RED ROCKS Spring Break 2019
Climb 1: Sweet Thin (5.9, 7p, 730')
Climb 2: Beulah's Book (5.8-5.9, 3p, 550') + Arch Enemy Pitch 1 (5.8, 180')  + Heliotrope Pitch 1 (5.7, 140')
Climbs 3&4: Enterprise (5.11a, 4p, 430') & Challenger (5.10d, 4p, 400')
Climb 5: Epinephrine (5.9, 12+p, ~1600')
Climb(s) 6: Once Upon a Time (5.10a, 2p, 180') & The Schwa (5.10d, 2p, 200') & Schwalli (5.9, 80') Man of the People (5.11a, 110') Spirit Air (5.11c, 125') 
Climb 7: Honeycomb Chimney (5.9, 8p, 900')
Climb 8: Bird Hunter Buttress (5.9, 12p, 1200')

MAR
23-30
2019
TR #: 341

Category: Nevada       Elev: 4,000-6,000 ft       Rock Type: Aztec Sandstone

Partners: Sherri Lewis (Climbs 1-2) / DR (Climbs 3-7) / Danny Urioste (Climb 8)

Eight climbs in eight days on my eighth trip to Red Rocks.


INTRO

Red Rocks has become my standard Spring Break destination. Spring Break 2019 was my eighth trip to Red Rocks. Eight climbs in eight days—I'd say that's a pretty successful trip!

As a teacher, the first half of Spring Break is apparently supposed to be spent grading final exams, and the second half spent preparing syllabi and lecture materials for the upcoming quarter. But as usual, my plan was to spend as many days as possible climbing in Red Rocks. Fortunately my final exams were scheduled for early in finals week, and as soon as the first student handed in his final exam, my grading marathon began. By mid-morning Thursday of finals week, I finished grading the finals. An hour later I was sitting in the driver's seat of my pre-packed car, heading south on I-5 towards Nevada. 1,200 miles and five hours after this—19 hours of driving and 6 hours of sleep at a truckstop—I arrived in Vegas. My week-long Spring Break stretched ahead of me and the forecast looked great.

Saturday and Sunday I climbed with Sherri Lewis. Sherri lives in Washington as well, but amazingly we had never connected for any climbing before this. Sherri was recently back on the rock after a successful shoulder surgery and I was at the beginning of my rock season, so we took it relatively easy and climbed a couple of fun and sunny moderates. On Saturday we climbed Sweet Thin on Brownstone Wall and on Sunday we climbed Beulah's Book on Solar Slab. I had a blast climbing with Sherri and hopefully now that we've finally connected we can squeeze in a few more days of cragging this Spring.

Monday through Friday I climbed with my also-Washintonian friend DR, who had flown down from Seattle for a week of climbing. On Monday, we started off the week with what turned out to be the hardest climbing of the trip: Enterprise and Challenger on Challenger Wall. Eight difficult (though awesome) pitches combined with a stuck rope and a late night caused us to take Tuesday off from climbing. My parents were coincidentally in the area on their Spring Break adventures, so I took the opportunity to be their tour guide to Red Rocks and The Strip for the day. On Wednesday DR and I climbed the Red Rocks uber classic route Epinephrine; I had climbed this route in 2007 and DR had climbed it a couple of years previous, but it was fun to climb it again in style. On Thursday, wishing to avoid the crowds we had experienced on Epinephrine the previous day, we did some cragging at the Mud Springs Wing, an area of great rock just south of Black Velvet Canyon; our climbs there included the classic splitter 10d  offwidth The Schwa. On Friday, we enjoyed a nice romp up Honeycomb Chimney. Thanks DR for taking a break from PNW skiing to join me for a fun week of climbing in the sun!

On Saturday, I ended my Red Rocks trip with a climb with my local friend Danny. I was psyched Danny was able to climb one of the days of my trip. We climbed the 1200-foot Bird Hunter Buttress on Rainbow Wall. This route had actually been put up by Danny's parents Jorge and Joanne in 1982. Danny and I decided to do a walk-off descent, treating us a grand tour of Rainbow Mountain. It was the kind of adventurous and athletic day both Danny and I delight in.

On Sunday morning I started my long drive home. I arrived back in Bellingham 27 hours later, with just enough time to do all of my errands, clean my car, and prep for my first-day-of-Spring-Quarter lectures the following day. At least one of my students asked where I got my suntan.

Another fabulous trip to Red Rocks! Doing the math off the total trip mileage, it was about 6 hours of driving per climb. So I kept to my rule of more pitches than hours of driving! As usual, I ended the trip with more routes on my to-climb list than when I started the trip. At this rate, I'll be back again and again, and never run out of awesome climbs to do.

Routes we climbed:
Climb 1 Mar 23 Sweet Thin (5.9, 7 pitches, 730') Brownstone Wall, Juniper Canyon /w Sherri Lewis
Climb 2 Mar 24 Beulah's Book (5.8-5.9, 3 pitches, 550') + Arch Enemy Pitch 1 (5.8, 180') + Heliotrope Pitch 1 (5.7, 140') Solar Slab, Oak Creek Canyon /w Sherri Lewis
Climbs 3&4 Mar 25 Enterprise (5.11a, 4 pitches, 430') & Challenger (5.10d, 4 pitches, 400') Challenger Wall, Pine Creek Canyon /w DR

Mar 26 Day with my parents: Red Rocks and The Strip 
Climb 5 Mar 27 Epinephrine (5.9, 12+ pitches, ~1600') Black Velvet Wall, Black Velvet Canyon /w DR
Climb(s) 6 Mar 28 Once Upon a Time (5.10a, 2 pitches,180') & The Schwa (5.10d, 2 pitches, 200') & Schwalli (5.9, 80') & Man of the People (5.11a, 110')' & Spirit Air (5.11c, 125') Mud Springs Wing, Mud Springs Canyon /w DR
Climb 7 Mar 29 Honeycomb Chimney (5.9, 8 pitches, 900') Magic Mountain, Pine Creek Canyon /w DR
Climb 8 Mar 30 Bird Hunter Buttress (5.9, 12 pitches, 1200') Rainbow Wall, Juniper Canyon /w Danny Urioste

My favorite route from the trip? Probably a tie between Epinephrine and Challenger. Both are just awesome climbing. My favorite adventure? Bird Hunter Buttress. For sure.


PHOTOS AND OVERLAYS FROM CLIMBS

CLIMB 1 - MAR 23 - w/ SHERRI LEWIS

Sweet Thin (5.9, 7 pitches, 730')
on Brownstone Wall in Juniper Canyon  
 The route shares the first two pitches of Armatron (a featured face and a cruxy fingercrack) before heading up and left following a chimney, a bolted 100-foot long flake (the route's namesake), a handcrack, an an offwidth. A variety of climbing on featured and mostly solid brown rock.
Route overlay:
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

APPROACH
                       Bridge Mountain at the head of Pine Creek Canyon.
A cool cloud.
Juniper Canyon (Brownstone Wall is up and right of entrance to canyon).
Brownstone Wall (Sweet Thin is on right side).
The impressive Rainbow Wall. Brownstone Wall is on the foreground on the right side of the photo. The famous Nightcrawler route follows the awesome corner on the right side of the Hourglass feature.

PITCH

1
(5.8, 100')
           Sherri starting us off on Pitch 1. This pitch is protected by bolts and a couple of random nuts. This is the same as Pitch 1 of Armatron.

PITCH
2
(5.9, 125')
  Finger crack on Pitch 2. This is the same as Pitch 2 of Armatron. At the top, Sweet Thin continues up a corner on the left to an anchor while Armatron moves right to a different anchor.

PITCH
3
(5.6, 80')
(easily linked with Pitch 4)
    Pitch 3 climbs up the corner and continues up a widening crack. A variation climbs the featured face to the left of the corner. The guidebook description has this pitch ending at an anchor in the corner, but we easily linked this with Pitch 4 to the ledge below Pitch 5.

PITCH
4
(5.7, 95')
(easily linked with Pitch 3)
   This is a short and easy pitch up and left through blocky terrain to a ledge, and left across the ledge to the anchor below the flake of Pitch 5. We linked this with the previous pitch.

PITCH
5
(5.9, 110')
     This awesome pitch is the route's namesake. Climb up the hollow, razor-edged flake for about 100 feet (well-protected by 6 bolts), and then make an improbable (but surprisingly easy) traverse right and climb a fun hand crack to the anchor above. 

PITCH
6
(5.9, 90')
   This pitch climbs the obvious cool chimney to wide-crack feature. A #3.5 is perfect for the wide crack (thanks to Sherri's meticulous notes from her previous climb of this route, we brought my old #3.5 — interesting sidenote: this handy #3.5 had been stuck in the first pitch of the classic Burgner-Stanley route on Prusik Peak until my partner Clint Cummins cleaned it on our climb of the Burgner-Stanley route in 2006.

PITCH
7
(5.6 or 5.8, 130')
          We didn't read the route description for Sweet Thin, and we headed up the 5.6 arete on the final tower feature that is the final pitch of Armatron / Requiem for a Tadpole. Apparently, the final pitch of Sweet Thin actually is to the left up a 5.8 wide corner/crack, roof, and finger crack. But the Requiem for a Tadpole finish is fun too, so take your pick!

DESCENT

(walk off to the north and back around to base of route)
  Cacti glowing in the afternoon light.


CLIMB - MAR 24 - w/ SHERRI LEWIS
Beulah's Book (5.8-5.9, 3 pitches, 550')
(+ Arch Enemy Pitch 1 (5.8, 180') + Heliotrope Pitch 1 (5.7, 140'))
on Solar Slab in Oak Creek Canyon  
Beulah's Book features enjoyable face, chimney, and corner climbing up the big corner on the left end of Lower Solar Slab.
We had planned on continuing upward on Upper Solar Slab on Arch Enemy, which follows the arching corner to a wild chimney behind the arch feature. We climbed Pitch 1, but neither one of us felt up for leading the Pitch 2 chimney. For an extra pitch before rapping back to the base of Lower Solar Slab, we climbed the black corner of Pitch 1 of 
Heliotrope.
FA Beulah's Book: Randal Grandstaff, Dave Anderson, 1979. 
Route overlay:
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

  APPROACH


          Mt. Wilson on the hike into Oak Creek Canyon.
Solar Slab already being solarized by the morning sun.
Beulah's Book follows the obvious right-facing corner.

BEULAH'S BOOK


 PITCH

1
(5.7, 165')

    Pitch 1 starts up the corner, and then climbs a face just left of a chimney.

BEULAH'S BOOK


PITCH 

2
(5.8-5.9, 160')

       The standard Pitch 2 climbs the chimney and then finishes on the lieback corner. A variation is to climb the exposed arete (3 bolts) to the left of the chimney. If I came back to do this pitch again, I would climb the arete for the first half of the pitch (it was pretty awesome exposure), and then cut right back into the corner just above the chimney and finish with the sweet-looking lieback.

BEULAH'S BOOK


PITCH
 
3
(5.6, 200')
    The third pitch climbs up on white rock with very little pro. Sherri led us in a rope-stretching pitch that finished at the top of the lower Solar Slab (the guidebook adds this last part on as Pitch 4).

ARCH ENEMY P1

PITCH
4
(5.8, 180')
                     Pitch 1 of Arch Enemy climbs the slab to the bottom of the corner, and then ascends delicately up the corner to a bolted belay station below the arch. I really enjoyed this corner. But I backed off Pitch 2 when I didn't see much pro above in the chimney behind the arch. Darn it! It looked so cool! I'll have to come back.

HELIOTROPE P1

PITCH
5
(5.7, 140')
   I was pretty upset with myself for not being able to muster the nerve to lead Pitch 2 of Arch Enemy, so just to get one more "fun lead" in we climbed the black corner of Pitch 1 of Heliotrope before rapping back down to the base of Lower Solar Slab.

DESCENT

(rap Solar Slab gully)
   We rapped Solar Slab Gully. We had double ropes but it seems that a single 70 would work.


CLIMBS 3&4 - MAR 25 - w/ DR
Enterprise (5.11a, 4 pitches, 430')
on Challenger Wall in Pine Creek Canyon
Climbs a series of left-leaning corners. Adventurous route with some good stretches of climbing interspersed with some sections of DFU.
FA: Jay Smith, Randal Grandstaff, 1986.

&
Challenger (5.10d, 4 pitches, 400')
on Challenger Wall in Pine Creek Canyon
An excellent and challenging climb up awesome cracks and corners. The rock is unusually compact and unfeatured by Red Rocks standards.
FA: Jay Smith, Randal Grandstaff, 1986.
Route overlays:
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

APPROACH
       Challenger Wall as seen from the wash below. You cut up to the right side of the wall after passing below it. You will know you are getting close to the turn-off when you pass a honeycombed rock in the wash.

ENTERPRISE


 PITCH

1
(5.10a, 165')
      Pitch 1 climbs the corner.

ENTERPRISE


 PITCH

2
(5.10b, 70')
    Pitch 2 continues up the corner, and then makes a delicate traverse left under the roof and an awkward step left around the left end of the roof. DFU here or you will face a large swing. The rock quality at the belay ledge is also not too comforting.

ENTERPRISE


 PITCH

3
(5.10b, 110')
       Pitch 3 climbs easy flakes, then up the corner, and then makes a cruxy move just before the belay. This was my favorite pitch of the route.

ENTERPRISE


 PITCH

4
(5.11a, 50')
  Pitch 4 climbs the left crack and then cuts up right to a ramp. It is a short but powerful pitch. Technically the crux pitch of the route, but not as heady as some of the other sections below.


VIEW
     Looking over at Challenger Wall from top of Enterprise. Also the view out of the canyon from Challenger Wall. In my puffy on the chilly Challenger Wall, I yearned for that sun.....

CHALLENGER


 PITCH 

1
(5.10d, 100')
       Pitch 1 climbs up to the roof. Surmounting the roof is burly!

CHALLENGER


 PITCH
2
(5.10d, 100')
      Pitch 2 climbs the crack to the right of the corner. The 10d section is where the crack pinches down. DR climbed out left onto the arete and I did the same when I followed it, but would have felt quite spooked on lead. Nice job DR! Above the crack widens to an awesome hand crack.

CHALLENGER


 PITCH
3
(5.10b, 110')
      Climb the cracks and flaring slot (super fun!) to the roof and pull left around the roof. The roof was the crux for me. Wouldn't want to fall here. Another nice lead by DR.

CHALLENGER


 PITCH

4
(5.10b, 80')
   Pitch 4 climbs the right-facing corner with cool mantle + stem moves and then heads up and right to the anchor on Jupiter 2.

DESCENT

(for either route, rappel with a single 70)
    Our rope got stuck on the second to last rappel, so we got in a bonus pitch and the opportunity to use our headlights on the hike out. We decided to climb Pitch 2 of Space Cowboy, which is 10a rather than Challenger's 10d. 


NON-CLIMBING DAY - MAR 26 - w/ parents
Day with my parents: Red Rocks and The Strip
Our stuck rope combined with the difficulty of the climbing on Monday resulted in a non-climbing day on Tuesday to rest up for a bigger objective on Wednesday. Coincidentally, my parents were in the Vegas area on Tuesday. (They had been inspired by the fact that both Jenny and I were in the desert this week—Jenny in Indian Creek and me in Red Rocks—to plan their own Spring Break adventure to the desert. Their main destinations were Zion and Bryce. Their flights were out of Vegas, so they spent the last two days of their trip in the Vegas area.) So when I ended up having a free day on Tuesday, I offered to be their tour guide for the day! We hiked up to the waterfall and pools at the head of Icebox Canyon, then moved the car to Pine Creek Canyon and hiked to the flat boulder located in the glade below Dark Shadows, which made a great lunch spot where we watched the conga line of climbers on one of my favorite routes at Red Rocks. My parents' impression of Red Rocks was that it was very beautiful, but from their non-climbing perspective Zion still won the prize as their favorite destination of their trip. That evening we walked the Strip. I convinced my parents to try the slots; we started with $15; my dad and I quickly lost the $5 we started with (gaining 8 cent and 4 cent bookmarks, respectively), but my mom won our losses all back on her first bet, and decided to quit while we were ahead. Total winnings totaled 27 cents. It was a fun day!
Photos:
                                              


CLIMB 5 - MAR 27 - w/ DR
Epinephrine (5.9, 12+ pitches, ~1600')
on Black Velvet Wall in Black Velvet Canyon
In an area known for classic, middle-grade routes, Epinephrine is one of the best. The first six pitches feature smooth-walled chimneys to the top of Black Tower. Higher up, the route climbs pitch after pitch up a magnificent exposed dihedral before cutting out right on an easier exit ramp which leads up close to the summit. The climbing is superb the entire way and relatively sustained at the 5.8-5.9 grade, and makes for a nice full day adventure to the top of Black Velvet Peak. The climb got its name because epinephrine saved Jorge Urioste's life after he got bit by an insect in the process of bolting the upper pitches.
FA: Jorge Urioste, Joanne Urioste, Joe Herbst, 1978.

2007 trip report: I had climbed Epinephrine on my first trip to Red Rocks in 2007. I had always wanted to climb it again.

Time stat notes: We left the car at the Black Velvet parking area at 6 am and arrived at the base of the route around 6:40am. There was a party racking up and another party already on the route ahead of them. We waited a bit for the party ahead of us, and started climbing at 7:05am. By this time, two other parties had arrived and started up after us. In the chimneys, one of the parties ahead of us bailed. We climbed upward at a steady pace, keeping up with the party ahead of us and gradually gaining ground on the two parties below us. We passed the party ahead of us at the top of the route. We finished the route at 2:45pm, began the ascent up to the top of Black Velvet Peak at 3:00pm, stopped on the summit for 15 minutes, and were at the car shortly before 5 pm. A nice full day of climbing and back in time for dinner! That's the way to do it!
Route overlay
Approach beta
GPS Track Epinephrine Descent
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

PITCH 

1
(5.8, 60')

(Pitches 1+2 easily linked)
          Pitch 1 climbs out of the creekbed on face moves, starting directly below the obvious chimneys above. We easily linked Pitches 1 and 2. 

PITCH
2
(5.7, 110')

(Pitches 1+2 easily linked)
         Pitch 2 continues to a ledge about 170 feet above the creekbed.

PITCH
3
(5.8, 150')
           Pitch 3 works up and left into a chimney, then works up easier rock to the base of the big chimney that forms the right side of Black Tower.

PITCH
4
(5.9, 110')
            Get your chimney game on!

PITCH
5
(5.9, 150')
        Make an awkward exit out of chimney, then climb upwards, finishing with a splitter handcrack.


PITCH
6
(5.9, 120')
   More chimney, this time with more features for the feet and a couple of protection bolts. Finish on top of Black Tower.



PITCH
7
(5.7, 180')
      Pitch 7 climbs the featured face above the top of the tower and ends on a ledge.

PITCH
8
(5.9, 80')
   Traverse right to Elephant's Trunk and ascend to the belay station at a ledge.

PITCH
9
(5.9, 120')
         Continue up the crack system, stopping at the next bolted belay.

PITCH
10
(5.7, 160')
    Continue up the crack system, stopping at the next bolted belay.

PITCH
11
(5.9, 140')
         Continue up crack and face, making a move over a juggy roof to a belay ledge.

PITCH
12
(5.7, 160')
Continue up the crack system.

PITCHES
13+
(5.4, ~700')

(simulclimb)
        Follow the ramp up and right. The ramp finishes at a huge tree on the Northwest ridge of Black Velvet Peak. The terrain is mostly 4th class with a short exposed 5.4 section. We simulclimbed this part quickly.

DESCENT

(walk off)
                               Follow cairns along the ridge leading east from the summit, and eventually drop left towards Whiskey Peak and then head directly down towards parking area. See google earth image for detail.


CLIMB(S) 6 - MAR 28 - w/ DR
Once Upon a Time (5.10a, 2 pitches, 180')  &  The Schwa (5.10d, 2 pitches, 200')  &  Schwalli (5.9, 80'&  Man of the People (5.11a, 110')  &  Spirit Air (5.11c, 125')
on Mud Springs Wing in Mud Springs Canyon  
Mud Springs Wing is the heavily-varnished crags off the north side of the entrance to Mud Springs Canyon. Good rock, warm, and no crowds.
Photos: Notes:

Once Upon a Time

             Pitch 1 of Once Upon A Time climbs a 5.8 face to a ledge. Pitch 2 climbs a 5.10a layback corner to a crack above. In my opinion, the climb is not worth the long walk-off descent.

The Schwa

                         The Schwa is one of the few splitter crack climbs in Red Rocks. The route's second pitch features widening crack that splits the smooth face. The crux is offwidth section near the top.

Schwalli

       Schwalli climbs an obvious corner just left of The Schwa area. Despite looking fairly wide and intimidating, the crack is varied and abundant face holds keep you out of the crack for most of the climb. 

Man of the People

     Man of the People climbs the face just left of the Schwalli corner. It is well-bolted and climbs a series of positive incuts up the steep face.

Spirit Air

    Spirit Air climbs the spectacular sharp arete just left of Schwalli corner. The short 11c crux occurs at mid-height on the route. We toproped this climb after climbing Man of the People.

OTHER PHOTOS 

                Mud Springs Wing as seen on approach.

A couple of cacti.

A small herd (about 10) of burros. These donkeys were first introduced to the area by explorers, ranchers, and miners to help carry heavy cargo. Some escaped or were let go and became feral/wild animals.


CLIMB 7 - MAR 29 - w/ DR
Honeycomb Chimney (5.9, 8 pitches, 900')
on North Face on Magic Mountain
Named for a 100-foot "honeycomb" chimney halfway up the route, this seldom-climbed route is a great adventure to the top of Magic Mountain.
FA: Jim Trogdon, John Campbell, Larry DeAngelo, mid-2000's.
Route overlay:
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

APPROACH
               The first photo is a pretty cactus flower as we headed into Pine Creek Canyon. Compare the status of the flower to the photo taken earlier in the week when the flower was just beginning to open.

DR pointed out some bug tracks on the trail and after that I was seeing them everywhere. Every day is full of so many tiny details we fail to notice, but at least we noticed (and marveled at) this one. Google image search indicates the parallel tracks are millipede tracks. 


PITCH 

1
(5.6, 75')
            Pitch 1 is a short pitch that climbs up a featured pimpled crack to the top of the pedestal.

A bomber #5 placement at the anchor at the top of Pitch 1. We used the #5 a few times on the route because we had lugged it up, but we never actually needed it (something smaller could always fit).

PITCH
2
(5.7, 200')
           Pitch 2 is a long pitch that starts up a chimney, but exits right onto varnished potholes on the face, and continues up into an easy chimney.

PITCH
3
(3rd, 75')
   Pitch 3 is a "get you there" 3rd class pitch to the base of the Honeycomb Chimney.

PITCH
4
(5.7, 100')
     Pitch 4 is the chimney that the route was named after. Fun and unique climbing on varnished honeycombs to the top of the chimney. No actual chimney climbing required on this pitch.

PITCH
5
(5.8, 140')
       Pitch 5 climbs up and slightly left into the slot above, and then continues up an easy chimney. There are a few cam in pocket placements for protection in the slot.

PITCH
6
(3rd, 100')
           Pitch 6 is another get you there pitch on a ledge around left to the base of the Pitch 7 corner. The boulder in the first photo marks the start of the ledge. You cannot see the Pitch 7 corner until you are right below it. If in doubt that you are looking at the corner, you are not there yet.

PITCH
7
(5.9, 100')
       Pitch 7 climbs the corner to a large ledge. The corner is the best climbing on the route. It is also the crux pitch of the route.

PITCH
8
(5.7, 140')
             Pitch 8 climbs up a corner and then through a giant split boulder to the top of the fractured summit. You can also traverse to the top of the Community Pillar route from the top of Pitch 7 and join the Community Pillar descent easily, but then you would not climb to the summit and finish the actual route. The last pitch is kind of fun anyway.

DESCENT

(Several options, including a walk-off and at least 2 rappel routes. We did the Magic Triangle rap route.)
                                           The descent is not completely trivial, and we got a bit off route but eventually got to the Magic Triangle rappels. From reading mountainproject comments, here is my best guess at the best descent via Magic Triangle: (1) If you go to the summit, scramble south and then west and downish in a corkscrew around path of least resistance to find a single bolt rap to somewhere in the vicinity of the top of the Community Pillar route. (2) Find big pine with slings. Rap north off the pine. Walk easily across slabs to the top of the Magic Triangle raps. (3) Rap gully east of Magic Triangle in 4 raps with single 70. We scrambled the 3rd rappel since it was easily downclimbed and there were lots of bushes which would have been annoying to rap around.

Photos:
View west down from fractured summit.
View south towards Calico Hills.
Scrambling south from summit.
Off route on the descent. Some DFU scrambling.
The Magic Triangle.
The beginning of the Magic Triangle raps.
Rap 1.
Rap 2.
Rap 4.
Mescalito.
Birdland area on Brass Wall.


CLIMB 8 - MAR 30 - /w DANNY URIOSTE
Bird Hunter Buttress (5.9, 12 pitches, 1200')
on Rainbow Wall in Juniper Canyon
This route climbs the blocky buttress that forms the right edge of the Rainbow Wall. The position overlooking Rainbow Wall and Brownstone Wall below is phenomenal. A descent via Oak Creek Canyon makes wonderful loop trip around Rainbow Mountain and a nice athletic day out. The route is adventurous and has a distinct alpine feel. The climbing is moderate and to add to the accessibility the original bolts on the route have recently been upgraded and most of the anchors are bolted.
FA: Jorge and Joanne Urioste, 1982.

Time Stats;
Leave car (parked on HWY 159): 5:15 am
Arrive at base of route: 8:00 am (2 hours 45 minutes approach)
Begin climbing: 8:25 am
Top of route: 3:30 pm (7 hours on route)
Begin descent: 3:55 pm
Arrive back at car: 8:55 pm (5 hours descent)
Total car to car: 15 hours 40 minutes
Route overlay:
(Pitches as per Handren guide) Photos: Notes:

APPROACH

                                     We parked the car on the road at the pullout directly in line with Oak Creek Canyon, where we would be coming out. We approached Juniper Canyon from here. Getting to the base of the route involved scrambling up into the basin below Rainbow Wall (there was a short slabby section by a waterfall with a fixed line). The approach took about 2 hours and 45 minutes from car to base of route.

PITCH 

1
(5.7, 130')

(we linked Pitches 1+2)
       Looking up Pitch 1, which follows the leftmost of a couple of cracks. There is large pine tree just right of the base of the route.

PITCH
2
(5.7, 50')

(we linked Pitches 1+2)
  Move left and climb a crack to an anchor. This short pitch is easily linked with Pitch 1.

PITCH
3
(5.7, 110')
            Climb the crack in the corner. 

PITCH
4
(5.8, 80')
          Continue up the corner crack, which becomes a short chimney section just before the anchor. Enjoy the views of Brownstone Wall to the north.

PITCH
5
(5.9, 90')

(we linked Pitches 5+6)
            Climb the featured face, aiming left for a finger crack that brings you to the anchor. This pitch is easily linked with Pitch 6. There are a few protection bolts. There are a few original Urioste left in place.

PITCH
6
(5.9, 70')

(we linked Pitches 5+6)
   Continue up the face to an anchor at the top of a small pillar. This pitch is easily linked with the previous pitch.

PITCH
7
(5.8, 30')
    Climb a wide corner crack to the top of the next pillar. This is a short pitch, but it would probably not be wise to link it with the next pitch for rope drag reasons.

PITCH
8
(5.9, 120')
     Climb face rightwards to a wide crack which leads to the anchor. This pitch has some of the worst rock on the route, but there are several bolts because of it.

PITCH
9
(5.9, 120')
   Climb a right-facing corner to a big ledge. There are several bolts on this pitch since the gear in the corner is not great. The bolts strangely curve rightward away from the crack.

PITCH
10
(5.7, 90')
                Move the belay and climb a chimney to an anchor. The chimney looks intimidating from below, but there are nice foot rails to keep the grade at 5.7. There is also a bolt to protect the final moves.

PITCH
11
(5.8, 90')
     Make an awkward, athletic move out and left from the chimney, then climb up to a large ledge.

PITCH
12
(5.4, 90')
                Climb the easy crack and blocks to an anchor. Despite the sunny week, there was a small snowpatch on the ledge below the pitch. We were pretty cold from the last few pitches which had all been in the shade, so we took a short break on a sunny patch at the edge of the ledge. 

SCRAMBLE TO SUMMIT RIDGE
(4th)

               From the anchor at the top of Pitch 12, climb left around the arete to easier ground. Scramble to summit ridge. The actual summit of Rainbow Mountain is still quite high above and would require some more climbing to reach.

Last two photos show Paiute Wall at the head of the north fork of Pine Creek Canyon (looks like some steep rock on this wall!) and Brownstone Wall far below.

DESCENT

(several options. we chose to walk off via Oak Creek)
                                                                               There are four descent options I can think of (and probably more I don't know of):

(1) From the top of the route, walk off to the west and then back east via Oak Creek Canyon. This is what we did. It was a nice scenic route, but took quite awhile (5 hours from top of route to car). There is very cool and beautiful rock in upper Oak Creek.

(2) From the top of the route, rappel Brown Recluse with single 70 to base of route and reverse approach. This way is potentially much quicker than Option 1. But in the chance that the rope gets stuck, Brown Recluse is not an easy climb....

(3-4) Climb a few more pitches (looked like choose-your-own-adventure mid-5th climbing—see the photo of Danny on the top of the route with the summit of Rainbow Mountain behind him) to the top of Rainbow Mountain. From there, either rappel the Original Route or walk off via the standard Oak Creek descent. The walk off from the top of Rainbow is more straightforward than the circumventing walk-off we did (Descent Option 1), but getting to the top of Rainbow takes an indeterminate amount of time and effort. The mountain climber I am, I'd like to try this option if I am ever up there again.


I emailed my go-to geologist consult Doug McKeever to see if could explain some of the cool geology we saw in Oak Creek.

Photos 8 & 9: "These two photos show gorgeous iron-bearing sandstone fractured by umpteen small faults. By careful study one could discern order of faulting using the principle of cross- cutting. Spectacular! I would love to make a table out of a big slab of this." 

Photo 10: "Rock fish." =) 

Photo 11: "Another fascinating rock. It appears to be composed of broken angular fragments of thinly bedded fine-grained sandstone or mudstone. These thoroughly fractured rocks are almost a 'lithic hash' (my term).This 'scrambling ' could be related to a major structure found nearby, the Keystone thrust fault."

Photo 12: "Wow! The contact has elements of an angular unconformity, but I don't think that it is one. I propose that the angular contact is due to a block of the semi-solid layered rock on the right being ripped out of its original depositional place and being forced into the accumulated strata now on the left...sort of a 'pseudo angular unconformity.' This is an outcrop I would want to see "by sight on site.":

Photo 13: "Shows beautiful layering which is due to variations in the composition of the sediments. I suspect the white material is calcite. A simple scratch test would tell us."

Photo 14: "Cavities and stains extending from each cavity, it might be due to chemical weathering of nodules within the rock. Since the stains are gray, not red, the weathered nodules are probably manganese oxide."