"Crimson Chrysalis" is THE mega-classic long moderate at Red Rock. It is a superb climb that ascends the north face of the Cloud Tower, at the mouth of Juniper Canyon. The line, which is nine pitches long and incredibly direct, follows a continuous crack and chimney system at first, then ascends the chocolate-colored face to the top of the tower. Most of the climbing is in the 5.7-5.8 range, making it wonderfully sustained for the grade. We had already climbed "Crimson" a couple of years before, but Lucie wanted her chance to lead it.

The major problem with this climb is its popularity. So much so that it is not rare to see 3 or 4 parties on the climb and a few more queued at the base. Since we wanted to beat the crowds and avoid being stuck behind a slow party, we decided not to wait for the scenic loop to open (the normal approach starts from the Pine Creek parking area along the loop which opens only at 6AM). This meant leaving the campground very early (4:45AM) and approaching on foot from the main road at the end of the loop. This adds another 30 minutes to the hour-long approach. We got to the base at 6:20AM, ten minutes after the first car arrived at the Pine Creek parking lot. After a quick snack, we started climbing at 7AM.

Lucie led all 9 pitches. The 5th pitch, a 5.8+ finger and hand crack is especially fun. Several new bolts had apparently been added to the route since our previous ascent, and some of them seemed unnecessary... We reached the top of Cloud Tower at 11:30AM, had lunch on the top and then rappelled the route (8 double-rope raps past three other parties). We were back at our packs at 1:30PM.

Crimson Chrysalis, Red Rocks, NV

March 31st, 2003 - Rock climb, 5.8+, 9 pitches, trad.
Click for high resolution
This mega-classic ascends the rightmost red-topped buttress.
 
Click for high resolution
"Crimson Chrysalis" follows the obvious crack system then varnished faces to the top of the Cloud Tower.
 
Click for high resolution
Going up the wide crack on the first pitch (5.7).
 
Click for high resolution
A bit of chimneying on pitch 2.
 
Click for high resolution
Just above the steep finger crack on pitch 3.
 
Click for high resolution
On the beautiful 5.8+ finger and hand crack of the 5th pitch.
 
Click for high resolution
Near the top of the 5th pitch.
 
Click for high resolution
Having fun on the varnished face of the 7th pitch.
 
Click for high resolution
The last pitch (pitch 9).
 
Click for high resolution
Good views of the Rainbow Wall from the top of Cloud Tower.
 
Click for high resolution
Back at the base.
(high res. images are about 300KB)