4th Pitch- 120’- 5.10b
Unimpeachable Groping has gained much in popularity in recent years, so much so that it now classifies as a Red Rocks
classic. I believe the fact it is a true sport route, fully bolted through seven pitches, and there are more gym climbers than trad climbers coming in from California, has primarily led to its popularity. In early March, on a weekend where it was somewhat miserably cold to be climbing 5.10b crimps for 700’ void of sun, we had a party behind us on a Saturday (although they did bail after they lost the sun) and I also met a party of six! from California heading for Unimpeachable Groping the next day in the Pine Creek parking lot. If conditions were warmer, I imagine one could easily have to wait around for this route.
Jorge Urioste and Mike Clifford made the Unimpeachable Groping line in 1999. Unlike Prince of Darkness (six pitches through 700’)
, Unimpeachable Groping truly requires no supplemental gear in my opinion (although some guidebooks call for it).
I was a little surprised Jorge did not bolt Unimpeachable in the same fashion as Prince of Darkness
as I did observe several lines of bolts right next to protectable terrain.
In any regard, it still offers a fantastic climb in a great setting up the middle east face of Ginger Buttress
on the east side of Rainbow Mountain at Red Rocks
. At least one guide book calls this route 5.10d
, however many of us consider it closer to 5.10a
. I would say there is a smattering of 5.10c
moves that kind of confuse the grade, but for the most part, the moves are 5.10- for sure.
The route itself goes pretty fast. It does require a longer approach then some routes at Red Rocks, but is basically the same distance and energy required for Crimson Chrysalis.
One note regarding the approach is that I (as well as other locals) prefer the Oak Creek approach
for this area versus the guide book’s recommendation of the Pine Creek approach. I combined the second and third pitch
and highly recommend this strategy to reach a comfortable belay ledge thus making the route six pitches instead of seven. You will want to use some shoulder length runners
down low if you are going to combine these pitches as this line zig zags a little causing considerable rope drag if you don’t. You will also need approximately 18 draws and/or slings
for this combination. Because the ledge has a significant roof covering that belay, the rappel stations are different than the belay stations
from that point on. My partner stopped short on both of his leads after the roof, pitches four and six, at the rappel stations versus fixed belay stations therefore leaving pitches five and seven quite long. In fact, that puts pitch seven at a full 200’.
The approach for this buttress, as for other routes in Juniper Canyon, can start either at the Pine Canyon trail head or Oak Creek trail head off the Red Rocks loop road. For Ginger Buttress, I prefer the Oak Creek trail head version. Oak Creek is the last trail head option on the Red Rocks Loop Road. Drive down a long gravel drive to the parking area. Use the trail heading out of the corralled parking lot to the north aiming for Juniper Canyon. Follow the trail as it meanders northwest towards Rainbow Mountain. There are a variety of options, but it is more direct to not cross the Juniper Canyon wash, but rather hike up the wash when you reach it, despite no trail at first, and hook into the regular Crimson Chrysalis trail by turning left at some point and heading for the bushy ramp that leads to Cloud Tower. Once on the ramp gaining elevation and almost to the col, turn left on a faint trail heading up to the north end of Ginger Buttress. Continue around the buttress scrambling up the narrow shaded gully to a large pine tree practically leaning against the middle of the buttress. The route starts by actually aiding up the tree a bit to the first bolt.
700’+/-, 7 Pitches, 5.10b
1st Pitch- 105’- 5.10b/
Handren calls this a 5.10a pitch, but the consensus is that if the other pitches are 5.10b, the ending of this pitch qualifies for that grade as well
. Climb the tree (blue collar aid climbing)
until you reach the first bolt. From there, the crimps track left. The last move to the anchor is the crux
of this pitch. (photo-s)
2nd Pitch/3rd Pitch- 160’- 5.10b/
I led this pitch and highly recommend you combine pitch two and three
to reach the large comfortable ledge above. You will need about 18 draws and/or slings
unless you are going to skip a few. I advise using quite a few slings early to avoid rope
drag as pitch two does zig zag a bit. You will move left into kind of an easy left facing slight corner of sorts and then eventually you will head back right through a cruxy blank face spot before reaching the end of pitch two. Pitch three only consists of maybe five bolts through much easier (5.10a) terrain which lands on the huge ledge above. The belay station on this ledge is missing a hanger
4th Pitch- 120’- 5.10b/
The last of the sun for us unfortunately. By far the most fun pitch
of the route. Pull the easy roof above, no more difficult than 5.10a, maybe even 5.9, but athletic and enjoyable moves. Continue up an easy corner and turn it to the outside (right) and continue up the face. Do not stop at the first anchor.
That is the rappel line. Continue to the next anchor if you want climb the 5.10b portion. (photo-s)
5th Pitch- 80’- 5.10b/
My partner ended the 4th pitch way too soon, so this was more of a 150’ pitch. Some pretty tough terrain with frozen fingers as I recall, but still always finding 5.10- type edges somewhere. A few awkward balancing moves. For the most part this pitch is very similar to the 2nd pitch without the corner. Just edge after edge. The varnished edges are larger than what you see on Prince of Darkness, but the rock is not as bomber and trustworthy.
6th Pitch- 80’- 5.10b/
This is the easiest of the 5.10b pitches (unless your fingers are frozen, which can happen when the sun leaves this wall in the winter months). The holds get bigger and more varnished. Don’t stop at the first bolted station
, that is a rappel station. Rather continue on the much more comfortable belay ledge above which intersects the Ginger Crack trad route. (photo-s)
7th Pitch- 160’- 5.8/
My partner stopped at the rappel station short of the belay ledge, making this a full 200’. The ground from the rappel station to the ledge is no more difficult than 5.8 if you want to split it up this way, but that does make for a hanging belay. Once you are on the ledge, you are at an intersection with Ginger Cracks
, a popular 5.9 trad route that follows the corner to your right. Unimpeachable Groping continues up a spaced
bolt line above which eventually gains the left arête
. All easy climbing, but the rock is a little mossy as it is north facing at this point. On the pillar summit, there is a bolted rappel that you can tie into whilst bringing up the 2nd.
You can rappel from the summit of the pillar off of several bolts. However, below you (you will have not vision of the rap from the summit) are several large blocks on a ledge. We got our ropes stuck here on the pull. Therefore, I recommend you scramble down to the notch and use the Ginger Cracks rappel which is a slung block.
Coil the ropes and head down to the Power Failure rap line (water streak) to the south. Three double rope raps get you to the ground. You will have to fight a bush at the end. The second rappel is to skiers left. The first one is right on the lip drop off above the water streak where you obviously cannot walk any further. The last rappel is on a ledge straight down. You can also rappel Unimpeachable Groping itself with double ropes, but that is only advisable if you quit at the top of pitch six.
The walk back to the base of the route is easy, so I do not advise carrying your shoes
or much water for that matter. You need 18 draws/slings if you are going to combine pitches two and three. You need double 60m ropes for either rappel option. We took no supplemental gear for this route and did not feel like we needed any even though the guidebooks call for a small selection. This route can be colder and windier than you think. If the Vegas high is not at least 65, I would opt for a sunnier route. You will lose the sun at noon in later winter/early spring.
External LinksRed Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, BLM
Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association