Windy Corner is a moderate route up the South Face of Windy Peak. It is an OK alternative if the other routes are crowded- which is unlikely. Be prepared for some longer run outs on easy and moderate terrain. No anchors are bolted and the options for a quick descent (not going to the summit and doing the gulley descent) are limited and difficult.
From Las Vegas take 159 (Charleston Blvd.) west out of town heading directly for those big red rocks. Follow this past Blue Diamond until it intersects Hwy. 160. Take a right, West, on 160 towards Pahrump. After you see the pullout for Black Velvet Canyon (you will notice a pit toilet in a paved parking lot) look for the dirt road pull out that will go north towards Windy Peak. Pass a couple loops (these are obvious) and maintain the general direction of Windy Peak. A unique cluster of dark brown conglomerate rocks will appear on your left. The parking area is near these. Take the very well traveled path towards the South Face. This trail climbs a steep trail into a flat top area known as the "football field." From the "football field" continue scrambling towards the base of the South Face. The trail will dump you at the base of Jubilant Song. From there choose your route.
Windy Peak's South Face: Windy Corner, 5.7 III
After arriving back in Las Vegas from a 9-day non-climbing vacation in Boulder, Colorado and taking the whole month of January to boulder and sport climb, I was anxious to get back on some long rock routes. I had climbed Jubilant Song (5.8, III) on the South Face of Windy Peak (6,246 ft.) with Nick Rhoads in December and was pleasantly surprised with what I found in the area. After another experience on the South Face guiding a client on Hot Fudge Thursday (5.9, III) I was convinced that Windy Peak might very well be my favorite long route area in all of Red Rock. Generally speaking on the two routes the rock is of good quality, the pitches long, belay stances comfortable and the protection adequate.
Windy Peak is outside the 13-Mile Loop Scenic drive and thus is seldom visited by the average climber. This fact alone should make this peak a destination for those seeking solitude on the wall as you'll most likely be the only party up there on any given day. The South Face, as you might have guessed, is a south facing wall which makes it a perfect winter time destination as well. The wall receives sun all day and unless you're climbing in a large corner (pitch 4-8 on Jubilant Song) you'll be basking in the beautiful rays. Climbing in the sun during the winter months is absolutely necessary in Red Rock.
The approach is pretty straight forward albeit a bit strenuous. The parking lot for the wall is about a mile and a half from the wall. The trail from the lot winds around yucca, barrel cactus and some very unique conglomerate stone and then drops down through two sections of the wash and finally puts you in front of a very steep, and somewhat loose Class 3 trail. This trail is steep, strenuous but very easy to follow. After about 45 minutes of slogging you'll reach the "football field," a flat area near the base of the wall that provides some reprieve from the beat down your legs just took. Once you've reached the football field you're almost there... just about 15 more minutes of Class 3 scrambling to reach the base of the wall. Once you're at the wall all ya need to do is find the start of your route.
Yesterday (January 26, 2012) Gina and I chose to do Windy Corner because of it's moderate grade, good position and access to a beautiful summit. This would also be Gina's first "big" multi-pitch route ever. As you can expect we were both very excited but after climbing a few pitches of the route that excitement turned to anxiousness where we both just wanted to the route to be over!
Pitch 1: 5.5, 120' This pitch begins with straight forward Red Rock style plate climbing up into a shallow crack. From here the pro and moves become noticeably thin and despite the advertised grade feels much harder. After a couple thin moves are pulled a left facing corner/wide crack filled with dangerously loos blocks appears. Climb this and build an anchor. Once the second comes to the belay, move the belay to the right about 25 feet (Class 3) to the base of the gaping chimney and left facing corner system.
Pitch 2: 5.7+, 200' +/- Make a dramatic step into the large chimney. There is a pit below you and if you fell into this it would be not good. It's a good idea to tag your pack as the chimney is quite tight. Climb up into the chimney and wiggle your way up until you can exit left. A #4 Camalot protects this section well. Once out of the chimney climb the layback crack up to a roof. The #4 can be walked up this section. Pull the roof but be careful not to pull of any of those "jugs." Move out left and face climb through 5.5 terrain that is not very well protected. I slung a big plate and placed mediocre cams in suspect rock. Although Handren's guidebook indicates the belay is on top of the pillar that forms the crack & chimney system, I didn't find a suitable place to belay until my rope ran out (60m). With a 70m this would not be an issue. The top of the pillar has little to build an anchor with but is very large and good body positioning can be found to belay directly off your harness.
Pitch 3: 5.5, 100' Continue up the obvious left facing corner system. I mostly face climbed this section until I was forced back into the corner. After about 100' I cut right and belayed off the pitch 3 anchor of Hot Fudge Thursday. At this point the line of Windy Corner becomes indistinct and you're shooting for the top pitches of Jubilant Song anyway so keep that general course in the back of your mind.
Pitch 4: 5.7+ 100' Move around the easy bulge on the left into another obtuse left facing corner system. The rock is quite fragile here, the protection thin and the positioning very airy. This, in my opinion, was the most puckering pitch on Windy Corner proper and therefore the best pitch. The movement is sustained and could potentially be called 5.8. Build a belay on nuts at a good ledge.
Pitch 5: 5.8- 180' From this comfy belay move up and left aiming for the obvious chockstone filled chimney of Jubilant Song (pitch 6 of that route). Climb through unprotected terrain to the chimney which is also unprotected. Once you reach stair-like ledges move right to an old SMC 1/4" bolt. Pull a reachy move and then move left onto a bulge that has good holds. Climb to underneath an overhang that has a scrubby oak underneath it and belay. The belay here takes good cams.
Pitch 6: 5.8 (alternate 5.5) 100' There are two options to finish up the route from this point. Move right into a water groove that has a couple thin and sparsely protected 5.8 moves. Or move up the wall to the left of the belay (through a cactus!). The 5.8 option is preferred and I have done both- I'm still pulling out cactus needles from my ass. A couple of sun and well protected 5.6 moves await and then finally the top- out. Once at the top out, scramble to the summit register, take in the views and put on your windbreaker- it will be windy.
I was pretty psyched to be climbing with my girlfriend but all the psycheness in the world cannot attest to the fact that Windy Corner is a bit chossy, run out and weird. Overall, the route was a good route if you can look past the amount of loose death blocks encountered along the way. The chimney pitch is memorable but honestly the best climbing comes from when Windy Corner finally converges with Jubilant Song. With that said if you're in the area you should opt to climb Jubilant Song, Hot Fudge Thursday or Western Swing.
A rack to 4 inches.
A dozen extendable draws.
Anchor building materials.
Appropriate warm clothing.