Sweet Thin, although used as a back-up plan, turned out to be a pleasant and fun climb on north Brownstone Wall. We had hiked up Juniper Canyon to give Three Choclateers a go, but after determining how spicy its first pitch was on broken plates, I was easily persuaded to return to the right side of the wall where I knew some of the best rock to be had in all of Red Rocks was located. I was not disappointed.
Sweet Thin is not on the radar of any beta site as of 2009. Handren has it published in his book, but with no FA information. Although it steals the first two pitches of Armatron, 5.9, 5 pitches, it develops its own specific identity for the remaining five pitches. Its namesake is quite obvious on the fifth pitch, where a stunning, delicate and thin flake is climbed to reach beautiful crack climbing. This route deserves more attention.
As before mentioned, the first two pitches are basically the same as Armatron, even though Handren’s notes can be a bit confusing on this matter. After completing most of the really nice 5.9 second pitch of Armatron, continue up a fun chimney (pitch 3) and then make a long traverse (pitch 4) left to start the best climbing of the route (I combined pitches 3 and 4, but rope drag can be a problem). Pitch 5 is the best pitch of the climb. Follow a bolted section up a very solid and blank varnished wall, mounting a thin and delicate flake (5.9) the whole distance. You can actually hand jam into the flake. The bolts were placed, as you will find the flake too delicate to protect with gear. Mantle up past the flake and follow a hand rail traverse right to a bush, then climb a great hand crack (5.8) to the base of a large varnished chimney/flaring crack. The sixth pitch is almost as good as the fifth one. Start out in chimney mode, and then start to use the outside edges of this deep flaring crack, protecting when feasible with large gear. The footing is quite slick as you maneuver this funky pitch until it quits flaring and you jam and arm bar to much easier ground. Traverse right and up to a fixed station on a large ledge. The final pitch is quite interesting as well. Move the belay left to a steep crack/chimney and surmount it to the next ledge up. Then climb a thin crack straight above on somewhat run out ground to the top of the climb on yet another large ledge.
The north Brownstone Wall is lit up as it mostly angles east and Rainbow Wall does not cut the sun off as early as it does for South Brownstone Wall. 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. I prefer to 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. However, you can hike up Juniper Canyon as well. I also prefer to park at the Oak Creek trail head (versus Pine Creek) 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 north Brownstone Wall or climb Myster Z or Rose Hips to the summit of Jackrabbit Buttress and traverse left over to the base of the north wall. Requiem for a Tadpole is located on the far right side of the north wall in a whitish crack. A major cleft up the middle of the north Brownstone Wall divides the steeper left side from the broken right side. On the right side, there are prominent patches of dark varnish among a sea of lighter colored rock. The start to Armatron and Sweet Thin climbs the middle portion of this varnish and can be easily identified via a mostly bolted first pitch.
Route Description800’, 7 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 100’- 5.8/ A fantastic first pitch off the deck through at least five bolts to a fixed station. Climb the bomber black plated rock up and trend left through the bolts placing an additional piece of pro here or there if you prefer. As you follow the black varnish, you come to a short traverse left on big holds. Continue up and slightly left to a small scoop with a semi hanging belay on fixed gear.
2nd Pitch- 150’- 5.9/ Another fun pitch on great rock. Above the belay is a thin seam finger crack that can be well protected with small gear. Towards the end of the seam/crack, you need to make a solid move diagonally left to right to clip a bolt and grab a huge horn. Mantle up the horn onto a thin ledge. Traverse right into another thin, but easier, crack and ascend to the base of a left facing corner with a fixed belay. Armatron continues right.
3rd-4th Pitches- 200’- 5.7/ I combined these two pitches despite quite a bit of rope drag. The first pitch is an easy climb up the corner into a chimney and past a fixed belay on the left. Continue up a slightly harder section of the chimney until a bushy ledge on the left. Traverse left past this delicate ground and continue to scramble left past one fixed belay climbing up a short wall to the 2nd fixed belay you come to situated below a tree and an obvious bolted wall with a large flake to the left.
5th Pitch- 140’- 5.9/ The best pitch of the day and perhaps best pitch on the north Brownstone Wall. Follow a bolted section up a very solid and blank varnished wall, mounting a thin and delicate flake (5.9) the whole distance (awesome feature). You can actually hand jam into the flake. The bolts were placed, as you will find the flake too delicate to protect with gear. Mantle up past the flake and follow a hand rail traverse right to a bush, then climb a great hand crack (5.8) on solid rock to the base of a large varnished chimney/flaring crack.
6th Pitch- 90’- 5.9/ This is a unique varnished chimney/flaring crack, involving almost as interesting climbing as the previous pitch. Start out in chimney mode, and then start to use the outside edges of this deep flaring crack, protecting when feasible with large gear. The footing is quite slick as you maneuver this funky pitch until it quits flaring and you jam and arm bar to much easier ground. Traverse right and up to a fixed station on a large ledge.
7th Pitch- 130’- 5.9/ Move the belay left up loose blocks to a steep crack/chimney and surmount it to the next ledge up. Use a .5” piece to protect an awkward decking move up and left. Watch for a loose block stuck in the left wall. Then climb a thin crack in solid black varnish straight above the next ledge on somewhat run out ground to the top of the climb on yet another large ledge. I placed a 00 in a horizontal slot and traversed right to the arête from there.
Scramble down to the notch with some exposure to your left, then up the other side angling left at first but then dog legging back right up a small ramp until you can scramble below a tree to the Juniper Peak summit. There was a summit register in 2009.
DescentWell, it really is simple, however, there are cairns leading you down the wrong gully to the north so beware. The gully you want is a very quick descent. So remember, you started close to the end of the north wall to begin with. From the summit, drop down northeast into a notch and traverse a little further north until into a nice easy going broad gully that will take you all the way back to the base of the route in short order. Scramblers come up this gully to tag the Juniper Peak summit, so a trail should be evident with cairns.
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