Comp Splitter, 5.11a
Some of the best climbing at the City of Rocks National Reserve and/or Castle Rocks State Park is located on the Comp Wall on the west side of Comp Rock in Castle Rocks. Comp Rock and Comp Wall got their name from one of the first climbing competitions held in the US named the Idaho Open in 1989 when Castle Rocks was still in private ownership. Redrum (5.13c****) was the featured route of that competition. Bingham’s guide book refers to that section of the wall as “one of the more impressive hunks of stone in the known universe.” The Comp Splitter (5.11a****) would have been one of the first routes established on the main wall (upper Comp Wall) and offers my favorite trade route in the park. This wall also offers some of the tallest climbing in the area with fun adventurous three pitch routes like La Vida 5.9***) and Question of Balance (5.10c***).
I prefer to park at the parking lot just north of the ranch house. Walk through the gate and continue heading straight even though there is a marked junction for Comp Wall to turn left. Continuing straight puts you on a better trail. Trend left on the trail at the next junction and hike below Pin Cushion, Bullet Rock and Wedding Bell to the base of Comp Wall at what they use to label Comp Wall dihedrals. Continue on the trail northwest past the dihedral area and as you continue up the hill, you will be below the main Comp Wall which is the tallest and cleanest feature in all of Castle Rocks or City of Rocks for that matter. Comp Splitter near the north end of the west face is hard not to notice: an obvious straight in finger splitter/corner that turns a small roof into a pure splitter that opens up the higher it gets with fixed anchors at the belays. The large corner system to the left is Red Corner (5.10a**).
WEST-SOUTHWEST FACE Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the Wall
- Companeros- 5.10c***/ This is a mixed single pitch route added atop the first (trad) pitch of Red Corner (5.9). Climb Red Corner’s first pitch veering off left up a crack to the fixed rap on a bird shit ledge. An excellent and thoughtful pitch with a multitude of side pulls, soft mantles and just general sustained climbing at the grade. I placed one appreciative piece of the #.4-.5 variety, otherwise it is well bolted. It meanders back and forth eventually gaining a short crack for the gear. Trend left and up from the crack. Sustained and steep to that point, but not over. Cover some easy ground to the large hueco and climb the arete formed by same through several more bolts to a hanging fixed rap/anchor. The crux move of the route is between the first and second bolt on the hueco arete. Dow
- Red Corner- 5.10a**/This is a fantastic two pitch route for the 5.10- trad leader. Start as for Shop and Compare up the weird bolted ramp section to get to the actual base of the large right facing corner. The first pitch is listed as 5.10a in the guide on the topo and second pitch as 5.10b, but the route is listed as 5.10a in the text section. It is pretty mellow, but fun. the first pitch affords mostly stemming versus any real off-width. It offers nice and sustained climbing via multiple cracks and features and protects well to a large ledge with a fixed anchor. The second pitch offers the crux right off the belay, but I would call it no more difficult than the first pitch. The crack is wide and you have to commit to it even though you start out stemming. I placed maybe one fist. Gives way to fun hand jamming in short order. Head to the summit and use Shop and Compare's top anchor to start rapping. Single 70m rope gets you down in two raps. Standard rack to C4#4. Dow
- Shop and Compare- 5.10a***/Shop and Compare is a sport route located just to the right of the corner, not mixed as the guide book suggests. All you need for gear is draws. The first pitch is somewhat contrived. Follow several bolts up a sub feature below the wall. You get hand jams as you clip the first two bolts and then pull up onto this feature and walk over to the base of the main wall. Take a bush laden hand rail (either skip the first bolt or back clean it to avoid rope drag) from left to right and up following the bolts via good rock on positive edges to a fixed anchor and hanging belay. The second pitch is nondescript as it leads to another fixed anchor with more of a stance. It would be best to combine these first two pitches (and thus rack plenty of draws). The third pitch offers fun vertical climbing and exposure up and left on good rock and positive edges to the top anchor. Dow
- Straight Outa Compton- 5.11RX*/
- Comp Splitter- 5.11a****/Comp Splitter is definitely one of the better pure trad leads in the Castle Rocks and/or City of Rocks collection. The crux is at the roof on the first pitch. Reach for the flake out right via a foot jam and mantle it into the finger corner. Two corners meet for a hand sized (but precarious jam) opening right below the roof. A small cam (.2-.4) protects the crux roof pull well. Locate two small under clings and face the inside corner, one foot in the corner (slick), the other stepping up small features on the arête. A jug awaits which pulls up into a fingers lay back. Follow the finger corner as it widens to hands and back down to fingers near the end but with large features to make the last third of the first pitch much easier. The 2nd pitch is only 60' and you can easily combine pitches. A few C4#3's protect the upper crack well. Dow
- No Competition- 5.11b***/
- Natural Grooves- 5.11a**/
- Women’s Semi-Final- 5.11b**/
- Question of Balance, 5.10c***/ This is the best, sustained, great rock, great position, length, moderate multipitch sport route in either the City or Castle. The 1st pitch (5.9) is trad and is shared with La Vida. The rest of the route is fully bolted. There is a 5.10 off-width option in the fat but short left facing corner just right of the extreme southwestern Comp Wall area. It is my preferred start. But the normal start to La Vida is to take the flake on the arete of that outside corner up to a nice looking, but easier than the grade, left facing corner. Climb it to the anchors on the left. The 1st official pitch of Question of Balance (5.10a) wanders back and forth straight up the wall (between La Vida and Worker’s Comp) and offers mindful climbing at the grade. Finish at the shared fixed rap with La Vida. The money 3rd pitch, 5.10c, climbs up through a small roof and keeps your attention in the 5.10 realm for most of the way. The crux is the last move needed to reach the fixed anchor. Rap the route in three raps or traverse climbers left and rap La Vida Loca down to the top of Worker’s Comp in two raps to the ground with a 70m. This option gives you a peek at the extreme corner of Comp Wall along with a free hanging rap. A few medium pieces for the start to La Vida, unless taking the OW option, then one #6. Dow
- La Vida- 5.9***/ aka Mr Sneezy. The first pitch offers a short, but stout, off-width corner option (5.10) that would bar entry for many moderate climbers. The crack out on the blunt arete is much easier of course. The second pitch offers only one cam/nut placement in 100’ of climbing (after the initial second corner). The rest of the pro relies on slung features. Although Bingham has this run out section listed as 5.8 on his topo, by City of Rock standards it is closer to 5.7. Required route-finding skills offers up a thoughtful lead on this pitch. The final pitch is a fantastic 5.8 hand crack that leads to a bold (5.9) blind traverse around the arête to access cracks near the finish. Brad told me he has retrofitted this route since I climbed it (2nd ascent). Dow
- Shake ‘n Flake- 5.10c**/ (dangerous lead to start the route, 2020)
DIHEDRAL SECTION-SOUTH FACE
These were the first climbs I did in either park. I did not take notes back then, but these climbs deserve more credit from the local guide (2020). The author consistently discounts trad climbs in comparison to sport climbs.
- Castle Rocks Gardening Club- 5.11c**/
- Mein (sic) Comp- 5.13***/