Red Rocks - red to white

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Dec 13, 2008
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Fall

A brief trip report from climbing in Red Rocks

Trip Report by Mike  from climbing at Red Rocks with Pat.

Saturday 12/13/2008

We hiked toward Oak Canyon via the parking lot just south of the loop road exit starting out right before sunrise with a nearly full moon still in a cloudless sky. The wind was howling mostly out of the south-east and pretty much directly into our faces as we hiked. We hoped that Mt.Wilson would block the wind otherwise we’d have to punt our main objective of climbing upper Solar Slab.

Reaching the base of lower Solar Slab took about 1.25 hours. The wind was still stiff but as we’d hoped, we were somewhat sheltered. I lead P1 and P2 of Johnny Vegas. As Pat took off on the mostly unprotected P3, wind gusts started hitting us again. Pat went out of sight over the route’s big roof and shortly there after keyed the mic on walkie talkie to tell me something. All I heard was the scratchy roar of wind. We were able to communicate better the old fashion way by yelling. He was safely anchored and I followed on. As I rounded the arête and reach him I was in a full on gale.

We knew rapping the route now would be stupid. We’d never be able to pull the ropes in the wind so we continued the rest of the way to the huge ledge area that separates lower and upper Solar Slab area, staying roped for the final section of Vegas and then unroped to the top of the slab. We estimate the wind gust to be better then 60mps.

Climbing Solar Slab route was definitely out of the question. Really disappointing since the day was prefect with a bright blue sky and mild temperatures. The wind was the only problem keeping us from climbing that beautiful six pitch route right there before us so we rapped down lower Solar Slab Gully pretty much out of the wind.

By now the sky changed from all clear to big rolling dark clouds. We were definitely glad to be back at the base. We hike northward over to Fliar. This is a four pitch route with the last pitch 5.9+ on a small tower. We way we ended up hiking to it put us at the top of P1. So we climbed P2 and P3 then rapped back to our starting ledge. The two pitches we did we definitely fun. The rap from top of P3 was a single shot with double ropes straight down to where we started. Pulling the ropes we had our only snag of the trip. Our second rope hung right above us as it fell. Using the second rope I lead back up to the snag plugging in a crazy amount of pro along the way, freed it, and then down climbed back to Pat. We were pretty pleased with the outcome.

We reached the cars well past sunset quite happy with a great day.

Notes about approach: in retrospect it would have been better we think to park a t the pull out down 160 about .5 miles past where we had parked (which was right at the loop road exit). We think the approach would be much shorter and the trail looked fine. Hiking out we were on this trail and would have missed our car except Pat noted the cars exiting the loop road onto the main road and figured out we needed to go cross country to reach our car.


We decided to try the classic Geronimo. We drove the loop road getting on it about 6:30am and parked at the Pine Creek parking pull out as directed in our guide book and hiked toward the route base located on the Jackrabbit Buttress of Juniper Peak in a clear, windless moon filled sky. The desert was a beautiful place in the crisp morning and we thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

Geronimo it is written, is one of the 'must do' moderate climbs in Red Rock. We agree. It is super steep and exposed but offering good rests and taking decent pro. Pitch 2 leaves you grinning. This was our booty climb. We found a small brand new nut and a new power cam with biner!

We happily managed to get down the five raps off Geronimo without a single stuck rope. We did take extreme care since this route is also know as a rope eater.

I’d guess we were down by 2:30 and decided next to hit up Olive Oil. We then spent the next two hours trying to find it. Our beta was off and we’d not study photos of Rose Tower closely to even get close to finding the route. But it was fun hiking around, at one point looking up at Cat in the Hat. Looking back we should have climbed that.

Winter storm warnings were issued but we hopefully packed a light rack and headed for our coffee and breakfast anyway at 6am. But alas, as we got to the trailhead, it was indeed snowing and Digging out a cairn.already there was a fair amount of snow on the ground. We charged off east into total white, eventually getting into Oak Canyon. We proceeded as far as we could in the deepening snow. It was really coming down. Route finding through the narrow boulder strewn canyon would be challenging even in good weather. Route finding and scrambling in four inches of snow was exciting and a blast.  Our tracks seem to cover over about as quickly as we made them. Cairns were sharp bumps of snow when we managed to find them and we dutifully clear them off in vain hope they’d assist us on our return.

We decided to turn around after about three hours. The temperature was starting to rise and if the snow turned to rain we’d be really really unhappy. Already the canyon which had been for the most part a dry stream bed at the bottom now had many more areas of flowing water. Many places we’d walked over were now wet and had to be avoided.

Other then finding our route down again, it was easier going then we expected. The snow cushioned our slips and slides over the boulders. We were back at the car for a total round trip of a little under six hours. Soaked. Tired. Happy.

Oh. And we stayed in Red Rocks Casino only minutes from the trailheads! Sweet. The view from our room!

Thanks Pat!

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