Lucky Nuts, 5.9X
The Lucky Nuts area is comprised of a lone pinnacle (tower) located high up on the south slopes at the entrance to First Creek Canyon
. The Lucky Nuts route itself (Anderson-1977
) is easily indentified by a loose block blocking an obvious (wide looking) crack half way up the north face of the pinnacle.
It along with Mudterm (Herbst-1976
) offer two fairly spectacular 5.9 trad pitches
, albeit located in white and sandy rock. Unfortunately, until the loose block is cleaned out of Lucky Nuts, I cannot recommend that route although it is a great single trad pitch besides this objective danger. There is a fixed rap at the top of both of these routes that reaches the ground with a 70m rope.
There is a slung tree to the east that reaches the ground with a 60m rope.
Lucky Nuts makes for a great warm up or finish to any number of route combinations further in First Creek. The approach burns a few calories relative to the climbing available, but of course there are a few of us hard core alpinist looking for those opportunities.
Park at the First Creek Canyon trailhead 6.5 miles north of the 159/160 junction (4-5 miles south of the Loop Road entrance). Hike the main trail into the canyon. As it narrows there is an obvious black buttress rising on the left side (Lotta Balls Wall). About 400 yards to the east is a white triangular pinnacle with the obvious hanging block on the left crack. This is the Lucky Nuts wall. There is no obvious trail to the base and it is a bit of a hump through cacti for single pitch climbs.
The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face the Wall
Lucky Nuts- 120’- 5.9/I really enjoyed this pitch, fantastic desert climbing really. However, the human sized loose block about 2/3rds up is a hazard. You have to mantel it to continue and then face a stiff move (for the grade) off of it with decking potential. Once you see how it is attached, it is larger and looser than you might imagine, creating serious potential hazard for anyone below. Start out in a wicked multi-walled chimney/off-width section. A C4#4 protects before the roof then the left crack closes down to fingers and hands. Stay in the left crack for the most part, jamming and stemming at times through pretty stout climbing at the grade. Handren calls it quite burly for the grade and I would have to concur. Once up to the before mentioned "death block", surmount it and climb the left finger crack which reaches an easy finish above to a fixed belay/rap. Dow
Mudterm- 120’- 5.9/Another outstanding pitch. Mudterm involves a lot of finger jams with a few cool stems. The last section before the two routes join Lucky Nuts), is the crux. About 20' of layback on a C4#.5 crack on soft rock. Save two .5's for this section. Dow
Critical Cams- 70’- 5.10d/Looking up at it I was suspect that it was 5.10d, but it has a short cruxy section about half way up when you start to lose the left chicken wing and have yet to gain any heel toe. I groped the outside edge with my crotch and accepted the inch by inch gain. Knee jams come into play. A crack inside helps with your left hand a bit. A few edges on the right wall assist your right foot. Just solid grunting off width that eventually turns to hands for the last couple meters. Continue to the top of the tower and set up belay on a block down and left. For descent, down climb past the block and down climb some more on the left side of a steep gully and finally down climb back to the ground with help from a tree. I only placed a C4#5 and #6 and walked each. Only two pieces I would take if I did it again. Dow
Lucky Nuts and Mudterm can be rapped with a 70m rope from a fixed anchor atop the formation. You can also scramble east to a slung tree that makes for a 60m rap.
70m rope works best. You need a full on desert rack for these routes. Lucky Nuts and Mudterm are long sustained pitches. Single to 4”, extra 2”-3” for Lucky Nuts. Mudterm requires much smaller gear, Single to 3” with C3s, triple .5-.75”.
External LinksRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association