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[TR] Red Rocks - Rainbow Wall Free- Cloud Tower-

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Trip: Red Rocks - Rainbow Wall Free- Cloud Tower- Epinephrine


Date: 10/22/2009


Trip Report:

I haven't seen a TR in here for the Rainbow wall, here is what we encountered over a very pleasant four days of climbing in RR last weekend.


Pics here.


Day 1* Cloud Tower. 5.12- ( See Alpinst 28 for a nice picture of pitch 5)

Day 2* Rainbow Wall. 5.12B variation.

Day 3* Epinephrine. 5.9

Day 4* Sport Wank. Various routes Sunny and Steep Wall, Calico Basin.


Original Route Rainbow Wall-route marked in blue.




The Rainbow wall has been on my mind for a long time, it is the most obvious wall in the park and I recall 6- or 7 years ago thinking that it would be fun aid route if I ever got the motivation to do a multi-day aid route at Red Rocks. I started going to Red Rocks a few times every year and gradually ticked off many of the long, classic free climbs in the park. One of the few remaining formations that I hadn't been on was the Rainbow Wall. When a college friend of mine suggested a two day aid trip up the wall, I jumped at the chance and bought a plane ticket.


The original plan was a hybrid aid/free climb up the Rainbow Wall. We'd lead most of the pitches on aid hauling bivy gear with us and if time allowed I'd try to work on the free moves with the hopes of practicing the pitches for a future free attempt.


Our plans changed when we both realized that aid climbing sucks and we took Rainbow Wall off the list and decided to do a bunch of long free climbs instead. Who wants to haul that crap anyway? Plans changed one more time once I got down there. (!) My partner came down with a bit of flu and was in need of a rest day after doing the Cloud Tower. My now ill partner introduced me to Mike who was amped for a one day free ascent of the Rainbow Wall. I was a bit skeptical that we could do it, but Mike (no big deal) was all for it. Late Saturday night we drank beers and planed for an early start on Sunday morning.


Our early start plans didn't happen and we started hiking about 7:30 in hot early morning sun. I just about puked on the hike in, the last steep slabs to the base are crusher, I was trying to push the pace and felt very trashed from the effort. The hike-in is no joke and I can sort of understand why people do the hike-in the day before.




Base of route looking up from the slabs.



Fixed hand lines on the slab approach. 8th grade gym climbing style!


The route itself climbed like a dream, it really is as good as it looks! We used a 70M rope and climbed 1,200 feet in 6 pitches with some simuling. Mike is a machine and on-sighted or followed clean every pitch. I fell about a half-dozen times at various points on the route but was able to free all the moves without aid. After a blitz effort we were on top of the wall by 3:00PM.


The route is sustained in a lot of ways, but what really sticks out is the boulder problems, at least 6 crux boulder problems come to mind that seem impossible when you first see them. I also found the grades to be a bit stiff compared with other RR routes, normally a 5.11+ pitch at RR is going to have some nice edges, not so on this route. The route sort of follows a seam but only has a few jams, most of the crack is too thin for fingers. Here is what we found pitch by pitch.


P1 5.6 (Solo)


P2 5.11C Left hand variation. Wonders around a bit but very cool tech climbing with a mix of bolts and gear.


P3-P4 (5.11+, 5.11C. Linked as one 200 feet) The start of P2 is burly. Thug layback into small stance below a crux boulder problem. Crazy layback section with no feet to a huge throw. Higher up another boulder problem that involves a wild, feet flying in the air dyno far right to a good edge, with another throw back into the crack to the left. (Take my first fall going back into the left)


P5-P6-P7 ( 5.11B/C, 5.10D, 5.10. Linked as one 210 feet) A bit pumped as I followed the last two pitches as one, and as soon as I pull into the belay Mike puts me on, and I'm leading the next few pitches. Not quite as hard as the last bit, this section is all gear with no bolts. The 5.11 pitch has a nice roof pull and into a long bit of sustained 5.10ish finger crack climbing. I run out of gear and place one piece on the last 5.10 pitch that leads to the bush belay.


P9-P10-P11 (5.8ish, short spot of 5.9) The only lame part of the route. Lots of traversing across blocky terrain with a short 5.9 OW chimney. We simul this, many options, but your looking for a big tree far right. The last bit is a long traverse straight left on a narrow foot ledge with minimal gear. Exposed.


P12-P13 (5.11+ 5.12 Linked 180 feet) The 5.8 wild traverse plops us out at the base of the two crux pitches, gorgeous corner system on dark red rock. Sounds good but this corner is just a seam with a lot of nothing in between. I felt both pitches were 5.12 but I'm also really bad at this style of climbing. The first boulder problem is improbable, the smallest feet I've ever used with desperate smearing stemming and body tension to a edge. It keeps going with another no foot/no hands boulder problem at the intermediate anchor. The foot you want to use is at waist level, bring your yoga loving buddy for this move.


Higher up a pump starts to build as I'm making violent stabs at pin scars in a lyaback position with slick feet. My feet give out on me and I hang on the rope working the last crux section by a good bolt. The last boulder problem is the hardest yet, a pebble pinch for the thumb with crystals for feet lead to a harsh dead-point.


P14-P15 ( 5.12B-5.10 Link 200 feet)

I get us off route (we left the topo on the deck to save weight) and take a 5.12B variation to the right off the belay when I really wanted to do a 5.11C bit off to the left. Ooops. My punishment is a fall. Higher up the pitch eases up with steep moves on perfect edges, tough if your short. Fun if you like sport climbing above gear. The last 5.10 pitch is a glory pitch to the summit with a roof pull on jugs. Belay from tree on summit. Yeah!


The descent was long, with a single rope we made about 14 single raps down the wall. Found our packs just as it went dark and marched out with head-lamps, made it back to car by 8:00ish. We took turns hooting at a party of climbers stuck high on CC that were making the raps in the dark. Sorry guys! I hope your made it down sometime before sunrise.



Mike leads pitch 2



Myself below the roof. P5



Pulling the roof P5



Mike drying out his shoes (huh?) mid pitch 12.



Near the end of pitch 13 post pebble pull crux.



Summit Rainbow Wall


Cloud Tower


My second time up this route, a contender for the best multi-pitch crack route in America. Anyone care to disagree? I botch the red-point taking a foot slip on the 5.12- thin corner thingy (damn those feet are slick) and another hang right at the chains on the last 5.11+ crack pitch. So different than most RR routes as there are very few holds, just splitter crack in a airy position. Love it!



Hodge hiking on the first 5.10 pitch.



Mike with the trick beta on pitch 4 crux.



Me happy to finally have a real jam after a long spot of tips.



I'm too fat for this pitch, about to go tunneling on pitch 5.




Me on the 5.11+ last pitch. 160 feet of perfect hands. How come this pitch is so pupmey when the jams are so good? It is that damn last move at the anchors that gets me, don't layback! Commit to a bad .75 jam and throw for the finger lock finish.



Looking down on the last pitch of Cloud Tower from the summit of the Rainbow Wall. The last 5.11+ pitch is in the corner with the tan rock to the right.





The classic and just plain fun. My feet/legs were tired from the Rainbow Wall the day before so I was happy to have Hodge lead most of the route (including the wide stuff what a nice guy) while I sat in the back-seat and enjoyed the views. We weren't moving fast, but still finished the route 9 hours car to car. We linked a few pitches and simuled a bit.



First Wide pitch.





Top of Black Tower, post wide workout.



A few pitches above the trunk.




Trying to fly in the 50MPH wind up top.


Sunny and Steep Wall, Rest day








Gear Notes:

Rainbow Wall. Doubles of cams to #2 if linking. There is a lot of bolts, but many pitches need lots of small cams. Brass nuts useful for pin scars.


Cloud Tower. Every cam you and your buddy owns. Triple Green Alien-#4 BD with a 4x #2 BD. Bring a 00 C3 and a 0 C3 for crux tips pitch.


Approach Notes:

Hodge's Toy truck and a cheap airline ticket.

Edited by eldiente

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A lot of sick 12- multipitch in N.A.


Looks rad... what else needs to be said?


Nice work Nate!!!

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goddamit - why can't I be a decent free-climber!?!

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probably has nothing to do with all those cigs and boxes of wine that get crushed prior to the send.

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probably has nothing to do with all those cigs and boxes of wine that get crushed prior to the send.

how else am i to drown me sorrows? :grin:


and i only smoke when i'm awake...and not at work...or hanging out w/ the fam...or too poor to buy t.p....

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