Scarpa North America Blog

Blake Herrington: New Routes in Red Rock

Apr. 26th 2012

Blake Herrington has a passion for discovering new climbs. With new routes from Patagonia to Alaska, Herrington, who is based in Washington, has established over two-dozen alpine climbs, all done in a traditional style, ground up, without a single bolt. Below is a video and his account of a day in Red Rock in Nevada, where he and his climbing partner established 1,500′ of new routes.

Mt. Wilson looms impressively above all other peaks and walls in Red Rocks, Nevada. Its satellite pinnacle, Cactus Flower Tower, holds a rarely-climbed summit of its own. In early April, I recruited my friend, Chris Weidner, into joining me in climbing Mt. Wilson and the tower. The plan was to put up a new route on each formation.

Texas Hold 'Em, Black Velvet Wall, Red Rocks

Roughly 1000′ of great 5.9 climbing led us up Cactus Flower Tower. Every time we thought our line might die out or the cracks would close off, we were able to connect to new features via amazing varnished handholds that Red Rocks is famous for. From the summit of Cactus Flower Tower, our route up Mt. Wilson became obvious. One of the cleanest crack systems in Red Rocks looked irresistible. After a bit of offwidth climbing in a corner, I stepped left into a finger crack, which soon changed sizes to perfectly splitter hands. This 5.11 pitch was the crux of our day, and one of the best desert crack pitches I’ve ever done. Eventually, a long scramble up 5th-class steps led us to Wilson’s summit, where we signed the register and hunkered down against the 60+ MPH winds.

Cactus Flower Tower and Mount Wilson


All I could think about, as the full moon lit our descent to the desert floor, was the potential for adventure that still exists even in climbing’s famous and popular destinations. Red Rocks is nowhere close to “climbed out” when two friends can walk up to a feature easily visible from the highway, and establish 1,500′ of new routes done ground-up, boltless, and onsight, all without being too late for dinner.

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