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Lady Wilson's Cleavage 

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

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: 1977, Joanne & George Urioste, Joe Herbst
Page Views: 5,176
Submitted By: Larry DeAngelo on Feb 14, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: The lower few pitches of Lady Wilson's Cleavage

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


This a long, serious route, following mostly wide cracks. It is not actually on the Horseshoe Wall, but that's close enough for now...

Routefinding is easy on this one, once you find your way to the base. Check the accompanying photo from Red Rock Odyssey to find the line for the approach.

From the rope-up spot, climb six pitches up the obvious crack. Then go right in the gully and chimney system to the top. The most obvious descent is through First Creek.

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


Bring lots of wide gear.

Photos of Lady Wilson's Cleavage Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The approach route for Lady Wilson's Cleavage is s...
BETA PHOTO: The approach route for Lady Wilson's Cleavage is s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Royal leading P3 from cool alcove. Bail anchor/in ...
Royal leading P3 from cool alcove. Bail anchor/in ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The slab or chimney option others have mentioned.
The slab or chimney option others have mentioned.
Rock Climbing Photo: The last 5.9 chimney pitch.
The last 5.9 chimney pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: A rewarding summit...
A rewarding summit...
Rock Climbing Photo: High on the route, stemming on the tree pitch.
High on the route, stemming on the tree pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The pitch 3 squeeze.
The pitch 3 squeeze.
Rock Climbing Photo: The start of Lady Wilson's Cleavage.
The start of Lady Wilson's Cleavage.

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By Rich Draves
Oct 19, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R

The approach took us 3.5 hours, following Handren's description which was accurate.

The pitch ratings were a bit mysterious - to me the pitches mostly all felt like "old school 5.9", hard to say why Handren calls some of them 5.8. Lots of chimney technique, very little pure offwidth. For pitch 7, we climbed the face to the right of the short steep chimney (5.9) because the top was clogged with a tree. Pitch 8 might be fourth class if you go through the tree, but we face-climbed to the right of the tree for some more 5.8/5.9. We didn't find "easy scrambling" to the top; instead we climbed up past manzanita and then left along a ledge then up (low fifth) to gain the top. Seven hours on route.

We tried the Oak Creek Canyon descent, following advice from the Urioste's, who we ran into the previous day! The Urioste's said to go back almost to the limestone and head down a gully marked by a stand of large ponderosa pines, and to avoid heading down tempting earlier gullies. They said this was much faster than the First Creek Canyon descent. I think we failed to find the right gully - in the end we needed one double-rope rappel. Our descent was about four hours.

Great adventure, very fun climbing. The trees/bushes encountered along the route could be viewed as either detracting or adding interest as one figures out how to bypass them.
By smassey
From: CO
Nov 17, 2009

Highly Entertaining. Having not read Larry's book until after doing this, I too took the right-hand slab at the tree chimney. Seemed fine. 1 marginal stopper for pro. Also, was too tired to look too far for "easy scrambling", so just did the last short chimney to the top. By that time in the day, it felt 5.5ish. Descended First Creek, which is easy but long. Classic route. I thought the flora kind of added to the adventure aspect. Nothing like a good Cascades Belay to vary the muscle groups used...
By sqwirll
From: Las Vegas
Apr 4, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

A great line up a great chunk of rock, too bad the climbing isn't up to par. A few notes:

The approach is pretty reasonable. We didn't have a watch, but I'm guessing 2.5 hours or so. Stay on the rock to the left of the left-slanting gully. When you get to the top of the left-slanting gully, go up the gully straight in front of you for 10' and start traversing right. This will avoid using the fixed rope and you won't encounter anything harder than 3rd class.

The route to me was a let down. Lots of dirt, brush, and suspect rock. We didn't have anything break, but be careful. At the top of the last chimney, we scrambled off to the left. It was maybe 5.4, but you probably want a rope due to exposure and rock quality.

Have ice cold beer waiting at the car, because you're going to feel worked after this. At least we didn't need to use the headlamps at all.
By Jason D. Martin
Apr 13, 2012
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

In March of 2012 we didn't find any fixed ropes on the approach. Instead, we found tons and tons of scrub oak. I've done a lot of adventure routes in Red Rock, but I have to say that this is the brushiest of the semi-popular adventure routes that I've encountered. I definitely came out of the experience with some holes in my sweatshirt and pants... It took about three hours from the car to the base of the route.

Be sure to go light on carry-over equipment. It's really hard to wear backpacks in the chimneys and offwidths on this route. And they're long enough that it's a pain in the butt to have them hung between your legs pitch after pitch...

By Flavaflav
From: Las Vegas, NV
Dec 4, 2015
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R

Topped out last night on this, figure I would put my thoughts down while the scars are still tender...
The rock is fine, just be observant. you're not really using face holds as crimps as much as you are using wide technique and smearing/edging on the sides. We brought a single rack to 6", double 4 and 5 and several hexes. A few times a smaller (pink) tricam seemed to be a critical piece in an odd placement, hexes were ok. Don't think we placed a single cam smaller than .3 or .4, would take a few small tricams and leave nuts at home. Double ropes were a pain, but if you were going to bail you need them or pull cord. Almost as serious to come down as go up. No one seems to know the pitch lengths. It's cool just roll with it, we did it in 10, ran out the last "scramble" up easy chimney. We left some in situ gear on route such as on p3 there's a nut and some cord hanging after the bush grab. Also the "vine/cord" on p7 is still in place, don't know what it was attached to. Seems like no one uses that anymore, it's too brushy and and dirty up there, take slab. We took one pack, it was just as heinous to follow as it was to lead.

4 hr approach from road, took our time. Oak Creek is clearly better descent. The best and most challenging climb of my life.
By Royal
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Dec 13, 2015
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13

This is an adventure, probably the biggest adventure I've had in RR on a rope. It's hard. Very sustained and physical 5.9. I think the technical crux was on the first pitch. The physical crux might be the last pitch, but that probably has something to do with it being last. There is loose rock on the route, I'd wear a helmet, and I broke a hold climbing around a bush on P2 - I climb a lot in RR and this was the first time I've broken a hold. The hard pitches are mostly just real physical and the blur together. Handren's pitch lengths are grossly off in several cases - most obviously on P8, it's more like 50 ft not 150 ft long. I thought the hardest pitches were P2, P4, P5, P9 but they all wear you out. Make sure to pack light on this one, hauling a pack sucks, and wearing one would be impossible. We did the approach in 4 hours - I thought it wasn't as bad as people say and was rather cool. We completed the last 4 pitches in the dark and some of the descent before bivvying. Oak creek is the prefered method of descent. Just don't drop down to early. You're looking for the canyon all the way back to the limestone with a red tower on the right side.

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