To the best of our knowledge this was the first ascent of the dramatic South Face of Tijeras Peak.
We named the wall for the minimalist artist, Mark Rothko, because there are minimal route possibilites on the South Face. And, we named our route, "Vertical Study in Grays and Browns" because it might have been a name Rothko would have chosen for a painting.
See the route description for the East/North Face Route for excellent directions on getting to the trailhead for Music Pass.
We did the standard approach via Music Pass and camped at Lower Sand Creek Lake. After setting up camp we went around the lake on the south shore and climbed up an obvious ramp into the basin below the South Face to study route possibilities.
From the top of the ramp leading up from the lake, continue along the base of the wall to a right hand inside corner with a ledge above that leads out onto the face to the right.
The first pitch goes up this corner to a belay on the ledge. (5.5)
The second pitch traverses right on the ledge to another right hand inside corner, then climbs up the for about 40 feet, then turns the outside corner to the right and climbs the face (delicate 5.7) to a hanging belay about 40 feet above.
The 3rd pitch is the crux. It begins by climbing up a few feet and finding the best placement possible (nothing really very good), then making a long, very exposed, 5.9 move to the left into a crack system. Follow this crack system straight up for about 130 feet to a hanging belay (very exposed). This pitch is all vertical or overhanging.
The 4th pitch continues up the crack system for another 140 feet to the top of the East Ridge. Watch out for loose rock in this section !!!
Climb up the East Ridge for 4 more pitches (4th & lower 5th class) to the summit.
A good array of stoppers & cams, and lots of runners for setting up hanging belays.