One of the more, if not the most, impressive singular breaks (splitter) in all of Red Rock is located dead center on the middle buttress (Ixtlan Buttress) of Whiskey Peak encompassing four of the pitches on the route, which is the buttress’ namesake, Ixtlan (5.11c). The bowed out flake created at the start of this splitter [pitch 2 (5.10a)] makes for spectacular climbing up an otherwise impregnable face. Finally when the wall caves way to fully splitting, it forms one of the tougher C4 #6 off width sections I have climbed [pitch 3 (5.10d)]. Then the crack settles back to pleasant 5.8-9 featured crack climbing for two more pitches on the upper wall before exiting onto other features to finish the route to the top of Whiskey Peak.
Ixtlan was established by the Uriostes and Dan Goodwin (aka SpiderDan) in 1981. The first pitch required bolting (5.11c), but the FAer’s went on to bolt much of the third and fourth pitches as well. Due to the fact that these pitches can be protected with conventional large gear, most notably a C4 #6 or two, the FAer’s existing bolts have never been replaced and are suspect as of 2012. They need to be removed and not replaced in my opinion. The few folks who have climbed this route bail before completing it in its entirety, when in reality, the upper 5.9 pitches are worth completing via decent rock and cracks by Red Rock standards. I suspect the mank bolts discourage some from continuing upwards. The lack of interest in 5.10+/5.11- off-width climbing is no doubt the main reason this route does not see more attention. In most climbing areas, it would be considered a classic.
Entry to the splitter actually offers up two options, the original line (left) which is a short fully bolted 5.11c pitch or Matzoland (right), a 5.12a fully bolted pitch. The original pitch crux involves groping a shallow corner to a relatively easy traverse up and right to a fixed belay. We actually combined the first three pitches. The second pitch is a very aesthetic bowed out splitter that protects well with larger gear (4”) or requires more intricate thought on placing pro with a standard rack to 3”. The moves are fun and athletic. Eventually this initial section of the splitter leads to an almost perfectly consistent off-width crack. Either lay back or scoot up the off-width. The FAer’s placed many bolts out right, but if I did the route again, I would rather rely on two C4 #6 cams. Eventually make dramatic moves through a roof with jugs on the outside wall to a comfortable fixed belay. We also combined pitches 4 and 5, which consisted of tame 5.8-5.9 climbing on good rock. The fourth pitch would still require wide protection or reliability on the existing bolts, but the rock is of good quality and the grade level closer to 5.8 than 5.9. The fifth pitch protects with a standard rack as you start to leave the main crack up varied terrain to the left. A fixed belay awaits on a ledge, but again, with mank bolts (2012). It is best to avoid this station by combining pitches 4-6 by simply angling back right towards the end of the 5th pitch to reach a solid gear belay ledge. The 7th pitch offers up the best 5.9 (Handren calls it 5.9+) climbing of the day. Climb up a right facing corner and pull through a bulge and then up to a left facing corner which leads to a gear belay ledge. You will still find mank bolts here and there, but all the climbing from pitch 5 on up protects well with gear. The 8th pitch is rated 5.10a in Handren’s guide, but we did not feel the 5.10 anywhere on it and most of the climbing was 5th class. Hang right of the large feature above and either simul-climb to the top or set up one final anchor with a short bit of climbing to the top right shoulder of Whiskey Peak.
Park at the Black Velvet Canyon trailhead. Hike west along the trail into Black Velvet Canyon. Turn left on a trail that heads up to Whiskey Peak. Stay low once you ascend through red rock bands and continue west. Ixtlan has an obvious off-width splitter feature on a clean wall. Angle up the hill beyond the start of the climb and cut back east to the base of it.
Route Description700’+/-, 8 Pitches, 5.11c
1st -3rd Pitches- 200’- 5.11c/ We combined the first three pitches to avoid hanging belays. There are two options to start this route: the FAer original and Matzoland (5.12a) to the right. The original line runs up a closed corner system with seven bolts total to a fixed belay. After stemming the initial wide corner section, the crux (5.11c) comes at a very shallow corner with small edges. Desperate palming of the arête seemed to be in order. Solid hand features await above for a traverse right at a much easier grade to the first fixed station. Continue up the second pitch (5.10a) via a beautiful bowed out splitter which offers up many rest stances. At times this crack is wide enough to accept C4 #4’s, but many jams are available as well along with a few finger pulls. Eventually it leads to the parallel off-width section which is bolted out on the right wall. However, these bolts and hangers leave much to be desired (2012). A single or double racking of C4 #6 will protect this off-width section. The walls are slightly off-set, but lay back moves are difficult. I chose to stay in the crack and grunt my way up (5.10d). Arm bars, knee jams and heel to toes seemed of little use with little to no features to assist on the outside walls. The roof above is a welcome site as it is heavily featured on the outside wall. Stem out and grab a jug to pull yourself out of the off-width section to a fixed belay on a comfortable ledge.
4th -6th Pitches- 180’- 5.9/ I recommend combining the next three pitches as well. Continue up the off width crack, but with the help of many features on the heavily varnished outside wall. Again, the right side is lined with suspect bolts, but a C4 #6 or two would protect this section. You come to a mank fixed anchor as the crack opens up to a chimney. Skip this anchor and continue on the left wall (5.8) following more conventional cracks and angle back right to avoid having to do the short traverse pitch above. You should be able to make out two bolts on the easy short traverse, just angle to the right of them for a comfortable gear belay ledge below a short right facing corner.
7th Pitch- 120’- 5.9+/ Follow the short corner above making a fun stem move or two (crux) with a couple of solid hand jams. You still see some mank bolts, but can fully protect these final pitches with gear. Continue up the left side of the feature directly above via a left facing corner. Set up a gear belay on a comfortable ledge.
8th Pitch- 165’- 5.10a/ Move up and right to follow the corner above. Neither of us could find the 5.10 climbing, seemed much easier to us. Any bolts, again, appeared unnecessary. Once through the initial corner, the climbing becomes more or less 5th class. Run up the right side of the feature above to a ledge. Either belay there or expect a short simul-climb or solo to the top right shoulder of Whiskey Peak.