Classics in Red Rocks 5.8-5.10

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kevin trieu

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Classics in Red Rocks 5.8-5.10

by kevin trieu » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:06 am

Alright so it is really unfortunate that I have only climbed in Red Rocks ONCE. This coming Christmas and new year I'm going to spend about two weeks there. I'm looking to climb a lot of classics, trad/sport/multi-pitch or single, I don't discriminate. What do the veterans at Red Rocks recommend? I've heard that Red Rocks rating is kind of ... off. I lead 5.9 and an occasion 10 at Joshua Tree so should I stick to 10s and below at Red Rocks?

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by mungeclimber » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:14 am


you climb much sandstone elsewheres?

i'd start easy and work your way up if haven't had the experience of a RR backcountry route and descent. high adventure quotient.

I'd offer up more but more folks have a better sense of the good lines than I do.

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Sam Page

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by Sam Page » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:27 am

Red Rocks, um, rocks.

I have found that a 5.9 at Red Rocks is comparable to a stiff 5.7 in Yosemite/Sierras/JTree. But I have only done about twenty multi-pitch trad routes in Red Rocks, so please talk to others with more experience.

Here are some excellent routes I have done at Red Rocks in the 5.7-5.9 range:

Crimson Chrysalis (get there early and expect your ropes to get stuck on rappel)
Ginger Cracks (do this one if you get to Crimson Chrysalis and find a party of three starting up)
Olive Oil
Johnny Vegas or Beulah's Book to Solar Slab or Sunflower (roughly 10 pitches. I've gone all the way up to the gully descent, but I definitely don't recommend it)
Refried Brains (just the first 6 or so pitches)

Don't climb 24 hours (?) after rain. The normally solid holds will simply pop off. It is quite alarming.

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by jonesa37 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:03 am

anything on the magic bus so rad!

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kevin trieu

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by kevin trieu » Sat Dec 12, 2009 5:50 am

Thanks guys. Keep it coming.

Not much experience on sandstone. Crimson Chrysalis was the one route I climb when I was there years ago. Our rope did get stuck. The other sandstone experience was a week in Potash road near Moab, Indian Creek and Castle Valley.

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by dayinthelife » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:38 pm

Lots of good routes -- get the Handren guide -- but as to ratings, it's worth checking out first ascent info. Try a Herbst 5.8 and let us know how overrated it feels. You'll want some sun so consider south facing routes that won't be shaded by late morning because of big walls on the south side of the canyons.
Some good ideas that aren't normally overwhelmed by climbers. S Face Windy Peak, Jubilant Song or Hot Fudge Thursday; (it's considered a big approach but depends on what you're used to); Diet Delight (east facing but lots of sun in the morning, and out of a west wind); Classic Crack of Calico on Kraft Mtn; get an early start and get up to Solar Slab Terrace , with many good choices on the upper wall.
Have a great visit. I am jealous....

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Dow Williams

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by Dow Williams » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:49 pm

I have climbed all the so called "classics" (they are not necessarily the best routes though) at RR in your grade range. It would be a much easier process for you to peruse the RR page...(although you should still buy Jerry's book) pick a selection and ask me and/or Radek to rate them in order of what we would do first. I will be in RR all of next week myself, but as of today, we just had a big snow storm roll through the desert. Weather can be a factor in which case you will need to be prepared to sport climb or head south for Cochise.

Your key south facing longer routes are located on Windy Peak's south face and Rainbow Mountain's south face (Oak Creek-Solar Slab-Eagle Wall). That said, I have climbed routes in Black Velvet, including a deep chimney like Epinephrine in the dead of winter (dealing with snow). Depends how much suffering you are accustom to I suppose. Ratings can only be classified consistently anywhere you climb by whom put the route in. Some sandbag, some are soft. Granite climbers in general don't seem comfortable leading at the same grade on sandstone when they are with me anyway. I suppose it can be an acquired taste for folks. If you climb a lot of (chossy) limestone, there is not a huge difference in my opinion. Enjoy your trip.

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by fossana » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:57 pm

I'm no veteran, but if you want to do some sunnier routes I would recommend the following:

Beulah's Book/Sunflower link-up (5.9)
* We did the Solar Slab walk-off. You can do it with one rope and there's way less chance of getting a rope stuck as with Solar Slab Gully. I have detailed instructions in the Black Orpheus description for descent starting from the top of the route. The only addition is getting to the top of the formation from Upper Solar Slab wall.

Armatron (5.9)

Black Orpheus (5.10a)

+1 on picking up Handren's RR guide. I usually use the GearLoop or Supertopo descriptions and to check out the sun exposure this time of year, but then again I'm a wimp when it comes to climbing in cold temps. Agree with Dow that the softer white sandstone can feel sketchy if you're used to granite; however, with the amount of time you'll be there you should have plenty of time to get accustomed to it. Brownstone Wall (e.g. Armatron) has come interesting blocky varnished tiles; it's worth the trek just for the experience. I've only climbed a few routes in Moab (a long time ago) but I remember encountering some similar softer rock in a few spots.

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by fatdad » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:16 pm

Going to be COLD (at least in the canyons). I think you're have to stick to the sun unless, like Dow said, you're into suffering. But then you might get lucky.

Brass Wall has some fun stuff and it's sunny.

Dark Shadows (5.8) is the best .8 I've done there but like the name implies it'll be in the shade. Never done Solar Slab (5.6) but it's supposed to be fun and sounds warm.

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Dow Williams

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by Dow Williams » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:04 pm

Don't get confused about Solar is not just a route, but rather walls (lower and upper) consisting of many warm routes...there are three main walls facing south going back into the canyon, Solar Slab, Black Arch and Eagle.....only route I refuse to do roped in all of RR is Solar Slab the route.....way too touristy....but so you understand, there are a ton of good routes on the upper slab in your range, Arch Enemy, Sunflower and Sundog....all excellent 5.9's as well as on the lower slab, Belluahs Book, Sandstone Overcast, Sideline, Frieda's Flake....all good 5.9's. All on summitpost, all in Jerry's book. You climb a lower route to reach an upper route, makes for a 8-9 pitch day typically. Even triple combinations, one of my favorite at that grade, Beullahs Book to Arch Enemy (wicked experience) to tying into Sunflower.

Folks can become drones and play follow the leader around RR....might be 4 parties on Solar Slab, a 5th class scramble really, and not a soul on any of these other routes I mentioned. You want double ropes which everyone needs to progress to anyway if you are going to get serious with backcountry trad climbing so you can rap Solar Slab or Sundog on top and Johnny Vegas on the bottom, avoiding the gully which you will never find me in. Again....too many folks screwing around in there, might as well be at the mall.(or as Fossana said, you can walk over to the single rap into the painted bowl, it will extend your day considerably)

Helitrope (upper) and Horndogger (lower) not good routes. The last pitch of the Friar is very exciting. Solar Flare is a fun 5.10c on the lower wall.

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