Hourglass Diversion is a great “add on” to the most classic route located on either of the Brownstone Walls (north or south) of Juniper Peak, Nightcrawler (5.10c). Since Nightcrawler, as good as it is, is just a four pitch route, you can rap the last two pitches with a single rope and start up three more pitches of Hourglass Diversion from there. Instead of the walk off through Gunsight Notch that Handren’s guide book would lead you to believe is the only exit option from the top of Hourglass, there is in fact a double rope rap just to the left of the finish that returns to the top of Nightcrawler. That is how I advise you return to the base of the south Brownstone Wall from Hourglass Diversion.
The Urioste’s established Hourglass Diversion the same year they put in Nightcrawler and High Anxiety (5.10c), 1978. Hourglass Diversion runs up the south Brownstone Wall between the two obvious 5.10 corners via a 5.9 crack. The first two pitches are the same as for Nightcrawler. The third pitch is nothing more than a 5th class exposed ramp (neat terrain though) running from the top of the 2nd pitch of Nightcrawler into what appears to be a fine hand crack that turns out to involve a bit more chossy climbing than it lets on from below. The 5th pitch starts out nice (5.8 cracks), but then runs through bushes and chossy ground to a ledge below a roof a full 200’. You can scramble up past the roof on the right and then turn back left to find the rap bolts that return you to the top of Nightcrawler.
The approach up to the two Brownstone Walls deters many climbing tourists, thus on most occasions, particularly mid week, you are likely to have either of the entire walls to yourself. I prefer to park at the Oak Creek trail head and head north out of the parking area for the Juniper Canyon access on the north side of the wash. Either hike all the way up canyon on a decent trail and head for the base of the large right facing corner (Nightcrawler) on the south Brownstone Wall or climb Myster Z or Rose Hips to the summit of Jackrabbit Buttress and traverse left over to the base of the south wall. High Anxiety is the left facing corner on the wall and Night Crawler the right facing corner. Between them lies Hourglass Diversion.
Route Description650’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.9
1st - 150’- 5.7/ The first pitch of Nighcrawler can be a fast and furious pitch that took me somewhere between five and ten minutes to complete. Start out a few meters up on a ledge to get your ropes out of the bushes. Follow a crack system that gravitates left to the base of the large right facing corner. A small, but well featured, traverse is required to reach the fixed station below the chimney pitch of Nightcrawler.
2nd - 120’- 5.9/ The chimney pitch of Nightcrawler is actually a real fun pitch to lead. It starts out in a flaring chimney. While rapping the top of Nightcrawler to start up Hourglass Diversion, we observed a young man below us get a 3” stuck so badly that he eventually bailed on the route and left the cam. Many young climbers would be guilty of focusing more on trying to sow up the flaring chimney versus just climbing it and taking the pro available via the cracks in the wall. As you near the arched roof above, climb out right via well featured face climbing to the fixed anchor and ledge above. If you try and stay true to the overhanging corner, the climbing will be considerably more challenging.
3rd and 4th pitches of Nightcrawler are not to be missed and I have included photos of same here as well as this link that takes you to Radek’s fine page.
3rd - 90’- 5th/ Follow the ramp out right on solid varnish to the base of a hand crack. Medium to large sized gear belay required. This ramp is actually a neat feature on the wall.
4th - 120’- 5.9/ This varnished hand crack is not as clean as it looks from below. About mid way up, the corner closes for a section and you are forced to rely on some chossy holds on the rightward face. After a few moves, you are comfortably back into the protectable corner. I advise you run this pitch all the way up to the bush ledge above. This additional 40’ of finger crack climbing extending this pitch (from the guidebook version) is the pleasure of the route.
5th - 180’- 5.8/ The rock deteriorates quite a bit for this last pitch. Stay in the weakness above, rarely being required to make a 5.8 move. It turns back into a crack for a section that lands you in an alcove below a roof. Turn the roof to the right via a short chimney section and belay on top.
To climbers left and down are a pair of rap bolts (2010). You need to walk left a few meters and look through a notch. Be careful scrambling down to them of course. This double rope rap takes you to the large ledge at the top of Nightcrawler. There are two rap stations, one way out left and one on the right edge of the ledge. Untie your ropes and do two single raps (to avoid the knot getting stuck in the crack) on the one to the right back down to the ledge where you took off on the 3rd pitch ramp. Then two double rope rappels gets you back to the base of the wall.