Spectrum Wall is made up of the northern climbs along the lower east face of Bridge Mountain and is thus located down Pine Creek Canyon across from the north and east faces of Mescalito (Dark Shadows area). Spectrum Wall is basically the face of an 800’ buttress to the left of Brass Wall. It is easily identified by a huge left half arch in the lower half of the wall.
The lower half of Spectrum is almost all black, meaning good varnished rock on the lower pitches. Most of the routes are capped by a huge sandy roof and none of the rock above is worth trying to climb to the top of the buttress itself, therefore all descents involve a rappel.
Spectrum Wall has a minimum of six published routes (2008), the most popular of which (classic if you will) is the relatively new hybrid of Big Horn, 400’, 5.8,
and Spectrum, 640’, 5.11a, called Birdland, 500’, 5.7+
Park at the Pine Creek trailhead off of the Red Rocks loop road. Hike down the trail along the creek, past the old homestead and into the wash as it heads for Mescalito. When the trail follows the wash and meets up with the red rock band on the right, divert off the main trail and start ascending a fainter trail that leads back up and right to the Spectrum and Brass Wall areas. A deep half arch sits in the middle of almost solid black varnish on the lower wall. Another smaller arch sits below that arch to the left. Big Horn
start at a line that angles left to right up the face that the before mentioned arches lie on. Two distinct chimney/seams border this face on each side. Rawlpindi, 580’, 5.7, runs up the left seam and Brass Balls, 400’, 5.10d, runs up the right side with the other four routes in between.
Route Description(s)The Routes are Listed Right to Left as you Face the Wall
- Rawlpindi- 580’- 5.7/ I don’t know how much traffic Rawlpindi sees, but I suspect it to be a certain quantity due to its location. I don’t see much difference in terms of climbing between it and Birdland. Where the fourth pitch of Birdland serves as its crux, the third pitch of Rawlpindi is its crux pitch. The first two pitches ramble up a gully/chimney section and end by burrowing through a chock stone and out onto a ledge that traverses right to almost as far as the Birdland line. The third pitch is a long pitch supplemented with two pieces of fixed gear; one bolt soon off the deck and one towards the fixed station 160’ above. At times, it takes some thoughtful route finding as you pull an interesting varnished flake and use pockets and such for pro as you try and find that single bolt above amongst the sea of white, yellow and black rock. The final pitch is fairly straight foreword up a short corner and seam to a final fixed anchor. The first two stations on this route are not fixed, but the final two are. You rap from those two fixed anchors into the rap line for Birdland and continue your descent from there. Dow
- The Big Horn- 400’- 5.8/ The fourth pitch of Big Horn would be a tragic pitch to miss if you are already climbing Birdland, far more interesting than anything Birdland has to offer. Big Horn is an all trad route with the exception of fixed stations complete with rappel rings. You can rap from the top of any pitch with a 70m rope except for the short 3rd pitch which I downclimbed. All three belays are made up of comfortable ledges. Supposedly you can climb several more pitches to the top of the wall, but the rock quality does not warrant such. Big Horn is a great alternative and/or addition if you are behind a slow party on Birdland. Dow
- Psycho Date- 160’- 5.10d/
- Valore- 300’- 5.8/
- Birdland- 500’- 5.7+/ Jerry Handren’s guide book calls Birdland “sustained for the grade”, but I only found pitches 3 and 5 to be much sustained. The top of pitch 5 does push the grade for sure, thus a 5.7+ versus 5.7. Birdland is an all trad route with the exception of fixed stations and one bolt protecting a slabby traverse on pitch 3. You can rap from the top of any pitch with a 70m rope. Most belays are comfortable even though the later ones are semi-hanging, thus solid rope management skills are essential. There is a short 6th pitch, but it is not recommended due to fragile rock and run out protection and does not reach the top of the wall. There is a huge sandy roof that stops most progression upwards. There is a great photo of the crux section of pitch 5 in Jerry Handren’s guide book,”Red Rocks, a Climbers Guide”. page 205. Expect Birdland to be popular on weekends. Although relatively new, the word is out and we climbed behind two other parties on a mid-week day in April. Dow
- Spectrum- 700’- 5.11a/ The route Spectrum is the most challenging route on Spectrum Wall with a short 5.11 crux, an overhanging roof section which makes up the short sixth pitch. The second pitch offers an interesting 5.10 slightly run out traverse although I have seen much worse at Red Rocks and considered the pro somewhat reasonable. There is a variation that avoids the crux of this traverse pitch, but this variation appears to require a point of aid to get started in. The first pitch, 5.9 up the corner, is a bit chossy, but fun and physical. The third and forth pitches are both on excellent rock and involve fun climbing. The gully to the right sprayed a bit of snowmelt on the third pitch in November. The fifth pitch is a bit run out, but on easy ground. There is a bomber 3” cam placement in the middle of the pitch. The sixth pitch is a very nice overhanging roof crack (5.11) that leads to easier ground above. The final pitch traverses easy ground up and left to tie into Birdland’s rap stations (70m rope rappels) below its final pitch. Dow
- Brass Balls- 400’- 5.10d/ The first pitch, 5.10d, is well bolted at the crux which is encountered near the deck. The remainder of this pitch is relatively easy as it follows a corner to a large alcove/chimney. There is an alternative 5.7 chimney pitch to start the route over to the right. In either case, the second belay is on a large comfortable platform at the top of the chimney/corner. The second pitch (5.9) contains the most fragile rock of the day. Although the wall above is mostly varnished, it is seldom traveled and solid gear placements are at a premium. I ventured left to place several cams in the crack, double slung them, and then moved back right to pull a small bulge to a semi hanging fixed anchor. The third pitch (5.7+) is climbed on much better rock following a corner straight up and eventually traversing right to another fixed belay on a comfortable ledge. The fourth pitch (5.9) follows a decent crack up left to the top of a short chossy chimney/corner. The fifth pitch contains the best climbing and rock of the route. Pull a significant roof (5.9+) on great rock and follow the corner above to the final fixed belay. Rap the route with a single (60m) rope. Dow
Descent off of SpectrumI recommend a 70m rope for all rappel descents on Spectrum. Most descents funnel into the bottom of Birdland where the rap stations are more than 100’ apart and a knot in double ropes would likely get caught up in heavily featured rock.
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
- Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association
- DowClimbing.Com Red Rocks