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YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a PG13

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 520'
Original:  YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a PG13 [details]
FA: Confidential.
Page Views: 10,384
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Nov 15, 2007

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Josh is at the end of the powerful 5.11c section o...

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


Although much of Red Rocks climbing is indistinguishable and unmemorable, every once in awhile I chance upon a gem of unprecedented quality. Drifting is one such route, and given that it is relatively new, it proves that Red Rocks still has much untapped potential. The route is largely up perfect rock, has a lot of variety, and a few outrageous sections. Bolted right where it needs to be, this route has demanding climbing both mentally and physically, and is thoroughly enjoyable.

Begin on the large, open face just right of the main Jet Stream Wall at a pine tree growing near the base of the route. Scramble up a right-leaning ramp past an obvious bush to a bolted belay atop a flake and below a small roof.

P1: Pull the roof to a stance, and perform a difficult, inobvious sequence up incredible features to a stance below a bulge. Climb out right under this to a bolted anchor. 8 bolts, 80', 5.11c.

P2: Step left off the anchor to a tips lieback and punch it up to a bolt (small RP protects run to the first bolt). Three more bolts leads to a stance and a traverse left to gain a hidden seam. Ascend the seam 10' to bomber gear (this whole bit is run out). Continue up the seam with good gear to an overlap, then traverse left on fragile holds to a bolt. A pair of small wires protect this 25' stretch of climbing. A couple thin moves left past the bolt to reach an easy flake with poor gear that leads to a bolted anchor on the ledge. Bring the full rack, runner things well. 150', 5.11c.

P3: Climb easy rock up off the belay to a stance on a ledge at the base of a leaning, left-facing corner. Clip a bolt, step up off the ledge and climb the arete (makes up the right side of the corner) on thin, difficult holds past a few more bolts. At the top of the corner, step left and follow a hand crack up to a belay in a loose alcove below the huge roofs. 100', 5.11b.

P4: Step around right and tip toe up the wedged flakes to a steep, left-leaning, left-facing corner. Use long draws on the gear in this, then step wildly out of the corner to the right and clip a bolt. Pull the roof above on a jug and edge up the steep face to a reasonably comfortable semi-hanging belay. Exposed and crazy! 100', 5.11a.

P5: Step left off the belay and climb the flawless varnished face past eight bolts to a bolted anchor. 100', 5.11c.

The route can be rapped with a single 70m rope, but be very careful!

Rap 1: No big deal.

Rap 2: Down over the roof and into the alcove. This one is very close and you have to keep swinging in order to prevent getting stranded in space. Also, this rap requires a difficult pendulum to reach the anchors. Use an autoblock for this rap and tie knots in the ends! Also, bring quicklinks for this anchor as it is the only one without rings and twists the ropes annoyingly (really, a separate rap station directly under the rope line would be nice here).

Rap 3: No big deal.

Rap 4: Straight down the the face to a dedicated rap station that is invisible from above. Very close; consider tying knots.

Rap 5: No big deal down to terra firma.


A dozen draws and slings, a single set of cams from purple TCU to #3 Camalot. Wires, RP's. A 70 meter rope.

Photos of Drifting Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Josh is setting up for the crux on P1.  On a cold ...
Josh is setting up for the crux on P1. On a cold ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Adrift on the long second pitch
Adrift on the long second pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4.
Pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Near the top of the tips layback on P2
Near the top of the tips layback on P2
Rock Climbing Photo: The Incredible second pitch of Drifting
The Incredible second pitch of Drifting

Comments on Drifting Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 27, 2016
By Isaac T.
From: Yokosuka, Japan
Feb 13, 2009

Interesting that the FA is confidential... Is there chipping, gluing, or erroneous bolts concerned?
By Bob Rotert
Mar 22, 2009

This route is amazing!! Congratulations to the FA party for seeing this line and establishing this gem. Excellent climbing on every pitch and what a line.. First & second pitch ratings seemed right on. After that the upper pitches, in my opinion, felt a bit softer than the grades given in the above description. Regardless of ratings the climbing was brilliant!!

For some advice on logistics. If you want to travel a little lighter you could easily do without the #3 Camalot. We simo rapped the route & they went very smooth with no issues. Bring a leaver biner for the second rappel from the top. After rapping for 50 ft or so swing over and place it on one of the bolts above the roof, clip your rope thru, before you drop over the roof. This makes it easy to hit that rap anchor without any dubious pendulums below the roof.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Sep 11, 2009

Where is the PG-13 portion of the climb?

edit: thanks Jeff
By Jeff G.
From: Fort Collins
Sep 23, 2009
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

I think pitch two has a few sections that could be called PG-13. Runouts on 5.9 type terrain. All the harder climbing is well protected on all the pitches.
By Rob Fielding
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 4, 2012

1st pitch - 8 bolts, No gear needed.

2nd pitch- Sustained and awesome. Bring the rack. Don't forget the RP's, thought that it was pretty heads up.

3rd pitch - amazing. Bolts/gear

4th pitch - crux is in the beginning, liebacking up a left slanting crack, then it's 5.8/9 climbing w/ spaced bolts on plates/petinas. Bolts/gear.

5th pitch - slab/petina climbing, bring a single 2 or 3" for protection in a horizontal after the 8th bolt.

Like others have said, you could probably go w/out the number 3", but definately bring the rp's for the 2nd pitch.
By Gargano
From: Oakland, CA
Mar 24, 2013

Approach: We approached via the Rose Tower descent gully recommended in Handren. We walked out past Challenger Wall and out the south fork of Pine Creek. I'd recommend approaching via the Pine Creek/Challenger Wall option. It keeps you on flat terrain longer and then rolls up some easy slabs to the base of Jet Stream.

Gear: Didn't find the 3" piece to be crucial. There's smaller protection available throughout the few sections that would take the bigger piece.

Rappel: The first down from the top pitch can drop a quickdraw into the last bolt above the roof and swing into the belay pretty casually. The second can clean it and get pulled into the station.
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Apr 3, 2013

WOW! This route should be on top of your to do list!!

Hard to tell if the first or second pitch is harder. Pitch 1 is a pretty rough warm-up. Really tricky sequences and stunning climbing.

Gear: We brought a single purple, green, and red C3. Plus a green alien, 2x yellow alien and a single grey alien. We also brought singles of #.75 - #2 camalot. Next time I would leave the #1 since I never placed it (no need at all for a #3). The #2 was pretty key on P4 and P5. I would also bring the red and purple C3s for the last pitch.

No gear at all on P1 as noted. I missed the first small wire on the P2 Traverse. This section is 5.10 climbing on good edges with 20+ foot fall potential. This was the most runout section of the route. I was able to get gear to supplement the bolts on the other pitches. A bolt protects the final 5.11 moves on P2.

Rappeling: Not sure if the anchor got moved but it was easy to rap from P4 to P3. I did clip a draw but my partner made it to me without assistance. We also cut the tat off this anchor and added rap rings courtesy of the ASCA.

The P5 anchor is confusing and could use help. There is one bolt with a rap ring and a 3/8 hole next to it. Not sure what happend to the other bolt... There is a third bolt up high that currently has a double length sling and biner on it. Someone should fill the empty hole with a fixe double ring hanger. The hole seems deep enough, but you might want to bring a drill in case you need to deepen, or enlarge the hole to 1/2 inch.

Approach:. I took us 90 mins via Olive Oil. I think next time it could be shorter since we were slow descending from the ridge to the base of the route. We built a few cairns to help with route finding. Going up the Olive Oil descent is pretty strenuous.

Full TR!
By drewford
From: Wasatch Back, UT
May 2, 2013
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13

Amazing and engaging route. It has to be in my Red Rocks all-time top five.

Two approach notes: if you use the Adventure Punks/Challenger approach, do not get pulled up into the Challenger alcove: stay low and left (look for cairns). Otherwise you have to gain and lose elevation for no reason.

We did Drifting at the end of April. If it's warm, there's no need to rush - the base of the route does not go into shade until 10:45 a.m.
By ACassebeer
From: Mojave, CA
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

This route is a harder version of Fiddler on the Roof. The hardest part is that the first move off the ground is 5.11 and it doesn't let up until after the crux on Pitch 1, so no warm-up. There is no move harder than 5.11c on the route. IMO the crux pitch of Levitation 29 is harder than any pitch on this. Every hard move has good protection close by, although it is not as well bolted as a Urioste route. It is a great climb and should not be missed.
By Mason Caiby
Mar 30, 2014

Wow! so good!
bring gear on the final pitch, it looks sporty but will be sporty without a piece or two (i only took draws, went through the middle, prolly could have exited left)
maybe not pg13, felt pretty safe to me
By Darren in Vegas
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jun 2, 2014

Climbed this June 1, 2014. Wall went into the shade around 12:00 noon, temps in town were close to 100 (around 90 for Red Rock). Totally comfortable in shorts and t-shirt on the wall.

I have been to this wall by the Olive Oil descent gully and by coming up from the Challenger wall, I would have to agree with Gargano that the Challenger approach is the better choice, it is not as steep and not as loose. To top it all off it has less elevation gain, is more scenic, and only takes about 10 minutes longer than the Olive Oil approach.
By Jeffrey Lougee
Nov 17, 2014

This is really an incredible route. I've done many of the classics up through this grade at Red Rocks, and this (IMO) is by far the best. Whoever put the route up did a tremendous job.

For whatever it's worth, my impression of the pitches was: Pitch 1 - 5.11c, Pitch 2 - 5.11a/b (with some PG climbing on easier terrain as others have noted), Pitch 3 - 5.11a/b, Pitch 4 - 5.10d, Pitch 5 - 5.11b. I thought the hardest part was the boulder problem past 2nd/3rd bolt on pitch 1.

Seems like a standard rack to 2" with RPs and maybe a few extra small cams is plenty. Pitch 2 is long and requires a lot of shoulder length runners. We placed gear on every pitch except for pitch 1.

We took a tag line and hauled a small pack. With 2 60m ropes it was a fairly quick rap back to the ground (3 raps), and we were able to skip the station under the roof (avoiding all the shenanigans of swinging in).

Also, we used the Challenger Wall approach, which seemed pretty straightforward. Actually, it's a really nice walk up the canyon and along the ledges.

Have fun up there! Wish I climbed strong enough to try the spectacular looking lines to the left.
By FCJohn
From: Fort Collins, CO
Mar 20, 2015
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

I’m comfortable going on record saying that this might be my favorite route I’ve ever done at Red Rock or any other climbing area. Every pitch individually is classic and when stacked together in succession make this a mega classic. I’m not sure that it warrants a Serious-R Rating, but I could see how it might get a PG-13 rating, it had your attention, but never felt unsafe. There are definitely some "sporty" runs over 5.10-5.11 terrain. Let’s just say that this isn’t a route that you’re able to work bolt to bolt. It doesn’t look like it gets climbed too frequently, so don’t expect an overabundance of chalk marking the way for the leader. Sometimes you need to climb up, down, or to the side before making moves granting upward progress. Unlike much of Red Rock, with an over abundance of chaled holds, the options are few and far between and there are very specific, thoughful and sometimes inobvious sequences that make this a proud onsite.

If you are swinging leads, pitches 1,3,5 were more sporty feeling and pitches 2 & 4 were more traddy feeling.

A few notes on the approach. We came up the olive oyl gully and when you get the saddle at the top of this gully, don’t descend. In fact, make a V0 boulder problem up to the white ridge to the south (left). Continue along these very low angle, white slabs towards the rounded small buldge/tower to the west. When you almost reach the tower, skirt the boulder blocking your way down and to the left. If you see the blue safety line to protect the exposed move, then you are going the right way. We skirted the tower on the right, north side and it was a little exposed.

Based on some of the other comments here, we had the rack pretty well dialed in
12 dog bone draws and 8 over the shoulder slings.
Single rack in the .3-#2 sizes, but bring two pieces in the blue and yellow master cam size.

Wayne Crill’s accident has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, so out of prudence we brought some quick draws with lockers to protect the any sections where the a piece failure would lead to bad consequences.

Warning Pitch Beta
P1: one move Boulder problem crux, easier for taller people. No gear needed. Felt very short. Not a great belay.

P2 the tips layback is better than it looks from the belay and gets better the higher you go up. The feet on the left are better than they look. Just punch it and go, but save some mojo for the traverse. Its out of this world awesome.

P3 easiest pitch of the route. Committing to the arête was the crux, but this pitch gives you a chance to chill out a bit at a comfortable belay

P4 A wild pitch that pulls through an improbable roof to awesome varnished climbing.

P5 techy vertical slab/ face climbing. The climbing pulled on slopely crimps and nipple pinches and is characterized by inobvious sequences. The last glory run to the chains is guarded by a non-trivial Boulder problem really far above your protection.

The route was easily rapped with a 60 m and a tag line.

Delicate sound of thunder in Black Velvet is the perfect low commitment barometer to test your meddle to see if you are ready for drifting. If you are solid at the grade, go do this route!
By Kevin Kent
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Feb 21, 2016

On P2 when you traverse up and left to the lone bolt, past the 2 small nut placements, I wish I would have remembered (or read?) to traverse straight left past this bolt. Do not go up the scary looking flakes straight up. I was lured this way because you can see the anchor high and left but there is also a bolt 30' straight above you. Don't try to get to that bolt, not sure what it's for.

Oh and this route doesn't see any sun in late February. We couldn't feel our fingers or toes most of the way despite a high of 75 in Vegas, no wind, and an 11 am start.
By Will Wright
From: Phoenix
Apr 10, 2016
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

100% worth the hype, I just wish it were a little longer! Every pitch would be a classic on its own. The roof on P4 is unforgettable and some of the best rock I have ever climbed on. The approach, while scenic, was a total slog! I was able to cut about 20 minutes off the Challenger descent by continuing straight down crabwalking on a slabby ramp, eventually downclimbing an easy dirty chimney to emerge into some bushes 20 feet from the trail.

By the way, I did think that the cruxes for both P1 and P2 were considerably more difficult than anything on Lev29
By Jon Clark
From: Philadelphia, PA
Apr 20, 2016

A great route on par with Red Rocks classics like Cloud Tower, Rainbow Wall Original Route, and Epinephrine. Pitches 1,2, and 5 are real standouts.
By david s wilson
Apr 27, 2016

We just did this route a few days ago. What an amazing route. My favorite face route thus far in red Rocks

Our take:

Approach: We did the challenger approach - it has a beautiful creek and wash section with shade and Drifting is only 15 minutes beyond Challenger. We hugged the cliff all the way having to descend a bit after Challenger and didn't see or missed the cutoff mentioned up thread. This was not to bad - just a bit of bush tunneling. 1.25 hr approx.

Sun: went off the face at 10:30 as noted in thread above

P1 - 11c seemed right - good gear, all bolts, reachy
P2 - 11c as well. This seemed a little sporty but only on the easy ground. If you bring an RP for the start it needs to be in the small size range. technical crux of route for us was the top of the corner 20 feet from belay.
P3 - This seemed 11c as well to us, but we both stayed all the way on the face and came away wondering if there were holds around the arete that we missed
P4 - 11a. What a wild pitch. Not hard for the grade, but guaranteed to be exciting.
P5 - We thought this was more like 11b. A red/yellow cam approx 3 feet below your feet protects the last few hard slab moves.

Rappel: using two 60m ropes we were down in 3 raps. First to top of P4, second to top of P2 going by the roof area, third to ground. This was really easy and is highly recommended

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