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Grade Route
1 5.10a 150'
2 5.9 150'
3 5.8 50'
4 5.9 130'
5 5.10a 90'
6 5.9/10a 75'

Sour Mash is one of Red Rocks finest climbs. With varied climbing, tons of thin cracks, face climbing cruxs, and an intriguing traversing roof to crack. It features a mix of styles, between traditionally protected and well-bolted pitches. The bolted cruxs with the fifth pitch being the crux pitch. Small cams to #3 Camalot are good to have.

The start is easily identified by a large and deep arch on the R side of Black Velvet Wall. The route follows discontinuous cracks through the R edge of the arch's roof and then angles slightly back L as it ascends the steep wall above.

  1. 150' 5.10a belay at the base or solo up to the next ledge to allow for less rope drag. The climbing starts up at a flake, then moves over easy ground into the steep blank L facing corner. Followed by layback moves and then a crimpy traverse L. Once above, easy climbing leads to several places where you can setup a belay below a roof above with a tree in between.

  2. 80' 5.9 Head R from the tree to avoid rope drag. Ascend easily to below the broken roof area. Jugs to a small roof section up and over into a broad crack. Traverse R along the crack as it narrows. Keep trending R until you reach the belay station.

  3. 180' 5.8 A long pitch broken up with easy rest places. Move up and slightly R on large holds into a corner. Continue out and L over face onto ledge with a rappel/mid-belay station. Then up the small corner above to a crack. Continue up to anchor and small ledge on the R.

  4. 180’ 5.9 A little run out. Up the long L leaning crack on good rock and out L on crack. Over bulge to crux directly below anchor.

  5. 90' 5.10a The crux pitch. Up crack with delicate moves until you reach a bulge. Pull up and over then trend R to anchor just below the small roof.

  6. 75' 5.10a 5.9+ Over roof above the station to steep ground to a crack. Trend up R from the crack to enter the blank area, up to anchor.

Descend via rappelling off the middle of the giant roof.

This is it. THE classic red rocks route. And it's just as good as everyone says it is. Original route description said 18 pitches, but it can be done in as little as 11 with some boldish soloing in the upper segments.

  1. 5.8 Start at the base of a steep, gray face Climb past a couple bolts up to a ledge with a few small trees. Continue up a white face, over a small roof, and past a slabby bolt-protected move to the belay. If you place a lot of gear, rope drag will be terrible. So, either use a lot of long runners, run it out, or do it in two pitches.

  2. 5.6 Climb up the chimney to easier terrain. This is your warmup for the more serious chimneys above. Belay at the base of the major chimney system.

  3. 5.9 Follow tricky 5.8 flakes up to the "real" chimney section. Grunt, squirm, and slither your way to the belay 170 ft above. This is probably the most cardiovascularly tasking pitch of the entire climb. Conservation of energy and minimization of effort is critical.

  4. 5.9 I think this is the hardest pitch of the climb. Paste your foot on the slippery chimney wall that's angling the "wrong" way, arm bar in the off-width at the back of the chimney, and worm your way up to a good bucket. Continue over some tricky blocks and cracks to a beautiful 15' hand crack. Belay on a nice (but small) ledge with bolts.

  5. 5.9 A tricky mantle starts the pitch off. Then, the climbing turns to "feet/knees to back" chimneying. Finish at the top of the tower. This is a really fun pitch.

  6. 5.7 Switch into face climbing mode, and cruise the bolt-protected 5.7 face above. Pull the 5.7 roof, and head right to a good ledge.

  7. 5.9 Move the belay right to the base of the "Elephant's Trunk". Head up the Trunk (5.6), past a two-bolt anchor, and up a steep 5.9 face to another two-bolt anchor. The climbing here is exquisite. There are good holds everywhere, but it's steep and really exposed.

  8. 5.9 Climb up another beautiful face/dihedral to an alcove with a two-bolt anchor. More steepness and exposure!

  9. 5.8 Follow the dihedral for 170 ft or so to a two-bolt anchor. This pitch is fun cruising.

  10. 5.9 Continue up the dihedral to a 5.9-ish roof. Pull it, step left, and belay. The roof is probably not 5.9. People think it's that hard because they're so tired by this point.

  11. 5.6 Fly up easy terrain to the end of the technical difficulties.

  12. 5.4 Climb up the right facing ramp to a flat, bushy ledge. Best simulclimbed on a shortened rope.

  13. 5.4 Climb up the right facing ramp to a flat, bushy ledge. Best simulclimbed on a shortened rope.

  14. 5.4 Climb up the right facing ramp to a flat, bushy ledge. Best simulclimbed on a shortened rope.

  15. (4th Class) Head across the slanted ledge to the giant pine tree. Easy but very exposed.

  16. (2nd Class) Unrope at the tree and scramble to victory.


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