Building Blocks boasts the largest number of routes per square inch of any formation at the City of Rocks (unfortunately my photographer lost his photos for this day). It is far from the largest formation in the Reserve, but is home to 22 published routes as of 2018, many of which approach or exceed 100’ in height. It sits by itself out in the open meadows of what the guide calls North Creek. It is best approached by the Circle Creek trail head and on most days you can expect to have it to yourself. Its two walls are almost perfectly aligned to face east and west giving a full day of climbing in the sun or shade, depending on temps. The West Face has the better varnished rock and the more moderate climbing.
The best 5.10 selection is on the west face with several three star 5.10a bolted routes: Lego and Acid Rain. Combined with several mixed 5.10 routes, Lowe Route, 5.10**, and Birthday Boy, 5.10a*, you quickly have four worthy 5.10- climbs in a row on the striking west face. Scraps, 5.11a***, is a sandbagged and interesting mixed climb to the left of these 5.10 routes. The east face features another three star 5.11a fully bolted route named Latter Day Saints. Whilst Latter Day Saints felt full on for the grade, Pinner, 5.10c**, felt way soft for the grade. There are three 5.12-*** bolted routes on this formation if you want to step it up a notch.
A pleasant, level and easy approach. Park at the Circle Creek trailhead. Hike through the gate out the trailhead and follow the road to another cattle gate, go through it and continue for the upper creek area. Building Blocks will be a standalone formation (with a much shorter sub formation in front of it) on the left side of the road. It was signed in 2018. 20 minutes +/-.
Acid Rain- 90’-5.10a***/ Fully bolted line on the arête on the right side of the wall. This is a more interesting lead than Lego, but still more 5.9 than 5.10a. The bolts are somewhat runout for someone at their lead limit, but the climbing is mostly juggy with the crux at about half height via some edges at a slight overhang. Trend right and up through this section to chains atop the route. Dow
Stereotypic Behavior- 90’-5.10d*/
Jimmy Grips- 5.12c**/
Vice Grips- 5.11++**/
Birthday Boy- 100’-5.10a*/ Shares the same first half of the Lowe Route, but stay closer to the roofs. Traverse right above the last one to a crack finish. Can set up a gear belay/top rope in a crack above the Lowe route. Rap Lego’s chains. Standard single rack to C4#2. Dow
Lowe Route- 100’-5.10**/ All of the 5.10a’s on this formation feel 5.9 at most in comparison to several of the 5.11a’s feeling a bit sandbagged. The guide contradicts itself in that the topo shows the Lowe route and Birthday Boy as two independent lines but the text says they share the same start. The text is correct. Start up twin cracks with good gear. Massive roofs are up and right. Birthday Boy climbs the excellent varnished rock just to the left of them. The Lowe route climbs a fun vertical crack to the left of Birthday Boy on what you could almost call an arête. Fun exposure on jugs and more 5.9 than 5.10. Can set up a gear belay/top rope for the Lowe route and Birthday Boy and rap Lego when done. Standard single rack to C4#2. Dow
Lego- 100’-5.10a***/ Fully bolted line. The guidebook author is a sport climber therefore the sport climbs always get more stars, but this route is no different than the Lowe route or Birthday Boy. Just great rock with fun juggy moves up a vertical wall to chains. All these 5.10a’s are soft for the grade. Acid Rain is the more interesting climb of the two sport 5.10a’s. Dow
Scraps- 80’-5.11a***/ A poorly protected start through a fun and athletic crux at the grade via layback off the arête (2nd arête from the left end of this wall) leads through two average quality bolts (2018). From there easier climbing leads up to below the true crux (sandbagged for the grade) on an overhanging face. A tough sequence leads through several more bolts. The easier mid-section takes small gear. It is tempting and easy to get off track and follow the crack/flake left of this upper crux where Dropzone crosses the route. That is much easier climbing but no doubt not the intent. The crux lasts for a heady 3 moves or so up and right, then easier climbing to chains. None of the bolts are inspiring. Several small pieces of gear can supplement. Dow
The Good Book- 85’-5.10a/
The Mechanic- 85’-5.12a***/
The Milkman- 5.11dR*/
Latter Day Saints- 70’-5.11a***/ Fully bolted line. The crux is the start through the third bolt. It is an awkward layback of sorts that gets you to plates where the climbing eases. Latter Day is almost as sandbagged as Scraps on the opposite side of the formation. It is more than two grades more difficult than a 5.10c on this same wall named Pinner. However, it is not as sustained as Scraps and has modern hard ware in comparison (2018). Chains atop the route. Dow
Pinner- 70’-5.10c**/ Fully bolted line. The guidebook is in error on this well bolted route regarding the crux and grade. The slab start is 5.9 at most (the guide mentions it as the crux). Rather the crux is half way up via a reachy edge and more 5.10- than 5.10+. Not sustained, but worth doing. Chains atop the route. Dow
East Chimney- 100’- 5.5*/ Secure solo on mossy rock. More 5th class than anything. The obvious chimney just to the right of Pinner. At top, climb the wall on your left and rap from a variety of options from atop the formation. Dow
Zip Drive- 50’-5.11a**/