Probably the most popular wall at Reimers Ranch, unofficially considered the best climbing location in the Austin area, Dead Cats attracts a lot of climbers because it is both close to the parking area and has several moderates. There are, however, challenging routes for stronger climbers, with the hardest being a 5.12a.
With a 5.5 and two 5.7 routes, Dead Cats is also commonly where new leaders and guided groups often go. Throw in four 5.8 routes and four 5.9, and you start to see why so many people head here.
It is the third wall as one branches right (downstream) from the access trail, just past Serpent's Wall and Dead Cats Annex.
Popular or not, Dead Cats is one of the prettiest places you will ever climb. The hike in passes though a canyon with stalactites and stalagmites, gigantic cedar trees, and a cascading stream. The rock on the wall resembles an outdoor cavern as well, with flowstone patterns and colors you normally expect to see underground.
At Dead Cats, there are 22 bolted limestone routes.
On weekends, get here early or expect to wait if you want anything from 5.5-5.9.
The routes are not long-- up to about 40'-- but they are fun.
Expect some polish on the really popular routes.
Dead Cats Wall from the South End
Dead Cats Wall from the North End
Reimers Ranch is located off Hamilton Pool Road about 6 miles west of its intersection with Ranch Road 12. It is about 45 minutes west from downtown Austin.
Once through the entrance station, drive about 1.8 mi and turn left into a large parking area signed for a pavilion and for climbing access. A sign points the way to "Climbers Canyon." Hike the trail and then drop into the top of the "canyon" where a spring creates a stream that soon empties into the Pedernales River. This stream includes a waterfall and some deep pools that are great places to cool off after climbing on a hot day.
Hike by or through the stream until a trail becomes apparent. The trail through Sex Canyon (very slick in some spots) splits a number of times. Stay on the main path, not crossing the stream, until you reach a spot where a large fallen tree crosses the trail. Step over that tree and continue. After a short uphill stretch, you will see a spur leading to Serpent Wall. Keep going. In a minute or two, you will reach Dead Cats.
I have updated names and grades to match the new edition of Austin Climbing: Sport Routes & Deep Water Solos by John Hogge, who has been heavily involved in route development in the Austin area. Thus, some of this information will differ from what is on other websites. Routes in bold are ones I have climbed; those in italics as well are ones I have led.
From left to right as you face the wall:
Lessa the Puramatic 6000 Kitty (5.5)-- Long had just two bolts and low anchors but now has three bolts and anchors at the top. It might be 5.6 now.
Rolly Poly Cocoa Kitty (5.7)
Hissing Cloe (5.7 PG)-- This is 5.8 on the linked sites. I agree with that because of the final moves to the anchors, which are balancy on polished rock. Solid 5.8 leaders regularly hate on this route's finish.
Clawing Zoe (5.7 PG)
Smelling Cat Calvin (5.8)
The Great Unknown (5.11a)
Mario's Route (5.12a)
Ralph's Route (5.11c)
Hello Kitty (5.10a)
Scott's Pelotas (5.8)
Water Ballet (5.10b)
Dead Cats Don't Meow(5.10 c)
Hairballs and Spray (5.10b)
My Name is Mud (5.8+)
Almost Nothing To It (5.9)
Dude, Where's My Cat? (5.10c)
Power Snatch (5.10d PG)
Lessa the Puramatic 6000 Kitty (5.5)
Rolly Polly Coco Kitty (5.7)
Hissing Cloe (5.8)
Clawing Cloe (5.7) and Smelling Cat Calvin (5.8)
Smelling Cat Calvin (5.8)
Mario's Route (5.12a)
Hello Kitty (5.10a) and Scott's Pelotas (5.8)
Water Ballet (5.10 b/c) and Backflip (5.9)
Madrone (5.9) and Dead Cats (5.10 b/c)
I've only climbed at Dead Cats a handful of times so far, and I've only done the 5.5-5.8 lines, and a couple 5.9 routes, as a result, wanting to get a good feel for each grade there before moving up, but I will offer this as a general impression so far: getting to the first bolt is sometimes tricky, going between the first and last bolts is not hard for the grade, and getting from the last bolt to the anchors can feel tough for the grade.
Routes here have sport anchors. Almost everyone lowers and topropes from them, but always inspect and always have extra gear. As for the routes themselves, a set of 6 draws will get you up anything here.
The sites above won't be any more useful than this one for locating the climbs, but they have many climber comments that one may find helpful.
The daily entry fee is currently $10. Annual passes are $100 and well worth it if you climb here a lot. I bought an annual pass in August and by October had come out more than 10 times. Plus, the annual pass is good for all Travis County parks. Unfortunately, the pass is a windshield decal, not a card. If you want a duplicate pass for a second vehicle, you get to pay $50 for it. Nice racket they have going there.
Opening and closing times vary by the season. Check the park website.
When to Climb
All year. The cliff faces west, so in summer, climb in the morning, and in cooler weather, go in the afternoon.
None inside the park.
About 7 miles east on Hamilton Pool Road is Rock Dog, owned and operated by local climbers. I've never been there but have heard the owners are awesome climbers and awesome people. I also hear that the rich neighbors hate the place, so if you don't live locally, stay there and do your part to give the middle finger to the snobs.