This is a very good modern route (but not a sport climb), guarded by a long approach. We had been intrigued by this line for a while (actually ever since it was newly included in the 2000 edition of Swain's book) but had little information about it, other than it had 12 pitches of mostly 5.9 to 5.10 climbing, with bolted anchors, and a rap descent. We finally decided to go for it, in part to explore the approach as it is shared by another route that was still high on our list at the time: Resolution Arete. That approach has a reputation for being somewhat difficult to find. We figured we could afford to loose some time going up it to Inti Watana, since that route is not that long or at all committing, but had better know our way before we attempted Resolution Arete.
Sure enough, we got lost on the approach. In fact, we were so far off that I am almost reluctant to admit it... To make a long story short, we ended up contouring way too far West around the NE toe of Mount Wilson, and found ourselves trashing up a wide but steep gully on the back side of the toe (behind something that's apparently called the Ramen Pride Cliff). After a good hour of bushwhacking and several sections of low 5th class scrambling, we were finally able to drop from a notch and connect with the correct approach gully. We lost over an hour in the adventure. Note that finding the correct approach is really not that difficult with proper beta or, even better, if someone can point it out to you from the road. Just be warned that the proper gully looks very steep and unlikely from a distance. For our best attempt at a detailed description of this approach, check out our Resolution Arete page.
Anyway, we eventually found the huge, obvious ledge and big tree that marks the base of the Resolution Arete. Inti Watana starts in the narrow and dark side-gully just to the right of the huge triangular buttress that forms the lower third of Resolution Arete. To find the base, go a short distance up that side gully, then scramble through a hidden passage under a huge garage-sized boulder that blocks the gully. The start of the climb is just beyond the boulder and easy to find (just look for the bolts...).
The route itself could not be easier to follow: looking straight up from the base, you can see the end, 12 pitches up! Every anchor is bolted (BTW, you may want to bring a wrench; we found several loose anchor bolts) and the route is a mix of gear-protected cracks and bolt protected faces. All bolts are of the modern stainless-steel variety.
Do not let yourself be discouraged with the ugly first pitch; the rest of the route is more than worth it. The first pitch climbs disgusting, slabby, red, mossy rock to a first belay at the base of a steep section of clean grayish rock. The outstanding second pitch (crux) climbs the steep finger crack above past bolts and gear placements. Above this, 10 pitches of very enjoyable, mostly 5.9 climbing shoot straight up to the top of the minor buttress. The last three pitches climb particularly steep and sustained rock with great edging. Pitch 9 features a fun, juggy and gymnastic, 5.9+ roof thrown in for variety.
The descent is as straightforward as they come: just rap back down the route all the way to your packs. You'll need two ropes for the rappels (50 meter ropes are fine; the route cannot be rapped with a single rope, even 60 meter). From the upper anchor (#12), you can rap down to #10 in one shot (bypassing anchor #11), then to #8 (bypassing #9 although this leads to a tricky pull), then use every anchor past this point, for a total of 10 rappels. Another option altogether would be to continue to the top of Mount Wilson via Resolution Arete and walk back down. If you're going to endure that long walk though, you might as well come back to climb the entire arete, which is what we did a month later.
Approach: scope it out from the road with binoculars. Keep in mind that the correct approach will look unlikely steep from a distance. If you don't hesitate and don't get lost, this will take about 90 minutes. If you haven't been there before, I'd suggest you count on at least 2 hours. For a detailed description, see our Resolution Arete page.
|Route: Once you find the base of the route, a route description is really not necessary: just follow the cracks and bolts from anchor to anchor, going generally straight up the face to the top of the buttress. The crux (2nd pitch) is 5.10d with great pro. The rest of the climbing is mostly 5.9 to 5.10a with some easier sections. Approximate lengths and ratings of individual pitches are (per our own estimates): 80'/5.9+, 120'/5.10+, 120'/5.9, 120'/5.9, 120'/5.7+, 150'/5.9, 165'/5.9, 130'/5.9+, 50'/5.10-, 110'/5.9+, 70'/5.9, and 90'/5.10. Protection is good all along. For a more detailed, pitch-by-pitch description, get yourself a copy of the excellent Supplement to the Red Book (Joanne Urioste, 2003). This also has one of the best pitch-by-pitch description of Resolution Arete, as well as an appealing selection of lesser-known long routes.|
|Rack: 14 draws, including at least 2 or 3 long (24") ones, and a small rack will do. We carried one set of nuts, one set of aliens from #.33 (black) to #2 (purple), three medium hexes, and #2 and #3 Camalots. We never used the #2 Camalot. You could easily do without the #3 as well, though we placed it once.|
Inti Watana, Mt Wilson, Red Rocks, NV
|"Inti Watana" goes straight up the left side of the Aeolian wall for 12 pitches (route in red).|
|The top of the White Rot gully. The gully leading to the base is right of the large, lone ponderosa pine near the center of the picture.|
|The upper two thirds of "Inti Watana", as seen from Resolution Arete.|
|The narrow side-gully at the base of the route.|
|The entire route can be seen from the base! The substandard first pitch climbs the mossy red rock.|
|Eric starting the first pitch (ugly, 5.9+).|
|Higher on the first pitch.|
|Leading the cruxy second pitch (5.10+).|
|The crux is the smooth, shallow corner just above.|
|Eric starting pitch 3 (5.8).|
|Higher on the same pitch.|
|Looking right toward the Aeolian Wall. The obvious buttress is the start of "The Woman of Mountain Dreams", a 16-pitch, 5.11- route.|
|Lucie following pitch 4 (5.9).|
|Climbing the thin cracks leading to the belay anchor atop pitch 4.|
|Stacking the rope at the belay.|
|Following the 5th pitch (5.7).|
|Approaching the 5th belay.|
|Views of Oak Creek Canyon.|
|Eric starting up pitch 6 (5.9).|
|Higher up on pitch 6.|
|Looking down toward the Wilson Pimple and the old Oak Creek road.|
|Eric leading the 7th pitch (5.9).|
|Higher on pitch 7.|
|The upper pitches of Inti Watana as seen from Resolution Arete (the obvious overhang is pitch 9).|
|Starting the 8th pitch (5.9+).|
|Higher up on pitch 8.|
|Reaching the bolted belay.|
|Sizing up the overhang of pitch 9.|
|Taking a closer look at it.|
|Going for it.|
|Going up the steep face of pitch 10 (5.9).|
|Higher up on the same pitch.|
|Views of Oak Creek Canyon from near the top of the climb.|
|Pitch 11? (5.9).|
|Eric starting up the last pitch (5.10).|
|Reaching the top of the route.|
|View of Las Vegas from the top of the buttress. The gypsum mine was recently purchased by developers!|
|The last belay at the top of the buttress. This point is very close to pitch 15 of Resolution Arete.|
|Eric rapping down one of the lower pitches (pitch 4?).|
|Scrambling under the garage-size boulder that blocks the narrow gully at the base of the climb (on our way out).|