Serpent's Wall is one of the more popular walls at Reimers Ranch, unofficially considered the best climbing location in the Austin area. It is the first wall as one branches right (downstream) from the access trail. Although it is closer to the parking area (albeit by a matter of only a minute or two) than Dead Cats Wall
is, Dead Cats, which is probably the most popular wall at Reimers, gets much more traffic. On weekdays, especially mornings, when there are parties at Dead Cats, a party can often have Serpent completely to itself. Weekends, not likely.
At Serpent's Wall, there are 9 bolted limestone routes, with two variations on one of them. Seven of them are moderates, which makes the wall popular, but there are a stout .10c and an .11a as well.
The routes are not long-- 30-40'-- but they are fun, and most begin with an overhang pull, which makes the one 5.6 here, and one of only three not starting with an overhang, the only really good beginner lead here, despite what other sources might say. I have seen several people really struggle with the starts on this wall.
Reimers Ranch is located off Hamilton Pool Road about 6 miles west of its intersection with Ranch Road 12. It is about 45 minutes west from downtown Austin.
Once through the entrance station, drive about 1.8 mi and turn left into a large parking area signed for a pavilion and for climbing access. A sign points the way to "Climbers Canyon." Hike the trail and then drop into the top of the "canyon" where a spring creates a stream that soon empties into the Pedernales River. This stream includes a waterfall and some deep pools that are great places to cool off after climbing on a hot day.
Hike by or through the stream until a trail becomes apparent. The trail through Sex Canyon (very slick in some spots) splits a number of times. Stay on the main path, not crossing the stream, until you reach a spot where a large fallen tree crosses the trail. Step over that tree and continue. After a short uphill stretch, you will see a spur leading to the wall.
I have updated names and grades to match the new edition of Austin Climbing: Sport Routes & Deep Water Solos by John Hogge, who has been heavily involved in route development in the Austin area. Thus, some of this information will differ from what is on other websites.
From left to right as you face the wall:
- Slither (5.7)-- Fun combination of face and crack moves. It's not too hard to traverse from the anchors to set up a TR on El Primero if you want. The book says this is probably 5.6 if you TR it and don't have to make the anchor clips.
- El Primero (5.9)-- Starts left of the big tree next to Slither. The first bolt is high, but the climbing to it is easy. After the second bolt, this route is pretty sustained for the grade. Stay left of the arete because (1) that's where the anchors are and (2) right of the arete gets you onto rock that feels more like 5.10.
- God Bless the IRS (5.8)-- Starts right of the tree mentioned above. Some call this 5.9 or 5.9-; I agree with the 9- because it is a step up from the 5.8 routes on the wall but is not as hard as El Primero or KB5. Steep, fun climbing with the crux getting from the last bolt to the anchors.
- Flakey Tigress (5.8)-- Some call this 5.7. I think the 5.8 comes in either at the start or getting to the second bolt (or both). I've done both two different ways and found both to feel different in difficulty. Try them and decide for yourself. After the second bolt, this becomes more like 5.6, though with a very cool finish using a huge flake. From the anchors on this climb, it is easy to top out and set a TR on other routes.
- Antivenin (5.8)-- Stout overhanging start and then pretty easy going the rest of the way. From the anchors, it's very easy to set a TR on MSC (see below), and it's also easy to top out and set a TR on other routes.
- Moroccan Snake Charmer (5.8)-- Although the local guidebook calls this a 5.8, most people who get on it disagree, hence the 5.9 or 5.9- on other sites. It has a tricky start and then some awkward moves once you pass the arete. It is harder than God Bless the IRS, Flakey Tigress, and Antivenin. Finishing directly up the arete is supposed to be a 5.9 TR variation. A 5.11b variation, TR or sport, starts under the roof directly below the route (the regular line starts on a boulder to the right of the main line). From the anchors, it's very easy to set a TR on Antivenin, and it's also easy to top out and set a TR on other routes.
- Sidewinder (5.10c)-- Goes up the right side of the arete mentioned above. Solid for the grade with tricky moves and "hidden" holds.
- KB5 (5.9)-- Some, including me, find this one really hard for the grade. The holds can be tough to find, and this route is not as pockety as some others on this wall. Others figure it out and agree with the grade. Have fun!
- Blank Page (5.11a)-- Above the second bolt and to the anchors, this route does live up to its name. It's there, but it's hard. With just two bolts, this route has a run-out feel as well.
I have led the routes from Slither through Moroccan Snake Charmer and solo-toproped the others, so factor that in when you read my remarks.
All the routes have sport anchors that you can lower and toprope off.
Routes have two to five bolts each.
These pages won't have anything on this one in photos or route descriptions, but you may find the comments helpful: