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Black Widow Hollow 

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

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 400'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Joe Herbst, Mark Moore, Nov 1975
Page Views: 5,061
Submitted By: Larry DeAngelo on Jan 1, 2005

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (46)
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BETA PHOTO: Routes on east face of Mescalito.

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


This is the large dihedral on the left side of the EAst Face of Mescalito. It is to the left of Cookie Monster.

pitch 1: go up an easy chimney and belay at a small tree on the right side.

pitch 2: continue up the crack. Sustained climbing up squeeze chimneys and cracks goes past several cruxes. Ultimately a smooth chimney leads to a huge ledge on the crest of the ridge.

pitch 3: Turn right and climb a pleasant (and comparatively relaxed) crack on the crest of the ridge. From the large belay ledge at its top, scramble down and west (class 3) to rappel anchors on Cat in the Hat.


Surprisingly, not much need for big gear; in fact most big gear will not be big enough. Fortunately there are options for a variety of gear from small to hand or fist size. Bring a bunch of this stuff.

Photos of Black Widow Hollow Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mescalito > Black Widow Hollow
Mescalito > Black Widow Hollow
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt Jensen is seen approaching upper belay statio...
Matt Jensen is seen approaching upper belay statio...
Rock Climbing Photo: We found a nice belay shelf atop of the last chimn...
We found a nice belay shelf atop of the last chimn...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mo staring up from our second belay. I broke up P2...
BETA PHOTO: Mo staring up from our second belay. I broke up P2...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from mid-pitch3
BETA PHOTO: View from mid-pitch3
Rock Climbing Photo: the advantage of breaking up P2, seeing your partn...
the advantage of breaking up P2, seeing your partn...
Rock Climbing Photo: and the helmet comes off
and the helmet comes off
Rock Climbing Photo: where I had ~1.5" of clearance between my nos...
where I had ~1.5" of clearance between my nos...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down P2 before it gets super grovely
looking down P2 before it gets super grovely
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up BWH from the base.
Looking up BWH from the base.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mescalito, SE face
BETA PHOTO: Mescalito, SE face
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of the interesting section on Black Wido...
The start of the interesting section on Black Wido...

Comments on Black Widow Hollow Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 14, 2016
By Aaron S
Dec 10, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A very fun route. The second pitch is sustained and suprisingly varied for a squeeze chimney. Bring a decent selection of small gear.
By Jason C.
From: Las Vegas
Mar 26, 2007

we did this route this weekend, have to disagree with what was said about not needing any large gear!! we had a No. 5 & 6 cam as well as a green and yellow big bro... placed all of these pieces on the second (crux) pitch... was glad that we had them with us too!!!

I though it was a great route, exciting... a bit scary & highly phsyical! all in all... it's why you climb!
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Nov 10, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13

we had a single rack to 4", and it was well protected- leave the monster gear on the deck.

Also- p2 as described is more like 215' or 220'- definitely bring a 70m or break p2 into 2.

I'd agree with 5.9 on this- joe herbst 5.9, that is!
By Andrew Carson
From: Wilson, WY
Mar 4, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

We belayed on a nice but smallish ledge at about 140' on the second pitch. You'd never reach the huge ledge on the crest anyway, even with a 70 m rope, (I think), and the rope drag would take alot of the fun out of it. We liked our standard rack to a #4, and had added stoppers at the suggestion Handren's guide. Maybe a few extra medium and large, not a whole additional set.
Don't forget your kneepads.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Mar 5, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13

i reached the ledge with a 70m and about 6' to spare- probably the longest pitch i've led! i had practically no drag (although the weight of the rope was noticeable)- but then, i didnt think the pitch was that well protected, i think i ended up using all but two or three stoppers and a couple of cams out of a single rack to 4" and a set and a half of stoppers, which isnt that much considering the length of the pitch.

a great route, though- i'd highly recommend it regardless of how you break it up!
By J. Thompson
From: denver, co
Mar 11, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Handren comments in his exellent guidebook book that the second pitch would make a great warm up for Epinephrine....I agree.

Also A standard rack to a #4 works great.

By Andrew Carson
From: Wilson, WY
Mar 13, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Clearly, I stand corrected on that ' 70 m rope' comment. Go for it, I guess. For whatever it's worth, I reached my belay on the second pitch with the #4 cam still on the rack. Saving it for the hard part, perhaps.
By Steve Blevins
From: Central Coast, CA
Apr 4, 2009

As stated, highly physical. I enjoyed immensely but would not do it again. Leading 2nd pitch, quality of many of the holds at critical points suspect. I found myself trying to distribute my pull between holds to lower chance of disaster. The crux chimney really suckers you off course. Harder and less protected than E. Steve
By Pete Bresciani
Oct 13, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Michelle and I did this route today. I should have read the description here instead of just the Handren guide. All I saw was "5.9" and "great warm up for Epinephrine". Epinephrine is the perfect size for tall climbers. Easy and secure. Somehow I didn't see the name "Joe Herbst" and "harder than Epinephrine!". Still a great day but for the tall person, these are VERY narrow squeeze chimneys! I think a better description would be "a good warm up for Unfinished Symphony". :-)

We also used the 70m and had no trouble making the big ledge on the ridge. The rock deteriorates a little on the last pitch (pro is still good) but you're so happy to be out of the chimneys you don't care. Cool moves and some cool hand jams on the last pitch almost made me forget about the squeeze chimneys. Very interesting route that has your attention the whole way.

Keywords: Squeeze Chimneys!
By Eugene Kwan
May 7, 2011

This route is hard. True in the grade at 5.9. The squeeze chimney is narrow enough that my helmet would get stuck if turned my head the wrong way. On the first half of the chimney pitches, there's a sling around a nasty looking chockstone. There's a few committing moves after that, but if you stay calm you'll be fine. The second half of the chimney pitches did not seem to be as hard.
By ZeHardcore
Oct 25, 2011

Climbed this last Spring and it was rad! Definately not for the faint of heart! Physically demanding, no bolted anchors (rarity at RR), and is great to climb on a windy day. 30-40+ mph and we didn't feel a thing.

A herbst 5.9 indeed.
By harihari
Nov 13, 2011

Super, esp P2. Rack-- singles of .3 to #4 camalot and long slings. The chimneys are hard 5.9
By rpc
Jan 30, 2012

after burlesque the day prior, there were no real squeeze chimney portions here IMHO (correction - Burlesque attempt as my petite 6'6" frame would not fit thru. the narrowest part of that chimney). great route this one!
By fossana
From: leeds, ut
Nov 25, 2012

Used red and yellow ball nuts several times. We broke up P2 into 2 pitches, belaying at a sloping ledge just before the lieback and above the main chimney section (better photo ops and rope management IMO).
By Nate Farr
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 10, 2013

Climbed it today and thought it pretty honest for 5.9. I never had to climb it like a bombay, as every time it tightened down you could climb face holds on the outside. We broke the second pitch into two pitches (I recommend this) and took a single rack to #3. If you're comfortable in chimneys at 5.9 you likely won't need anything bigger then #2. If chimneys are foreign you might want bigger gear.
By Sayfe
From: Scottsdale, az
Nov 3, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Second pitch is a classic. We broke it into two pitches- first part of pitch II is a classic chimney, sustained, but everything is there. Take big cams,

The second part of pitch II has an excellent combo of chimney, overhang, mantle, some face,... Excellent route.

With catherine conner

Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up from the first pitch...
Looking up from the first pitch...
By Rico Tan
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Sep 12, 2014

Climbing was great and the chimney was really tight squeeze and very physical, but I think the mantle moves and sometimes thin arete/face climbing coming out of the chimney were harder. Rock quality is not very good, handholds or footholds can break or crumble into sand sometimes. Too many loose rock and sand that you can dislodge if you are not super careful. Watch out for rodents if you have food in your pack at the base, my food bag was chewed through but luckily not my backpack.
By Likeasummerthursday
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Sep 28, 2014

The 5.7 p1 feels like a chill scramble looking back.

Pitch 2 is hard, physically strenuous and mentally taxing. I hear John above writing how long this pitch is. It's long and feels longer. I thought the mental crux was moving out of the chimney where it gets too narrow to squeeze at about 130' feet. The move is onto a four-inch ledge with a green alien at your feet and then back in.

A single set to #4 with two full sets of wires seemed right. I'd probably leave the #4 next time. Another vote for leave the big gear at home. It won't be big enough. Extra shoulder-length slings as plenty of the good gear is in the back of the chimney and the rope will be heavy enough as it is when you're swearing if you make it out you'll never climb a Joe Herbst 5.9 chimney again.

P3 is pretty. It's not over till you're at the top. Scramble (downclimb) down and west, about 30 feet down and 40 feet west, til you see a tree with a bunch of slings. This is the tree at the top of pitch 2 of Cat in the Hat.

I didn't think the rock, overall, was too bad. There is certainly some hollow and/or loose rock, but nothing particularly noteworthy.

Great route. Not to be missed.
By Jeremy Bauman
From: Lakewood, CO
Mar 26, 2015

Left a #3 after the slung chalkstone with a DMM biner on it. If you get up there, I'd appreciate it if you send me the cam! Keep the finer and I'll pay shipping.
By Derek Field
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 14, 2016
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

P1: Lots of options for getting up to the tree, all around the 5.7 grade.

P2: I found the crux pitch more demanding than all four of Epinephrine's chimney pitches put together. The main difficulty is getting over the slung chockstone, but be aware that there are 4 or 5 cruxes above that too. It never ends! The process for negotiating the upper half is as follows: squeeze up the chimney until forced to tiptoe out onto the exposed face on thin polished ledges, boulder up to the next ledge, and slip back into the safety of the chimney. Making it the entire 220 feet is totally reasonable for those solid at the grade (ie. don't plug too much gear, and extend everything as much as you dare). Rope drag will make the final roof feel significantly harder than it is.

P3: This pitch is a classic RR cruiser!! Steep face littered with trophy jugs and splitter cracks. I'd give it a 5.8 grade.

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