Page Type: Custom Object
United States, North America
36.15057°N / 115.42718°W
Created/Edited: Sep 25, 2006 / May 22, 2016
Object ID: 228918
Page Score: 89.01%
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Badlands Peak *
Riding Hood Wall
Religion is a mental disease, often confused with spirituality. --pjs-1965
Riding Hood Wall
Located in Calico Basin, Riding Hood Wall has only a handful of routes, but they are good ones, and two of them, one a trad route and the other a bolted route, have become increasingly popular. Respectively, those routes are Physical Graffiti (5.6) and Big Bad Wolf (5.9).
Climbing out of Calico Basin has some distinct advantages:
- No entry fee.
- No dealing with the one-way Scenic Loop.
- Although popular with climbers, it is not nearly as mobbed as the climbing spots just to the west, over the crest of the Calico Hills, are.
- Largely free of the hordes of tourists the Scenic Loop approaches to the Calico Hills feature.
- After topping out, you can scramble a bit more to the crest and have a great view of the heart of RRCNCA while having it all to yourself and looking down on the aforementioned hordes.
There are two distinct disadvantages. Nothing is perfect.
- The parking area providing the best access to Riding Hood Wall and nearby crags such as Moderate Mecca and Cannibal Crag is gated and does not open until 7 A.M.
- Coming out here really early, when few or no other people are around, makes you vulnerable to thieves. One time when I got a really early start out of one of the trailheads in Calico Basin, someone broke into my car.
Riding Hood Wall is not a true summit. From the top you can, however, scramble up a bit more until you are on the crest of the Calico Hills and enjoy a great view. I mentioned that already, but it's worth mentioning again. In my not-humble opinion, anyone topping out and missing the view who views the setting as anything more than an outdoor climing gym is really missing out.
Take Charleston Boulevard through Summerlin, after which it magically becomes SR 159. Before reaching the Scenic Drive for RRCNCA, turn right onto the signed road to Calico Basin. Turn left at the second major intersection. (The first has signs clearly warning about private property.) This second intersection is signed for Red Springs and is really hard to miss. Drive a short distance to a large parking lot.
Hike north on a trail. Pass a huge outcrop (Cannibal Crag) and then descend a bit. Now hike and scramble up and west to Riding Hood Wall, which is plainly visible; look for the face with some long cracks splitting it. (And look at the pictures on this page!)
From left to right:
- Riding Hood (5.8)-- trad, 3 pitches.
- Big Bad Wolf (5.9)-- sport, 4 pitches. This well-protected route has become very popular.
- Physical Graffiti (5.6)-- trad, 2 pitches. Many who climb this route say the second pitch is harder than the first and more like 5.7. I'm not sure I would call either pitch 5.6 by Seneca standards, and the hardest part, I think, is the start, which is steep and thus could be a little pumpy for some leaders trying to get a first piece in. On the second pitch, placing pro in the crack while stemming and/or using holds on the face as much as possible seems to be the way to go. The second pitch is long and can use up most of a 60m rope. Some logs I read suggested having doubles or even triples of cams in the .75-3 C4 sizes, so I did just that in addition to having two sets of stoppers. On that pitch, I placed 16 pieces of pro, including one cam about equal to a #4 C4, and used 3 for the anchor up top, but I have read of newer leaders using almost twice as many and more experienced leaders using fewer.
- Over the Hill to Grandmother's House (5.9+)-- trad, 2 pitches. This is the crack route to the right of PG.
- Lil' Red (5.9+)-- trad, 1 pitch.
The Red Springs area does not open until 7 A.M.
When to Climb
Any season but summer, though you could probably get away with climbing in the late afternoon then since the sun would be off the wall.
The nearby Red Rock Campground off Moenkopi Road offers the only camping in the area; this road branches off south from SR 159 not far from the turnoffs for Calico Basin and the Scenic Drive. The campground is usually closed in the summer.
What I really wanted to do was climb Mount Cowen. Said to be one of the best scrambling routes in Greater Yellowstone, going at Class 4 overall with a 5.4 summit block, it sounded perfect for me.
But there were two problems. One was the long hike in, involving a steep descent before climbing to the logical campsite. I hate giving up elevation in order to gain it. The other problem involved time and energy. Climbing Cowen is really best done as a two-nighter; you grunt the 8-9 miles to Elbow Lake and make camp, you climb the peak the next day, and then you hike out the following day.
When you're solo and you can't stand down time and you have to meet your wife the next day, this just doesn't work. In retrospect, given that the weather was perfect, I could have hiked in early, rested a bit, climbed, and then hiked out the next day, but I couldn't have predicted that perfect weather, right?
To be honest, my main reason for bailing on the plan was that I didn't want the long slog up and down, in and out, both ways, for I hate backpacking as well even though I will bear that cross to reach certain places.
So I made a different plan. Crow Mountain was supposed to be Class 3 (easy but still tough enough to make it appealing), and the hike in was supposed to be fairly short and easy. 4 miles and about 1000' of elevation gain to trail's end and camp-- no problem!