Dow on lead approaching the crux roof
I had climbed the infamous Ixtlan
(5.11c) five years earlier and remember spying this wide splitter to the left. I never researched it much because I knew at most it was a two pitch route. When Danny and Mili told me they had a new off width adventure for us, I was glad to get on it no matter where it was in Red Rock. To my surprise it was this beautiful wide crack I had noticed half a decade earlier.
Return to Forever is just another of many ignored, but stellar, off width climbs located in Red Rock. Red Rock is more of a tourist and/or local sport based climbing area and many of its better 5.10/5.11 splitters get ignored by locals and tourists alike. Handren’s guide gives it one star versus three for Red Zinger for example but Return to Forever is as good as any climb at the grade in Red Rock albeit a short one.
It offers pure off-width climbing from bottom to top
. The first pitch ends at the top of the splitter (200' to the very top) although I am sure some bail from pulling the roof (crux) which you can do by traversing left onto Miss Conception. You have two choices for the 2nd pitch (after the roof), left up part of Miss Conception's
bolted crux pitch (5.10c) or right up 5.9 trad for 30'. The fixed rap is 30' directly above the top of the splitter and both of these variations can traverse into it. I placed double C4#3’s through #6’s and only used anything smaller for the gear station at top of the splitter.
Obviously 8 pieces over 200' would be considered run out for many, but the competent off width leader will be good with the same gear. I soloed the first 50’ (easier climbing) to conserve my large gear. The crux of the route is the C4#6 size crack that pulls the roof and is well protected with a #6. We continued climbing via Miss Conception, 5.10c, and rapped off it. With a 70m lead rope, you could continue up and right on easier ground (5.9) and move back left to a modern (2016) rap anchor at 230’.
Ixtlan has to be one of the easier routes to spot up on Whiskey Peak as you pass below in Black Velvet Canyon. Look for the huge arch exposing a raw (yellow) sandstone wall below.
Ixtlan runs up a splitter that turns to off-width below a large roof pull. Return to Forever is just to the left of the arch (on the varnished wall to the left of the raw sandstone arch): an obvious wide 200’ tall splitter that pulls its own roof near the very top. Miss Conception is a well bolted arete route that runs up left of Return to Forever. To get to the base of these routes, head up from the parking area as you would for Frogland Buttress. Traverse right above the cliff band as you would for Triassic Sands or Ixtlan which are reached via a side trail that heads up the hill from the trail that runs the full length of Whiskey Peak above the cliff band.
Route Description230’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.10d
1st Pitch- 200’- 5.10d/
I soloed the first 50’ to conserve my large gear. There probably are a few places to use something smaller than a C4#3 but I did not take the time to place anything smaller. There is also a slung chock stone along the way but I did not use that either. I did however enjoy having doubles through #6. Handren states doubles from 4” to 9” and many times when he states that I am good with a single rack through C4#6, but in this case I used all 8 of my larger pieces and even bumped them a few times. I suppose a sport climber would prefer to climb the face holds on either side of the crack but an avid off-width climber will stay with strictly off width climbing for the entire route. The crux is the roof. You seed yourself fairly deep, place a #6. Then almost chimney up facing left for a move or two and then switch sides, facing right, to find the positive side pull used to overcome the roof. Beautiful and fun climbing the whole way. Above the roof is a few meters of much easier climbing to a hanging medium gear belay.
2nd Pitch- 30’- 5.9 or 5.10c/
You can reach the nearest rap anchor either by hitching onto Miss Conception up and left and climbing midway through a well bolted face pitch and then traverse right to a rap anchor or climb 5.9 trad up and right and traverse back left to the same anchor.
Even is you have double 70m ropes, to avoid getting your ropes hung up in the splitter, make two raps off of Miss Conception to the ground.
Double 60m ropes. Double C4#3’s to #6’s. A single from #.5 to #2 to build an anchor above the roof at the top of pitch one. As always with a tall off width route, bring 60cm slings to avoid rope drag. Place your large gear deep and sling it long so as to not to kick it out, a mistake I observe often out there.