Birthday Party is the “Johnny come Lately” to its sister routes, Community Pillar
(5.8+, 1978) and Honeycomb Chimney
(5.9). Birthday Party was established in 2005
along with other local climbers.
Birthday Party follows three relatively mundane pitches to a worthwhile full rope length fourth pitch that utilizes the best rock Community Pillar (the pillar, not the route) has to offer
, a solid varnished face climbed on its left side by intermittent cracks. The good rock runs out however at the top of the fourth pitch and to truly make the trip up Magic Mountain
worthwhile, I as well as the FAers advise finishing off the route on the fantastic upper corner pitch of Honeycomb Chimney
. It takes a 4th-5th class connecting pitch to make that happen. The FAers give Birthday Party an “R” rating, but if you take the Honeycomb finish, you will avoid any run out climbing on this route.
Getting to Birthday Party is no party, let me assure you. All of these Magic Mountain north face routes are well protected by brush and are not common enough to entice any trail building. You park at the Pine Creek trail head which can be reached off of the Red Rocks Loop Road. Hike towards the canyon, venturing left at the “old home site”. Follow the trail on the left side of the creek, but avoid climbing back left towards the Oak Creek Trail. Continue heading into the canyon and work to identify Honeycomb Chimney as the chimney directly to the left of a significant varnished face on the north face of Magic Mountain which is Community Pillar. The Community Pillar route starts to the right of the Honeycomb Chimney via an alcove with a large boulder stuck in a chimney. Birthday Party starts up the second crack to the left of the Community Pillar start and just right of the Honeycomb Chimney start. The first pitch is easy to indentify as a deep cut short chimney below a decent looking hand crack.
Angle up the hill, via no real beaten down trail to speak of, towards the varnished face on Community Pillar. The brush is too thick for you to circumvent the wall at the base of Magic Mountain, so head for a spot right below that large varnished face. Fight your way through brush up to the base of the Community Pillar route and then tunnel your way back left through the vegetation and turn back right up a ramp to atop a boulder at the before mentioned short chimney with a big roof.
Route Description800’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10a
1st Pitch- 60’- 5.10a/
Climb up the obvious loose chimney until below a solid 1-2” crack. Protect the swing out move there as you convert from the chimney to the hand crack above, relying on some precarious holds.
Follow a pleasant crack up to a decent ledge with a small gear belay out left
. Nothing really felt much like 5.10 climbing or maybe I am spending too much time in Zion.
2nd Pitch- 60’- 5.9/
Continue up the crack to the right that leads into a large chimney/alcove area with a slung boulder. Did not feel much like 5.9 either. These pitches could easily be combined, but I needed to see my second through most of this climb.
3rd Pitch- 130’- 5.7/
By far the better of the first three pitches despite the grade. Run up the easy short chimney in front of you and traverse right to the fun hand crack. Follow it as it steepens out of the shadow of the surrounding features to open ground. Move left past a bush to a large ledge with trees (base of the namesake for Honeycomb Chimney). Gear belay.
4th Pitch- 160’- 5.9/
This is the money pitch of Birthday Party. Head back right into the crack you were in before and follow it on easy ground up a flake into the dark solid varnished wall. When the crack ends, protect your second with a 1” at double sling length and make the awesome 10’ traverse left via a good finger rail. You can protect the mantle up into the left crack with a 4”, but should remove it once you make the move so as to avoid unnecessary rope drag.
Place gear at will as you continue up the arête to a medium sized ledge with a 4”-5” gear belay.
5th Pitch- 200’- 4th-5th/
Traverse around left into the top of the Honeycomb Chimney. Continue up a pocketed ramp on the right side and traverse left at the top. Proceed into a walkable chimney and ascend the left side at the trees. Best to solo this pitch if both parties are capable.
Move the belay by bushwhacking 100’ or so out left to the base of the dark varnished corner which cannot be seen from this vantage point, just trust it is there.
6th Pitch- 100’- 5.9/
A “spectacular” (as Handren describes it and I concur) steep corner pitch with a slick black varnished wall coming in from the left into another wall with some large features higher up. At first the crack is wide and looks hard to protect, but in reality, you can sink large gear in as you work your way up to the 2nd half of the corner and into the more challenging climbing
. The gear keeps getting smaller down to .4”. Use a combination of chimney and jams to wrestle your way to the final face features which land you on top of a huge ledge. Belay with any variation of gear into a solid crack above.
There is quite a bit of misinformation
out there about the commonly used rap descent in this area. Bottom line is that the traditional Community Pillar rap descent can be done with a 70m rope.
Scramble west and down to a tree rap amongst loose scree. Take a short rap there. Then bushwhack and scramble down to the west to the saddle. Turn right and hike north down the gully to another tree rap. Take a very short rap down to a ledge just below with a nut and boulder rap station.
Take a full 70m free air rap down to the large ledge below. Then another short tree rap down to yet another large bushy ledge. Grab an end of the rope and scramble down the steep gully to climbers left to yet one more tree rap. A full 70m rope gets you down to the base of the chimney on climbers left
. Once you pull the rope here, you have it set up to climb Small Purchase if you so desire. It is a neat corner, solid 5.10 trad lead, to chains that can be top roped.
Single to 5”, double 2”-3”. 70m rope for preferred rap descent
. A mix of slings and draws. Managing rope drag on the 4th pitch will be an issue.
The climb can be a bit cooler than you think, depending on conditions. A jacket on hand whenever you climb north facing routes at RR would be advised. I prefer to haul my shoes up on this route for the descent and short bushwhack back to the packs.
External LinksRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association