Frigid Air Buttress, 5.9+, 10 Pitches

Frigid Air Buttress, 5.9+, 10 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 36.14222°N / 115.49222°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.9 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: III 5.9+
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 10
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


Frigid Air Buttress

This classic line climbs the buttress by the same name at the base of Bridge Mountain. The cliff faces northeast (no sun in the winter time) and as the name implies it is probably a great route for hot days. The route was first climbed by Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton in 1976 and thus the rating of the crux has that nice, old school flavor. The route looks steep and generally dramatic from the approach trail but in fact it has more of staircase shape when viewed in profile – nice, steep pitches separated by significant ledges. Larry DeAngelo devotes an entire chapter to this trad line in his Red Rock Odyssey (ISBN 0-9753074-0-1) book (excellent read).

Getting There

Frigid Air Buttress
Frigid Air Buttress

Follow the directions on the main Bridge Mountain page to reach the entrance to the Red Rocks scenic drive (one way). Take the drive and look for Icebox Canyon trailhead (clearly marked) beyond Willow Springs turn off (mentioned on Bridge Mtn. page).

Hike the trail toward the mouth of Icebox Canyon and Frigid Air Buttress. The trail stays on the right side of the main wash in the Canyon. Hike to just beyond the point where a subsidiary wash (roughly where you’ll be descending) joins in from the left (near base of buttress). Here, hike into the main wash, cross it and scramble 200 feet toward the start of route (right side of the large flake marking pitch 1). Approach time from trailhead is about 20 minutes.

Route Topo

Beautiful topo courtesy of Brutus Of Wyde:

Topo of Frigid Air ButtressFrigid Air Buttress

Route Description

Frigid Air ButtressP3-4
Frigid Air ButtressP6
Frigid Air ButtressP5
Pitch 5, Frigid Air ButtressP5
Frigid Air ButtressP9
Pitch 1 Frigid Air Buttress
Frigid Air ButtressP7
Frigid Air ButtressP6
Frigid Air ButtressP9

Pitch 1: 5.6, 80 feet. Climb the right side of the obvious flake. The crack formed by the flake is initially wide but the face is well featured and even offers pro opportunities. Belay from bolted anchor atop the flake.

Pitch 2: 5.7, 90 feet. Move up the face and traverse left and around the corner after about 8 feet. Don’t go too high up the face. Follow easier (low 5th) terrain up and left toward the bushy ledge. Belay from a tree. Note that pitches 1 and 2 can be combined with a 60 meter rope.

Pitch 3: 5.8, 110 feet. Move up the steep but well cracked wall to another brushy ledge 20 feet above. Bushwhack right along this ledge toward the left facing dihedral. Make your way up and right into the dihedral. Climb the short dihedral with a good crack and exit right into a distinct notch formed by a subsidiary buttress.

Pitch 4: 5.5, 60 feet. Move left along narrow ledges to a low angle crack system. Climb this crack/face up to another large ledge. Belay from a tree at the base of a distinct chimney (huge ledge). Note that pitches 3 and 4 can easily be combined with a 60 meter rope.

Pitch 5: 5.5, 80 feet. Climb the easy (cool looking!) chimney. Pass a narrow ledge on the left and go up a narrower short chimney/tunnel to yet another ledge (couple feet wide) at the base of two cracks.

Pitch 6: 5.9, 120 feet. Climb the finger crack on right (mostly face climbing) which turns to small hands. Pass a sloping ledge on left (new bolt there) and start up the off-width crack. Crack is weird – wide but narrows down to hands (#2-#3 Camalot) in the back (kind of like Generic Crack in Indian Creek but with face holds). Belay on another very large ledge.

Pitch 7: 5.8, 110 feet. Move up the short (~18 foot) chimney. Exit left (real nice to have that #4 Camalot here eh?) onto a good stance. Climb up either via squeeze on left (why?) or an easy crack on right to reach another (easier) chimney that narrows down just above. Place gear deep and high, then get back out and stem your way up on the outside of the chimney (or struggle through the squeeze) at about 5.6. Move up the low angle corridor above to another large ledge with a large pine tree at base of left-facing corner.

Pitch 8: 5.5, 140 feet. Climb the left facing dihedral above the tree and exit onto 3rd class terrain above. Move right and up via easy ground and belay when rope drag stops you – you should be within sight of the crux crack just above.

Pitch 9: 5.9+, 120 feet. Make your way up to the clean looking finger crack (in chocolate colored rock) via easy terrain on the right. Move up the crack – the crux (6 foot) section hits shortly and hits hard! It is thin and hard for the grade (i.e. 5.9+ from mid-70’s – what did you expect). Rest of the pitch is much easier and ends on a cool, 6 foot wide, long ledge.

Pitch 10: low 5th, 200+ feet. Surmount the headwall (easy on the far left) and follow 3rd and 4th class terrain up towards the high point. You cross the first set of gullies (huge tree 80 feet below and on left visible - NOT your destination). Keep moving up toward the “summit” via 4th class rock. Unrope when you arrive at the second set of gullies just beyond the “summit”.


(1)Move (climber’s) left down the gullies and locate rap slings around a chock stone in a class 4 chimney. There maybe a cairn visible from unroping spot. This improved version provided by hkutuk

(2)Do a short rap down the chinney.

(3)Walk left and down (cairns) with a bit of class 3 (unexposed) scrambling. General idea is to make your way down towards and then along the edge of the wall top.

(4)Scramble down onto an exposed catwalk (hip belay was good here) with a large tree at the end.

(5)Do a short (1 rope) rap to a large ledge below – rap set up at edge of ledge visible from tree.

(6)Double rope rappel and locate slings on your right (rappellers) in a corner on a slopy ledge. NOTE: This is key in getting away with using "short" (50 meter) lines.

(7)Double rope rappel to another big ledge with tall bushes. Walk left (climbers) and locate slings around a tree and boulder.

(8)Rap down (we did double rope) to the top of the wash at the base of the cliff.

Hike down the wash (we did one rap as it was dark – probably can be downclimbed) heading toward the base of the route (faint climbers path through the bushes near bottom of wash).

Essential Gear

Frigid Air Buttress

Cams: 2X blue to yellow Alien. 2X #0.5 to #1 Camalot. 3X #2 and #3 Camalots. 1X #3.5 (not sure if I placed it) and #4 C4 (really nice for one spot). Nothing bigger needed!

Light set of nuts.

Route Overview

Frigid Air ButtressFrigid Air Buttress (III 5.9+) from base.

External Links

(1) Frigid Aid Buttress page on



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