Login with Facebook
 ADVANCED
The Rainbow Wall
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Birdhunter Buttress T 
Brown Recluse T 
Desert Solitaire T 
Original Route, The T 
Paiute Pillar T 

Birdhunter Buttress 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1000', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: George & Joanne Urioste
Page Views: 8,069
Submitted By: Slhappy on May 7, 2003

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Pitch 4.2: lots of air, on a well-protected and mo...

Description 

The route ascends the right side of the Rainbow wall. Fun climbing on all pitches with some spicy face moves for the crux. Look under vegetation for bolts. Good full day adventure on some infrequently traveled stone. Also great views of the Rainbow wall.

Protection 

A single set of gear is fine with a few extra runners and/or QD's as there are more bolts (nice old bolts) than you think.


Photos of Birdhunter Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Jonny just about to enter back into the chimney. Pitch 6 from Doug Hemken's beta. We both felt this chimney pitch was the crux pitch of the route.  <br />
Jonny just about to enter back into the chimney. P...
The beautiful slanted tree, and a bit of pocketed, varnished sandstone at the base of Birdhunter Butress.  <br /> <br />10/21/09
The beautiful slanted tree, and a bit of pocketed,...
The first 3 pitches of "Bird Hunter Buttress," showing both the main belays and intermediate stations.
BETA PHOTO: The first 3 pitches of "Bird Hunter Buttress," sho...
The approximate line of descent is shown in black.
BETA PHOTO: The approximate line of descent is shown in black.
Jason fires up p1
Jason fires up p1
A nice place to gear up for Birdhunter Buttress, or to take a nap is at the big, slanted tree. Due to the long approach, and adventure-like climb, you'll most likely have the route/area all to yourselves. : )
A nice place to gear up for Birdhunter Buttress, o...
Replacing the intermediate anchors on p3.
Replacing the intermediate anchors on p3.
Racking up:  Stephen Schmid, Andy Davis, Jason Martin
Racking up: Stephen Schmid, Andy Davis, Jason Mar...
The views of the back canyons are pretty nice!
The views of the back canyons are pretty nice!
Idan Peretz in the final throes of pitch 2.2
Idan Peretz in the final throes of pitch 2.2
The views from Birdhunter Buttress/Rainbow Wall are incredible, and gives you a good sense of the vast, rugged terrian of Red Rock.  <br /> <br />Photo taken from midway up BB. A section of the colorful upper Brownstone Wall, and Bridge Mountain are visible. <br /> <br />10/21/09
The views from Birdhunter Buttress/Rainbow Wall ar...
A view of upper Brownstone Wall, and Bridge Mt. from midway up Birdhunter Buttress. <br /> <br />10/20/09
A view of upper Brownstone Wall, and Bridge Mt. fr...
Jonny starting up P-5 (from Doug Hemken's beta) <br /> <br />10/21/09
Jonny starting up P-5 (from Doug Hemken's beta)

1...
Idan Peretz works his way delicately up p3.1, the crux pitch
Idan Peretz works his way delicately up p3.1, the ...
Borrowed this photo to show the line of the route. It ascendes the redline.
Borrowed this photo to show the line of the route....
Gigi hunts for birds on p4.
Gigi hunts for birds on p4.

Comments on Birdhunter Buttress Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 12, 2014
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 24, 2005

"nice old bolts", is that an oxymoron? I have not done this route, but I've heard it and nearby Paiute Pillar are runout and a bit loose.
By Jason D. Martin
Apr 4, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I did the Birdhunter Buttress yesterday and I think a few things should be added.

First, the route is approximately 13 pitches and is a solid Grade IV.

Second, there are some very old bolts on the route. Until these bolts are replaced I would strongly recommend against using them for anchors. My gut instinct is that most of these bolts will not hold bodyweight much less a fall. There are places to build anchors throughout the route.

Third, the route has a lot of bad rock on it. Should the bolts be replaced I think this route will see a lot of traffic. It is a great route in a great position. If the route sees a bit more action and the bad rock is pulled off it will become yet another classic moderate.

Fourth, the best descent is via Brown Recluse. At the top of the last pitch of Birdhunter Buttress you will traverse from the "belay bolt" around the corner to the left. There is a large ledge here with some vegitation on it. It appears that you could continue up a low fifth class gully from here. Instead look down the gully below the continuation gully. There you will see two bolts with chains. These bolts are some of the last bolts on Brown Recluse.

Rappel to the first set of chains you find. This set of chains are in an EXTREMELY awkward position, but if you don't stop at the chains you will not make the next set of chains. One of the books says to rappel with a seventy meter rope, I don't know how well that would work with this sketchy top section of rappelling and would recommend having two ropes for the descent.

After the initial awkward rappelling situation, the remainder of the rappels to the ground are somewhat straight forward.

I strongly recomend Birdhunter Buttress to those who are solid 5.9 leaders. You don't want to take falls on those old bolts!

Jason
By Ian Wolfe
From: Fayetteville, NC
Apr 8, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I climbed the route with Jason and he is right on.

I gave the route 3 stars, but this could go to 4 if the bolts were replaced. The bolts are the original Urioste 1/4" bolts, totally rusted, and SUPER sketch. Don't fall, because any pro you can get in in the middle pitches is in kinda sandy white rock. The top pitches are stellar and actually protect very well along a right facing corner and up to a chimney.

Way to steal my thunder Jason...
By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 18, 2007

(Edited in March 2008, see also the notes in my later post.)

Jason Martin, Stephen Schmid, Andy Davis, and I replaced 21 of 25 bolts on the first 7 pitches (bolts provided by the ASCA). We skipped a few bolts in the interest of time, and the upper pitches still need rebolting. With the appropriate strategy (maybe take a screamer, and be willing to supplement or ignore bolts in favor of your own gear) you can climb this route pretty safely.

Another 18-20 bolts have yet to be replaced. Most, but not all, of the old 1/4 inch bolts would hold 1-2 short falls in my opinion. However, based on the experience of removing them, a couple of those remaining probably will not hold a fall ... and you can't tell which ones are truly useless by looking. Fortunately it is seldom far to more pro. The old 3/8 inch bolts will still hold several falls each - once they begin to pull and bend, then they can no longer be trusted, in my opinion. The old 1/2 inch bolts just need new hangers - we gave up trying to get them out after a couple of attempts. As Jason suggests in his note above, there are gear placements that make some of the bolts (both lead and belay) redundant.

Despite rumors of loose rock, I thought everything was pretty solid for Red Rock sandstone. However, my partners kicked off a couple of small chunks on the face pitch (p3), so keep your eyes peeled, and put a helmet on your belayer. There is also some soft rock on p4 in the wide crack, but the climbing there is easy and bolted.

Approach


Up Juniper Canyon and up the fixed-line sluice toward Rainbow Wall (or scramble left of the sluice if you're not sure what condition the rope is in). Trudge up to the rubble above the Bowl. Once in the rubble and brush, move up and right toward the Paiute Eye (the huge arched recess in the Wall). Head toward the left side of the Eye to avoid a scramble/climb up through a final nondescript cliff band, follow the ledge along the base of the Wall to the right. You pass the "Brown Recluse" rappels, "Brown Recluse," and then pass Brock and McMillen's "killer bivy" (it is!). The route starts a little below (left of) the last prominent pine tree on the ledge.

Description


(The descriptions given in Joanne Urioste's Supplement, in Brock & McMillen, and in Handren are all excellent. The route is never hard to follow.)

Every pair of pitches can (and should) be linked, so I'll renumber them here. Bring 12-15 slings and a single rack to 4".

P1.1 (5.7) - Step up and move left across a ledgy face to the middle of 3 cracks/seams, the one that obviously takes pro the best. Climb up the crack and pull the bulge, where the first of 3 bolts is encountered. Follow the bolts up and left. You could build an anchor here, but it is better to continue ...

P1.2 - Move left and up an easy wide crack. After 30-40 feet find a semi-hanging belay from bolts on the right.

P2.1 - Continue up the wide crack, using features around the crack, passing 1 bolt. Pass another semi-hanging bolted stance on the right (easy to miss), and link with ...

P2.2 (5.8-5.9) - Good hands low, good chimney higher. Burly but not too technical. At the top you have your choice of heading into the squeeze chimney, or staying outside. Be kind to your partner with the pack. This pitch ends at a bolted stance at the lip of a sloping ledge.

P3.1 & P3.2 (5.8-5.9) - the Classic Face pitches - The kind of face climbing - flakes and edges - we have all come to associate with Urioste routes. Up the face past three bolts, left to a crack, and past a couple more old bolts past a bolted hanging belay, and continue past more good bolts to a bolted stance on top of a small pillar. We couldn't decide if this was the technical crux or not, but it is definitely the most sustained pitch. Be careful not to kick fragile flakes near the route onto your partner.

P4.1 & P4.2 (5.8-5.9) - Straight up from the belay, up a wide, short crack past another old bolt past a bolted stance atop another small pillar. Continue along a line of old bolts to the right (one delicate move), turning up into the wide crack before you go around the corner. Your view of the bolts above maybe obscured by a bush in the wide crack. End at a good stance on the corner.

P5.1 & 5.2 (5.7-5.8) - This pitch is a blast! Step right to the dihedral, and use a combination of stemming, jamming, and face climbing. Either stop at the stout pine tree, or set a directional and head back along the 3rd class ledges to the base of the chimney. This would be a potential bivy spot for 2-3 if you are taking a leisurely approach to this route.

P6.1 & 6.2 (5.7-5.8) - The first half is the chimney pitch, clean and easy once you pass the shrub, with some protection opportunities around your feet and a bolt up where its just wide. The second half involves ducking down and out of the chimney (the crux here) and up a clean slab with more bolts. Stop in the notch and build your own anchor. It would be possible to bivy a small army here, although the rocks are sloping.

P7.1 & 7.2 (5.4-5.5??) - I got as far as the pro bolt partway up this pitch (currently the old bolt is still there, so it appears to be a belay anchor, but this will eventually be fixed). I guess you keep heading straight up to find a final 1-bolt anchor in the bulges above, but I couldn't spot it ... next time. And then pull onto the final slabs and finish up.

Descent/Retreat


There are four ways to get down from this route:
(1) Urioste: top out and head back to Oak Creek for the long walk out. Probably the nicest tour if you bivy along the way and like gazing into the backcountry.
(2) Handren: top out and rappel down the "Original Route." If you like the views but hate to walk.
(3) Martin: finish the technical climbing and dive down the "Brown Recluse" rappels. The upper rappels sound a little funky, but if you are pressed for time this would be your fastest way off the top of the route.
(4) Bail: Stop in the notch or at the next belay, and rap back down the route. You may have to leave your own anchor at the notch above the chimney. If you only have one rope, you'll need to leave slings etc. at the intermediate belays.
By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Jan 22, 2007

We had one or two peregrines swooping between belayer and climber around p5 and p6 on 9 January 2007!

(edit) And again in March 2008 . A great spot for bird watching!
By beny
Mar 9, 2007

this is an okay line up a great wall. i'd give 3 stars for the first 7 pitches, then 0 stars for the last ones. so my advice? rap after seven pitches (when the new bolts end). if you want to keep going for kicks, all pitches are easily linked with the one above making for a 7 pitch outing to the top of rainbow wall. the descent raps for brown recluse are easily found just above and left. you're looking for the chain anchors. 70m cord is perfect. big thanks to the guys that updated the hardware on the first 7. enjoy.
By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Sep 14, 2007

There are two photos elsewhere on this site that give good views of this route:

from Karsten
and from Gigette
By Doug Hemken
Administrator
Mar 27, 2008

We did a small amount of re-bolting on this route on 21 March 2008. This time the team included Burt Lindquist and Idan Peretz, with bolts again provided by ASCA.

All of the main belay stations and intermediate belay stations that have bolts are now in pretty good shape: they all have either a solid old 1/2" bolt or a new 3/8" bolt, and most have both. Most of the half inch bolts could use new hangers, and there are still old bolts that need to be chopped to return this route to its original 2-bolts per belay anchor status. If you are thinking about doing this route, feel free to contribute by replacing hangers - you shouldn't need a permit for that!

The most critical lead bolts were all replaced in our first re-bolting effort. Actually, it doesn't look like anyone has ever fallen on any of the bolts on this route. As you would expect in one of these Urioste routes, the emphasis is on fun, so the harder sections are tightly bolted or easily protected with trad gear or both. Where we have left old bolts, the climbing is either easy or it is not far to your next gear. In a few cases (notably in the crux pitch and in the dihedral below the chimney), the old bolts have been rendered less critical by the development of modern cams in finger sizes.

We climbed through the middle of the penultimate pitch this time, and rapped the route, leaving slings and rap rings at the main belay stations. If weather or sloth makes it necessary for you to bail, it's pretty easy to back off.
By John Hegyes
From: Las Vegas, NV
Oct 22, 2009

First ascent 4/24/1982. "This route was named for an arrow head that was found on top of the first pitch." From Joanne Urioste's Red Book Supplement.

Birdhunter Buttress is in such an outstanding location and the adventure aspect is truly sublime. We pitched out the climb as recommended above by Doug Hemken. This turns the 12+ pitch climb into a more reasonable 7 pitches. The effort performed by the rebolting crew on the first three pitches was appreciated greatly. Pitches 4, 5, and 6 still sport the rusty quarter-inchers and provide a serious hazard to the climber.

Where Doug Hemken wrote: "The most critical lead bolts were all replaced... Where we have left old bolts, the climbing is either easy or it is not far to your next gear." I found this to be somewhere between a little disingenuous and a complete misrepresentation. Early in the day I was indeed skipping the "coffin nails" but on the upper pitches I was compelled to clip at least four or five in a row. Coupled with bad rock, a fall was plausible yet unthinkable. As far as I'm concerned, the rebolting is only half done, and until completed I give this climb a red flag.

That being said, the first three pitches were really fun, four star climbing. I think my favorite however was the chimney on pitch 6. I believe this was the overall crux and the only real 5.9 climbing on the route. A lot of back-to-feet chimneying over space, a little of the squeeze and then a unique down-and-out move to gain the slab. Unfortunately this pitch is made extremely sketchy, with long runouts on bad bolts.

We opted to bring double 60m ropes in case we found a need to rap the route. But that wasn't necessary because we made it to the Brown Recluse rappels. This was easily found only because we had Jason Martin's good information above. Doubles were a mistake and I would highly recommend a single 70m if doing this rappel route. This apparently possible based on multiple sources. Rapping Birdhunter would have been a nightmare given all the lower angle, snaggy rock. The Brown Recluse descent line was almost completely vertical and smooth - the anchors were a little "creative", but they got us down quickly.
By Graham Roff
May 23, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

A fun route, definitely should be linked-up as seven pitches. To fully finish the route, the last pitch ascends from the top of the pillar after the final chimney pitch, directly up through blocky terrain and then over the small roof (5.5, two "bolts"). Continue up another fifty feet or so until the 4th/5th class eases off. From here a short scramble gets you to the top of the buttress formation and beautiful panoramic views. Supposedly you can continue to the top of Rainbow Wall from here, but it looked like another three or four pitches of really chossy low fifth class - and then a long descent down Oak Creek Canyon. If you plan on rapping Brown Recluse, the top anchors are right up top as well and easy to spot (with no need for any scrambling around the loose gully as others have suggested if you head left too early on the last pitch).

For us the crux would have to be the last chimney pitch, but compared to other chimneys at Red Rocks (Epinephrine for example) was no harder than 5.8. While sustained, we felt the long face pitches were definitely soft for 5.9, even by Red Rocks standards. That being said, the last couple of pitches do contain stretches with only rusty 1/4" bolts for protection. Be confident at the grade before heading up this route.
By Mike Hack
May 23, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Regarding the Brown Recluse rappel, it IS possible to do it with a single 70M rope. However, on at least 2 of the 9 or so raps, the next station was essentially at the end of the rope. Fortunately, the heavier of us went first to establish the next station and "tether" the lighter of us with his daisy chain (and secure the rope!). The final rap dumped us out, at the end of the rope, onto a narrow ledge 20 feet off the deck, but we were able to capture the rope end and scramble into a corner to downclimb. As mentioned above, the stations were difficult for us to spot from above, and the 2nd or so was positioned so as to require us to swing out in space and sort of deadpoint a daisy chain clip. Not sure I understand the rationale for that placement ...
By Graham Roff
May 23, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Further note on the above - that rappel is far scarier and more dangerous than anything on Birdhunter Buttress itself. The stations have clearly been set up to allow the absolute minimum number of raps on a 70m rope, with no consideration given to safety or comfort.
The third set of anchors is not only "extremely awkward" as some have said, but downright dangerous and to be honest, a bit terrifying - requiring you to swing out over a big drop, desperately clip yourself into the rap rings and then literally dangle in open space.
The next set of anchors is directly below on the last ledge you can see, but completely invisible until you are at them.

After that we encountered two or three rappels where you clip into the anchor with just the last six inches of rope in your hand (sometimes while hanging!), one station where someone less than 5'6" would not be able to reach the rings, and one station consisting only of two bolts, various pieces of tattered cord and two non-locking binners. Many fully hanging belays as well, many aggravatingly just ten vertical feet past nice ledges.

So while a single 70m will get you down (unless your rope gets stuck in which case you will die hanging there since there is no way to climb up) take a six pack to the base cause you are going to need a drink when you get back to solid ground.
By Vince Neil
May 2, 2012

Does anyone know if the bolts on the upper pitches have been updated yet? Thanks.
By Ben Townsend
Apr 6, 2014

If the logistics weren't so daunting, this route should be as popular as, say, Ginger Cracks. The climbing is good, and the location is spectacular.

Currently, most of the bolts on the upper pitches remain vintage. However, I don't see that being a significant concern to anyone who's made it that far. There is a bit of loose rock, but nothing too extraordinary by Red Rocks standards.

We descended via the Brown Recluse rappels, which are convenient to the top of the climb, but which I disliked intensely -- mostly junk hardware, and strangely situated stations including a couple that are totally hanging in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps at some point it may be possible to re-engineer this rap route so that it uses the terrain better; until then, it's pretty hard to recommend.
By Jordy Cox
Apr 12, 2014

We climbed this route last Saturday and wanted to give it high marks:
4-Star climb, 5-Star location (and 6-Star company)

It had been on the list for many years but the reports of scary protection and bad rock had kept us away- The route is currently SAFE and although there is some loose stuff, it is nothing out of the ordinary by Red Rock standards and pretty much limited to pitch "4.2" in Doug Hemken's description (which is spot-on, by the way).

We are not locals but have nearly 100 multi-pitch RR routes under our belts and can easily say this is route deserves to become a classic. The re-bolting job is great and although the last few pitches still sport the original hardware it is easy to find alternative placements (and the old JU bolts are still pretty solid).

We climbed as two parties of two and then rapped Brown Recluse as a team of 4 with two 60m ropes.

Approach:
Just under 2 hours- we had done the Original Route on the Rainbow Wall last year so we had the advantage for route finding. At the top of the slabs and as the rubble starts to appear, just trend right towards the big pine tree that marks the base. Easy to find and no 3rd class needed to reach it.

The beta on the route itself is as described by other posters. We linked all the pitches as recommended except for 5.1-5.2: we stopped and belayed at the big pine tree to avoid drag and then simply moved the belay up and left to the next pine tree at the base of the chimney (5.2 is just a walk)

Regarding the cruxes:
The face climbing "crux" on pitches "3.1-3.2" is trivial with modern pro-bolts and gear when wanted.
The chimney pitch (6.1) is by-passable by climbing a crack on the left that protects well and gains the anchor without cliping the old bolt that is the only gear on the whole chimney.
The move up and out of the chimney from that anchor and on to the face is, IMHO, the technical crux of the route. The sequence of moves are height dependent and the only gear is the actual anchor at your feet- so a little commiting 5.9 but it's over quickly. I also agree this is the only .9 section on the route.

Regarding the descent:
We elected to follow the Brown Recluse rappels. The last "pitch" (off the huge "small army" ledge) is a 30 foot scramble to an anchor and then a left-trending ramp that is walkable and followed to the gully were the first rap anchor is clearly visible. Loose rock in this gully mandates caution while setting up the raps.

I personally did not find the rap route bad at all. The hardwear is all solid and finding the stations was straightforward despite dwindling light conditions. The only truly hanging station is the second one and it must not be missed as it sits just above the last hard (5.12a/b) overhanging pitch of Brown Recluse. All other stations have either full on ledges or decent stances that accomodated all 4 of us. As mentioned, we used two 60m ropes so length was never an issue but would not recommend linking raps.

So,in summary, another Urioste gem that deserves to be done a lot more!!!
Never scary and never dangerous and in the most incredible location in all of Red Rocks!
A Huge Thank you to the re-bolting team- please join and donate to the ASCA and the LVCCC