Windy Peak’s south face offers the most sun of any large face feature at Red Rocks. Therefore this has become one of my favorite winter objectives. That being said, it is called Windy Peak for a reason. However, the more popular routes, Jubilant Song and Hot Fudge Thursday offer several well protected (from the wind) belays.
There are two main climbing faces that have been developed on Windy Peak, east and south. The south face is much more impressive rising some 1000’ to the summit from where most routes begin. The approach itself takes on somewhere between 1500’ and 2000’ gain. Therefore these south face objectives have a certain alpine flare. All the routes on the south face go to the top of Windy Peak and can be walked off back to the base of the wall via a common scramblers trail.
Catch Highway 160 off of I-15 south of Vegas and travel west towards Pahrump. After several lights, you will pass the Highway 159 junction on your right, which leads to the Red Rocks Loop Road. There are several dirt roads on the right that will get you to the base of Windy Canyon. I used the direct approach which requires a high clearance vehicle. There is a dirt road on the right that runs right below a large cliff wall to its right that emerges from the desert floor. Turn right off of the main highway, curve left and then take the right fork as it descends via a dip. Follow this somewhat treacherous road as it leads due north. Turn left at the dead end and pull off at the 2nd right pullout. This is the preferred trailhead for the Windy Peak routes. You will be facing the east face. The 1000’ south face is quite a ways up canyon.
The general approach hike is the same for all the climbs on the south face. Descend from the trail head looking to gain a trail that eventually circumvents the obvious large pile of brown and red rocks to the right. Descend into a wash from there and attempt to pick up a faint trial that leads up into the canyon. Gain a trail that climbs the left side of the canyon until you reach what they refer to as the “football field”, which is basically a large vegetated plateau that is still separated from the south wall by another peak of sorts. Follow well marked cairns at this point (2008) as they direct you up and right at the other end of the “field”. Eventually gain a saddle of sorts and traverse the slick rock in front of you over to the base of the south face. Jubilant Song is to the left and Hot Fudge Thursday to the right from where you emerge here.
Route Description(s)The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face the Wall
- Marion’s Melody- 700’- 5.9/
- Jubilant Song- 890’- 5.8/ The roof traverse (4th pitch) is fun stuff (read classic) to say the least. Two variations. Climbers going high and over and climbers staying lower on better rock. Lower offers less protection, but less swing as well if you set it up right. The critical pieces you want on that traverse is a bomber #3 up early, down climb, cross, then back up to sink a bomber .5 before getting to your belay. The following roof move was nothing in comparison. You finish just like Hot Fudge Thursday on the 7th pitch. Dow
- A Song and A Prayer- 890’- 5.10aR/ The route Song and Prayer offers three decent and worthwhile long pitches despite the run out rating. It is a fast climb for the competent party and a great alternative to Jubilant Song which can be quite popular on a typical winter Saturday. To date, Larry has not published a pitch by pitch rating but rates the route 5.10aR in general. The first pitch goes fast and easy just to the right of Jubilant Song’s corner up an obvious discontinuous crack system to the same belay ledge as Jubilant Song’s first pitch. The 2nd, 4th and 5th pitches are the three before mentioned nice long pitches. The 2nd pitch steepens on excellent varnished, brick like, rock. The pro is a little more exploratory than the first pitch, but it is all there. I combined pitches 3 and 4 easily without much rope drag issues utilizing double ropes. Cross over left of the normal Jubilant Song 2nd belay and up and out of an easy chimney onto an arête. Continue up on easy ground, avoiding placing too much gear (for rope drag purposes) to a sloping ledge. This is where the 5.10R climbing section is straight above and to the left. A full set of sliding ball nuts are reccomended if you expect to protect this crux of the climb properly. The ground was steep and run out but I did not feel any of the climbing was above 5.9 really. Larry did a good job cleaning this portion of the climb. Move up carefully on average quality rock. As the rock starts to improve so does the pro. A full 60 meters leads to a hanging belay below a white dihedral. The 5th pitch traverses out right into beautiful brownstone rock. The crack above into the brownstone offers great climbing once again. The last pitch is short and uneventful and leads to what they call the “Bandstand Ledge”. From there, scramble 4th class to the summit plateau. Dow
- Western Swing- 750’- 5.10b/ Western Swing has two different continuation options after the first four pitches. Therefore, it is a just a four pitch route in terms of new ground, stealing the last four to five pitches of Jubilant Song to make for the most obvious finish. You can exit the route via a dirty crack above the fourth and fifth pitch of Jubilant Song, but I recommend just finishing Jubilant Song at that point. The money pitches are the 3rd and 4th pitches which I combined on my lead as my partner was not comfortable leading that grade on sandstone. I can only recommend one consider combining these pitches if the leader follows solid double rope management, utilize long slings, place gear judiciously and extend the 2nd pitch up into the large chimney a bit. The first two pitches run up a discontinuous corner system just to the right of Jubilant Song and a Song and a Prayer. Neither of these first two pitches is long or difficult (5.8). The third pitch is a hard chimney pitch in that the chimney is quite flaring compared to the parallel chimney walls on Epinephrine for example. The fourth pitch is a difficult to protect traverse across the face to avoid deteriorating rock further up in the corner/roof. It leads to a fairly easy (5.9) break through the significant roof and then a 5th class walk back left to Jubilant Song’s corner. Dow
- Crocodile Rock- 850’- 5.9/
- Windy Corner- 850’- 5.7/
- Hot Fudge Thursday- 995’- 5.9/ Pitch two is definitely the crux pitch of Hot Fudge Thursday. It is quite sustained and protected with run out via relatively new bolts (2007). Pitch three is the 2nd most challenging pitch of the route. Move out left passing two new (2007) bolts on your way to the base of the large crack. Place good pro in the base of the crack and climb it until you reach a bolt then move out left onto facial features as you traverse left and up on suspect rock (we had a foot hold give way here). Dow
- Thriller- 1000’- 5.9/
- Ain’t no Saint- 960’- 5.10b/ Ain’t No Saint is the second to last route (established as of 2010) to the right on the south face of Windy Peak. All the belays require gear and the route would be difficult to back off without leaving same behind. The first pitch can be confusing via the notes available in Handren’s book and/or on line at rc.com. Depending on where you consider the start will determine the length of the first pitch. Bottom line, if you start at the very base of the face (where it is advisable to leave your packs), then you will run the first pitch a full 200’. I tend to agree more with rc.com beta on the 5.8+ pg versus 5.9 grade in the book on the first pitch. The first pitch is pretty tame climbing, but a bit run out if you are not use to the grade. It takes a sharp left and follows the obvious corner, climbing on top of the corner (thus the lack of pro) through the black varnish to the top of this section (large ledge). The second pitch reads quite confusing if you just had the beta resources we used. Bottom line, head up an easy crack (5.7) that trends left into a mid-5th class gully of sorts. It is best to reset the belay right below an obvious off-width crack (5.9) on your left. I don’t believe 200’ will make it from the large ledge to the top of this crack. Take the crack as your third pitch (5” would make it warm and fuzzy, but I got by fine with a 4”) to the top where you will see a bolt up and right as the start of the next pitch. Set up belay. Follow three bolts over a bad sandstone slab section out right and then climb a fun crack (right option) to just below the first crux of the climb, a potential deck corner leading to a roof pull. Set up belay. Take on the corner with hard to protect moves for the first several meters up to a stout and awkward sloping roof pull. There is a hidden under-cling that makes a big difference in this move. Pull the roof and follow the crack (right option) as it splits out right via a narrow ramp, making an awkward mantle over suspect rock up to a ledge below the second crux pitch (another roof). Set up belay. Take the roof with a bit of decking potential, making an awkward (have I used that word enough on this route?) exit right and up easy ground to the base of the second seam you come to. We found this seam covered by running water. If this is the case, you can down climb and move the belay to the right and climb up an off-width chimney for a full 200’ to the “pine tree ledge”. The next two pitches involve easy ground. Move out left up a short wall which leads into a wet (winter) gully. The original FAers would have you take the right option, but it was covered with running water in January. Take the left V-shaped chimney as an option, shimmying above the water to stay dry for 200’+ (simul-climb to reach a crack) of horrendous rope drag to the summit plateau. Dow
- Saint Stephen- 960’- 5.8/
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
- Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association
- DowClimbing.Com Red Rocks