I had inquired of Joanne Urioste the beta for Gift of the Wind Gods (5.10d), a route located on the largest face in Red Rock NCA, Aeolian Wall on Mount Wilson. During that conversation she directed me to Woman of Mountain Dreams which she stated was a better route, even though Jerry Handren had not marked it up as a recommended objective in his local guide. Thus, I climbed Woman of Mountain Dreams before Gift of Wind Gods. At first glance someone would assume the name referred to Joanne, the most prolific female trad route setter at Red Rock and perhaps the entire desert. But she shared that in reality, the route was named after a local climber by the name of Lorraine Putnam who had died in a local traffic accident during the time of the route's development. Mrs. Putnam’s husband chose the naming of the route. Joanne, Jorge (Urioste), Mike Moreo and Dave Krulesky established the route in 1997 and Joanne and Aitor Uson freed it in 1998.
Of all of the incredible scenic positioning to be had on the massive Aeolian Wall, this right side is my favorite. Woman of Mountain Dreams is a more pure line than Resolution Arete, in that it runs straight up the face with no large break in the action (i.e. Sherwood Forest on the left side). The route breaks down in several obvious segments. The first three pitches offer uneventful 5.8 climbing up the right side of an attached tower. The 4th pitch is the crux of the climb and the only 5.11 climbing on the route, a bolted face pitch. The 4th through 6th pitches take you to another comfortable ledge. The 7th and 8th pitches are better combined and along with the 9th and 10th pitches reach yet again a comfortable ledge. The 11th pitch lands you at a Pine Tree and is the most run out pitch of the day unless one climbs right and pulls a roof at a harder grade. The 12th pitch moves the line left a little whilst the 13th pitch is perhaps the headiest lead of the day. The 14th and 15th pitches are easy climbing on loose rock. Most who attempt a route of this magnitude would feel comfortable scrambling the final (16th) pitch un-roped.
Approach as you would for Resolution Arête and Inti Watana, up the “white rot gully”. That means parking at any of the Oak Creek pull outs along the main highway and hiking towards the left side of the Wilson Pimple. Then take a climbers trail left off of the main trail on the south side of the Pimple and make your way up the hill to the far left gully on the right side of the drainage coming down Aeolian Wall. Scramble up the gully and through a hole at the top, and down the left side into the main gully feeding the drainage below. From there, head up the scrub oak filled gully to beyond the Ponderosa Pine which marks the left turn for Resolution and Inti and instead continue straight up the gully for a short distance to a col along the broad face of the Aeolian Wall. Descend the other side and scramble/stem up the 3rd or 4th class slab and cut back left to the base of another large Ponderosa which marks the right side of an attached tower. The right side of this feature consists of the first three pitches of Woman of Mountain Dreams.
Route Description2000’+/-, 16 Pitches, 5.11a
1st Pitch- 150’- 5.8/ Climb up the right side of the tower using a multitude of flakes and wide cracks to a fixed belay that needs replacing (same first pitch as Gift of the Wind Gods). Traverse right at one point to stay in the cleaner rock. Straightforward and fast pitch.
2nd Pitch- 140’- 5.8/ This pitch is not as long as the guide book suggests and in fact the first four pitches can all be rapped with a single 70m rope in terms of retreat. Continue up the same system with good gear to a decent stance and fixed belay on better hardware (2013). Straightforward and fast pitch.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.9+/ This pitch has one move, if even, at the 5.9 grade. Just a few meters above the belay, stem up a short section. When you get to the top of the tower, move right to the base of pitch four and use the fixed belay on a decent sized ledge. Straightforward and fast pitch.
4th Pitch- 130’- 5.11a/ This is a zig-zag bolted face pitch up a water streak. Follow the bolts (12) to the hanging fixed belay. Joanne told me that she wished she had placed her bolts straighter, but I thought they were spot on and show you the way among small face features. Just extend slings where appropriate to avoid rope drag. Most foot work was quite positive offering plenty of rests. The start is a bit dicey, protected by a rusty bolt and hanger above the belay ledge. This beginning was the crux move of the pitch for me. When you start trending left about ¾ up the pitch, stay left up a short mossy section for the easier climbing, to go right would venture into a higher grade of climbing for several meters. This was the only other section of the pitch that felt as difficult as the start.
5th Pitch- 160’- 5.10a/ Follow a few bolts up to the arch’s roof and pull over it onto the face above. Trend up and right clipping another bolt or two on run-out ground at a lesser grade to a fixed belay with a stance in a scoop below the huge chimney above.
6th Pitch- 80’- 4th/ Move the belay to a ledge up and left. Follow the corner up and traverse left, belaying off of a willow tree below the right of two small cracks above. This is a comfortable ledge for lunch.
7th-8th Pitches- 200’- 5.10a/ These two pitches make sense to combine. The first 100’ follows a bolt above into a nice crack with decent rock. Follow this crack to its terminus and past another bolt to the first fixed belay. From there, traverse left up the bolted thin face with a few gear placements here or there to the next (hanging) fixed belay. Most of this climbing is 5.9 sustained.
9th Pitch- 160’- 5.9+/ The remaining pitches start to enter suspect, moss eroded, rock. This is one of the more sustained and thought provoking pitches on the route. Lead up the closed shallow corner, placing a solid small piece in a pod (10’) before traversing (10’) suspect holds out right to gain a chossy small crack. I placed a few micro cams here, nuts would have been better. Follow a few moves up the delicate face holds protecting in this thin crack to be rewarded as it opens up to hands. Continue up the chossy crack to a comfortable but sloping fixed belay.
10th Pitch- 160’- 5.9/ This is a much easier lead than the previous pitch, despite given the same grade. Climb the left crack for approximately 30’ and continue moving left in another crack that leads to a loose corner with a fixed belay on top of a comfortable ledge.
11th Pitch- 160’- 5.8R/ This pitch is only 5.8 if you run it out over a ledge. If you want to haul larger cams up the route (another C4# 3, 4 and 5), this pitch could become the second hardest challenge of the day and offer some decent crack climbing. With the rack suggested, you are forced to bypass the obvious corner/roof above and traverse right out onto the dirty moss covered face. These initial moves are more like 5.7, but on suspect rock. Turn left under the loose blocks above and pop up to beneath yet another crack corner. I had the gear to climb this corner and pull the chossy roof above, but this climbing was closer to 5.10. The FAers suggest climbing the face out left but with little to any pro to avoid a fall onto the ledge below. This can be one of the more unnerving pitches of the day due to the run-out options on moss weakened rock. After the small roof, follow a chossy crack to a small ledge next to a solid pine tree for the belay.
12th Pitch- 110’- 5.9/ Follow the ramp out left to its top, then up a corner to its top on a comfortable ledge and fixed belay.
13th Pitch- 140’- 5.10a/ This pitch is the second crux of the day. Turn the exposed arête out right past a bolt on large jugs. Follow the thin crack above on smaller holds. When it ends, traverse left to under the next crack. Getting the next small piece placed is the crux of the pitch. Continue up this thin crack and move right again when you are met with a dirty exit straight above. Neither this rock nor its moss covered cracks inspire a lot of confidence. It tops out on a loose ledge with a fixed anchor below a corner.
14th Pitch- 110’- 5.8/ Follow the easy, but loose, corner to the large tree above on the right summit shoulder of Mount Wilson.
15th Pitch- 150’- 5.9/Walk right and climb an easy but loose corner up to another flat area. Climb the layback crack on the right side with a move or two at the grade. I placed no gear but kept my 2nd roped up for this pitch as those layback moves have consequences. There are probably other options. Move back left to a large tree.
16th Pitch- 150’- 5th/ Some folks mention 5.7 moves, but the final pitch felt more like 3rd-4th class to me. We just scrambled up un-roped in approach shoes. This pitch goes directly to the summit of Mount Wilson. I have scrambled this final section before and believe it is the same finish to Resolution Arête. There is a summit log on the summit.