Hot Fudge Thursday is a relatively new route by Red Rocks standards put in next to a more established classic named Jubilant Song on Windy Mountain’s upper south face. Despite Hot Fudge Thursday gaining in popularity no doubt, we had the route and in fact the whole mountain and canyon to ourselves for two midweek days in December (2007). Windy Peak is named such for a reason, the upper face is south facing and the prevailing winds from west to east can enter the head space of leaders en route. The descent however is a walk off making the route more plausible despite windy conditions. The approach and setting are outstanding and the first three pitches are some of the best combined three pitches for the grade at Red Rocks. All three are long and sustained. The last four pitches are more mundane, but combined with the final scramble actually yield a Red Rocks summit, register and all (Windy Peak).
Catch Highway 160 off of I-15 south of Vegas and travel west towards Pahrump. After several lights, you will pass the Highway 159 junction on your right, which leads to the Red Rocks Loop Road. There are several dirt roads on the right that will get you to the base of Windy Canyon. I used the direct approach which requires a high clearance vehicle. There is a dirt road on the right that runs right below a large cliff wall to its right that emerges from the desert floor. Turn right off of the main highway, curve left and then take the right fork as it descends via a dip. Follow this somewhat treacherous road as it leads due north. Turn left at the dead end and pull off at the 2nd right pullout. This is the preferred trailhead for the Windy Peak routes. You will be facing the east face. The 1000’ south face is quite a ways up canyon.
The general approach hike is the same for all the climbs on the south face. Descend from the trail head looking to gain a trail that eventually circumvents the obvious large pile of brown and red rocks to the right. Descend into a wash from there and attempt to pick up a faint trial that leads up into the canyon. Gain a trail that climbs the left side of the canyon until you reach what they refer to as the “football field”, which is basically a large vegetated plateau that is still separated from the south wall by another peak of sorts. Traverse the slick rock to the right of this obstacle and either continue up the gully itself, staying left when possible; or, if you ate your Wheaties, gain the rib on the right of the final gully and solo up some 5.6 slab, with no protection. Once above this water worn slab headwall, continue to the base of the upper south wall and start just left of a twisted juniper below black varnish and a decent 5.8 trad crack that curves right over an arch.
1000’, 7 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 165’- 5.8/ Follow the thin crack utilizing the dark varnish with tons of passive pro up and right as it curves on top of a small arch to a two bolt station. You kind of traverse from one crack to another as you move right above the arch about two meters.
2nd Pitch- 180’- 5.9+/ Pitch two is definitely the crux pitch of Hot Fudge Thursday. It is quite sustained and protected with run out via relatively new bolts (2007). There are a few spots for trad pro above the small roof move and then again towards the finish when the grade eases. Move straight up following the bolt line as it angles slightly left and then pull a small lip as you move back right via the crux and several exposed moves of the pitch. Place a nut or two as you traverse right into a small crack and continue to face climb trending left again as you enter a corner. The grade eases up as you stem up to a ledge above the tree on your right for a two bolt station.
3rd Pitch- 170’- 5.9/ Pitch three is the 2nd most challenging pitch of the route. Move out left passing two new (2007) bolts on your way to the base of the large crack. Place good pro in the base of the crack and climb it until you reach a bolt then move out left onto facial features as you traverse left and up on suspect rock (we had a foot hold give way here). Reach the top of the feature and continue past a cut bolt (2007) to a two bolt station up and to the left on a ledge.
4th Pitch- 185’- 5.6/ Climb straight up from the belay and move right and up onto large steep jugs. There will be pro placements when you need them, albeit a tad run out. You are heading for another two bolt belay.
5th Pitch- 110’- 5.9/ Follow two bolts as they trend left across thin holds to below a light colored lip/roof. Pull over this feature on easy but somewhat suspect holds, little if any feet purchase. The two bolt belay is directly to the right of a bolt and sling that can be used to aid the last 5.9 move, a weird traverse left to a short crack that tops out the wall into a (very) windy notch.
6th Pitch- 50’- 5.9/ Make an awkward traverse left across exposed slab past a bolt onto easier ground and easily stem up the final crack to the left that leads into a very windy notch. Beta varies here, but I suggest bringing the 2nd up here so as you can at least still see each other. The rest of the climbing from this point is more of a scramble and it would be faster to split this final roped section up.
7th Pitch- 90’- Lower 5th/ Follow the slab low (exposed) as you aim for the notch with a tree to the west. Gain the notch and ascend for a final belay. You can put the ropes away here and turn right for the summit on slab and slick rock. There is a summit register at one of the cairns.
DescentThis summit is a popular objective among scramblers. The descent ridge is nothing more than a hike really. Descend the southwest ridge via plenty of cairns (2007). Once you have descended approximately 1000’, look for cairns leading back left along a bench that dips and reascends to a notch with a large cairn. Aim for this notch and descend the other side to the base of the route.
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