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Johnny Vegas 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Tom Cecil, Dave Cox, Harrison Shull, Todd Hewitt, 11/94
Page Views: 37,357
Submitted By: Jake Wyatt on Jan 1, 2005

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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 >>>


Approach as per Solar Slab Gully. The start of Johnny Vegas is just to the left (when facing the wall), behind a boulder perched on a short pedestal of rock.

p1. Start up the double cracks, which eventually become a single crack. As the protection starts to become sparser, trend up and left. Belay at a bolted anchor on a platform at the base of a short dark dihedral. A long pitch.

p2. Stem up the dihedral to gain a face with some questionable rock. Continue up and slightly right to another bolted belay, below the base of a right-facing dihedral capped by a roof.

p3. Head up and right on the easy but run out slab, and continue up, and around the corner. The pro is better once around the corner. The crux route-finding is deciding when to surmount the apex of the face and start trending back to the left. It's easy to come up to slabby ground and find yourself above the belay/rappel anchor.

p4. Head up easy climbing to the boulders near the edge of the main Solar Slab Terrace, and continue scrambling up to the base of Solar Slab if so desired.

With the exception of p4, all of the pitches felt like they had some 5.6 climbing, and some friable rock.

Rappel from the top of p3 with two ropes (or if you only have one rope, head down Solar Slab Gully).


Standard rack, bolted belay stances.

Photos of Johnny Vegas Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: First 2 and a half pitches of Johnny Vegas showing...
BETA PHOTO: First 2 and a half pitches of Johnny Vegas showing...
Rock Climbing Photo: New Zealand climber on Johnny Vegas
New Zealand climber on Johnny Vegas
Rock Climbing Photo: A couple New Yorkers on JV a few days ago. Pitch 2
A couple New Yorkers on JV a few days ago. Pitch 2
Rock Climbing Photo: Exchanging wedding vows in Vegas...
Exchanging wedding vows in Vegas...
Rock Climbing Photo: Maya Buettner enjoying ample plated holds
Maya Buettner enjoying ample plated holds
Rock Climbing Photo: Don't let anyone tell you there isn't top notch pr...
BETA PHOTO: Don't let anyone tell you there isn't top notch pr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gary has led off on the classic pitch two. Looking...
Gary has led off on the classic pitch two. Looking...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ron putting up pitch 3: cold, cloudy week days mea...
Ron putting up pitch 3: cold, cloudy week days mea...
Rock Climbing Photo: If you run into traffic build a belay and bring yo...
If you run into traffic build a belay and bring yo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climbers the first pitch.
Unknown climbers the first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo of me on pitch 1. This was my first climb at...
Photo of me on pitch 1. This was my first climb at...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jared approaches the third pitch belay.
Jared approaches the third pitch belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking straight up from the p1 belay ledge.
Looking straight up from the p1 belay ledge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2 Dihedral - Looks harder than it is
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 2 Dihedral - Looks harder than it is
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Johnny Vegas, taken from The Friar.
Climbers on Johnny Vegas, taken from The Friar.
Rock Climbing Photo: Beginning of pitch 3
BETA PHOTO: Beginning of pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Newheart coming up Pitch 3.
Mike Newheart coming up Pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at Gary M on the top of pitch one, a ...
Looking down at Gary M on the top of pitch one, a ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kyle following up the 2nd pitch. Sweet exposure!
Kyle following up the 2nd pitch. Sweet exposure!
Rock Climbing Photo: Anne having fun on the very enjoyable 2nd pitch
Anne having fun on the very enjoyable 2nd pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: A look up at the 5.9 variation pitch
A look up at the 5.9 variation pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down from Pitch 3 anchors  Exposure = Fun!
Looking down from Pitch 3 anchors Exposure = Fun!
Rock Climbing Photo: Johnny Vegas
Johnny Vegas
Rock Climbing Photo: Michael rides the easy crack on P4 of Johnny Vegas...
Michael rides the easy crack on P4 of Johnny Vegas...

Show All 33 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Johnny Vegas Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 19, 2017
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 1, 2004

It's also possible to do a different pitch 1 starting right of Beulah's Book. A party got in front of us using this alternate start and reported it's similar in difficulty to the regular pitch 1 (maybe a little more runout, though).

We also combined 3&4 with a 50m rope, I think it just barely made it (Swain calls it 180', and we might have had to simulclimb a little with our 50m). This way you do not have to downclimb to the 3rd anchor (after climbing too high)!
By Scott Conner
From: Lyons, CO
Mar 1, 2004
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

We combined the pitches 3 and 4 too, George, but we had a 60m. Going straight up the corner for P3 and moving out right at the bolt is 5.9 friction.
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Mar 3, 2004

A fun route! P1 and P2 are each approx. 135 feet long. As Jake mentions, it is easy to miss the bolted anchor for P3, and I ended up 30 feet above it before noticing (not to worry - you can easily build your own). There also appear to be two different ways to approach this pitch. One way is to stay left in a corner, then step right (protected by a shiny new bolt) once the crack peters out. The other way is to stay further right off the belay out on the face, which is somewhat runout but probably no harder than 5.4. Done this way, the singular bolt is a bit out of reach, but is not needed.
By Bill Gibbs
From: Wichita, Ks.
Apr 23, 2004
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I'd honestly have to give this route a higher star rating, 2.5 at least, and as for the Red Rocks standards I would definitely have to say this was a slight step up from anything in the 5.6 range there. If it were in other places I could see it being called 5.6. Anyhow, it's all subjective.

By the way, the nice shiny bolt on the 3rd pitch is for the 5.9 variation in the right facing dihedral, which is by far better than the right traverse out to the rounded arete. Going right at the 3rd belay is 5.4 but harder to protect off the belay than in the dihedral.
By John Hegyes
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jan 31, 2006

Don't rappel this route. This recommendation is based on personal experience and also that of others. It is very easy to get ropes snagged while descending this route. You would be much better off making your way to the right and rapping Solar Slab Gully with one rope.
By Adam Catalano
From: Albany, New York
Feb 9, 2006

This climb was a blast. The second pitch is just fun cruisin'. Rapping each pitch individually is probably the best option for rope pulling and traffic issues.
By triznuty
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 10, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Classic must do route! Our rope got stuck temporarily during the raps... So be careful!
By Cunning Linguist
Jul 24, 2007

I would disagree with John about the rappel-this is the quickest and most safe descent from the solar slab ledge that I know of, and I've done every route on the wall that's in the guidebook. I've descended the Solar Slab Gully by rappel at least three times (I may be blocking out other times-*find a happy place!*) and find it complex, sketchy to find and traverse to certain anchors on the way down, and Johnny Vegas offers a quick, safe solution. A short (50 ft) rap from the boulder, a 120' exposed rap over the roof to the P2 anchors, two full length raps, and you're back at your packs. Stuck ropes are as common as cheap hookers in Vegas, but do the math on how many short, diagonaling rappels are in the gully, and you'll see my point-mathematically speaking, it's better odds doing 3.5 raps straight down. See Nevada Forums for info about the accident report in SS Gully-I climbed Horndogger Select that day, and very nearly got to witness the results of that rappel and an inexperienced and tired climber. I went down JV and hit the ground in less than 20 minutes of rapping. We weren't there to assist because we were already scarfing pizza at home by the time the other party got to the next to last rap in the gully.
By cammyjams
From: Las Vegas, NV
Nov 23, 2007

I have a question about the slab on the start of P3. That sure didn't feel like 5.6 (to my fat ass anyway) I went about half way and fell on my pro, then traversed out to the right and went up that way on much easier terrain. Clipped the bolt from above/right. Can anyone comment on these moves? Are they really .6 or more like .9 (in the dihederal on the left of the slab)? Man I love friction but that freaked me out for some reason.
By Larry DeAngelo
From: Las Vegas, NV
Nov 24, 2007

Cammyjams-- it sounds like you got onto the 5.9 variation. The standard route goes to the right from the 2nd belay. The climbing is very easy, but not much protection on the right (unless you do something weird, you will be too far to the right to even clip the bolt).
By George Wilson
From: Las Vegas
Nov 27, 2007
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

JV is a fun route. We had two parties rappelling down while we were climbing up...This made for quite a scene!!! Both parties reluctantly climbed back up to free their snagged rope. I would recommend rappelling the gully as it puts you right back were you start JV. Using the gully for descent also creates less traffic on JV. We descended the gully, had no issues and were down about the same time the snagged rope climbers were packing up. This descent uses one rope (we had a 70 meter) and is very straight forward. There are even some old pitons next to one of the rap anchors for your viewing pleasure!!! Be prepared to walk out in the dark.
By cammyjams
From: Las Vegas, NV
Nov 27, 2007

Thanks Larry, I realize this probably should have been posted in the forums. I'm gonna go back up there soon and nail that slab. It just seemed like the 'right' way to go off of the belay at the time. Live and learn. 5.9, not 5.6, LOL.
By Tom Cecil
Feb 27, 2008

..named for my old friend, John Rosholt, I hope your pulling down where ever you are...
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Apr 7, 2008
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great route! The climbing was always interesting and never really stressful. This was our "warm-up" for Solar Slab, so we had a full day.

As for the dreaded rope snags, ours got snagged twice coming down JV after rapping Solar Slab without any issues. It was a real pain in the ass, but it doesn't look like rapping the gully would have made any difference: as we were hiking out, we heard obscenities from a climber with a snagged rope in the SS gully.

By Ron Graham
Nov 17, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

My partner and I did the 5.9 variation on pitch 3 without clipping the bolt. The slab was really slippery and there's absolutely nothing on it to grab, but it contains some very shallow divots high up that offered us just enough traction for our mantled palms to keep from slipping off. If you set a piece high enough up the crack in the dihedral, a slip on the traverse will result in a pendulum across the smooth slab high enough to miss the more featured rock below it. The layback moves required to set a piece that high are pretty fun. Fortunately, neither of us slipped during our traverses, but the slap was so powdery we both felt like we were right on the edge of doing so!

A few sections of this route that might feel a little runout contain solid horns that can be slung for protection. You might want to look for them and use them whenever potential gear placements aren't obvious.
By Gary Schmidt
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 3, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

A note for the start. Best to "suit up" at the base of the descent gully. You can then easily scramble up to your left (4th class) to the base of the actual climb. Nice to find your packs waiting for you right where you descend!

Great climb, but very easy except for the 2nd pitch, which is way classic. And just when you think the challenges are over the holds begin to thin out and it becomes run out! Nothing to fear as you will find what you need but keep a cool head.

Rappelling the gully takes a while as there is a lot of junk and ledges and you are continually having to help your rope along. Also lots of loose rock so be careful. I managed to pull a rock down behind me with the rope. Would'nt you know it that the rock managed to take the rope with it and wedge it perfectly into a crack below me. Luckily was able to dislodge the rock with my hands and free the rope. Lots of opportunity for adventure here.

Most of the rappel anchors in the gully are obvious accept for the second one. Continue on past tempting rappel trees and look left. You will see a very exposed anchor on the cliff corner.

A great climb. If I ever do it again though will get there a lot earlier and try to link it up with Solar Slab (which several other parties had done that day) which looks and sounds awesome.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
May 7, 2009

If there are any other parties on this route (and there probably will be) - please, please consider rapping Solar Slab Gully instead of this route. You'll be doing a service to those following you.

Contrary to some of the reports above, I found the gully to be an easy descent. Six straightforward single-rope rappels.
By Jesse Morehouse
From: CO
Dec 9, 2009
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

Combined w/Solar Slab is it possible to find more 5.6 in one climb? Amazingly fun and a must do.

Get there EARLY. Easy to route find, just follow the chalk. Each pitch has something different and fun. The "R" on P2 is just real 5.6 climbing w/o those monstrous jugs you get used to but still pro where you need it. Combine P3 & 4 for sure.

Props to Tom, Harrison et al for this one!
By Top Rope Hero
From: Was Estes Park, now homeless
Apr 1, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Perhaps the finest 5.7 blast I've ever climbed. More fun than runnin' naked through Sunday service. A bit run out on P2, but mostly on solid (but steep!) 5.6 ground.

DO NOT SKIP the short, obvious 5.9 dihedral on P3--it's most excellent. And you don't need to clip the bolt to lead this, but definitely show your second that you care by clippin' it anyway, cowboys and gurls.

Finally, P4? Really? Rope up for what is ordinarily considered "scrambling"? I think the opening moves just to mount the boulders at the bottom of P1 were harder than anything on that P4 mound...

About rapping: We rapped JV with zero problems, this with two spaghetti string ropes that usually insist on snagging. That gully sounds vicious to me; would recommend rapping JV every time (provided it's the end of a full, Solar Slab day and the crowds are gone) and making sure you give a damn good YANK at the end to clear the rope. Also, do stop at that short, auxiliary station 50ft below the P3 anchor.
By OKClimber
From: Folsom
Apr 11, 2010

Great route, definitely worthwhile! I was concerned about the descriptions of pitch 2 and 3 being spicy. Two was a tad spicy, but not bad and the gear you do get is good. Pitch 3 is runout on the arete, with the exception of slinging some chicken heads, but its easy ground. We too missed the belay atop P3. If you find yourself 20-30 feet above the anchors, just push it up another 20 feet or so to the bolts atop P4.

We rapped Solar Gully with a single 60 meter rope. A 50 probably would have worked, but would have been close on a couple raps.
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Mar 13, 2011
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R

I'd give it 4 stars but I haven't done enough classics at Red Rock to understand the difference between classic and great. It's a route with three wonderful pitches. Pitch 2 is fantastic! Steep with great holds. I really enjoyed P3 with its exposed easy run out arete, the traversing left across the lip of roof at the first easy opportunity. The 5.9 corner and slab seems out of character with the rest of the climb if chosen as a variation.
By Chris G.
From: Lakewood
Feb 25, 2012

This was my first trad climb I have done. The holds were excellent and it felt relatively easy to place gear. I recommend this climb for a beginner trad climber.
By Jonathan Simonton
From: Chandler
Mar 23, 2012

This route was very fun. Only my eigth lead. I was a litle scared on it but it was good. Would do again.
From: Mesa AZ
Sep 26, 2012

The whole climb came down to the micro placements half way through the second pitch. a couple nut placements and GO! On the third pitch, dont hesitate to look around the corner - there is fun to be had - then you dont have to sling those heads. - CLimbPHX climbin in the desert!
By Canon
Dec 3, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Link P3+4 with a 60m or 70, if you can avoid the rope drag.
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Apr 9, 2013

I just climbed this for the 4th time and finally did the 3rd pitch 5.9 varation. I found that you can sew this up with cams, very little risk to make the crux move to clip the bolt. I just love this climb.
By Weston L
From: Summerlin, NV
Jul 7, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Climbed this thing at night on a mid-summer's evening. What a blast that was! Sweet views from the huge ledge between JV and Solar Slab (Mt. Wilson illuminated by the city lights as well as the upper Solar Slab).

As for beta:

Single rack to 3". The ST rack was WAAAY overkill. This is one of the best 5.7's I have climbed anywhere. Red Rock moderate climbing at its finest.

RE: Rapping the route....

If you know what you are doing you will be fine rapping the route - we rapped it at night in gusty winds and had no hang-ups on rappel, just be mindful of what you are rapping over and be sure to use the station 50' from the top station...YMMV
By G. Vesp
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
Nov 19, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Third time I have done this route. Entire route is outstanding, but the 2nd pitch is fantastic and the third pitch 5.9 variation is a most do. I am a 5.7 leader and the third pitch felt very secure. Takes great gear making the consequence of a fall very safe IMHO. Have fun...!! Great Route!
By Court
Nov 14, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

really enjoyed this. i led 1st and third pitches. was gonna combine 3 and 4 but rope drag was crazy. maybe because i did sling a couple knobs in the runout section. thought the 1st pitch was between 5.6 and 5.7. the second pitch seemed to be the crux to me. a little runout for my partner at 5.7. she might have been able to place some small gear. 3rd pitch was 5.5 or maybe 5.6 but the runout section was easy. head back left as soon as you can start placing gear again and you'll end up below or beside the anchors.
you can avoid a lot of the diagonal rappels in the gully with a 70m all the way on the 1st rappel.
By wankel7
From: Indiana
Mar 25, 2015

My buddy and I did this route and noticed some rap anchors I didn't see mentioned here. When you top out on JV there are a few huge boulders. Walk around the boulder to the north. You will see anchors at your feet while peering down into the Solar Slab Gully.

When looking down from the anchor you really can't see the next station. We had 80 Meters of single rope confidence so I gave it a try. The first rap drops you on to a ledge. About 20 feet east / left is a tree with webbing.

From this point you are 3 raps from the base of Solar Slab Gully. It should be easily done with a single 60M.
By Mike Harris DFW
From: DFW, Texas
May 28, 2015
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I gotta say this is about the easiest 5.7 I've ever climbed. Did not really see the fuss with run outs as the climbing was so easy as to not make that a concern. Really enjoyed the route.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Dec 15, 2015

For experienced climbers, rapping SS Gully is totally casual and fast: 6 quick singles. Yes, care is needed, but don't fear the hype. But also don't rap down if people are coming up it!
By BriKing
From: Seattle
Jan 6, 2016

You can rappel down the route from the top of P3 with 2 ropes. Lots of chickenheads can mean stuck ropes. We took this option once, albeit from the top of the climb.

Taking the gully route, there are two options. Option one is to rappel down the gully route with a single 60m (I think, I can't confirm because I took option 2). Option 2: Once you go around the large boulder at the top of the route to reach the Solar Slab option, there is a rappel station if you take a hard right. We took this option because there was a party coming up the Gully.

For this rappel, we used a single 70m. The rope did NOT touch the ground, but there is an intermediate rappel on climbers left, on a small ledge with a tat-tree. We hooked up to this station and got into gully. Continue on down the Gully route for the remainder of the rappels.

If you heard the news of the Spokane climber who died here, this is where he fell. We don't know why or how. But be careful with your rappels, step carefully, use a prusik or autoblock to back-up your rap, and tie knots in the ends of your ropes.
By the professor
Mar 11, 2016
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great rock, excellent position, good pro, and no hard moves. Rarely does a multi-pitch climb have all four of those attributes. We rapped the route without incident. Descending over the 3rd pitch roof was stimulating.
By Brandon.Phillips
From: Alabama
Apr 6, 2016

Pitch 3 and 4 were easily linked with a 60 meter. I found pitch three to have plenty of pro in the form of slung chicken heads and smallish gear. I think the the book say something like "no pro until even with the roof" not the case -- well protected.

Link this with upper solar slab for a long day of cruiser climbing!! And do the the walk off! I have heard epic stories about the walk off from solar slab, but we followed the directions from the Handren guide, found the bolted anchors right away, two double rope raps, then mild scrambling. Maybe took 2 - 2.5 hrs back to the car.
By Mason Roberts
From: Boulder, CO
May 3, 2016

Beta for 3rd pitch:

Like others mentón, the runout start can be protected by slinging chicken heads. Once you get to the right of the roof you'll see two crack systems. One goes up and left, the other goes up and right. Take the one that goes up and left. Once you pop over this face section, you'll see the single rap ring on webbing.
By Vikram Sahney
Sep 1, 2016

Video of Johnny Vegas to Solar Slab.

By John Croker
Jan 11, 2017

Great route which we climbed yesterday 10 Jan in the sun. Sensational moves on ironstone jugs gray protection and positions. Our first multi at RR.
Very windy at the top
Really enjoyed the excellent bollard (chicken head) runners on pitch 3 - soft 10mm tape great for lacing these.
Rapping the route would have been a real drama in the wind - the 5 raps down solar gully were definitely in the convenience climbing category thanks heaps to the folks that set this up.
By Micah Klesick
From: Vancouver, WA
Apr 19, 2017
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Did this route this week on the way up to Solar Slab. Fun climbing! I led the "5.9" slab variation, and I felt like that is the natural way to do that section of route, and it protects well. I didn't agree with the 5.9 grade tho. Maybe 5.7. One little smear move on a sticky rock.

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