Magic Mountain was one of the last objectives I had yet to reach the summit of in Red Rocks National Recreation Area. The only wall worth climbing on Magic Mountain is its north face. Even then, most of these routes are rarely climbed in comparison to neighboring routes on Mescalito, Bridge Mountain and Juniper Peak. They are decent summer objectives because they are quite shaded, being mostly chimney routes on a north face. By far the most common of the bunch is Community Pillar (5.8). However, after reading Radek’s not so glowing review of this route, I chose Honeycomb Chimney (5.9) as my first choice up Magic Mountain’s north face.
I was not disappointed. Despite a slight, but short, bushwhack approach and a suspect first pitch (two holds failed-2008), the 4th and 7th pitches of Honeycomb Chimney more than made up for any disappointment suffered en route. It just does not get any better at Red Rocks than the solid black varnished 5.9, 100’ corner, 7th pitch. The 100’ “honeycomb” chimney for which the route was named made up the 4th pitch and even though it was easy climbing, the aesthetics of the honeycomb type features were quite enjoyable.
Honeycomb is one of Larry DeAngelo’s routes and although listed as eight pitches in Handren’s “Red Rocks, A Climbers Guide”, it is really only made up of six pitches of real climbing. You won’t find Honeycomb Chimney in Swain’s book or at Supertopo. Two of the eight pitches are simply scrambling grade to move the belay. The crux pitch, as before mentioned, is excellent full on 5.9 trad climbing up a corner that tightens. The 2nd most difficult pitch is a 5.8 squeeze chimney that is difficult to protect, but does not involve overly difficult moves. The route is completely and totally bolt free as well as stations are quick and easy to make via comfortable belays. Therefore Honeycomb Chimney is a true trad day void of the over zealous bolting that can be found all over Red Rocks.
You park at the Pine Creek trail head which can be reached off of the Red Rocks Loop Road. Hike towards the canyon, venturing left at the “old home site”. Follow the trail on the left side of the creek, but avoid climbing back left towards the Oak Creek Trail. Continue heading into the canyon and work to identify Honeycomb Chimney as the chimney directly to the left of a significant varnished face on the north face of Magic Mountain (see topo photo). Angle up the hill, via no trail to speak of, towards the varnished face. The brush is too thick for you to circumvent the wall at the base of Magic Mountain, so head for a spot right below that large varnished face. Fight your way through brush up to the base of the mountain and then turn left until it ramps up to a nice flat boulder below the first white chimney pitch.
900’+/-, 8 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 75’- 5.7/ My kiwi partner, who had never been to Red Rocks before, grew quite concerned as he watched me lead this pitch with several holds blowing out. The first pitch is comprised of bad rock. You know the drill, white-yellow in color….just consolidated sand really (what Handren calls “fragile rock”). But the climbing is easy on this first pitch. Just take your time, make sure of your balance and fight through the initial face stuff until you can protect in the chimney/crack. Continue up to a comfortable belay ledge below a much better varnished off-width crack. You can sling a large block for the belay.
2nd Pitch- 200’- 5.7/ Start in the crack and climb over a small tree (2008). You get the chance to protect in the crack with a large piece of gear and then move out right onto the face via large varnished pot holes and some run out, but easy, ground. Venture back into the crack and continue to a bulge. It is easy to protect this move and then fast climbing up a chimney gets you to a large bushy ledge. You can set up a quick belay via a tree.
3rd Pitch- 75’- 3rd Class/ Scramble up and to the base of the chimney pitch that serves as the route’s namesake, a wide chimney filled with varnished pot holes, therefore the ”honeycomb” look.
4th Pitch- 100’- 5.7/ This is the 2nd best pitch of the route and its namesake, a really funky deep chimney with tons of “varnished pot holes” to grab onto. This chimney also has several cracks running up it to place gear in. The options for climbing stance and holds are numerous. It is an easy, but vertical and fun pitch. You basically climb 100’ up this chimney and at the top have a decent block to sling for the belay.
5th Pitch- 140’- 5.8/ Up and to your left is a squeeze chimney. Move over left and start up this chimney. It is impossible to protect until you jam up and reach a #3 pocket that is pretty damn sturdy. Most pocket cam placements at Red Rocks are questionable at best, but this is probably as good as they get. Then back out of the squeeze and reach up to your left (east) for a bomber hold. Use this to reposition yourself on the right face. Continue up, dragging the rope along through another chimney of sorts until you climb through a small hole. Belay on top of this hole with some trees. The only 5.8 moves involved the squeeze chimney section.
6th Pitch- 100’- 4th Class? (more like 3rd)/ Move up and through a small tunnel to the east and then along a loose ledge bypassing a crack and chimney section (at a dip in the ledge) until you dead end into the corner. This corner is unmistakable. Its left wall is all black and slick. It looks harder than it is.
7th Pitch- 100’- 5.9/ By far the best as well as crux pitch of the route and I cannot imagine anything on Community Pillar next door to rival it. A “spectacular” (as Handren describes it and I concur) steep corner pitch with a slick black varnished wall coming in from the left into another wall with some large features higher up. At first the crack is wide and looks hard to protect, but in reality, you can sink two #4’s in as you work your way up to the 2nd half of the corner and into the more challenging climbing. The gear keeps getting smaller down to #.4. Use a combination of chimney and lie back technique to wrestle your way to the final reachy face moves which land you on top of a huge ledge. Belay with any variation of gear into a solid crack above.
8th Pitch- 140’- 5.7/ Scramble up 50’ left to the base of a mossy corner. Climb the corner and then move to the base of yet a 2nd mossy corner. Climb this corner into the tunnel formed by the huge split summit ridge boulder. Climb your way through the red maze and belay on top. The rope drag will be a little stiff. You are not on the actual Magic Mountain summit yet, but close (just to the east).
DescentMove over the broken boulder to the east. Down climb a short section or two until comfortably on the summit ridge. Continue east to the summit. Descend the summit to the south following that ridge along the right side (west, not the east as mentioned in some beta). Stay as close to the ridge as possible as you descend to the col between Rose Tower and Magic Mountain. Pop over to the east at the well worn descent trail used for Olive Oil. This trail drops down to the Oak Creek Trail, take a left and then eventually a right for the shortcut back to the trailhead.
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