Birdland & The Big Horn, Red Rocks, NV

April 20, 2008 / 5.7+, 5p, trad. & 5.8, 4p, trad.

After a short day spent at Children's Crag, we climb "Birdland" and "The Big Horn", both really excellent routes with a short approach (30 min). Good new bolted anchors at every belay and nice belay ledges. Consistently fun climbing and appealing lines. "Birdland" may be one of the very best multipitch 5.7 at Red Rocks.

"The Big Horn" shares the first two pitches of "Birdland". To round up your day after climbing "Birdland", a good option is to rap back to the huge ledge atop pitch 2, and from there, climb the last (and best) two pitches of "The Big Horn".

We start early because the route is in the sun all day. We are also worried about crowds... it is Sunday. We drive the loop as soon as it opens. When we arrive at the Pine Creek parking lot, there is noone else in sight. The approach is very quick on a good trail. As we rack up at the base of the route, we see a couple of other parties on the trail, but no, they keep going toward Solar Slab and we have the climb for ourselves.

Today is my turn to lead and I get to lead all the pitches. The first pitch warms you up gently. It is typical Red Rock face climbing with a good crack for protection. The crux of the pitch is to turn a small overhang.

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Birdland and Big Horn .
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Pretty flowers are everywhere.
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The routes are shown in red..
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Lucie starting pitch 1 (5.6).
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Passing the overhang is the crux on the first pitch..

The 2nd pitch (5.7) is a bit harder and steeper. It follows the right crack in the main chimney system.

Next comes the traverse. The traverse itself is easy and very well protected (bolt). The crux of this pitch comes when you step into the steep crack after traversing left.

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Pitch 2 follows the right crack in the main chimney system.
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Starting the traverse on pitch 3.
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Getting into the steep crack above the traverse.
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Views.
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Pitch 4 is easy. The pro is all there but is a bit trickier than on the other pitches

The 4th pitch is easy and follows discontinuous crack and seams, trending right toward the small pink overhang. The pro is all there, but it is a bit less obvious and more spaced than on the other pitches. The bolted belay station is below and left of the small overhang.

The last pitch is the crux. From the belay, start climbing up and right, but stay left of the pink overhang. Soon enough, you'll see the incredible finger crack that splits the gorgeous chocolate-brown face. The last move to the get to the anchor is the trickiest.

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Starting the crux pitch (5.7+).
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At the belay above the sweet finger crack.
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Another shot of the way-too-short finger crack.
   

We rap the route to the huge ledge atop pitch 2. We take a break, then decide to go climb "The Big Horn". When I was on "Birdland", I saw the incredible looking crack and did not know what it was. We check the guidebook; it's 5.8, looks a bit wide but it looks like that there are plenty of face holds so not much offwidth technique would be required.

I make a short approach pitch (5.3) to the base of the crack (no anchor, you have to build your own) and bring Eric up. The next pitch is incredible. The crack is pretty wide at first, but narrows to good hands when it turns a small overhang. Lost of face holds on the inital section, so no offwidth move whatsoever. The crux is to turn the small overhang, but good pro and postive jams make it relatively easy. I bring Eric up... he regrets not having lead the pitch himself.

We rap back down (two ropes required) to the base of the wide crack from a beefy bolted anchor, then downclimb (belaying each other) to the comfy ledge atop pitch 2. Two more raps bring us back to terra firma.

A great day. Two highly recommended routes with quick approach and descent!

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No offwith technique is required to climb the inital wide section; plenty of face holds.
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Looking toward "Birdland" and another party on the crux pitch.
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Turning the small overhang is the crux of "The Big Horn".
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Rapping down.