The Panty Wall of Red Rocks

The Panty Wall is a very popular crag for climbers due to its proximity to the park entrance. Yup, “Panty Wall.” Climbing crags and routes have strange names!

Red Rocks has a lot of terrific crags and this is one of them. One disadvantage to climbing within the park boundaries is that the road through the park is a one-way, 21km long loop, and parking at the crags can be a bit of a problem. For this crag, you park at the first pull-out. As a result, it is quite popular.

Many climbers stop at the first pull-out, if there is room, to make sure they have access to a crag, rather than drive, say, to the third pullout, find out its parking is full, and be forced to drive the while loop to come back to the start, and then to the first pull-out again.

The wall has a fun, scramble of an approach up a series of red sandstone ledges to get to the base of the wall.

This wall is a beauty on which to get your slab feet and fingers under you… it’s a terrific place to start climbing at Red Rocks, and its colour is beyond belief!  With its red walls, its steeply angled belay buttress ramp, its large patches of cracked varnish, its numerous low-grade routes and its large, flat-topped airy rest boulders that overlook the canyon and its valley it is scenic, it is other-worldly, and it is seriously fun.

Just look at the colour of the rock!

This crag is also high enough up from the valley bottom and the parking lot that you do not have gawkers coming up to watch, as it is a bit of a climb up to get there, but it is close enough that you’re not hauling your heavy gear too far.

The parking lot of pull out #1 as seen from the Panty Wall.

There I climbed beautiful routes, like “Silk Panties” (5.7), “The Last Panty” (5.7), “Boxer Rebellion” (5.7) and “Brief Encounter” (5.8). For the uninitiated, the naming of the routes will sound ridiculous, but the humour and the themed nature are one of the things I love about climbing. Route names are outlandish and meant to make you chuckle. And this themed wall certainly does that!

Bill does a high step (on the left), using the cracks in the varnished areas of the wall.
This crag is a popular one. You can see the buttress ramp that you use as a belay spot here.
Look in the back of this photo (behind selfie girl) and you’ll see a climber, working to get onto the jumble of boulders there for the beginning of a route.
I had a blast climbing at this crag.
Just look at that backdrop!
Some routes are longer and some, like the one I’m on here in the foreground (orange helmet), are shorter, so it’s a great place to begin your initiation into Red Rocks climbing.

Day one in Red Rocks, you need to get on the red rock. And this crag is an excellent place to begin with routes that have good flow and a fun backdrop.

If You Go…

  • For specific, up to date info on The Panty Wall routes & conditions, go to Mountain Project.
  • For tips and tricks for navigating the climbing, see the “If You Go” section of the intro post, Red Rocks Climbing Crags.
  • For tips about staying in the Vegas area, go to the “If You Go” section of the post, There’s More To Vegas Than You Think.
  • To explore more crags that we climbed in Red Rocks, see these posts (these links will become active as the posts go up):
  • For this crag, it’s wise to get there early in the morning as the parking lot fills up quickly.
  • There are lots of flat boulders for relaxing, resting and eating lunch, and they have incredible views.
  • There are quite a few crags in this area, so to avoid confusion, read up in the guide book before you go and bring along the picture that identifies the crags. We started out in the wrong place and had to back track a bit to find its true location.

Greg & Chris

Not all of these photos in my Red Rocks climbing posts are mine. Some of the credit goes to Chris Schell, an amazing rope runner and inspirational, very experienced trad climber  … and to Greg Funk, a most determined climber who can power up walls like nobody’s business with skill and an impressive amount of sheer force of will and determination! It was an honour to climb with, and be inspired by you both! Thanks for letting me share your pics!

12 Comments on “The Panty Wall of Red Rocks

  1. Felt a little giddy with those pictures! GULP! Certainly, not for me! But your hiking adventures make me want to do something like that. 🙂 I enjoy reading your posts about your hikes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pretty countryside.

    I gather you have some expert free climb up first to set ropes, etc? And somehow get all that gear off the mountain when you’re done?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yup. One of the better climbers “lead climbs” up. They carry the rope and draws with them as they go, placing the gear that will be used on the route.

      “Lead climbing” is where a climber places the quick draws (two carabiners attached to each other by a short piece of webbing strap) on the bolts that are already in place on the wall, and then puts the rope through the carabiner on the end of each draw. One carabiner of each draw is for the bolt, and the other is for the rope. The guide books tell you how many bolts there are for each route, so you know how many draws to carry, and always take a few back ups.

      Once up top, the lead climber secures the rope through the permanent anchor up there.

      From then on, people can “lead climb” the route themselves, simply placing the rope through the draws that remain up on the bolts, or do what I did, which is called “top roping” where I always had a rope above me, taking my falls. It depends what kind of challenge they are after (and how skilled they are).

      The last one to climb the route goes up to “clean” it, anchoring themselves to the top anchor, rejigging the way the rope is attached, and removing the gear as they are belayed down. Once on the ground the rope is pulled through and free falls down the route.

      Most of our group did lead climbing by choice, though some of the good climbers would “project” a route on top rope first, working out the tough moves (the “cruxes”), and then lead climb the route after a rest. You see, lead climb falls are a bit scarier and bash you up a bit more against the rock as you can fall from far above the point to which you are anchored (the last quick draw through which you placed your rope). My nerves aren’t quite the steel I need them to be to do lead climbing yet. There’s really no danger with top roping.

      Now trad climbing is a whole other kettle of fish. In an upcoming post, you’ll see the skirt of gear one of our group wore to head up a crack climb. Placing and removing trad gear takes a whole other skill set, a whole other temperament, and a whole other level of experience to undertake.

      Trad climbing is far more pure, far closer to mountaineering, and to the historical development of the sport. It takes great skill, good finger dexterity to place the gear (that you often need to twist into place after trying one piece after another for the best fit… all while holding yourself on flakes of rock with two feet and a hand), and more knowledge of the rock itself.

      What we were doing is the modern version of climbing, called “sport climbing.” It’s more an “everyman’s” form of climbing, accessible to far more. You have to start somewhere!

      Liked by 3 people

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    • Ha ha! The holds wouldn’t be very good then, because there wouldn’t be much to grab!

      Other route names there are “Thong,” “Butt Floss” (I think that’s your G-string!), “Cover My Buttress,” “Scanty Panty,” “Silk Panties,” “Sacred Undergarment Squeeze Job” (my personal favourite), “Panty Line,” “Panty Raid,” “Edible Panties,” “Viagra Falls,” “Wedgie,” “Totally Clips” (that one makes me laugh!), “Panty Prow,” “Victoria’s Secret,” “Panty Shield,” “Panty Mime,” and the hardest of them all, a 5.13b called “The Great Red Roof.” Imaginative, eh?

      Liked by 2 people

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