Pro Choice and High Anxiety (5.10c) are sunny alternatives to Nightcrawler (5.10c) if you have ascended up to Brownstone Wall south on a cold day at Red Rocks. Where Nighcrawler’s corner faces north and provides shade on most of its route, High Anxiety’s corner is the mirror image offering sunny exposure from morning until noon in the winter. Pro Choice shares the first pitch of High Anxiety and climbs just to the right of that corner, receiving considerably more sun than the other end of Brownstone Wall south which gets heavily shaded by Rainbow Wall.
The crux pitch (4th pitch) offers some of the better rock in all of Red Rocks. The crux moves follow up a black varnished arête to pull a small bulge into a heavily varnished corner that goes to the top of the route at a much lesser grade. The route as a whole is sort of a one move wonder at the 5.11 grade. According to Handren’s book the 2nd pitch is 5.10b, but we found no move more difficult than 5.9 on that pitch. The descent is a bit confusing. To clear matters up, since I have also climbed High Anxiety, if you rap High Anxiety with double ropes, which is the natural rap line from the top of Pro Choice, you will be left without a final fixed rappel not to mention potential rope pull issues. Although Pro Choice can be rapped itself, that will involve moving the rappel back right after the first rap, to relatively new rappel rings (2010). Then rapping back to the top of the 2nd pitch which will need a supplemental biner left (2010), and then a long rappel straight down will leave you a short bushwhack back south to your gear.
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. You can either climb Myster Z or Rose Hips to the summit of Jackrabbit Buttress to access the Brownstone Wall climbs which make for a nice long day of climbing or you can hike up Juniper Canyon. 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 right side of 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 located on the right side of the south Brownstone Wall. Locate a significant roof on the lower 1/3 of the right edge of the south wall. A deep left facing corner rises above that roof. The middle of that corner is High Anxiety’s crux pitch. Pro Choice shares the first pitch of High Anxiety, but then traverses out right to stay more on the rightward face of Brownstone Wall South eventually taking on an arête that climbs to the right of High Anxiety’s corner.
Route Description500’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.11a
1st Pitch- 120’- 5.7/ Interesting that Handren’s book calls this 5.7 on Pro Choice, but 5.6 on High Anxiety when it is essentially the same ground. It is more like 5.6. Similar to Nightcrawler or any route on the south Brownstone Wall, you have to ascend some low angled whitish rock to access the stellar brown rock above. High Anxiety starts to the right of, and below, of a large roof below the major left facing corner that makes up the crux pitches of that route. This corner is the mirror reflection of Nightcrawler's corner and is thus sunny versus shaded. Angle up and left to a sloping ledge on easy terrain. Stop short of where you would normally build a station for High Anxiety which trends up and left. You are looking for two bolts up and right that take on a small overhang. Make an easy and comfortable gear belay below and left of these bolts.
2nd Pitch- 100’- 5.10b/ The grade of this pitch might be a typo in Handren’s book. We did not feel any of this pitch was above 5.9. Two bolts protect a small overhang up and right. This is the crux move (5.9) of the pitch. Once over this overhang, trend right over varnished ground working your way up easy ground to a fixed belay. You have a tendency to want to follow a seam straight up, but need to keep traversing out right almost to the right side of the wall. From this belay is the double rope (60m) rappel descent I recommend. In 2010 you will need to leave one additional biner on these hangers. This is a much cleaner rap option than trying to rap High Anxiety. If one climbs to the top of High Anxiety, it raps way out left for its descent. Trying to rap the route (High Anxiety) itself is not a good option.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.9/ More 5.8 than 5.9 in my opinion. This is a pleasant pitch. It runs straight up from the fixed belay to a significant ledge with two fixed rappels. A ring rappel out right leads to another route and a fixed chain rappel out left is the continuation of Pro Choice. Follow a mostly bolted steep face. About 2/3rds up you will run into a few slab moves on yellow sandstone protected by fairly new bolts (2010). The rest of the pitch has pretty decent varnished jugs.
4th Pitch- 160’- 5.11a/ Move the belay over to the left if you have not already done so. There are two fixed rap stations on this ledge. Follow a stellar flake up for a couple of moves to get in position below a crescent on the blank dark wall below and left of a bolt protecting the crux move of the climb. My partner and I each tackled this move differently, he being shorter. I balanced up on a small smear feature out left to reach a solid jug straight above. He stemmed out right wide and reached a jug up and right where there is 1” pro to protect the mantle. Mantle up and follow the stellar and easy (5.8) corner up to a fixed rap station. The rock on this pitch is jet black and would be quite greasy on a warm day.