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Quintessential TP climbing with the crux moves above your gear make "Better Red Than Dead" a bit intimidating. My first time I was a bit spooked, a couple more recent times, it didn't seem as bad. One of the more rewarding 5.10s here.
Face climb up to right-angling crack. Step onto the slab above to clip the 1st bolt, slab up and right to the 2nd bolt. From here, sneak up 5.10 slab/face straight up to a seam (no pro there), then a thank-god left-angling finger crack. You probably don't want to fall in that section. After you reach the finger crack and get some gear in, pull an interesting bulge and rest at a good ledge.
From here, there are a few options:
(1) Find the bolt up and a little to the right. Go to that, traverse right (5.10 airy), and ramble up to reach the 2-bolt anchor above Serpentine Crack. You can rappel from here with a 60m rope (100' rappel).
(2) Go generally straight up staying with the rightmost giant chickenheads and knobs (5.9, shown this way in Taos Rock guide) and continue up through progressively easier ground to set a belay and walk off.
(3) You could probably escape left to the big chicken heads and easier climbing.
This is the 2nd bolted climb to the left of Serpentine Crack.
Rappel from the Serpentine Crack 2-bolt anchor (100' rappel, watch the ends with a 60m rope); or, if you top out, walk off to the east.
Light rack of nuts, cams, RPs, and long runners. 2 bolts on route (and 1 bolt up high maybe on route).
Nov 14, 2007
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a
A fun route with good rock. 2 or 3 stars of 4, certainly not better than that. The bolt referenced as a variation in the description is actually the 4th bolt on Serpent Face, the 5.10c route to the right.
|By Luke Hanley|
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 25, 2008
I think this is one of Bruce Holthouse's masterpieces.
|By Stuart Turner|
Jan 26, 2009
I climbed both Serpentine Face and Better Red Than Dead with my wife a few years ago. Better Red has a more heads up feel (my wife backed off at the second bolt)and Serpent was harder climbing. Classic pair! I though that these two route are quite possibly the best price for the grade at TP. Probably needs an up-grade on the fixed pro. A must do for the area.
|By Mike Howard|
Nov 11, 2009
The 2 (or 3 if finishing on Serpentine Face Anchor) bolts were upgraded to SS FIXE 3/8 x 2 3/4 on 11/10/09.
|By Daniel Trugman|
From: Los Alamos, NM / Stanford, CA
Jul 29, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b
Thanks for the upgrade, Mike! This is a really nice line, one of my favorites at TP. At least with the new bolts in place, the route protects surprisingly well. All the harder moves have good pro nearby. The route is slightly run out on 5.8/5.9-, but then again, so are all the other 5.10s on Mosaic.
The traverse right to the third bolt and to the Serpent Face anchors seemed a little contrived, so I skipped it and headed straight up on 5.8/5.9 chickenheads. I'd be willing to give the traverse a try next time though. It appears to be well-protected (at least for the leader).