Change Up is my 3rd to last route to complete on the Upper Solar Slab Wall at Red Rocks. Only two 5.6 routes remain, Going Nuts and Solar Slab itself (even though I have descended it many times). Change Up is a good route to combine with Arch Enemy after you have climbed one of the Lower Solar Slab routes to reach the upper wall. Arch Enemy is the ultimate grab here in my opinion whereas Change Up is more of an afterthought if you are in to seeing more territory on the upper wall. They both share the same fantastic 2nd 5.9 pitch that tunnels through the bottom of the arch on the left side of the Upper Solar Slab Wall. The difference is that Arch Enemy gives you a great 5.8 start and another long 5.9 pitch to make for a 450’ route. Change Up was put in by Larry DeAngelo and company to make sure a stellar 160’ 5.7 corner did not go unnoticed on the left side of the Upper Solar Slab Wall. After this first pitch, the route basically ties into Arch Enemy.
The corner is a great trad lead for beginning trad leaders in that you can place gear at will and build a station at its top. The rock is more solid than Arch Enemy’s first pitch, but the moves not as interesting. From there you can continue up on perilous water worn sandstone to the start of the tunneling up into the arch or traverse right on really good varnish to take advantage of Arch Enemy’s two bolts that get you to the same tunnel through position. So where Arch Enemy runs up the right side of the arch, Change Up runs up the left side of the arch. This route can be wet from drainage and thus I advice planning it during a dry period (no snow melt).
Access is via the Oak Creek Canyon Trail head which is the last parking turn off on the right from the Red Rocks loop road. You will actually drive down a gravel road for quite a distance to reach the trailhead. There is a restroom at this location. Follow the trail into the canyon and turn right to stay out of the canyon floor and follow the trail until beyond the Friar. There is a well trodden switch back trail that leads to the base of the wall where Solar Gully and Johnny Vegas start. Climb any of the Lower Solar Slab routes to reach the broad bench below the upper slab. Walk to the base of the arch and set up below the left side.
260’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 160’- 5.7/ A fantastic corner sustained at the grade for Red Rocks. Place gear at will, using the face to help balance your corner moves, thus the grade. You eventually come to a good belay ledge about 30’ below the arch. You can set up an easy gear belay here or go ahead and traverse right to Arch Enemy’s bolted belay. (photos)
2nd Pitch- 80’- 5.9/ This is one of the more interesting pitches at Red Rocks. I recommend that you traverse right on good varnish to approach the tunneling section from the right versus left. The straight up left version of Change Up is un-protectable water worn sand (maybe some stone thrown in for good measure). Once you traverse right over Arch Enemy’s station, run up the white hollow (somewhat precarious) flake in the arch. It will be hard to find much friction on the wall during the winter where the sandstone has been scraped by water runoff. There are two bolts on the wall, but the 2nd bolt is eroded and serves little purpose. It is best to focus on finding some pro in the arch at that point. Gravity works against you and makes the crawling up the flake a tad awkward, but eventually you can turn around and face out into a true chimney position on much better rock. Here you will get a few good pieces in, one bomber .75 will be on the wall behind you as you chimney up. Eventually, as the chasm widens, you will flip and face the wall with a great rest stance or two and can place another bomber .5” piece with a double length runner off to your left. Continue through a squeeze section to the top of the arch and walk over to a mid rappel/belay station half way up the 2nd pitch of Solar Slab. (photos)