Mr. Natural of the Desert, 5.10d
Western Spaces Wall is one of the more remote and least visited climbing areas in all of Red Rock
. Several factors figure into its anonymity, not the least of which would be what some consider the arduous approach. However, if seeking a full day’s worth of adventure (i.e. not a sport or gym climber from Salt Lake or Boulder)
, the technical slot canyoneering approach (approximately half a dozen hand lines/raps)
adds to the experience of climbing on Western Spaces Wall. What detracts from the climbs here is that they are true north facing (zero sun) and thus have their share of rock eating lichen which equates to frail edges. I broke several chocolate colored foot holds on lead that I would normally put more trust in around Red Rock. Combine the suspect rock with Dave Wonderly’s stiff ratings and run out approach to many of the face pitches, the Western Spaces Wall routes can be quite spicy
. Wonderly established all six of the published routes on Western Spaces Wall in 1989
and none of his hard-wear has been retrofitted as of 2015.
Desert Solitude, 5.10c
The first route I jumped on was Desert Solitude
. The run out aspect of the second pitch will get your attention but the crack climbing that follows on pitches three and four offer a reward for your effort. Mr. Natural of the Desert
gets a claim of “one of the nicest finger cracks in Red Rock”
in Handren’s guide. This is a huge overstatement and the finger crack portion of the climb is more of a face climbing experience than a crack one. This single pitch is full on sustained moves and perhaps represents the toughest 5.10d single pitch I have experienced in Red Rock or even Joshua Tree for that matter. Perhaps it is partly due to the frail aspect of the rock, but this pitch is a challenging lead for any 5.10-11 trad leader. The approach for Black Sun and Mr. Natural extends itself to involve yet another hand line as well as an exposed 4th class slab traverse.
Mr. Natural of the Desert, 5.10d
Park at the Black Velvet trail head. Venture into the canyon and past Epinephrine. Continue up canyon (right side) until you come across a narrow canyon on your left with a fixed hand line up a low angled slab.
Head into this narrow canyon and up a variety of hand lines and chock stones.
The crux of the approach is right before you get to the big arch at the base of Western Spaces Wall. There is a rap line in good shape (2015) and a hand line in horrible shape that lead you up a steep and slick wall on the right. I tied prussics onto the rap line and pushed them up as I ascended the damaged (2015) hand line. You could just prussic up the rap line, but my method was faster. Then I just put everyone else on belay off the fixed station with a climbing rope as they ascended the hand line.
Desert Solitude starts atop yet another hand line that leads up a ramp to a single bolt. You can also spot a bolt just above the small roof above. Mr. Natural is the furthest right of all the routes and requires yet again another hand line ascent and then an exposed 4th class slab traverse. Re-enter the wash and you will find a right facing corner that leads to a finger crack above a roof.
Route Description(s)Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the Wall
Desert Solitude-7 Pitches-5.10c/As with most of Wonderly’s routes on this wall, Desert Solitude is stout for the grade. Lichen covered rock makes for spicy face climbing through the first two and half pitches that are required to reach the good crack climbing high above. The second pitch traverse out over the arête to the left and up to the first of two bolts protecting the first part of the pitch is hard to protect (potential bad fall back into the corner) and requires a bold lead. The pro and route finding after the 2nd bolt on this pitch is also challenging. The bolts and hangers are not in optimum condition either. But the route deserves a retro-bolt. The 3rd and 4th pitches offer outstanding crack climbing. Handren is way off on his published pitch lengths, they are longer then what he states. He has the second pitch at 80’, it is at least twice that long. There are currently only two fixed stations (first two pitches) and they require double ropes to retreat. Dow
Breathing Stone-8 Pitches-5.11d/
Western Spaces-4 Pitches-5.11a/
Black Sun-5 Pitches-5.10c/
Mr. Natural of the Desert-170’-5.10d**/It takes double ropes to rap this route. “One of the finer finger cracks in Red Rock” (Handren’s guide) it is not. But it is a stellar single pitch of climbing involving several climbing disciplines. It starts out with a wide corner that leads to an arête “hug” below a juggy exposed roof pull. Then an intricate face-stem traverse leads right into a finger crack that turns into intermittent finger pods requiring more face climbing skills than crack climbing. The final meter or two (intricate face climbing) was the crux for me, but depending on your skill set, your crux could be at any one of three locations on this pitch. This is a sustained and stout pitch for the grade by Red Rock standards. And to top it off, there is one serious shallow block along the way (above the roof) and the upper gear gets placed in lichen covered cracks. Dow