On a cold day in December, we searched for an objective with pure southern exposure.
Kraft Crags situated in the middle of the south face of Kraft Mountain on the east side of Calico Basin fit the bill. The only established or worthy multi pitch route on Kraft Mountain is the Classic Crack of Calico
. Kraft is a non-distinct mountain hemming in the bizarre collection of homes located in the basin to the east. Kraft is what basically separates these rural homes from the stark contrast known as Las Vegas.
2nd Pitch- 45’- 5.9+
Although published as a two pitch route in Handren’s book, Classic Crack of Calico is actually required to be climbed via three pitches unless you are simul climbing the first pitch.
I advise against that as the crux of the whole route (5.9+) is at or over 60m (we used a 70m rope). The first pitch is comprised of average sandstone at its best and a bit chossy at its worst. But the real climbing is located in a solid left facing corner as you traverse left below a large roof to reach a stellar varnished right facing corner. The small roof pull to gain this corner is the crux of the climb and best reserved for the start of the short second pitch as it is at a full 60m-70m to a stance below this roof.
The pull is easily protected with large gear
and the beautiful corner goes much easier after you get through the first couple of off width
moves. The last pitch is a fantastic 100’+ of 5.8-5.9 corner and crack climbing on solid varnish
to the top of this attached pillar. The descent is a walk off
Park at the end of the residential area. There is a gravel road climbers are encouraged to park along that goes left out of the last cul de sac. Walk back to the paved cul de sac and head east along a deserted home (2009) and down a steep embankment. Cross the wash and follow a trail that heads for the popular bouldering area at the base of Kraft Mountain. There is no established trail up the large scree to the base of the route itself. Take the beta photo provided with you showing the distinct line which skirts one pillar to the right and ascends a crack to the top of another.
Head up to the base of the route on easy ground.
Route Description350’, 3 Pitches, 5.9+
1st Pitch- 200’- 5.9/
Climb up the chossy gully directly below a large roof with a left facing corner below it and a large heavily varnished right facing corner above it
and out left. Sticking to the right crack in the gully is truer to grade, but you can easily bypass this skeptical rock out left. Take the solid corner below the roof and traverse left
to exit it. Continue to traverse left until below the small roof that gains access to the big black right facing wall above. Climb to the very base of this corner below the roof and set up a comfortable gear belay.
2nd Pitch- 45’- 5.9+/
Place a large piece (4"-5") in the roof to help avoid a deck fall
. Under cling and heave yourself up into the off width
above. Knee bar
your way up to a decent finger jug
and pull the roof. Follow the beautiful corner to the large ledge above. Move diagonally over to the base of the crack splitting the face above (tree in the way). Set up a gear belay in the crack.
3rd Pitch- 105’- 5.9/
Climb the obvious crack and corner system above on stellar rock
to the top of the attached pillar placing gear at will. Some smaller gear
will help set a belay on top.
There were (2009) no cairns from the climb down however lower down there will be some cairns hikers use to ascend to the top of Kraft Mountain. To reach this scramble line, traverse northeast passing up the first gully and start descending into the second one.
You should notice some cairns to the left leading down 3rd and 4th class terrain
once you have descended a bit. From there, follow the cairns when you can find them, but the trail basically moves a little more left yet
(skiers left) to avoid being cliffed out below. Return back right once at the big scree ledge below.
A 5” would be helpful to protect the crux move. You should be able to get by without a 4” though. Single to 5” was adequate for me, no wires….but extra .75”-2” depending on your comfort level. There is no fixed gear. Mostly shoulder length slings as the first pitch involves quite a bit of traversing. 60m or 70m rope. Helmets. Take your shoes for the descent. We did this route in December and stayed nice and warm in a single layer of clothes despite 45F being the high.
External LinksRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association