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Aeolian Wall
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Aeolian Wall (Original Route) 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a A3

Type:  Trad, Aid, 9 pitches, 2000', Grade V
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a A3 [details]
FA: Joe Herbst, Larry Hamilton 1975
Page Views: 2,305
Submitted By: Karsten Duncan on May 24, 2010

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RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone in Red Rocks is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>


A historic and bold route for its time, the Aeolian Wall remains a seldom climbed testpiece of Red Rock climbing. Despite being one of the parks oldest routes it has seen only a handful of ascents over the 35 years since it was established. One can only imagine what Hamilton and Herbst must have been thinking going up this foreboding wall in a time before cams & high angle rescues.

The adventure aficionado will enjoy a route much unchanged from those times. A few bold & spectacular aid pitches on mostly solid rock eventually give way to more moderate but varied climbing above. Rock quality varies significantly but is generally of decent quality. This odyssey through the bowels of lady Wilson is an experience few undertake but rewards those who endure with an unforgettable experience that no pullout climb can provide.

Just up the gulley from the Resolution Arete the approach requires climbing up a mossy crack on the left-hand side of a water-streaked slab. Climb this crack to a small shrub and then move left on easier terrain to reach the large ledge system below the route. Continue back right up ramps to the base of the unmistakable vertical wall with the large left facing corner.

Pitch 1 5.9 120ft
Climb flakes in the corner past some loose rock near the corner to a new looking 2 bolt anchor. (Old threaded slings nearby)

Pitch 2 5.9 A2 150ft
From the anchor, move right to the chimney climbing past a star-drive bolt. Free climb and aid the chimney and taking a nice crack leading onto the right face. Belay at a stance with hand sized gear about 20ft below a bolt above.

Pitch 3 5.9 A3 190ft
Continue up the corner past a bolt into a knifeblade seam. At the roof move right on 4 original bolts and then continue out the roof on knifeblades (A3 exciting and airy). Pull the lip, clip another ancient bolt and continue up 5.9/A1 cracks to a claustrophobic chimney with fixed bong in back.

Pitch 4 - 5.8 - 110ft
Continue out the chimney and up cracks to the Crotch ledge. Good bivy for 3+.

Pitch 5 - 5.8 - 195ft
Take a chimney that moves up & angles left into a slab. Climb the slab past a bolt to a cool cave-like ledge. Good bivy for 4+.

Pitch 6-7 - 5.8 - 220-260ft
Take yet another nice chimney above with sparse protection to a ledge.

Pitch 7 - 5.8 - 190ft
From the ledge climb a small step through bushes and up a 4-6 inch crack. At a convenient point traverse right into the next gulley system over (Lots of options).

Pitch 8-9 - 5.9 - 100-250ft
Move up the gulley system through a series of ledges and chimneys to reach a saddle (near Resolution Arete). Belay from trees/bushes.

Pitch 10-13 - 3rd class
Turn right (west) and move up generally the left side of the rock towers near the top to gain the summit ridge.

Take Oak or First Creek descents


Approach is same as resolution arete except continue up the gulley. A mossy 5.9 crack must be surmounted to achieve the large ledge system leading to the base of the route.


A standard rack of doubles to #3 camalot, 1 x #4, 1 x #5,
Nuts - 1 set,
3 lost arrows,
1-2 angles,
6-9 knifeblades,
optional - 1 hook, Offset cams/nuts

Comments on Aeolian Wall (Original Route) Add Comment
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By Karsten Duncan
From: Sacramento, CA
May 24, 2010

Several bolted anchors appear to have been added and removed from belays. Currently all hardware appears to be original except for a 2 bolt anchor atop the first pitch.
By bernard wolfe
From: birmingham, al
May 24, 2010

do you mean to say that old fixed hardware was replaced by new, and then the new was removed....leaving only the old remaining?
By Pete Bresciani
May 25, 2010

Back in the 90's, Dan McQuade made an attempt to free this route, hence the new anchors atop pitch one.
By Andrew Gomoll
From: Las Vegas, NV
May 26, 2010

This was another great day of adventure climbing out in the canyons. The poor/ old protection issues at the belays don't really matter because you can pretty much pitch out the route however you want with natural gear. also, i would maybe add a few of the short fat lost arrows (the ones that look like fat knifeblades). Most of the upper portion of the route is in chimneys so you may want to avoid hauling. If you like varied challenging climbing you should check this thing out. have fun!
By phil broscovak
Jun 29, 2010

After all these years I would still so love to pull this historic and, for me inspirational, classic test piece. Cheers and kudos to Larry and Joe. Thanx for posting this route up Karsten.
By M. Shannon
May 10, 2013

Does anyone know if this route goes clean? Or is the knifeblade pitch smaller than the tiniest cams on the market these days?
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
May 10, 2013

Given that it rarely gets done- I think Andrew and Karsten's ascent was the most recent, I doubt that it goes clean at this point.
By Karsten Duncan
From: Sacramento, CA
May 13, 2013

A couple of years ago when we did it Paul Van Betten said he thought we were maybe the 6th ascent (I think he had been on 3 prior ascents himself).

You might be able to get the A2 pitch clean but the A3 would be very difficult. I don't know of any cams that fit knifeblade cracks. You clip several old 1/4 inch bolts and then place quite a few knifeblades in the roof. I remember several being a little loose and one shifted on me while I was on it. Yikes! The next ascent party may have to stack blades for some placements but the scars are far from taking even the most micro cams.

The rock is fairly soft but given that this route gets done about once every 6 years it will take awhile before it is beat out enough to accept cams. Still, a really cool route with a lot of history.

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