In my quest to complete every moderate route at Red Rocks, I am starting to stumble upon less worthwhile climbs. Y2K actually appears to be quite popular, but I would attribute that more to its ease of access than the quality of climbing. The first two pitches are actually decent enough, but the last pitch was not much of a corner as it was billed in Jerry Handren’s “Red Rocks, A Climbers Guide”. It definitely felt below the grade of 5.9 and was rather anti-climactic. The rope snag opportunity on the first of three double rope rappels on descent makes this route barely worth visiting. However, if one is looking for their first 5.10a trad experience at Red Rocks, there could not be an easier objective. The first pitch has the only 5.10a moves on it and they are short lived, involving a well protected (bolt) roof mantle. The second pitch (5.8) is almost a full 200’ and will involve some run-out to avoid tremendous rope drag. The third pitch is an easy traverse into the corner which was supposed to be the crux of the route. However, I led the final pitch and found it quite easy at the grade (5.9). I also did not find the need for any RP’s as Handren suggested in his guide book. A #.75 cam along with a small nut or two easily protects the final steep section with plenty of protection prior.
The northeast corner of Mescalito does offer some protection from the wind and sun, thus why we were on the route. But the belay at the top of pitch two does get hit fairly hard with the wind. Y2K is a relatively young route as the name implies. Todd Swain actually put this route up with Paul Ross in 1998. The route has quite a few bolts except for the final pitch which has none.
As you approach the Dark Shadow’s area from the Pine Creek Parking area, via the right side of Mescalito, look for a rather indistinct trail off to the left and up from the bottom of the wash. To avoid bushwhacking, wait until you have identified the route and are basically underneath it before ascending the bushy slope to the base of the rock. The route starts to the right of an obvious, dark red, right-facing corner capped by a large roof down low. The first pitch goes to the right of this roof and climbs over a smaller roof way above.
Route Description550’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 160’- 5.10a/ Climb up the varnished face to the right of the roof on easy holds past five bolts that lead to the crux of the pitch, a small roof mantel protected by a bolt just over the lip. The pitch is over bolted and you can supplement protection for whatever comfort you prefer. When pulling the roof, there are two small and short finger cracks that you use to make an aggressive mantel with your feet up and over the roof. From there follow a thin crack onto face climbing past a bolt to the comfortable belay (left) below another roof of sorts.
2nd Pitch- 185’- 5.8/ Move left and follow the easy light colored rock around any difficulties and then ramp back right over the belay. If you protect anywhere along here, make sure to use a double length runner. Once over the belay, climb steep black varnish straight up angling slightly right. Gear is a little more sparse than the first pitch, but as the ground steepens above, you come to the first of 3 bolts that lead you through the steeper ground as it gives way to an easier angle and up to a decent belay ledge. The final belay of Y2K is straight above you and now would be a good time to take note of the rope eating crack above.
3rd Pitch- 80’- 5.4/ Move out right around the corner and follow the bolt line over thin ledges into the base of the final varnished corner where you need to build a station.
4th Pitch- 130’- 5.9/ Handren calls this pitch the “real crux”, but I disagree. It was a laid back pitch in my opinion. Not near the corner as the 2nd to last pitch on Honeycomb Chimney for example. Start at an easy angle, placing wires whenever you feel like it. As you ascend, the pitch steepens and you can place a #.75 camelot in an opportune scar as well as another small wire or two to get you beyond the more difficult stemming moves and up on easy ground. Keep moving left to the fixed belay.
DescentAll of the belays are fixed except for the base of the 4th pitch. You will not return down that corner. Rather you will rappel skiers right over the buttress in front of you. Think about where that 3rd belay station is. Remember, the traverse and the fact you want to be on the right side (skier’s right) of the rock in front of you. This first rappel is notorious for eating ropes and there was evidence of cut ropes. Once you get back to the third belay, tether one of you out climber’s left on nice ledges to pull the rope. You can stick a cam into a crack out left if it makes you feel more comfortable. Pull the ropes from this angle to keep them away from the crack. Prevailing winds the day we were climbing were strong and pushing back west into the crack. The canyons at Red Rocks create weird wind directions like this. Continue via two more double rope rappels past the fixed belays below.
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