OverviewThis fun route continues from Devils Kitchen up the canyon wall to the south. At the top of this route is a feature known colloquially in Grand Junction as the "Lemon Squeezer". Though there are other spots in the Monument (and in the surrounding area, especially one in Rough Canyon) I have also heard called the "Lemon Squeezer", this is probably the most syndicated spot in the Monument that goes by that name.
For an experienced climber, the scrambling/climbing on this route is not particularly difficult. Still, you will have to be comfortable with vertical rock and some exposure to be successful. There are two solid pitches that rate class 4 or higher (depending on the exact route you select), and the crux section at the top is a short but tricky and almost-unprotectable wall that probably rates 5.3 or 5.4. If you are too intimidated to climb the crux you can still get to the top by climbing an easier chimney system farther up the canyon (class 4). If you do this variation, however, you didn't really do the Lemon Squeezer. Oh well, it's a worthy outing either way.
Getting ThereSee Colorado National Monument/Devil's Kitchen descriptions
Route DescriptionAfter parking at the Devil's Kitchen Picnic Area, hike southeast on the trail towards No Thoroughfare Canyon. Turn left at a junction (with sign) towards Devil's Kitchen (easily visible). The wall behind Devil's Kitchen is your target, ponder the route as you do this approach.
Scramble up easy 2+ terrain to the Kitchen itself and enjoy the view. There are some climbing routes here on the Kitchen's towers and formations. Check out MountainProject.com's page on Devil's Kitchen if interested. It's good here to rest in the shade and re-hydrate; the route gets more challenging from here.
From the Kitchen, turn south toward the canyon wall and inspect the rest of the route. Follow the path of least resistance across a slab, up a gully and into a small arroyo and reach the first crux. Duck around and climb over a couple of chockstones to reach the arroyo's headwall. Here you have two options: The left option is more difficult. Climb a short dihedral that begins class 4 but ends with an awkward class 5.6 move over a small overhang. This pitch is protectable with finger to hand sized gear. The right option is easier. Grab the big, fixed bolt part way up the rock and use this solid hold to traverse right into a large crack/chimney system. (Update: There are actually two bolts here now. Not climbing-style bolts with hangers but almost like giant nails pounded into the rock. Unless my memory is failing me, and the angle in my old pictures not revealing enough, this second bolt is new. One can only guess why someone thought it necessary to add another bolt of this style here) Stem your way up the chimney system and through some boulders to the top. Some of the moves required on this right-side option are class 4.
After the arroyo, continue up class 2-3 terrain until you reach the top cliffband. The Lemon Squeezer is a small, chimney-like weakness in this cliff layer. Turn right (west) and follow the cliff's base almost to the end where you find a light-colored wall facing east. The cave-like opening twenty-feet above you is the entrance to the actual "Lemon Squeezer". Without question this pitch is the route's crux.
The crux pitch is short and full of good huecos and jugs. It goes at the class 5.3/5.4 range, but it feels a bit stout because there is very little protection. The hardest move is about ten or fifteen feet up. This move rejects many people. Because there is so little available for gear, most people solo the Lemon Squeezer. To do this, you must be accustomed to difficult scrambling on exposed rock. Keep in mind it is often easier to go up than it is to come down. There are few things more uncomfortable than feeling stuck on a vertical face without the protection of a rope. There isn't much in the way of protection, if you brought gear.
Once past this move, climb to a narrow ledge and do a short, exposed traverse left and to enter the cave/chimney. This exciting "cave" has a window to an astonishing drop on the other side. This can be a windy and exhilarating place. Squeeze through a very narrow gap often called "the Rabbit Hole" and emerge on top.
Descent: After you've taken in the view from the top, walk south-southeast along the top of he butte and look for a large chimney system about 200 years up the east side of the plateau (the side not overlooking No Thoroughfare Canyon). If you find the right chimney you shouldn't have to downclimb anything harder than class 4 to very low class 5. If you are facing harder terrain keep looking, you probably havent found the right chimney. (See the "Lime Squeezer" chicken-out route below)
"Lime Squeezer" chicken-out option:
For those who find the Lemon Squeezer too exhilarating, there is an easier way to reach the top through a chimney I like to call the "Lime Squeezer". From the point where the route first intersects the headwall turn left (east) instead of right, as described for the Lemon Squeezer. Follow along the cliff's base for about .2 mile. Discover a hidden amphitheater along the way (watch for poison ivy, believe it or not). The crux obstacle of the chicken-out option is a small, but smooth sandstone ledge you must scale before you can reach the actual "Lime Squeezer". The only feasible way to accomplish this is to use the roots of a small, well-placed juniper tree. I usually don't like trusting my weight on small tree roots, but this is clearly the easiest (and perhaps only) way up this ledge. This tree is the key to the route, so be gentle.
The "Lime Squeezer" itself is an interesting chimney/crack and is worth exploring regardless. It is a tight squeeze at its narrowest point, and the scrambling/bouldering is class 4. This will probably be your descent route no matter how you topped out.
Essential Gear-WATER!!! It is hot and dry around here, even in the shoulder seasons.
-I could see how you might want a little gear for some of the harder sections but unfortunately it is very difficult to protect the crux. Stoppers, small cams, and a few slings will be most useful for what you can find.
Per Brian C: "If you don't bring gear like we did the second faces a pendulum and you have to tunnel to the top to get a belay stance. If you brought gear there is not much for placements but a small crack could protect the second. It did work fine with a 30m rope though and allowed to pull the pack through the hole."