Some of the best quality rock and hardest lines in Red Rocks are located back in the secluded, boxed-in confines of Juniper Canyon on Rainbow and Brownstone Walls. The several hour approach is considered quite long by Red Rocks standards, thus these routes become ideal objectives when the park is otherwise crowded. The best way to avoid the long hike, however, is to combine the route Myster Z on Jackrabbit Buttress with a route on North or South Brownstone Walls. On my first two trips back to the Brownstone Walls, I have only seen one other party climbing on any of the 20 published routes (2008). The quality of rock on the Brownstone Walls is 2nd to none at Red Rocks in my opinion.
Unlike Rainbow Wall, the Brownstone area faces southeast and soaks up the sun for much of the early day during the spring. However, Black Dagger on Brownstone Wall South catches shade early in the day in the fall. For climbing purposes, the wall is discussed in two sections, the North and South. The south Brownstone Wall is bordered on the left by Gunsight Notch which connects it to Rainbow Wall at the head of Juniper Canyon. Gunsight Notch is used for the scramble off descent of the Brownstone Wall South routes. The north Brownstone Wall ends at the summit of Juniper Peak, a common scramblers objective, and its routes can be walked off at the north end of the wall. There is an obvious cleft in the middle that separates north from south. Imperfections continuing north along the wall produce more features on the north Brownstone Wall versus south. Brownstone Wall South has a minimum of eleven (2008) published routes ranging from the 5.6, “Peanut Brittle” to the far left (south) to the 5.12b, “Pro Life” to the far right. None of the lines exceed 700’ of actual climbing and most were put in during the 70’s, making Brownstone Wall South a relatively early developed wall by Red Rocks standards. Brownstone Wall North routes are much younger.
Park at the Pine Creek trailhead. There are two approaches to Juniper Canyon. Either hike down the main Pine Creek trail and traverse around the old home site to intersect Oak Creek Trail, or locate a more indistinct trail at the Fire Ecology Loop. They both require crossing Pine Creek ascending up to the south bank. In any regard, you hook into the Oak Creek trail and leave it at any number of trails that make their way towards the left hand corner of Jackrabbit Buttress. Avoid crossing the Juniper Creek Wash to the south. Stay on the north side until you are forced to drop down into Juniper Canyon and scramble your way up the wash until you catch a trail on your right that leads up on loose ground to a large flat vegetated area below slabs to the northwest that lead up to the Brownstone Wall. Continue following a trail until it leads you onto large talus. Scramble up the talus to the large, low-angled slabs above, angling right to the base of the north Brownstone Wall or left among bushwhacking to reach the south Brownstone Wall.
My preferred method of access to Brownstone Wall is to climb the 6-8 pitches of Myster Z to the top of Jackrabbit Buttress and then traverse the slabs along its southern flank to reach the base of Brownstone Wall.
Route Description(s)The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face the South Wall
- Peanut Brittle- 700’- 5.6/
- Black Dagger- 680’- 5.7+/ I climbed Black Dagger in October and it can be a bit chilly later in the day as most of this left section of South Brownstone Wall never sees daylight this time of year. The step down, left and then rightward traverse on pitch 2 was quite spectacular for the grade as well as the varnished corner of pitch 3. These two pitches are what lend to the popularity of this route. Beyond that it is nothing special. I combined the 5th and 6th pitches with a 70m rope and we scrambled right to left up from there. Make sure you stay left when you start pitch 5 versus right, although you can go either way on easy ground, just a lot less rope drag if you stay left and out of the long corner. We did not need to rappel on the Gunsight Notch descent although there is tat with which to do it if you are not comfortable with the terrain. Dow
- Cat Scratch Fever- 650’- 5.8/
- Me, Myself and I- 620’- 5.7/
- Bad Guys Approaching- 500’- 5.10c/
- Time’s Up- 480’- 5.11d/ The first pitch (5.8) runs up a fun varnished face with intermittent cracks to a fixed belay. The second pitch continues up a good corner until you need to make a few consecutive 5.10 moves to traverse right and up through a block to a small ledge below the main corner system on the left side of the hourglass feature. Then the real business begins with two stout 5.11 pitches. The first one is only 60’ to a small delicate ledge out right. The tips portion via the last couple moves is quite sustained. The fourth pitch is 5.11d bordering on 5.12 with a wide strenuous lie back leading into a chimney and then pulling a roof out the chimney into the thinnest of seams (lesser than tips). Several stiff moves of no hands stemming reaches the hanging belay below a much smaller roof versus the one you just pulled out of below. The fifth pitch backs way off with its crux move coming right above the belay, taking the small roof above via a stem move or two and then following good edges in the corner to another roof, exiting out right and back left to a ledge below a 5.9 black varnished corner. This last pitch is considered run out via the book, but if you climb the face out right and place a few small pieces when convenient to do so back in the corner, it goes relatively smooth to the top of the hourglass feature. Move right and rap Nightcrawler to the ground with a single 70m, which makes for a tight fit on the third rap and requires a bit of easy (5.7) down climbing via the fourth and final one. Dow
- The Nightcrawler- 445’- 5.10c/ Tend to agree with others. A hard 5.10 lead on those last two pitches. A ton of stemming. Still feeling it and I am a flexible old dude. I led the longer third pitch. Real fun and super protected. The 2nd pitch was a good one too. Will have to give this route fives stars for quality even though it is not that long. We combined with Hourglass diversion for a total of seven pitches. You do not have to walk off at the top of Hourglass. To your left is a bolted rap station that will take your directly back to the top of Nightcrawler with double 60's. (great write up and supporting details by Radek as always, thanks!) Dow
- Hourglass Diversion- 600’- 5.9/ The Urioste’s established Hourglass Diversion the same year they put in Nightcrawler and High Anxiety (5.10c), 1978. Hourglass Diversion runs up the south Brownstone Wall between the two obvious 5.10 corners via a 5.9 crack. The first two pitches are the same as for Nightcrawler. The third pitch is nothing more than a 5th class exposed ramp (neat terrain though) running from the top of the 2nd pitch of Nightcrawler into what appears to be a fine hand crack that turns out to involve a bit more chossy climbing than it lets on from below. The 5th pitch starts out nice (5.8 cracks), but then runs through bushes and chossy ground to a ledge below a roof a full 200’. You can scramble up past the roof on the right and then turn back left to find the rap bolts that return you to the top of Nightcrawler. Dow
- High Anxiety- 650’- 5.10c/ The corner covering the 3rd and 4th pitches, the crux climbing of the route, offers incredibly solid rock that Brownstone Wall is famous for, what I consider the best quality rock in all of Red Rocks. The last loose and bush laden pitch, by consensus, is to be avoided and a double 60m rope rappel line has been established at the top of the 5th pitch, to allow you to descend back to the base of the wall, down the center of the blank wall between High Anxiety’s corner and Nightcrawler’s corner. Dow
- Pro Choice- 500’- 5.11a/ The crux pitch (4th pitch) offers some of the better rock in all of Red Rocks. The crux moves follow up a black varnished arête to pull a small bulge into a heavily varnished corner that goes to the top of the route at a much lesser grade. The route as a whole is sort of a one move wonder at the 5.11 grade. According to Handren’s book the 2nd pitch is 5.10b, but we found no move more difficult than 5.9 on that pitch. The descent is a bit confusing. To clear matters up, since I have also climbed High Anxiety, if you rap High Anxiety with double ropes, which is the natural rap line from the top of Pro Choice, you will be left without a final fixed rappel not to mention potential rope pull issues. Although Pro Choice can be rapped itself, that will involve moving the rappel back right after the first rap, to relatively new rappel rings (2010). Then rapping back to the top of the 2nd pitch which will need a supplemental biner left (2010), and then a long rappel straight down will leave you a short bushwhack back south to your gear. Dow
- Pro Life- 160’- 5.12b/
- Over 300 routes detailed from first hand successful accounts by me or others at Red Rock Canyon. GET OFF THE TOURIST ROUTES and explore!
- Great Outdoorsdepot.com
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
- Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association