Desert Gold, 5.13a
The Monument at Red Rock Nevada is a rather obscure peak located near the entrance to the much more popular climbing destination Black Velvet Canyon
. That being said, the Monument is home to one of the more sought after 5.13 trad problems in the lower 48, Desert Gold, 5.13a
(Stefan Glowacz freed the entire line in 1987). As you circumvent the Monument from Desert Gold to the north, there are several other Indian Creek style cracks
that would attract more attention if not for the approach, more specifically Seduction Line, 5.12a, and Hand Bone, 5.10c
. I climbed one of the few multi pitch routes that actually reaches the summit of the Monument, Cornucopia (5.10a)
which is located on the northeast face. Once you reach the summit, a competent scrambler can walk off from the summit
back south to the base of Desert Gold.
Park at the Black Velvet Canyon trail head. Follow the road up to the typical trail heading into Black Velvet Canyon. Leave the trail at any spot that sets you off directly for an obvious break high up in the bright red band at the base of the Monument. A gully dissects this distinct red cliff band at the route known as Desert Gold. There is not much of a trail, but from time to time you might see footprints which are more than likely hard crack climbers going for Desert Gold. You will have to cross one wash where you lose elevation and have to regain a bit. Once up to the base of Desert Gold (photo), if you are going to continue for any route that reaches the summit, drop your packs and suit up as the gully straight in front of you is your descent. Start a traverse right, around the base of the Monument walls to reach the other routes beside Desert Gold. Some of this indistinct trail will be narrow. All of it is chossy. About half way around the Monument from this direction, will be a 5.8 crack that ascends to below a roof, with an impressive crack climb above same roof. This is Cornucopia. There are several more routes to the right of it.
The Routes are Listed South to North
- Remembrance Day- 50’- 5.10d/
- Cocaine Brain Strain- 120’- 5.10b/
- Desert Gold- 140’- 5.13a/
- West Edge Lane- 70’- 5.11d/
- Clipper- 90’- 5.11a/
- Violent Stems- 90’- 5.11d/
- Madcap Laughs- 140’- 5.12b/
- Swallows Nest- 70’- 5.12a/
- Seduction Line- 80’- 5.12a/
- Hand Bone- 50’- 5.10c/
- Down Staircase- 600’- 5.8/
- Slotsafun- 350’- 5.9/
- Blue Diamond Sanction- 600’- 5.8+/
- Cornucopia- 650’- 5.10a/ To start the route requires a bit of circumventing the south and east faces of the Monument. The route leads to the summit and the descent takes you down the opposite side into a gully that ends up where you first started the circumvention. Therefore a complete traverse of the monument is required. Although the easier pitches are comprised of some stellar rock, the two 5.10 pitches are quite chossy. The last technical pitch would be full on scary for most folks unless they are used to climbing 5.10 "sand". I had a varnished foothold give way on me on this pitch. The first 5.10 pitch would be a classic anywhere else in the park, but having to jug and pull on holds that see little to no traffic, took a bit of nerve to say the least. My partner on this route was a Gunkie and would have nothing to do with leading either of these pitches. I doubt if many granite climbers would be too excited about them either. Mark Moore established the route in ’75. Dow
- Chinese Handcuffs- 90’- 5.12a/
- Stemmer- 90’- 5.11b/
- Lizard Locks- 60’- 5.11b/
- All the Right Moves- 60’- 5.10d/
- Mustang Cracks- 310’- 5.10b/
Descent from the Summit
Descend from the summit in a southwesterly direction. There were sporadic summit cairns in place in 2010. Handren’s book discusses a rappel, but we found that unnecessary
and suspect many of the cairn building has been by some ambitious Vegas peak bagger who could easily scramble the descent solo. Zig zag down the peak avoiding anything too technical. Eventually you should be almost even with the steep gully to your right. You need to kind of nail this spot, because the gully falls and rises to meet this side of the peak, probably only once without having to rappel.
Walk into the gully and then take an exposed ledge off left to avoid a steep section ahead. Down climb a few 5th class spots until you are back in the gully. Stay right to avoid horrible brush.
External LinksOver 300 routes detailed from first hand successful accounts by me or others at Red Rock Canyon. GET OFF THE TOURIST ROUTES and explore!
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association