Unfinished Symphony provides one of the more difficult off-width challenges at Red Rock, albeit only for 20’-30’ of its last pitch. The crux is created by a unique corner within a corner with a slight overhang. The upside is that a couple of C4 #6’s protect the moves well. The three original bolts (1978) at the crux section are more in the way then helpful if trying to free the moves and should be removed. Unfinished Symphony was established by Herbst and company in 1978, quite ancient by Red Rock standards for routes in this grade range. It is located in Icebox Canyon just to the right of the most popular route in the canyon proper, La Cierta Edad (5.10c).
The first pitch of Unfinished Symphony is quite chossy and full of brush. The final four pitches however follow the same crack/corner system in solid black varnish and easily make up for the first. Start up the left side of the chimney system via sandy and bushy short corners (5.9). Traverse right, below an overhang, onto a sloping slab. Continue up and right to find a decent crack on better rock. Follow this crack up to a small treed ledge to the right protecting with medium gear for the first belay or you can continue for a few more meters over a well varnished bulge to a fixed belay (bolt and tree-2012). The second pitch (5.8) follows the wide black varnished corner/crack (with multiple face features on the right wall) to a large sandy alcove breaking up the tall corner. The third pitch (5.10a) requires true off-width technique deeper in the corner to a fixed semi hanging belay out right. The fourth pitch (5.8) is just more wide stuff with jugs out left to assist and lands you at the base of the overhanging crux pitch. The fifth pitch (5.11d) is made up by a corner within a corner and presents an interesting (chicken wing and/or arm bar) off-width challenge. The first 20’ is quick and easy, then 20’-40’ of cranking on blank walls, then back to pleasant, but steep, 5.9-5.10 climbing. All of this pitch is easily and well protected with gear. The three bolts on this pitch are suspect (2012) and best just relied on if you are aiding the pitch.
Park at the Icebox Canyon pullout on the Red Rock loop road. This is a common destination for hikers during hot weekend days. Hike in along the north side of the wash until below the route (photos). Try and locate the faint trail that is more commonly used for La Cierta Edad that leads to the base of the wall. Turn right at the wall (instead of left for La Cierta Edad) and bushwhack up to the base of the large corner system that is Unfinished Symphony.
Route Description550’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.11d
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.9/ Start up the left side of the chimney system via sandy and bushy short corners (5.9). Traverse right, below an overhang, onto a sloping slab. Continue up and right to find a decent crack. Follow this crack up to a small treed ledge to the right where you can build a medium gear belay or you can continue for a few more meters over a well varnished bulge to a fixed belay (bolt and tree).
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ Continue up the wide black varnished corner/crack (with ample face features on the right wall) to a large sandy alcove breaking up the tall corner making up this route.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.10a/ This pitch is considerably more sustained than the previous two. Continue up the wide crack, deeper in, with off-width technique to a fixed semi hanging belay out right.
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.8/ More of the same of the second pitch: wide crack climbing in good rock with features to the left versus the right this time to a comfortable fixed belay below the overhanging crux pitch.
5th Pitch- 40m- 5.11d (5.10, A0)/ If you fail to free this pitch, it is easy to aid through. The first 20’ or so is easy going. There is a slight face edge to stand up on the right wall that gets you to a great rest stance with your left foot. Then both flaring walls turn blank and the fun begins. The best way for me to describe this section is a corner within a corner. This feature is quite unusual. The varnished walls become blank and slick leaving you with two choices. Face in or out. In either circumstance, you will be looking for awkward arm bars and/or chicken wings to inch up the blank and slightly overhanging walls. I placed both my C4 #6’s and one #5 through this section. It is tough for 20’+/-, then eases way up as a hand crack with features galore appears, but maintains its steep and fun nature. You can place gear at will (if you have the appropriate rack) on the entire pitch. It is my opinion that the three mank (2012) bolts should be removed and not replaced. If anything they get in the way unless you are aiding. The belay at the top of this pitch is a bit odd, slung slings below a large sandy block whilst sitting on a sloping block. It is not an overly comfortable belay and you can get eaten up with gnats in May while waiting for the 2nd.