The Wasp is a worthy short route at the very southeast corner of Mescalito. It is best to combine with nearby routes, The Walker Spur, 5.10b* and Black Widow Hollow, 5.9*, for a full day of climbing. Most Joe Herbst FA’s at Red Rock are older (70’s) and relatively stout for the grade compared to others in the park. The Wasp is no exception in terms of spice and physicality. Handren’s guide has it listed at 5.10 which is fairly spot on by Red Rock standards.
The start of the first pitch is on rotten sandstone: a short vertical finger crack at the bottom of the massive 300’ corner. The rock was poor enough that I found no need to even try and protect this section and ran it out to the awkward mantel out of the finger portion. From there the rock continues to improve all the way to the top. I had a single to C4#3 with no #4’s or #5’s and therefore belayed in a cave that makes the “hole” discussed at MP.com. The hole is not so much a hole as it is a short off width roof/bulge you need to pull at about 100’ up. If I led it again, I would take a few more larger pieces and make the first pitch to the fixed belay (not rap) on the wall out right which is well above the exposed crux off width section (cave). Either way you can still make the top in just two pitches (Handren has it listed as three) and a #3 does protect the start of the off width move out of the cave. The technical crux of the route is a roof above the fixed belay. Small gear in the under cling protects the pull which offers one hand jam but then opens up to a wide pod making this the crux move of the route. If you are leading you will want to stay with the crack vs the face out right (exposed fall potential) which makes the pull as physical as the off width below. From there it eases way up all the way to the top of this southeast shoulder on Mescalito, just meters from Cat in the Hat which you rap.
Park at the Pine Creek trail head on the loop road and head for Mescalito and the popular route Cat in the Hat on the left (south) side of the formation. That means hiking up the left fork of Pine Creek and fairly immediate, locating a trail on your right that ascends to the east face of Mescalito. Follow the trail left to the very southeast corner where you will finally get visual of an obvious 300’ tall deep corner with some chimney sections. Bushwhack to the base.
1st Pitch-180’-5.9/ The start is the crux of the pitch. The corner is tips with iffy gear and you are stemming on light colored chossy sandstone. Wires are your best option. Several meters off the deck you get a jug and mantle onto a thin ledge. From there the rock continues to improve all the way to the top of the wall. The hole was not what I expected via reading notes at MP.com. It is more of an off width move back out of the chimney and onto face holds. If you are not of a runners build, you can pop out earlier before the off width section and face climb. From there follow a good corner to a fixed belay, not rap (2018), on the right wall.
2nd Pitch-160’-5.10/ Handren’s guide has this route at 5.10, and assuming he got that grade from Herbst, surprise to see anyone else (MP.Com at 5.9+) trying to sandbag it. The roof, by Red Rock standards, involves 5.10 climbing to pull. The pro is good, small cams in the roof itself, then one hand underneath. But some off width is necessary to mantle up to more hands which is the process of actually pulling the roof. No gear during that process via an awkward off width mantle. You could go out right if 2nding and make it 5.9 on face holds, but none of the face holds on this corner of Mescalito warrant much trust. On lead, a fall back below the roof could be painful. Tons of dark varnish corner from there leads to the flat shoulder on this corner of the formation Sling a block or tree for belay.
Scramble west to the top of the 2nd to last rap on Cat in the Hat. Make two raps to the ground.
MP.Com mentions single rack to #4, #5 optional. I led this with a single to C4#3. If I led it again, I would take doubles from C4#.5 to #4. I did not see where anything larger was necessary. Your helmet will be in the way for the off width section but the rock is bad enough on this route, you should probably still haul it up. Biner your approach shoes for the short hike around from rapping Cat in the Hat. A 70m rope makes it in two pitches from a variety of belays. If a single 60m rope, plan to belay at the fixed station midway up. Handren has it as three pitches, but it is better done as a two pitch route.