a significant percentage of the approach and descent offers additional interesting scrambling situations.
. . . Variations offer choices of different rock situations or short sequences of easier or harder moves.

The 5.6 and 5.5 moves can be avoided (at least by the followers), keeping the overall difficulty more like 5.4.

Three main climbing sections with some walking in between. Often the last section to the true east summit is skipped, because the lower south ViewCap is so nice. Or those feeling tired can stop after the first main section and still have gotten lots of interesting climbing even without reaching the ViewCap.

context: This route (with alternate start down from Middle Pass) 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 Stairmaster Pass, next traverse Red Book Point summit and ridges from S to N to reach Frostie Shack Pass, then S Ridge + S Groove to Calico Peak, and descend SE Gully and back to 2PO parking.

Climbing only the Lower + Middle parts with finish to the south ViewCap makes a varied exciting shorter outing.

There are three South ridges for Calico Peak [see Photo]. The most prominent from the Red Rock Scenic Loop road is the left (W) one [see the route SW Ridge], which goes up directly to the south ViewCap (N36.1585 W115.4380) - (which is not the highest summit) - and it requires more difficult climbing to get onto it near its bottom. The right (E) one aims more at the two highest summits of Calico Peak, but has some ups and downs along the way. There is also a ridge in between these two with some rather interesting climbing / scrambling [see the route Red Slippers].
This route is for the right one. Since it is easiest to get onto near its bottom, has the most interesting climbing, and aims most directly at the highest summit, makes sense to think of it as the "main" S ridge of Calico Peak.

: 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).

Three quickdraws and a single 40-meter rope sufficient for leading (thoughj 40-meter is not sufficient for rappelling, which is not recommended anyway). Might want to bring a "trad draw" with extendable runner/sling for the second intermediate bolt on the Pitch 7 of the Lower part. Perhaps a long sling for the natural anchors at the tops of pitch 1 and pitch 2.

Hiking poles (collapsable) useful for approach and descent.

Effort: to the south ViewCap +935 ft uphill over 0.6 mile. To Calico Peak summit +1080 ft uphill over 0.8 mile. Additional +130 ft uphill on return to Parking.

warning: Many loose rocks and weak breakable hand- and foot-holds on and around this route - (even when the rock is 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.


- - > GPS track for approach+route: View + download Map on this page CampToCamp

From the "Second Pull-Out" parking (N36.1518 W115.4374) on the Red Rock Scenic Loop road, hike about 300 ft N on trail descending, at junction sharp Right down 130 ft E into wash. Next about 500 ft N without obvious trail, getting away from left (W) side of wash, then in the midst of an uphill around the left side of a hill, at (N36.1549 W115.4371) turn sharp Right (E) and traverse 120 ft around right side of hill, then N along the wash about 325 feet to reach the white chalk marks of the Sweet Pain wall).
. . . (or in very dry conditions instead of flirting with that hill, can just go 300 ft close along left side of wash, then NNE 250ft downward into center of wash (N36.1549 W115.4365).
. . . More interesting scrambling to instead take the next (narrower) gully to the West and get N past the Stone Wall (N36.1560 W115.4370).

Next into a long uphill with some scrambling sections and sometimes vegetation to avoid. About a hundred feet above the Meetup Wall, around (N36.1572 W115.4369), leave the main gully and go up left (NNW) into another gully
- - > See this Photo
with a dramatic pillar on its left, a ridge rising on its left, and a big roof high above. Up this about 75 ft to meet continuous rock around (N36.1574 W115.4370).
. . . Or instead early get up on the ridge between the two gullies (see main route and Variation 1.1 below).
. . . . [ shown on this Photo | and this Photo ]

Effort: +475 ft uphill over 0.45 mile (+143 m uphill over 0.7 km).

Start from Frostie Shack Pass:
From the Frostie Shack Pass (N36.1581 W115.4368) which is low point between Red Book Point and Calico Peak, hike/scramble down about 100-150 ft and see a gully up to right with a prickly-pear in middle - - > See this Photo.
Scramble up mini-ridge forming the left side of that gully. Next flat about 30 ft over to a platform toward the bottom of the S ridge -- to rejoin main route at top of pitch 2 (N36.1576 W115.4371). This platform on right (E) side of ridge has a vertical rock hole plus one bolt for an anchor.

From Calico Basin parking
Frostie Shack 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).


East South Ridge - (lower part):
(pitch -2) = Red Slippers pitch 4.

(pitch -1) = Red Slippers pitch 5.
(Next traverse horizontal right (E) to reach . . .

pitch 1 (about 80 ft) : Find the bottom of the ridge (around GPS lat long N36.1574 W115.4370) - - > See this Photo. Start up its left side to a bolt. See obvious overhang above, and traverse Right under that on sloping rock and under second bolt to reach the steeper narrow arete on the right side of the ridge.
. . . (Leader ought not to omit to clip those two bolts just because leader does not need their protection . . . they are mainly to protect the follower from swinging too much sideways right if they fall on the start or early on the traverse).
Up the arete with one or two moves 5.6+ (very exposed) near the third bolt. Then straightforward up to a 4-ft-high alcove with two big holes in its middle. Can construct an anchor by threading the climbing rope (or a long sling) through both holes (which interconnect behind). - - > see this Photo.

. . . Variation 1.1 (shorter less interesting) -- Start up the left side of the bottom of the ridge between the two big gullies (as for the main route). Once up on the left side of the ridge, instead of traversing right under obvious overhang, go up over the left end of the overhang (with a move or two of  5.6+ unprotected) then straightforward up to ridge crest above to soon rejoin the main route.

. . . Variation 1.2 (easier) -- Start up below left (W) side of ridge for about 75 ft to meet continuous rock around (N36.1574 W115.4370) - - > See this Photo.
Continue up sub-ridge and/or gully (3rd / 4th class) to where the gully turns right and gets steeper and less positive.
- - > See this Photo
Follow that gully up right (low 5th class) to reach platform with a vertical rock hole for an anchor.

. . . Variation 1.3 -- Get onto continuous rock below along left side of ridge (as for Variation 1.2), but soon climb up onto side of ridge at a zone of smaller but positive holds (before reaching some obvious bigger holds) up to the crest of the ridge to rejoin the main route. Sustained 5.6+ unprotected.

. . . Variation 1.4 Left Gully (interesting) -- After going up below along left side of ridge (as for Variation 1.2), instead stop at the base of the steeper right gully and find the least uncomfortable place to re-group. Next pitch start up little sub-gully in left side of main gully into near-vertical fins and over a knob - [photo]. Then diagonal up left to base of gully which forks - [photo]. Next up that gully with stemming moves and take right fork toward vegetation. Where the right-fork gully gets deep and choked with bushes, exit right and finish up face to platform with two-bolt anchor (rejoin the main at top of pitch 3).

pitch 2 (around 120 ft): Up the crest of the ridge (3rd class) to a platform under steep wall with vertical rock hole and single bolt for anchor.- - > See this Photo.
. . . This platform can also be reached by descending from Frostie Shack Pass (see under Location).

pitch 3 (around 100 ft): Start up right side of ridge (near the vertical rock hole), up and left about 12 ft on positive handholds (5.3) to reach the ridge and cross over to its left side (4th class). Next roughly straight up to platform with two-bolt anchor.
. . . (Variation -- For some interesting gully moves, after crossing crest of ridge traverse farther Left to join the Left Gully variation).

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

pitch 5 (90 ft): Climb up around left side of overhang (5.5)
. . . (Variation 5.1: Easier if work out far left on ramp, then back right).
Some additional thoughtful 5th class moves to reach two-bolt anchor on flat platform at top (N36.1581 W115.4372) - with a chasm behind the platform. (2 intermediate bolts on this pitch).

pitch 6 (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" come down to join them.

pitch 7 (70 ft): Starting from inside the narrow chasm, traverse up Left to meet another ridge (2 intermediate bolts). Up that to a broad ledge with two-bolt anchor before the top.
. . . (Leader ought not to omit to clip the intermediate bolts just because leader does 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).

Next walk up above the anchor to flat platform at top of ridge (N36.1584 W115.4375).

other options after lower part:
If want the quickest way to the upper part of "High Groove" climbing toward the true (east) summit of Calico Peak, or quickest way to the descent route, head NNW into obvious wide gully on right - [ See on photo1 | photo2 ] - about 250 ft (75 meters): At first on ledge staying high on Left slope, then into slot on floor of the gully. The quickest descent is to turn sharp right (SouthEast) and do down the SSE Gully route to return to the Middle Pass. Other descent (less tricky?) continue gentle up NNW to around (N36.1591 W115.4380) turn right and go NE about 100 ft (30m) across an easy wide gully (the SouthEast gully route). Or continue NorthEast across to the "High Groove" climbing finish.

ViewCap of Calico Peak - (middle part):
To reach a wonderful viewpoint, with some interesting climbing sections along the way . . .

pitch 8: Instead of the wide gully to the right, take the narrower gully WNW - > [ See photo1 | See photo2 ].
Along the way can climb any of three short buttresses along right side of gully: each finishing to a gentle ridge crest. The second is most recommended and has an anchor at its top for belaying followers up it.
(1) smallest - [photo]: Start full on L side, then spiral around front (around 5.8).
(2) tallest - [photo]: Start right side of front face, finish left side of front face (5.6+ 23 ft).
. . . No intermediate bolts for leading, but a two-bolt anchor above top.
(3) intimidating - [photo]: Start overhanging toward right, then step left, finish straight over left center (around 5.8).

pitch 9: After the second or third small buttress continue up NNW in the gully to their left.

. . . Variation 9.1 steep direct (much harder, with varied interesting thoughtful moves) -- Just below the second short buttress, cross over to the left side of the gully to the  base of an obvious crack in left wall of gully (which is about 20 ft left of the other obvious crack). Roughly straight up just right of the crack to the top.
(5.8+ 60 ft, 3 bolts to two-bolt anchor) - (FA Ken Roberts + Tom Haas) - [ see photo1 ].

Up the gully just past the third (intimidating) small buttress, see a crack (with a steep slopy lower section) in the left wall, and about twenty feet after that a ramp rising diagonal left to near the top of that crack.
- > [ see Photo ] < -
Turn sharp left onto that ramp and left up that to top of short wall (5.3 30 ft, 2 bolts to two-bolt anchor).

Next find an easy way West up to wide top platform of the ViewCap of Calico Peak.

Many parties will be happy to stop their climb here on the ViewCap and skip the upper part. Descend to N then E over a couple of small ridges to reach the SouthEast Gully descent route.
Optional to cross that to the E for more climbing . . .

South High Groove - (upper part):
Getting to the east of the two highest summits of Calico Peak with some climbing sequences along the way . . .

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 Frostie Shack Pass and then to 2nd Pull-Out parking (or SE to Calico Basin parking).
. . . Note that the SE gully is the second gully NorthEast from the Viewcap. Its top is around (N36.1592 W115.4376). Not to be confused with the first (more difficult) SSE gully.

. . . (Lots of thoughtful scrambling on descent, so unless everyone in your party is an experienced confident down-scrambler, allow two hours for getting back to Parking).

. . . (Attempting to rappel the lower part East South Ridge will get you into difficult pulling of the rope, if not fully stuck ropes. The anchors on that part are designed for belay only, not for rappel).


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 (East South Ridge) now has 5 two-bolt belay anchors (not designed for rappel / descent), also 2 intermediate bolts on each of pitch 5 and pitch 7. Nevertheless the sections outside the cruxes on Pitch 1 and Pitch 5 are unprotected / very runout, with much of the unprotected climbing at difficulty sustained 4th class with perhaps some low-5th-class moves.

Hardware on pitches 2 through 7 was installed by Dan Young and Ken Roberts.

. . . All hardware is 304 Stainless Steel.
. . . The bolts of the lower P3 + P4 + P5 belay anchors are 4 x 0.375 inch Powers five-piece sleeve bolts. The bolts for the P7 belay anchor and the four intermediate points on P5 + P7 are 2.75 x 0.375 inch Fixe wedge bolts - (Not the best mechanism for sandstone -- so if someone thinks it's important to replace those wedge bolts before twenty years, feel free). Installed 2018.
. . . The single bolt in the top anchor for P2 is Powers 5-piece sleeve bolt 5.5 inch x  0.5 inch. The three intermediate bolts on P1 are Powers 5-piece sleeve bolts 3.5 inch x 0.5 inch. Installed 2019.

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. We installed them on Pitch 5 mainly for just in case one of the rock holds breaks. The ones on Pitch 7 are intended mainly as directionals for a follower.

The middle part (Calico Viewpoint) has 3 two-bolt belay anchors, 2 intermediate lead bolts on the main route, and 3 intermediate lead bolts on the "direct steep" variation. All the bolts are 304 Stainless Powers 5-piece sleeve bolts, 0.5 inch diameter, all installed 2019. Some are 6 inch long, the rest are 4 inch long. Each anchor includes at least one 6-inch long bolt. All 3 intermediate lead bolts on the "direct steep" variation are 6-inch. Likely at least one of the intermediate lead bolts on the main route is 6-inch.