This will be the most challenging 5.10 route you will find at Red Rock, off-width aficionado or not. Someone pretended to climb this route on Mountain Project and added one line worth of beta (2015) stating that the “crux is exiting the hole onto the beautiful black varnished face.” Whoever wrote that did not climb the route not to mention they offered no other beta on the route whatsoever.
Holed Up would be a legendary off-width climb in just about any park with easier access, i.e. Joshua Tree. At Red Rock it suffers from obscurity on an equally obscure wall named Ledger Crags. Ledger and Sheep Skull Crags are located between White Rock Springs and Willow Springs. Herbst established Holed Up with Steve Allen and Tom Kaufman.
There is no established trail to the wall. Its first pitch is chossy and uneventful. The main event however is easily recognizable from the loop road. It starts out as C4#5 and #6 off-width that gets wider yet as it overhangs below a small roof. Pulling the roof is easy in comparison to the off-width portion. Getting to that point involves a full body workout at a grade most would consider harder than 5.10b. I consider this off-width more difficult than Red Rock’s Ixtlan and/or Unfinished Symphony. The off-width pitch on Adventure Punks is not even in the same discussion difficulty wise. When I think of 5.10b off-width, I think of Firewater Chimney in Joshua Tree, but again, I found Holed Up much more challenging. Therefore, grade by grade comparison, Holed Up defines the term sandbagged. That being said, we are only discussing several meters of overhanging wide until you get saved by a hand jam mantle into the squeeze chimney. Although you cannot protect the chimney short of big bros, the climbing is much more secure. The final pitch is actually a decent 5.9 crack pitch to the top.
To get to Ledger and Sheep Skull Crags, pull off onto the right side of the loop road between the dirt road for White Rock Spring and the paved one for Willow Spring. There is a small east-west shallow canyon located between the two. Sheep Skull Crags is located on the left side of the canyon and Ledger Crags is located on the right. The route Holed Up can be located from the road by looking for an obvious hole (atop the 2nd pitch) on the heavily varnished left side of the wall (first photo above). In 2015, there is an obvious pull out on the right that can fit 2-3 cars. There is no trail, just basically make your way up the slope to below the hole. The first pitch starts at the base of the wall, below and slightly to the left of the hole climbing up a short easy chimney to a low angled chossy corner. The off-width is easily visible on approach and very obvious below the hole which sits atop the squeeze chimney portion of the 2nd pitch.
Route DescriptionHoled Up, 250+, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 90’- 5.6/ Start just left below the impressive overhanging off-width above. Stem up through a chossy chimney and start climbing a large left facing corner to the top. Belay at the base of the off-width crack behind a tree and bushes.
2nd Pitch- 90’- 5.10b/ This will be the hardest 5.10b you have ever climbed at Red Rock. Off the belay, I placed a C4#5. I walked a # 6 from there until it started tipping out which left some significant run out at the wide crux. If this off-width were dead vertical, it would just be another off-width. But the overhanging nature of this crack challenged my entire collection of off-width technique. Facing right, I planted a chicken wing there and again, but found it almost impossible to advance with my lower extremities. Using my left leg as a crow bar was about the best I had. Several excruciating meters of this wideness with little to any feature help lands you below the bulge where I placed my smallest micro cam in soft sandstone. Above that is a hand jam. One jug mantle later and you are in the base of the squeeze chimney above. You can place a C4#.75 in the floor and then you must run out this 30’ section on much better (varnished) rock. This section is vertical versus overhanging and was much easier albeit still quite physical and typical squeeze chimney movement with a few edges to help. Easily pull out of the squeeze and up into the "hole" above and set up a medium gear belay. Handren’s guide references belaying on top of this hole, but it makes much more sense belaying in it.
3rd Pitch- 90’- 5.9/ A decent bonus pitch for the physical effort below. Easily pull out of the hole up right. Walk up the ramp to the left for a few meters, then traverse back right (crux=intricate pro) to reach the intermittent crack up the varnished wall. There are quite a few loose pieces through this pitch despite being dark vanish. The initial traverse-in is the crux via off-set pro and/or nuts in horizontal placements. Follow the crack to the top and belay off of a boulder.