For our first multipitch of the season at Red Rocks, we choose an easy climb in the sun: "Geronimo", a five-pitch 5.7 line in Juniper Canyon (Pine Creek trailhead). It is a fairly recent route (first climbed in 1992) which has become deservedly popular as one of the best easy routes in the area. It features steep climbing on huge jugs up a well-defined, natural line on the left edge of Jackrabbit buttress.
Since this is a popular route, we get an early start. At this time of the year, the loop opens at 6AM. We're their first "customer" after passing a climbers' car on the way from the campground to the loop entrance. Eric drives like a madman (don't tell the rangers) around the loop to put as much time between us and the car that follows. We're at the Pine Creek trailhead at 6:15AM and start hiking immediately.
We manage to miss the trail that leads directly to Rose Tower and Jack Rabbit Buttress and take a lower fork toward Crimson Chrysalis, then end up in the dry creek bed, heading back toward the Buttress. We make it to the base in 50 minutes. We notice a party on the approach, but false alarm, they're going to "Crimson".
We take our time at the base to get ready. Soon, a party of four is hiking toward us. Looks like we'll have company. I start leading the first pitch just before 8AM. The first pitch follows a crack to a big ledge. I use the crack to place pro but I climb mostly the face next to it. It's fun, steep and easy climbing on huge jugs. Very enjoyable pitch! I'm almost out of rope when I reach the big ledge. I tie into the fixed rap anchor (sections of climbing rope wrapped around a huge boulder) and put Eric on belay. He joins me quickly and moves the belay through a few bushes to the left side of the big ledge at the base of the thin crack that begins the second pitch.
The second pitch is even steeper than the first but once again on huge jugs. The thin crack offers excellent protection - a nut eater! I stretch the pitch as much as my rope allows, passing a big ledge and climbing the face above to a small stance. Eric then makes a short 5.3 pitch to the second big ledge and the base of the next pitch.
I get to lead the last two pitches. The 4th pitch climbs up a nice black face to a left facing dihedral close to the skyline, just above and left of the obvious roof. Note that the topo is not very explicit for this pitch. It is best not to the follow the obvious arching ramp up and right to the roof. Climbing the face straight up to the left edge of the roof is much more enjoyable. Great gear placements can be found in the cracks between the varnished plates. I end up placing only nuts on that pitch. Once again, it's a full pitch and I belay at a small stance on the skyline just before the crack turns into a smooth left angling dihedral. Make sure you have small to medium cams for this belay (I used green, red, and orange aliens).
From there, I step up and right around the arete (do not go up the dihedral) and follow the right side of the arete up to the rap anchor. A fun, airy pitch. From the belay, you can't see the right side of the arete above, so I did not know what to expect. The traverse is exposed but easy and can be easily protected with a yellow alien in a horizontal crack. The climbing on the arete is fun on positive holds. The rock is a little loose in places (few broken holds) but it is not bad.
We're on the "summit" around 11AM (really just a large sloping ledge at the top of the semi-detached buttress). It's a beautiful sunny day and there is no rush so we spend some time there, having lunch and reading the summit register. We also record a short movie for my sister Claire and her husband. His first name is Jerome but he also goes by the nickname "Geronimo"!
The descent is quick and easy. Three double-rope rappels bring you down. From the bolted anchor at the top of the climb, you can rap directly to the big ledge on top of pitch three. Be warned that with two 50's, the rope will be too short to reach the ledge but by rapping diagonally right (climber's right), you'll reach decent stances inside a narrow chimney, from where it is a few easy steps down to the ledge. A second double rap from a bolted anchor at the edge of the ledge brings you to the top of the first pitch. From there, one last rap from a fixed anchor (ropes wrapped around a huge boulder) and you can reach the base of the climb. Note that this is not the descent described in Swain's guidebook, which stays to the right of the climb.
An easy stroll (this time we get on the right trail) and we're back at the car. Great climb and a fun short day in the sun!
Geronimo, Red Rocks, NV
|Jackrabbit Buttress as seen from the approach.|
|"Geronimo" is shown in red.|
|The first pitch (5.7) follows a crack to a big ledge. You can climb the crack (as this climber is) or stay just left of it on huge face holds.|
|Lucie starting the 1st pitch.|
|Climb the face and use the crack for pro.|
|Nearing the top of the pitch.|
|The second pitch follows a thin crack to a broad ledge, then goes up a white ramp to a stance.|
|Starting up the thin crack of the second pitch (5.6).|
|Higher on the second pitch.|
|Passing the big ledge (optional belay).|
|Looking up from the 1st belay (very foreshortened). The climber above is going too far up and left on the 4th pitch (the 5th pitch goes up the arete).|
|Steep but easy and really fun face climbing (5.7) on the 4th pitch.|
|Higher on the 4th pitch.|
|Belaying on a small ledge at the top of the 4th pitch.|
|Beginning the exposed but well protected traverse on the 5th pitch.|
|Peeking around the corner.|
|The last pitch follows the exposed arete - belay from bolted anchor.|
|Posing on the pointy "summit" block.|
|On the summit ledge, before setting up the first rappel.|
|Setting up the second rappel.|
|On the hike back to the car.|