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Frigid Air Buttress
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Frigid Air Buttress 

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

Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 800', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: 1976, Larry Hamilton and Joe Herbst
Page Views: 19,862
Submitted By: John Peterson on Mar 20, 2004

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Shirley following pitch 9 of Frigid Air Buttress (...

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


This route is guarded by the fearsome words "offwidth", "6-inch nuts", and "big pro". I'm probably ruining some big secret by saying that it's not at all fearsome - just lots of fun with a short approach, good pro, and big ledges at every belay.

Approach via the Icebox Canyon trail. Cut over to the streambed at the confluence of the two forks of the canyon. This is a good place to leave your packs / shoes. Follow a faint path to an obvious flake just left of the toe of the buttress.

P1 (190', 5.7): Climb the right side of the flake to a bolted rap station at its top - this allows you to set a TR on the flake (about 5.5). Continue up a thin crack (5.7) and then step left to easier ground. Look for a tree up and left under a cracked wall and climb easily to a belay there.

P2 (160', 5.8): Climb up the cracked wall to another big ledge with lots of greenery. Walk right to a left facing blocky dihedral and climb it (5.8) to a big ledge (this is the notch behind a small pinnacle). Continue easily up and left to yet another huge ledge.

P3 (100', 5.5): climb an elegant chimney (5.5) until you can step left onto easy face leading to another big ledge.

P4 (120', 5.9): there are two cracks leading up from the ledge. Take the right hand crack (hand / finger). This is mostly 5.7 or so with an occasional harder move. There is a wide section with chockstones at the top of this. Continue to a good block and contemplate the 'offwidth' section. This has a couple of hard moves but can be protected easily with #3 camalots. Most of the offwidth can be avoided on the left wall. Belay at yet another large ledge about 20' beyond the offwidth.

P5: (100', 5.8): climb a short wide chimney until it roofs off then swing out left (the hand traverse). Continue up easier ground to a narrow, evil looking slot. Set pro and then climb down and out to the outside of the slot (just 5.5 or so) instead of putting yourself through the meatgrinder. Above, a big easy chimney leads left to a big pine tree.

P6: (140', 5.6): proceed up a fun inside corner behind the tree. This leads to easy ground beneath the final headwall. Climb easy huecos to a ledge beneath the obvious 5.9 crack.

P7: (60', 5.9): climb the varnished crack with good pro. Things ease up considerably about 25' up. Belay at a good ledge immediately atop the black crack.

P8: (130', 5.?): boulder up the wall just left of the belay or go further left to avoid this short wall and then make a run for the top on easy ground.

Descent: look for a big chockstone back and to the left from the top. Either rap 50' or downclimb the chimney beneath the chock to easier ground - the downclimb is a lot easier than it looks from above. Proceed along the ridge avoiding the temptation to drop off right to the upper part of the canyon - this is well cairned. If you roughly follow the edge of the buttress you'll find a pine tree with rap slings about 60' before the ridge hits the slot where the stream runs. Rap about 50' to a big ledge with an anchor. From here, a 190' rap takes you to a new bolted rap station. There is a ledge partway down this but we didn't see an anchor on it (but we didn't look too hard). From the bolts it's about 100' to a big ledge. There was an anchor on the left side of the ledge that takes you 100' to the streambed.

We took about 6 hours to do the route and 2 hours to descend. We were in the sun till around 10am.

While this route lacks the elegant line of something like Crimson or Dark Shadows, it has a lot of fun pitches separated by big ledges. It appears to get very little traffic even though it's very close to the road. Check it out!

There is an entire chapter about this route in Red Rock Odyssey


Double #2 & #3 Camalots, maybe a #3.5 if wide crack bothers you. Standard Vegas rack otherwise.

Photos of Frigid Air Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Updated version (2012) of the topo above.
BETA PHOTO: Updated version (2012) of the topo above.
Rock Climbing Photo: Why you brought the #4
Why you brought the #4
Rock Climbing Photo: Frigid Air Buttress
Frigid Air Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: The 5th pitch, showing lots of options.  Note the ...
The 5th pitch, showing lots of options. Note the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Placing my #4 before pulling the crux on pitch 5. ...
Placing my #4 before pulling the crux on pitch 5. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: I think this is just prior to entering the last sl...
I think this is just prior to entering the last sl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gary on the sharp end!
Gary on the sharp end!
Rock Climbing Photo: Frigid Air Buttress from the approach trail
BETA PHOTO: Frigid Air Buttress from the approach trail
Rock Climbing Photo: The elegant chimney and the offwidth crack above
BETA PHOTO: The elegant chimney and the offwidth crack above
Rock Climbing Photo: Final headwall on Frigid Air
Final headwall on Frigid Air
Rock Climbing Photo: The final pitch
BETA PHOTO: The final pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Brett cruxes on Frigid Air
Brett cruxes on Frigid Air
Rock Climbing Photo: S. Giffin stems up the wide section on pitch 5.  A...
S. Giffin stems up the wide section on pitch 5. A...
Rock Climbing Photo: At the bulge where the "evil slot chimney&quo...
BETA PHOTO: At the bulge where the "evil slot chimney&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: The final rappel through lots of trees, ending in ...
The final rappel through lots of trees, ending in ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of the Final Headwall pitch.
The start of the Final Headwall pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The easy chimney on Frigid Air Buttress
The easy chimney on Frigid Air Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: Eagle profile on Frigid Air Buttress
BETA PHOTO: Eagle profile on Frigid Air Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: Hand Traverse
Hand Traverse
Rock Climbing Photo: Frigid Air Splitter!!! Photo Jesse Ray!!
Frigid Air Splitter!!! Photo Jesse Ray!!
Rock Climbing Photo: The squeeze on pitch 5 goes... barely!
The squeeze on pitch 5 goes... barely!
Rock Climbing Photo: The first pitch.
The first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The end of the second pitch (done as two long pitc...
The end of the second pitch (done as two long pitc...
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of the 4th pitch, the "offwidth&quo...
The start of the 4th pitch, the "offwidth&quo...

Show All 29 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 29, 2017
By Idaho Bob
From: McCall, ID
3 days ago

CAUTION!!! On April 21, 2017 there was a fair sized rattlesnake sunning at the recess immediately to the right of the start of the first pitch flake.
By 10b4me
Apr 16, 2004

Thanks for the beta. Jeff and I climbed her yesterday. My thoughts- approach: keep to the canyon trail until you feel like you're about to walk past it. the longer you stay on the good trail, the easier the approach. in general, the approach is the easiest/shortest approach ive ever been on in RR. i dont understand why the route doesnt get climbed more.

also, i dont think big cams are absolutely necessary. disclaimer: i dont know what the heck im talking about, buuuuut-- i think the OW bit would protect well with doubles of normal size cams, i was using trango 6 and 7s, didnt have anything in the BD 3.5 size, and placed the BD 4 just to get rid of it. 'got an 11 hex in lower down, too;)

re: the full double 60m rappel in the descent. it really is a full double 60. we carried a thin static line as the second rope, and i guess it didnt stretch enough. i ended up bouncing around five feet above the tree/nut anchor. shucks. wish i had more than the one prussik.. anyways, there is an intermediate rap anchor between the two if you dont have full ropes- its an ancient hex and a nut with a bunch of slings in the corner of the dihedral to your right as you face the cliff.
By John Peterson
Apr 19, 2004

You're quite right about the big gear - a #4 camalot is useless and a #3.5 is not needed unless you're a real wuss in the wide stuff. I'd still say you want 4 or so pieces in the #2 - #3 camalot range. Hexes would be fine.

Your approach beta is right on. We waited until we were just upstream of the confluence of the two streams before we left the good trail.

I didn't see the midpoint anchor on the 60m rap but I bet it's just as tatty as the others. The descent could really use some better anchors.
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
May 4, 2004
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Climbed this on 5/2, and enjoyed it. John's description is really good, and his info on the descent is excellent and can't be found anywhere else. I'm not sure this route will ever be that popular, it is still a trad adventure and the routefinding is not trivial. You can still get yourself into trouble and there are no rap anchors on it!

First, this time of year, the route is in full sun until about noon. With a high of 90-something, we found it most UN-frigid, this may be one route for which an early start is NOT recommended if you are sure you can make it down by dark.

Running the initial pitches together as suggested here can result in heinous rope drag and I suggest splitting the first 2 pitches if the rope isn't running well. Do not go too high at the end of pitch 1 (combined) or you will discover an unprotected 5.9 traverse variation. The long pitch 2 as described here I found unpleasant - not only did I skip a nice shady belay but you have to walk along a bushy flat ledge for 70' at the end of this section anyway, so combining it doesn't make sense to me.

The "offwidth" pitch we found pretty much as described, namely quite friendly. I didn't do a single offwidth move and found lots of hand jams. The pitch above this (pitch 5 as described above) is very complex. The hand traverse left at the start we found to be one of the hardest moves on the entire climb. It looks like some people go right where the 10' chimney ends up some cracks and this may be easier. Higher up, we went too far right, and missed the pine tree belay but this works out OK. The crux thin crack is fantastic but I found very hard for 5.9. At least the crux is only about 10' long and you can sew it up with thin cams (I used about 4 Aliens).

We had a 62m rope and this seemed to barely make the long rappel. Given rope stretch it's likely the actual distance of this rap is around 220 feet! Be sure to grab the rope end as your weight goes off the rope! We backed up the last rap by placing a cordelette around a block. The last rap goes through lots of ledges and bushes and appears a guaranteed rope snarler, but due to some miracle it came down OK.
By Warren Teissier
May 5, 2004

Climbed this with George a few days ago. A couple of comments on this great route:

- It has a very different "feel" from other climbs I've done in Red Rocks: lots of cracks, almost completetly boltless, very little traffic, complex route finding. I guess this is how Ginger Cracks felt before all the belays and the crux were bolted. Definitely a "burly" climb with no gimme pitches.

- Regarding the descent: After rapping the slot (1st rap)walk South (20yards?)on a small trail between the bushes to the top of a small rock outcrop (buttress). If you look South and down you'll see the top of the rap tree next to a smaller tree. To get to it we downclimbed, boulder-hopped and bushwacked slightly West and South. At the end of the third rap, John states that if your rope is short one can downclimb. I guess one could, but it looked hard and VERY SCARY. It is steep, thin, 5.something terrain, it is hard to reach and there are no ledges before the belay ledge. Bring prussiks and know how to use them.

Have fun.WT
By L. Hamilton
May 6, 2004
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

'It has a very different "feel" from other climbs I've done in Red Rocks: lots of cracks, almost completetly boltless, very little traffic, complex route finding. I guess this is how Ginger Cracks felt before all the belays and the crux were bolted.'

From Warren Teissier's description above, it sounds like Frigid Air has aged well!
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
May 11, 2004
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I can attest that the Frigid Air Buttress does not really have a well defined summit. After unroping, we found the rap and I scrambled onward and upward in search of "the summit", just for grins. What looks from below like the summit is not easy to reach unroped, although I managed to do it after wandering completely around the thing. Anyway, the terrain continues upward west of this high point, and becomes very maze-like.
By jan
Apr 6, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

did this route back in a little write-up and some pics:
By sedwards
Jun 5, 2005
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Pitch 1: I suggest stopping on top of the pedestal. This re-arranges the pitches alittle, but is better for getting through the trees on the next section.

Pitch 2: Climb the nice quality face a few moves and move left around the corner where convenient. Traverse up and left looking for a place to cross the gully, head up to the tree with slings. This is the top of P-1 in some descriptions. Continue up the , " Cracked Wall " and head up and right through more trees/bushes to a nice ledge and belay.

Pitch 3: Climb up and step right around a left facing corner, and into another left facing corner. Climb this and the crack to the left up to a series of ledges and ramps. Follow the easy path up and left to a huge ledge/terrace. Go back 50 ft to a tree for an anchor and extend back to edge for ease of belaying.

Pitch 4: Climb the fun chimney, step left, go farther left, then move back to belay below the crack on the next pitch.

Pitch 5: Climb the crack and face a few moves then pull into the crack and jam up to below the Offwidth. Climb the Offwidth to the ledge, intimidating but not overly difficult, and go straight back to the wall at the short Chimney and start of the next pitch.

Pitch 6: Climb a few moves up the Chimney then spin around and pull across left onto the pedestal. Move up and right a little and either continue up into the tight chimney or, as we did, go up a dirty white flake on the right until you can climb the face back left and step across the chimney and head up and back to a nice belay at the Pine tree.

Pitch 7: Climb the quality, steep corner, behind the tree then move up and right over easy ledges until below the crack system in the Headwall.

Pitch 8: Climb easy scoops and pockets to the ramp below the thin crack. Climb the crack and crank through the thin section to nice jams and fun face moves to the top of the Headwall.

Pitch 9: Climb the short wall and go over the top, drop down, then go up to the top of the next wall, easiest on the right shoulder.

Decent: Go up, south, and look right to a big cairn. Rappel down the chimney underneath the chockstone and follow cairns and the shoulder down and left to an obvious pine tree just over the edge. Rap/Down climb 30' and move left to the anchors. Rap down and right, steep, looking for inconspicuous anchors in the corner on the right at a small, sloping ledge. Aprox. 165 feet. At this point, looking down, you can see the tree/nut anchor for the final Rappel. You cannot make the tree anchor with a 60 metre rope, keep an eye out for the intermediate, its right where you'd expect it. Rappel the fall line through the trees, surprisingly the rope comes down! Boulder hop down canyon....

Summary: Fun, adventurous route. Temps in Vegas were 100 deg., on the route 78 deg. Climb took 4 hrs. Decent around 2 hrs.

Gear: A few small nuts, a few med. nuts, singles on aliens through orange; single green, red camalot; dbl. gold, blue camalot, single 3.5 camalot. Lots of shoulder lgnth. slings.
By J. Thompson
From: denver, co
Jun 6, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A very good route, and certainly carrys a less "red rock" experience....if that makes sense!

By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Mar 20, 2006
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Very nice route - fun pitches interspersed with big, comfy ledges. It has a similar feel to Black Orpheus, somewhat wandering, short cruxes, adventurous descent. It had more sun on the lower pitches than we expected. We also found that you couldn't see the weather coming in until it was over you.

The end of pitch 1/beginning of pitch 2 looks like it goes three different ways: as described here way over to the left, up a handcrack in the center of the wall (per Swain), or up the kinda rotten dihedral to the right. We used the latter route, about 5.8-5.9.
By Greg Barnes
Apr 10, 2006

I'd bring a 4" piece just for the chimney/roof/hand traverse move at the start of pitch 5, which I thought was solid 5.9 and the crux of the route (I definitely agree with George there). The last pitch felt very easy for the grade.

We replaced the single anchor bolt (pictured in Red Rock Odyssey, and which had either been pulled or fell out) at the base of the upper offwidth, so if people want to experience the FA from a single-bolt belay, go for it! It's a 1/2" x 2.75" stainless 5-piece, so about as good as you'll get for a single-bolt belay.

The offwidth pitch felt full-value to me, because I didn't trust the flexing face holds, and to feel secure in the crack requires some real offwidth technique. But I have small hands, someone with big mitts would be doing a lot of pretty solid hand jamming. As others have said, 3" cams are the ticket.

I found Larry's ratings in Red Rock Odyssey reflect those you might expect from a very tall guy, with the stemming sections being uniformly sandbagged (and I love stemming and I'm 6'). For modern climbers who often climb lots of steep finger and hand cracks, some of the stemming sections with so-so pro (or just bad falls) will probably be the psychological crux. Descent is sketchy, that 2nd rap is fully 195', we left a new yellow cordalette on the nut and small tree (so if you're the one who dropped that cordalette, we picked it up on the ledge on top of the offwidth and left it on that rap!).
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
May 13, 2006
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

First off, I'd like to note that I'm pretty sure folks are missing a rap station as they rappel off this thing. I rappelled it today, and that second rap (off of Burlesque with the rope and single bolt) is about 120' maybe 130' tops. I had a huge pile of rope at the stance with me.

The trick is that you cannot see this station when you're rappelling- you almost have to pass it to find it. Bascially, rap straight down to the big sloping ledge- at the far right side of this ledge there is a second, smaller ledge just below it. The rap station is right there, more or less invisible- this rap station puts you about 15' right of the rap station you rapped off of. (This is the tat mentioned above- its fine for rappel....although I should probably replace it when i get around to it....but its hidden nature means it hardly sees any sun at all)

That big blue station WAY off right and down from the big ledge is NOT the place you want to go-- that would be asking for trouble.

From the hidden station, one more double rope rap puts you on a nice big ledge. From the big ledge, head climbers left for about 30' and rap about 90' to the pools below (a single 60m is fine). From here its a walk back to the base.

One other quick comment on the rack: definitely double up on #2 and #3 camalot, bring the #4 (you'll be glad more than once), and singles of everything else if you're solid at the grade. If you're pushing your limit, some more smaller stuff will likely make you happy.

PS- thanks to Greg for the shiny new rap station off the summit!
By Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi?
From: Vegas
May 13, 2006
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

What an awesome climb! It made me very, very happy!
Climbed today in direct sunlight on a 98 degree day in Vegas. If you don't like the heat, start in the afternoon this time of year, when the route gets shade!

I didn't feel the rope drag was a problem on the first pitch(190 feet). When I started to feel the drag, I was on easy 3rd class terrain, so it wasn't a big deal.

A hint for the offwidth on pitch 4 is to have your right shoulder in when you start up. I had my right shoulder and right leg in, and used my left foot out smearing the face for balance the entire way up, and it worked out fine.

I was definitely glad I had the #4 for pitch 5. To sink that before the hand traverse move was comforting .I'm 5'2 1/2" 113 lbs., and couldn't fit my boobs and butt through the meat grinder chimney section on p-5, so if you're not anorexic or a contortionist "GOOD LUCK!" I had to stem out with a few funky moves. It took me awhile to figure it out but it's not as bad as it'll first seem.

My partner flew up the crux head wall pitch and made it look easy, but I was pumped the whole pitch. It felt as hard as Straight Shooter for me.

I'm shocked that this climb doesn't see more traffic!
Thanks for putting up this route Larry and Joe!
By GabeO
From: New Haven, CT
Oct 25, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Superb route. Excellent climbing throughout. Really put me and my partner to the test, but always with a reasonable solution.
By alpinglow
From: city, state
Nov 27, 2006

Aged with grace...proudest comment ever. Congrats to all of us for not roughing her up.

Climbed this today in 5 stretchers, no simul climbing. Rack standard with extra 2 and 3 old BD cam, no 4.

Rappelled Hot point not Burlesque.

Wonderful outing...full value for the grade. Tone down Steck/Salathe and morph it with East Butt of Middle Cathedral was my thought as I climbed.

Superb route. Kudos to FA team.
By rpc
Feb 9, 2007

Climbed this in mid January '07. Excellent route. John's description is dead-on & this is how we pitched things out as well.

I thought that the crux finger crack was very hard (but only for a few feet) - could barely get my tips in there. The OW crack reminded me a bit of the Generic Crack in IC - looks like an OW, but good hand jams (mostly) in the back (if you got the reach). I did not think that pitch 5 hand traverse out of short chimney was hard or notable. All these comments however come from a 6'7" guy. Descent was exciting esp. as it got dark on us. Put a page for it on summitpost:
By Joe B
From: North Las Vegas, NV
Apr 7, 2007

Had a great time on this climb today. Word to the wise, heed vegastradguy's advice about the descent, specifically the "hidden" rap station following the ropes/plus a bolt rappel. I ended up off the end of the rope (2x60m) a good 10' above a small bush with a few slings. I did not enjoy the downclimb in my approach shoes. To add insult to injury, our rope got stuck after we finally got in place to pull it down.

My problem, I didn't bring vegastradguy's beta with me and with my rope running out I could see 3 rap stations below me (none of which I could reach on my twin 60's) w/o any good options. I picked the one with the least scary downclimb.

We found the "hidden" rap station whilst climbing the bonus pitch to retrieve our stuck rope.

Epic or not, this climb was the goods and I loved the almost total lack of bolts. Now that's a trad climb.
By Kevin Dahlstrom
From: Fort Worth, TX
May 22, 2007

We climbed this on May 20. Temps were in the high 90's in Vegas and the route was in the sun through early afternoon (resulting in extreme thirst!). This route definitely has an "adventure climb" feel to it. I found the climbing to be more interesting and varied than most of the Red Rock "super-classics" so I'm surprised it doesn't get climbed more given the short approach.

The beta on this forum is good. Here are a few tips:

1) When you get to the notch behind the pinnacle on P2, take a sharp left and when you round the corner the rest of the route will reveal itself. I made the mistake of climbing the easy-looking (but not easy-climbing) crack directly above the pinnacle and had to lower after 50 feet.

2) The offwidth can be done safely without a #4 cam, but I was sure glad I had the 3.5 and the 4. The wide crack is very intimidating from below (it had me considering the 5.4 variation to the right), but is suprisingly straightforward even without offwidth technique.

3) The finger crack at the top has only a couple of tough moves. It's similar to Straight Shooter but a step easier. It's full-on 5.9 but not harder.

4) The only tricky part of the descent is finding the pine tree at the top (after rappelling from the chockstone), but cairns led us straight to it. We had no problem spotting the "hidden rap station". It's about 120 feet down on the right in a corner.
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jan 5, 2008

I thought this route had a lot of classic climbing on it; virtually every pitch has some aesthetic and classic moves.

We found nearly all directions for the descent to be confusing, including some of the stuff on here and in the Red Rock Odyssey book as well (the descent pictures esp. were quite useless in the book, and actually the directions given for exiting the amphitheater caused us to initially choose the wrong way to go).

Here is how we eventually did it: after finishing the climb, go left and angle slightly back away from the route. Some searching among the rocky and giant chockstone-choked terrain will hopefully find you a rap station made of slung webbing and/or cordelette (it may have been tucked at the base of a very large chock--can't remember). This allows you to rap down into the bowl-shaped amphitheater you will see below you and which has one especially large pine tree growing on the opposite flank. If no rap station can be found, the downclimb looked vertical but relatively juggy and easy if unroped. Forget the tunnel-like gully exit you see on your right at the bottom. Scramble up the opposite side of the bowl until you top out. Here is where things get hard to discern for a while until you find the initial cairn, but nothing is apparent right out of the bowl. As I recall, we essentially headed straight away from the bowl on the path of least resistance. It shouldn't be too hard to eventually spot a massive cairn made of many piled rocks next to a boulder on top of a flat rocky area. The boulder sits to the right of the cairn. Pass this and the land will start to drop down in front of you. No more cairns were visible to us at this point, but we just decided to climb down the easy class 3 stuff for a while (again, taking path of least resistance). Eventually you will start seeing smaller cairns again at regular intervals and this will lead you to the obscure, small pine tree where the first rap off the cliff is located.

We did not have a problem finding the "hidden" rap station, even in the dark. You just have to be looking for it. However, we followed v.t.g.'s instructions to rap again to the large ledge where you traverse left; however, you pass the tree/nut anchor on the way, and looking back, it seems like it would make more sense to stop at that station instead of continuing down to the massive ledge--the reason being that it felt like walking 30' left to the anchor described here appeared to simply add that much more extra boulder scrambling on terra firma below. I assume a rap off the tree/nut station would put you in a navigable area of the bed of the gully just like v.t.g.'s last rap anchor does but would actually cut out a nice portion of the crappy scrambling involved to get back to your packs (I estimate it took us a good 30 min total down the gully, but we were also doing this in the dark so it may have slowed things down). The boulder scrambling does totally suck...esp. in the dark, ha ha.

If you climb this route in November, there is NO sun on the route at any time, whatsoever.

I thought the OW was hard in places and def 5.9...but I don't have dude-size hands, although some hand jams can be found up higher for us girls. I thought the hand traverse out of the little chimney on p5 wasn't too hard if done with good chimneying and stemming technique, but the rest of the pitch is a bit heady, esp. when pulling the exposed move on the outside of the meat grinder slot (no, I cannot see why anyone would try to squeeze through that).

It wouldn't be a bad idea to carry some extra webbing and a knife, just in case anything needs replacing.

Lastly, I never did see the one bolt that is supposedly on this route.....
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Mar 21, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Climbed this on Mar 20th. 75 degree temps, and the route was mostly shaded with the occasional sun peeking above the ridge.

We used the pitch breakdown described in the route description, and it worked perfectly. We had a little rope drag, but nothing terrible. Take care to protect the second on both these pitches, as the crux moves come immediately before easy traverses, and it would be very easy to have nasty pendulums if the second were to fall.

Offwidth protected fine with #3 and #2 camalots. We had three of each, and I would bring the same again. The #2's go in lower on the pitch, and the #3's go in perfectly through the whole wide section. We brought a #4 Camalot and found plenty of places to use it, and would bring it again.

The offwidth pitch was relatively straightforward, but still required some energy. The jams are way in the back (I'm 5'8) and that makes the pitch a bit strenuous. If you aren't comfortable jamming #3 camalot size, you'll definitely find the pitch more difficult. Right shoulder in is the ticket, as there are just enough features on the left wall to keep the difficulty in check.

The final headwall pitch is sweet!

We used the descent beta above (from user Eyes of Green), including locating the "hidden" anchor, and it worked out fine. The "hidden" anchor sucked unfortunately. I think there was a hex wedged in there somewhere, but I couldn't figure out how it was connected through all the dirt! We found a cam (in perfect shape, green camalot size) on the route that fit beautifully at the anchor, so we donated the booty cam to the anchor and felt much better about rapping it. I'm sure someone more brave then us will take the cam out of the anchor in the near future, so maybe throw a 1" hex or tricam on your rack to donate back to the anchor.

7 hours pack to pack. 2 hours to descend.

Great route, and sure to get more popular as words spreads.
By John Wilder
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 24, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

eyes- actually, that tree/nut station doesnt get you to a happy place, it lands you on that ledge anyway, because you cannot rappel straight down due to the brush.

okay, due to a request, here's the beta from the top in broad general terms.

From the summit (its obvious once you're up there- i dont do that last pitch as a separate pitch, i just run the finger crack pitch long).

You are generally heading south towards Burlesque (you actually rappel this route).

You will make one rappel almost immediately from the summit to a large tree in a notch.

Continue south for 10 mins or so, looking for another smaller tree that marks the beginning of the next set of rappels. There is route-finding here, but generally head south, staying close to the rim.

From the smaller tree, make one short rappel to a large ledge with a long static rope and a single bolt.

From the bolt, do a long, exposed rappel down and slightly right to a hidden station on a sloping ledge.

From here, do another rappel down to a large ledge system.

Traverse south on this ledge system to a final rappel station. One short rappel gets you to the deck. Head north from here back to the packs.
By Jeff Buhl
Apr 28, 2008

Interesting Route.

On the "man eater pitch" my partner I became confused (with beta from the next pitch) and climbed out right (from where the bolt is) along a seam to a short hand crack that leads up to the belay ledge. This alternative is very easy way around the thrashing you will receive going directly up the crack - though it will likely diminish the overall "experience". If electing to take this alternative note that cams from .5 to 3" will protect this variation (5.6-5.7 ish) and becareful to protect the second as the crux is at the top of the crack getting back on the ledge. It is not too hard but a fall there would set the second up for a nasty pendulum (a #2 camalot and a #3 camalot just after coming on to the ledge can be fiddled in as good gear.

The rap really needs some updating. The rappels are not bad but for a route that gets this much traffic we should save the trees and the environment from excessive tat that is not doing anyone a favor.
By Drederek
May 10, 2008
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Great route, thanx to John and Mary for teaming up on the descent! I thought this route was a lot like Pink Tornado Left without the gnarly walk in.
By billdlee
From: las vegas
Apr 27, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

You can repel off this route with one rope. But it must be a 70 meter rope and you must not skip the rap station with the single bolt. Also be very careful on rope management because there are a lot of places where the rope can get caught on flakes, small trees, and bushes.

Rap off of the large pine tree at the top of burlesque, its pretty well described by the guidebooks, to a large ledge about 50 feet below this pine tree. You can actually see this rap station from the pine tree. Its unique in that there is ONE fixed bolt backed up with a bunch of cordellettes. From here, you will rap down to a large ledge (huge) with very little vegetation - a few small bushes. Its mostly bare except for a few small bushed in a medium crack filled in with dirt. Be very careful that you don't rappel off the end of your rope.

Regarding the rope and possible places for it to get hung up on. This can be a definite cause for concern. The first time I pulled my rope it did get caught, but we were able to free it. The rope was running on the outside of the flake. The second time I climbed this route I did it a little differently. I ran the rope behind the large flake. When I pulled it down, I let it fall and it fell cleanly between the wall and the flake. My original fear was that the rope will swing out and over the front side of the flake, but by pulling slowly, it dropped straight down between the flake and the wall and did not get caught.

If you do this, you need to pull the rope from the far right side of the flake. If you pull it from the left side, you run the risk of it catching a small flake on the inside. There is only one there, but it is a bad one. I made that mistake and had to climb the dihedral on the left. So I now don't recommend doing this. It might be safer to run the rope on the outside of the flake and pull from the left just pull it fast and hard so it clears the flake. It fell cleanly for me. (keep in mind, left and right are from the perspective of facing Las vegas with your back to the wall).

You need to find the third rap station. It is in the far left corner of this huge ledge. (with respect to "left" - I am assuming that you are facing Las Vegas.) The rap station is hidden because its on a smaller ledge about 5feet by 3feet (not quite sure on the size, but it is small). It is in the corner where the dihedral meets the ledge.

From this station you will rap to a small tree with a bunch of cordellettes equilized off of some rocks. Its directly below the 3rd rap station. There is another rap station but skip it and go for the small ledge with the small tree on it. From here you will rap to a large (HUGE) ledge with a lot of bushes and small trees.

The last rap station is on the far right side of this ledge. Again assuming that you are facing Las Vegas. The rap station is hidden because the base of the tree is slightly below the ledge.

Bring a little extra webbing to back up these anchors, it's a suggestion and watch out how you run your ropes. Its very easy to get them caught on a flake or bushes so be very careful. Keep in mind that this repel normally requires two rope. But you can do it with one and there is no margin for mistakes. If you are new to climbing, you may want to use the two rope repel suggested in the guide book. I hope this helps.
By Reed Fee
From: White Salmon WA
Aug 18, 2009

From the second rappel with two 70 meter ropes I ended up off the ends of the ropes about 15 feet above the final ledge with the last rappel. I girth hitched my brand new cordelette and 4' sling around a scraggly tree of unknown quality and used this to down climb to the ledge. I felt terrible as I had to direct my partner to a rap station about 30' above the ledge and leave her to pull the two seventys and rap from the station that I should not have passed up. All went well after that except getting my rope wet in the pool at the bottom and ripping my favorite silver longjohns on the dark sweaty hike back to the packs. I still have a scar on my ankle from the right side in, left side out advice for pitch 4. Found a sling,an old .75 camalot, about a $1.50 in change and a pair of climbing shoes on the descent. A solid trad experince!
Late April 09
By Laurel Arndt
From: Phoenix
Oct 19, 2009

Looked at this climb Sept 09, looked good for a pm shady climb. Went back Oct 09 and lucked out on even better weather. In and out of sun till noon. Good stuff, varied and well protected. Climb uneventfull and props to David S for the offwidth.
We started the climb at 8:30 and finished at 2ish. The descent in Jerry's Heandron book is spot on. After the chockstone the cairns come and go, there is a large cairn to the west of the tree in the gully that is described in Jerry's book. About 6-10 cairns get you to this poiint, but if it was dark, it would be tough.What they don't tell you is that locating the tree and the raps is the easy part. After the raps to the sand pit with the small pool of water, you still have some nasty big boulder hopping, sliding, scrambling. You do not want to be rapping off this in the dark. Even if you are super route finder, with a good headlamp, it could be a miserable descent through the LARGE boulders back to your pack, potential for ankle bitter boulders and drops is great.
Good climb, but after doing some long approaches and descents this descent ranked as one of the worst.
By Sherri Lewis
From: Sequim, WA
Oct 27, 2010
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

This is one of my favorite climbs in Red Rocks.

My partner linked P3 with the 5.7 handcrack section of P4(belayed in comfortable pod just below offwidth section using gear and the bolt on the face to climbers left). This was a great idea, as it allows the leader of P4 to have the entire rack at their disposal for the offwidth section(otherwise, the 5.7 handcrack eats at least a couple of your #2's and/or #3's).

The last "short" rap from the tree at the south end of the ledge should be a double-rope rappel, I think. We did it with a single 60m to the next ledge down and were not comfortable with the downclimbing options from there, so we rapped again on a single from a small tree to the slabs on the south side of the pool.

Once down on the smooth slabs, stay to the right(east) side of the pool to pick up a faint trail through grape vines which will spare you some of the boulder hopping. Eventually, the trail disappears and you continue in the gully. It goes pretty smoothly in daylight(entire descent just under two hours). I've done it in the dark--NOT RECOMMENDED.

We left our packs near the confluence of the gully and the wash so that we didn't have to bushwack back up to the base.
By philboandtybo
Nov 12, 2010

boy loved the climbing on this route!

5.4 'chimney' was more of a face climb.
offwidth - pretty well protected (2s and 3s). probably didn't even need the 4 but placed it anyway. we did take a #4 and found it useful in several places on the climb. some face holds on the top part of the pitch that helped.
hand traverse pitch - awesome! but tricky with a backpack!
last pitch 5.9 is also a gem. protects well, and if you run it out for the crux 10ft or so, you have holds up to a jug.

we climbed in november on a day with 15-25mph winds - touque, gloves and sweaters def handy.

as for the descent - initially a little confusion as to the true 'top' of the route. route descriptions make mention of crossing a 'slot' to a large ledge - and there were a few such situations. anyway, the true last 'slot' you climb over prior to starting the descent is about 10-15ft wide, and then there's easy climbing above it, and when you are on the true end of the route, you can see cairns marking the way to the raps off to climber's left.

past the pine tree rap, it got confusing. we climbed with a 70 and 60 half rope (just for the descent).

off pine tree rap,
1st rap - about 50 feet to a ledge, with two bolted anchors, connected with a piece of old rope and purple cord.
2nd rap - what we did - straight down, maybe 120ft ish to a single rap bolt next to a massive flake. i do not think this is the 'intermediate' anchor!! anyway, we thought it was. we could see some slings to climbers right about another 30-50ft down (but am bad at judging distances with rope and not sure we could reach), and couldn't see the 'intermediate' anchor and thought the bolt was it.
anyway, what you should do is keep rapping past the single bolt, then there is a massive ledge about another 15-20ft down, go to climber's right to where it meets the dihedral, and then I think the true intermediate anchor is just below the massive ledge (based on the above descriptions).

oh yeah, i would recommend splitting up the first pitch in the handren guide, for rope drag reasons.
pitch 1 - up flake to 2 bolt anchor
pitch 2 - up face with some thin feet, then into a large corner right of a small bushy gully. traverse across the ramp, into gully towards the tree with slings at a point maybe 15-20 below the top of the ramp - if you traverse right at the top where it meets the wall, it's unprotected and looks difficult.
By NickinCO Mardi
From: colorado
Mar 28, 2011
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Climbed this today. I agree about splitting up the first pitch, we didn't make it to the 2nd tree and had to stop short. I didn't climb the offwidth section and opted for the 5.7 variation which was super sketch including the "awkward" exit. Definitely do the offwidth. Crux pitch was awesome, great day!
By Arch Richardson
May 12, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

First rate adventure climb with deluxe ledges. As of May 11 -Two brand new shiny bolts atop the first double-rope rap - many thanks to the installers. Hidden station below was secure with 2 good nuts - and easily backed up with a 1-1/2 Friend. Nest of tattered slings adequate but could stand some thinning out. Enjoy!
By Sean
From: Oak Park, CA
Oct 15, 2011

Very fun climb. Nice views. Regarding the descent, after the initial 50' rap off of the cliff-edge pine tree, the long rap that comes next can either go down 195' to a rap anchor consisting of nut and slung bush slightly to climber's left (same as right of fall line per previous comment?) OR to another rap anchor at 205' consisting of slung block and small tree to climber's right. Had joined 70 and 60 m ropes, therefore able to reach the latter lower anchor. The last 150 ft rap drops down to a flat spot with big boulders next to a small rock pond that can be seen from above, passing multiple big ledges with bushes. Perhaps rapping from the higher nut-and-bush anchor could potentially get ropes wet in rock pond and hence the block-and-tree anchor further to climber's right.
By peter p
Apr 3, 2012

Epic 11 hours on this route with my wife yesterday :)

Great climb, more reminiscent (difficulty and rating) of older Yosemite climbs. I liked every single pitch. The rappel down was an adventure.

Pitch 1 - rope drag was heinous. We used double ropes and I put few pieces in... I am guessing the rope drag is from ropes rubbing on the featured rock and was a recurring theme when I tried to combine pitched. Slowed us down a lot.

Pitch 2 - just before the tree I spotted a narrow crack that is perhaps 30 feet high. I was lured by my topo to believe it was... instead, it was one of the hardest sections on the climb, with questionable gear. I broke a large hold when I was perhaps 15 feet up.

First chimney/hand traverse - I am 6 2" and found this extremely hard.

5.9+ crux - I aided this section. I actually didn't bring gear small enough to fit, and my fingers didn't fit either. It took some creativity to get up.


Rappels: lost cairns to the 1st rap and ended up going way down into an enclosure which had a pool at the bottom. Ended up having to climb back up.
1st rap -- rope got stuck, free soloed up to get it.
2nd rap (air rap) -- found the hidden station no problem.
remaining raps -- was lured by NEW rap stations to go directly down... HUGE f'ing mistake. Ended up just above another water pool, with no rap stations. Ended up bushwacking and climbing up in the dark to set up a rap station at a bush.
Even then, we ended up way too high and had to descend a maze of house-size boulders.
By eDixon Dixon
From: Durango, Colorado
Apr 19, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This is a really fun route that deserves more traffic. The descent was no issue. This updated topo provides the details.
By ntableman
Apr 21, 2013

Did this route yesterday and I have to say it is pretty much a bit of everything and really fun. The best parts are this step out from the wide chimney and the finger crack near the end.

The descent, however, borders on a nighmare: I read there is no bolting in RR but this is a classic case where given the rock quality bolts and even chains would make a heck of a log of sense.

First the rap off the tree is down to the ledge that is on your right facing the mountain. Left, as you walk down the ramp to the tree. The cairn is not easily visible.

Then after that there seems to be a couple rap stations right after each other - on way to the right of fall which is really annoying to get to, then one right below it. Both of these are pretty sketchy gear wise.

Lastly the final rap station on a scraggly tree and a rock was so bad it looked like a party before us left gear and so did we.

Bottom line leave time to the rap is you have no done it before and bring gear you will leave.

On a side note; somehow we left a blue WC cam along the way - not stuck, just have no idea where it went, so next person on this route keep and eye out :)
By Kyle Hartung
Jun 11, 2013

We climbed this route on May 18, 2013. We were the only ones on the route the entire day, and didn't even see other climbers. The route itself is excellent, a little bit of everything and really makes for an all-around fun climb. I have to second the previous climber's opinion on stepping out of the chimney - the exposure on that move is pretty cool. This route is a must do in Red Rocks.
By Patrick Mulligan
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Two comments about this route: One, I also noticed Peter's 30' high crack which also had been climbed with apparent chalk but the description was pretty clear as to climbing up to the ledge. However, we did not climb up the corner as described, and instead followed a thin crack up the center of the buttress above. This went at 5.8+, had good gear and was very good climbing. Two, The decent is nowhere near the nightmare that people made it out to be. It is very well cairned. From the top look away and slightly left of the route and you should see the large cairn marking the first rappel down the chimney. Then just take your time looking for the other cairns. We climbed the route with two parties leading on 70's. With this set up you can do two double rope rappels and then a single rope rappel off the climbers left of the last ledge. Look around and there is a clean way to get through the large boulders at the bottom with no additional rappels, but this involves some chimneying and canyoneering. We did the rappels and descent in the dark after a late start in less than an hour.
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 26, 2014

Had to bail after I busted a hold on P5 and sprained my ankle. Great route up to that point. We opted to lower directly off a bush on the top of P4 down to the one lonely bolt. Did a double rope rap off the bolt which put us on a ledge slightly south of the top of P2. There are bail slings in this area which let you get down with a single rope to some easy (without a sprained ankle) class 3 terrain which will put you in the gully.

#4 wasn't absolutely needed on P4, but definitely didn't hurt. I'd bring it if I were to do the route again.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 18, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Another stunning classic Red Rocks traditional line. Be aware that it is in the sun in the morning - good to know on hot days. A couple comments - Pitch 2 description states to climb the left facing dihedral - good, but the face with crack to the left is also 5.8, good protection and wonderful movement. On pitch 4 I would have liked to have 2 blue (#3 camalots). It was a bit run out with just one in the wide crack crux high on the pitch. Finally if you want to skip the pitch 5 wide chimney "hand traverse" move just climb the crack to the right and stem off the chimney edge then step left or continue up the crack. The descent is easy to find - just remember to rappel down and RIGHT at the bottom of the second rappel and do not go straight down to that dangerous and silly hanging belay in the bush. You will need two 60 meter ropes - full length rappels the last two.
By Ellen.tradgirl
Apr 23, 2014

We walked up to this mid morning to find 3 parties above and the route going into the sun. We hung out for awhile and then did the climb as it went into the shade. I would recommend the crack of noon start this time of year. Follow the cairns to the raps as described above. We were at the end of our 60s off the shiny new bolts when we got to the stopper/bush rappel. Looked around the other ledges on the way down, but didn't see anything sooner. We did stop mid way down the last rap to soak our feet in the lovely hanging pool. Overall the route was fun, but not the quality (aside from the 4 foot crux) of the great classics we had done prior in the week.
By freebodydiagram
From: Somerville MA
Nov 20, 2014

On 11-20-14 I lost a pair of eye glasses on pitch 2. If you happen upon them, please message me. I'll make it worth your time. Thanks.
By Ball
From: Oakridge, OR
Oct 1, 2016

Fun variation: if your buddy decides not to belay at the first anchor but proceeds to climb straight up, you can keep going up the pillar and trend left around the arête about 12 feet under the roof. Here you will find a fun hands-only traverse right under the roof and then back on route.
By WRoyer
Dec 16, 2016
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

So, this route kind of took us two days to complete. First day, got a late start, and was just being inefficient. We might have gotten a nice shiny #3 stuck on pitch 2, would be a good booty grab, if you've got the time. first day rapped from the top of the 3rd pitch off slings/bolt. Got our knot stuck (should have done a single rap) on the last rappel. Came back the next day, ascended our line, and finished the route(back to the car in daylight).

Excellent climbing throughout, varied and interesting, super fun. Awesome climbing on every pitch. Maybe our offwidth technique isn't quite up to snuff (or we were missing a vital cam), but we thought that the offwidth pitch was the crux pitch. The final pitch is awesome, but felt pretty good if you can get through it.

Regarding the descent. Pretty straightforward. Lots of comments on here had us a bit worried. But you can safely ignore most of them. Finish last pitch, rap off chock with slings, walk left following cairns to slung tree, rap tree to bolts, and then two double rope raps (we had 70's, pretty sure 60's would be fine) to the ground. Off bolts! There are two bolted raps, and ropes pull pretty good from them, don't make the mistake we did of trying to use any of the makeshift anchors, just look for the bolted ones.

Once your on the ground, do some boulder scrambling, and eventually you will run into a bit of a trail that takes you back to the base of the climb.

Excellent climb, had it all to ourselves both days. Not too chilly halfway through December despite being in the shade all day (no morning sun in winter). Highly recommended, best climb we did on our first trip to Red Rock.
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Mar 29, 2017

Recently got to climb this Red Rock beauty. Perfect day, perfect weather, perfect company. I would add to the comment that it is strange that this does not get climbed more. The route gets better and better the higher you go. The big ledges keep you comfortable. We had a great surprise when Geir and Marcy Hundal caught us about pitch 4. What a pleasure climbing with these fantastic people. The floated the meat grinder, I was in awe. I led the offwidth pitch and found that amazing. You hit the off width about 80 ft into the pitch and it took a lot of energy to get established. Then as mentioned the features helped tame this beast. I was huffing though. The 5.9+ crack was a lot of fun, I did layback the crux. On the descent, I was going to down climb the chimney with the chockstone. This is not trivial. Don't plan on doing that unless highly confident. I am and still did not even consider it. Big beautiful Rap's to the bottom, down a spectacular face. What a fun day.

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