This is a scrambling route extraordinaire discovered by Richard N with assistance by Steve A during the 2012 climbing season. It features unrelenting 3rd and 4th class climbing nearly the entire way and requires about 6 – 7 hours roundtrip for a fit climber if the climbing party is small. There are numerous sections which cause bottlenecks and make this a poor choice for a large group. About a dozen class 4 - 5 pitches are currently protected with rope, slings and/or cable. Several sections are so tight that packs must be removed and pulled while the climbers need to twist and contort their bodies to pass through some tight squeezes. This route involves the most sustained climbing of any scrambling route in Red Rocks by a wide margin!!! The route from the inside the NCA Oak Creek parking lot is about 2 1/2 miles one way and 2,900’ elevation gain.
Easy does it!
From Charleston Blvd and the 215 Beltway in the western part of Las Vegas, take Charleston Blvd. (Highway 159) west for about 5 miles until you reach the entrance to Red Rock Canyon NCA. There are a couple of trailheads that can be used for this climb. My preference is a pullout from Hwy 159 about 2.6 miles SW of the entrance to Red Rocks. (.6 mile past the exit from the 13 mile loop road) The other trailhead is reached by driving around the 13 mile loop and taking the Oak Creek trailhead exit which is the one after Pine Creek parking area and involves driving perhaps ½ mile on a gravel road. The hiking distance is about 5 minutes longer from Hwy 159.
Follow the trail chosen to the foot of the canyon enjoying the views of Mt Wilson on the left side of the canyon (south) and Rainbow Peak on the right side. It is about 1 ½ miles across the desert to the mouth of the canyon. If you hike from the highway, there is no need to worry about hours of operation for Red Rock so you can start or finish whenever you like. This trail used to be an old jeep trail and when you reach any junctions, head either toward the canyon or take the right fork if neither is heading toward the canyon.
Ed getting high
When you reach the canyon, look for a major gully heading up the SE flank before you reach the Solar Slab gully. There are several cairns along the initial section and once you are climbing, there are ample cairns to let you know you are on the route.
Luba in a pinch
The route starts left of the major gully as indicated on the route photo and ascends to about 5,200’ elevation before traversing to the right to enter the main gully. After reaching the main gully, the route ascends to approximately 6,200’ elevation before making another traverse toward the right around class 5 cliffs before the final stretch to the summit.
There is a campground located south of SR159 two miles east of the entrance to RRCNCA. There is no developed campground within Red Rock NCA, although backcountry camping with a permit is allowed.
National Park entrance fees apply in Red Rock National Conservation area. Hours of operations vary by season. See Red Rock NCA Home Page
Potato Knoll from above
When to Climb
Spring and Fall are the peak seasons as it becomes extremely hot in the summer. Winter can be an excellent time as well unless snow and ice accumulate from winter storms making the scrambling too hazardous. This is most likely to occur in January and February.