Peyote Power is a relatively popular route at Red Rock if for no other reason than its close proximity to Dark Shadows. The first four pitches of Dark Shadows makes up one of the more popular easy to moderate trad objectives in all of Red Rock. Often times there are lines waiting to crowd Dark Shadows' first four pitches as though many visiting climbers are afraid to venture out on a line they might actually have to themselves. This overcrowding lends to folks deciding last minute to climb Peyote Power instead.
Peyote Power is an average route by Red Rock standards. The first pitch runs up a roof on its right side, passing an intermediate station and then climbing an easy corner up and left to a fixed station. The second pitch offers several variations (photo offers detail) and Handren’s guide book notes are not very clear. My partner wandered up slightly left on some steep and fun jugs through a small roof/bulge on decent varnish. There is a fixed station above this small roof on a sloping ledge. He continued the second pitch onto a ramp, up and right, where he could easily build a gear station (a full 200’). A much more aesthetic line would be to head up and right from the top of the first pitch on some run out slab to the base of an obvious corner and then climb the partially varnished corner to a semi hanging fixed belay straight above. The third pitch is the crux of the climb. It also offers the best climbing and rock on the route (5.9). Continue up to the base of the chimney and climb the heavily varnished face out left. The face is so well featured, there are several variations. I trended out left a bit before I headed straight up to the fixed belay above. Because my partner had taken the ramp option below, we needed a short amount of simul-climbing to reach that belay. The “punchy crux” of this third pitch as Handren refers to in his guide can be well protected with two .4-.5 C4’s in a varnished horizontal crack or better yet, off set nuts. The rest of the steep varnished pitch involves positive holds and edges. The fourth and fifth pitches were rather mundane as the rock deteriorates further up. Most folks rap from the top of the fifth pitch.
Park at the Pine Creek trail head on the loop road. Hike towards the north face of Mescalito. Stay above the creek until you are even with the north face to save a little bushwhacking. It is well trodden the whole way, so you should never be off a trail. Dark Shadows is a well shaded heavily varnished right facing corner that arches at the top. Continue past the masses accumulated at the base of Dark Shadows and in just a few minutes you will observe a ledge on your left several meters above the ground. Ramp up to the ledge, right to left and walk left until you are right below a significant roof, about 10 to 20 meters above the ramp.
Route Description (s)1000’+, 6 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 180’- 5.7/ Bypass the roof on its right side via easy climbing. There is a tree and a fixed belay on a comfortable small ledge. Continue back left to the base of a corner. Climb the corner up to a crack that angles up and right to a fixed belay. Sling or double sling any pro you place lower than the corner to avoid rope drag. Handren’s guide mentions the lower portion is a bit run out, but I did not think so.
2nd Pitch- 200’- 5.7/ There are several variations here and Handren’s write up in his guide is quite confusing. His notes mention several flakes. We observed two clear options. Either climb up and right following a nice protectable seam until you can move left and up a nice varnished face/crack section through a bulge/roof to a fixed belay. Continue past this belay by traversing right and up a water worn slab to gain a large ramp. Build a belay when you come to a comfortable spot. The alternative and looked to be much more appealing option (if I led the pitch) is to traverse up and right on run out, but easy, slab to reach a varnished corner. Climb straight up the varnished corner to a semi hanging fixed belay. Use of proper double rope technique and long slings will avoid rope drag on this pitch no matter which option you choose.
3rd Pitch- 200’- 5.9/ This is the crux in addition to being the most worthwhile pitch of the route. Scramble straight up to the start of the chimney above. Climb the heavily varnished face just to the left of the chimney. There are variable lines to follow. I moved left to a .4-.5 C4 horizontal crack and found a mantel move which is what I believe Handren’s guide referred to as the “punchy crux”. That was the only non-juggy move I made on this steep pitch. Off set nuts are handy for pro on this pitch. Continue up to a fixed belay on less steep ground.
4th Pitch- 170’- 5.7/ A boring pitch up lessor rock via easy face climbing, past one bolt, to a fixed anchor and comfortable belay just right of a chimney.
5th Pitch- 150’- 5.7/ Another relatively boring pitch, moving right and then back left, climbing the right side of the chimney up to a short steep section protected by a bolt. After the steep section, continue up the chimney now turned crack to a comfortable fixed belay out left.
6th Pitch- 150’- 5.9 And yet another mundane pitch up white rock. Climb the left side of the rib above traversing into a corner to the left. Up the corner, then traverse right past three bolts to the top of the route which is below the final red band pitches on Dark Shadows.