The route Spectrum along with its namesake, Spectrum Wall, is located on the lower southeast face of Bridge Mountain. This area offers the warmest trad climbing available at Red Rock National Conservation area and we were seeking such warmth on a chilly November day. The heavily varnished lower pitches on this wall offer exceptional rock and features. Jay Smith and Randal Grandstaff established this route in1989.
The route Spectrum is the most challenging route on Spectrum Wall with a short 5.11 crux, an overhanging roof section which makes up the short sixth pitch. The second pitch offers an interesting 5.10 slightly run out traverse although I have seen much worse at Red Rocks and considered the pro somewhat reasonable. There is a variation that avoids the crux of this traverse pitch, but this variation appears to require a point of aid to get started in. The first pitch, 5.9 up the corner, is a bit chossy, but fun and physical. The third and fourth pitches are both on excellent rock and involve fun climbing. The gully to the right sprayed a bit of snowmelt on the third pitch in November. The fifth pitch is a bit run out, but on easy ground. There is a bomber 3” cam placement in the middle of the pitch. The sixth pitch is a very nice overhanging roof crack (5.11) that leads to easier ground above. The final pitch traverses easy ground up and left to tie into Birdland’s rap stations (70m rope rappels) below its final pitch.
Park at the Pine Creek trailhead off of the Red Rocks loop road. Hike down the trail along the creek, past the old homestead and into the wash as it heads for Mescalito. When the trail follows the wash and meets up with the red rock band on the right, divert off the main trail and start ascending a fainter trail that leads back up and right to the Spectrum and Brass Wall areas. A deep half arch sits in the middle of almost solid black varnish on the lower wall. Another smaller arch sits below that arch to the left. These arches form Spectrum, the route itself. Big Horn and Birdland start at a line that angles left to right up the face that the before mentioned arches lie on. Two distinct chimney/seams border this face on each side. Rawlpindi, 580’, 5.7, runs up the left seam and Brass Balls, 400’, 5.10d, runs up the right side.
Route Description700’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.11aR
1st Pitch- 90’- 5.9/ Climb up the obvious corner below the lower arch. Start left and move back to the wall on the right, then back left into the corner proper. There were two slung blocks in 2010. Set up a belay at the lower one to better set up the second pitch traverse. This pitch can be a bit chossy and physical. A variation to the original line is to use a point of aid to gain the crack in the middle of the wall below the arch.
2nd Pitch- 80’- 5.10bR/ Move straight out right from the belay, then use a side pull and step down to move across to a point of pro in an under cling. This section of the varnished wall is a bit slick. Once you get your first piece in, continue to traverse at a much easier grade, slightly angling up. Eventually reach a fixed belay below a varnished corner. Handren’s guidebook references bypassing a mid-station. We did not observe a mid station.
3rd Pitch- 110’- 5.7R/ Climb up the corner to about 15’ below the roof. Move out left on the juggy varnished face and climb up to a ledge with another fixed belay below another corner with limited pro along the way, but the climbing is quite mellow on sound rock.
4th Pitch- 140’- 5.9/ Outside of the crux 5.11 roof pitch, this is the best climbing of the route. Continue up the corner, pulling a bulge via a short layback section on solid, but somewhat slick, rock. Set up a gear belay on the right wall at over 100’. There is a fixed rap much further out right.
5th Pitch- 95’- 5.7R/ Traverse right and up on run out, but juggy ground. As you get below a corner which is out right of the obvious roof pitch above, you will find a bomber 3” pro feature. You can also sling a fairly decent horn prior to that piece. Move up to the base of the corner and set up a gear belay on 1”-3” pieces.
6th Pitch- 40’- 5.11a/ This is a fantastic, but short, 5.11 roof problem. Climb up to the base of the crack and place gear at will while finger jamming out to the edge of the roof where a huge jug exists to pull up and mantle into a small alcove. Continue to place small gear as you move up and left at a much easier grade and swing out left into a crack for a gear belay. There is a loose block or two in this small alcove you should avoid jugging on.
7th Pitch- 160’- 5.8R/ Climb up the crack, then move left into another crack. I really never felt much 5.8 climbing on this pitch. When in the second crack, look for a mid-5th class shallow ramp (run out) that traverses way out left into Birdland’s fixed belay/rap well below the corner/crack above.