Friday, October 16, 2015

Route Profile: Cayenne Corners - A Forgotten Red Rock Classic!

It is hot and dry in the desert most of the year down here in Las Vegas.  Temperatures don't start to get reasonable until October, and throughout the summer it averages a sweltering 100+ degrees.  

The city is fast-moving, and home to a strange collection of sprawling suburbs and outlandish attractions and amusements.  But living in the city of sin has its perks for a rock climber- just to the west of the city is Red Rock National Conservation Area, one of the greatest and most popular rock climbing meccas in North America.  While filled with classic routes, the park has a 45+ year history of rock climbing, and living here allows you plenty of time to explore unique and forgotten areas and routes in the Red Rock canyons.  While these explorations aren't always fruitful, more often than not they lead to some excellent climbing.  

One such forgotten and undiscovered route is Cayenne Corners.  Located in the alcove to the right of Ginger Buttress on Juniper Peak, Cayenne Corners is a wild and amazing line, characterized by stellar crack climbing on mostly bullet-proof rock.  The highlight of the route (and namesake) are two corners capped by roofs.

Looking up at Cayenne Corners from the start of the first pitch.  The climb
begins in the left facing corner and continues up the right side of the lower pillar through
corners and roofs. (A. Stephen)
The first pitch is a delicate and thin 5.9 left-facing corner  The crack takes good small gear, and there are two bolts protecting some thin face climbing and stemming where the crack pinches down.  This brings you to a nice handcrack with plentiful face-holds leading to a good two bolt anchor on the left side of a pillar.

The next pitch is the crux- It is called 5.10d in the guidebook, but I felt it checked in a little easier than that- maybe 5.10b.  After traversing to the left side of the pillar, you climb an amazing corner that starts as perfect hand jams. After a few body lengths, the crack thins to green camalots and the corner turns into a slot that you can get great knee-bars in.

Chalking up for the roof! (A. Stephen)
The pitch continues up to a roof with a perfect hand crack leading out its right edge.  Traverse out of this with smearing for your feet and then continue into a finger crack with great locks and face-holds but finnicky gear to a hanging belay.  What a RAD pitch!  Don't forget to put extended draws on any gear placed inside the roof...

PNW climber Micah Faville crushing the stellar corner crack
climbing of the 2nd pitch. (A. Stephen)
 The fun isn't over yet though!  Next, a 5.8 pitch heads up a crack and traverses to the base of another pillar.

The next pitch checks in around 5.10a and traverses out yet another awesome roof on a slightly wider crack (#3 camalot) with better feet.

Two more 5.9 pitches continue up through cracks, neither of which weren't totally memorable, but fun nonetheless.  We rappelled the route with two ropes.

The author traversing around another roof on splitter cracks.
(M. Faville)
If you are looking for a route to do when the other routes on Ginger Buttress are busy or a super fun route that is off the beaten path, Cayenne Corners should be on your list!  Here is a link to some more specific beta-  

--Andy Stephen, Instructor and Guide

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