On Bridge Mountain’s lower southeast face lies the Spectrum area, home of an up and coming classic at Red Rocks named Birdland. Birdland was put up in 2001 by Mark Limage and Chris Burton. It is really a hybrid of routes that already existed and long suspected were utilized by local guides. It combines the lower original pitches of Big Horn with the upper pitches of Spectrum. Birdland, as popular as it has become, sits across from the even more popular Dark Shadows, 5.8, on Mescalito’s north face. If there are lines at Dark Shadows (and there often are), I advise combining Big Horn’s (5.8) 3rd and 4th pitch with Birdland’s five pitches to make for a decent day of climbing. You can climb Big Horn’s 3rd and 4th pitch from the top of Birdland’s 2nd pitch and rappel and down climb back to the top of the 2nd pitch.
Jerry Handren’s guide book calls Birdland “sustained for the grade”, but I only found pitches 3 and 5 to be much sustained. The top of pitch 5 does push the grade for sure, thus a 5.7+ versus 5.7. Birdland is an all trad route with the exception of fixed stations and one bolt protecting a slabby traverse on pitch 3. You can rap from the top of any pitch with a 70m rope. Most belays are comfortable even though the later ones are semi-hanging, thus solid rope management skills are essential. There is a short 6th pitch, but it is not recommended due to fragile rock and run out protection and does not reach the top of the wall. There is a huge sandy roof that stops most progression upwards. There is a great photo of the crux section of pitch 5 in Jerry Handren’s guide book,”Red Rocks, a Climbers Guide”. page 205. Expect Birdland to be popular on weekends. Although relatively new, the word is out and we climbed behind two other parties on a mid-week day in April.
Park at the Pine Creek trailhead and proceed west along the trail towards Mescalito. When the trail follows the wash and meets up with the red rock band on the right, divert off the main trail and start ascending a fainter trail that leads back up and right to the Spectrum and Brass Wall areas. Birdland can be located at the very south end of the east face of Bridge Mountain. A deep half arch sits in the middle of almost solid black varnish on the lower wall. Another smaller arch sits below that arch to the left. Birdland follows a line that angles left to right up the face that the before mentioned arches lie on. Two distinct chimney/seams border this face on each side. The ascent to the base of Birdland is fairly immediate as you top out on the red rock band.
Route Description500’, 5 Pitches, 5.7+
1st Pitch- 110’- 5.6/ Follow the left crack placing gear at will and jugging large holds to an anchor on a tree ledge above. There is a separated chimney below you to the right of where you start this pitch and a flat section of stones several meters away to suit up on.
2nd Pitch- 110’- 5.7/ You have two options. The intent of the route is to follow the arête directly above the anchor hooking into a crack to the left, but right of a right facing chimney section. You could also move the belay to the left and start in the chimney. In any regard, follow the crack to a ledge below a corner and then take the corner straight up, moving right below a block to reach an anchor on a large treed ledge. This is where you can divert and do Big Horn to the left, yet rappel and return to finish Birdland from this large ledge.
3rd Pitch- 85’- 5.7+/ Move up and right and then follow the ramp back left traversing several meters to the lone protection bolt on the route. You can protect this pitch with gear earlier, but if you do, use longer slings to avoid much rope drag. This is a slightly exposed traverse. From the bolt, move up and right following a steep crack/corner to yet another ledge (smaller) and anchor.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.6/ Move up and over a small buttress of light colored rock, then traverse out right angling up for the black varnish (discontinuous seams) that leads to the next anchor (semi hanging belay). You will traverse low on this pitch several meters to the right.
5th Pitch- 100’- 5.7+/ This is by far the crux pitch of the climb. Move right out of the belay and into a decent sized crack. Follow the crack on easy holds as it narrows into a thin varnished finger seam that peters out onto steep slab for the last 10’ or so. Use a finger lock or two to advance so you can reach for a hand jam deep into a small foot ledge below the anchor. Mantle up to the anchor. You can face climb to the right, but probably at a grade or two higher.
DescentIf you used double ropes, you can rappel back to the top of the 3rd pitch and then stop at all belays to avoid getting a rope stuck. If you used a 70m rope, you will have to stop at all belays. Do not use a single 60m rope. Be respectful of other parties below you as this is a popular route.
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