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Chicken Lips is a good route. It has friction, thin face, hand crack, layback, and chimney climbing spread over a logical line up a very cool piece of rock. However, it is solidly in the 'adventure-climb' category and will stay there until it gets re-bolted. If your experience on a climb is tarnished (or inflated) by poor protection and face climbing on hollow flakes, you may adjust the quality rating of this climb accordingly. There are a lot of bolts on this route, most of which are rusty 26 year-old 1/4"s. Occasionally, there is a 3/8". Most hangers are the dubious SMC hangers, although there is the occasional "JU" homemade hanger for nifty historical context. Unfortunately, you can not rely on trad pro to bail you out in most bolted sections.
The route gets a lot of sun, as it is a similar south-facing aspect to the Eagle Wall. The upper couple pitches will be shady earlier as they are in a chimney system.
P1. Follow awful bolts up thin face and friction (can be very sandy!) to the ledge under the obvious left-facing dihedral. ~100' 5.10-
P2. Climb up the fun dihedral crack until it bottoms out and you can escape right to a broken section above a tree visible from the beginning of the pitch. Then head back and left to a belay in the right-facing corner. ~130' 5.10- (The Urioste guide mentions a 5.7 variation that escapes right from the belay and then goes up to the tree. However, the crux dihedral on this pitch is the only 5.10 climbing you'll do where the pro is good, so enjoy it!)
P3. Continue up the corner ramp-handcrack until you can see the crack bottom out above you. When it looks easiest, step left onto the varnished face of the corner, and then out onto the arete! A few bolts take you to a stance with two bolts. One is a 1/4" rust-a-thon. The other is a 3/8" spinner. SMC hangers, but no visible cracks. There is no real back-up pro, although I put a couple awful small nuts in sandy flares for the fun of it, and it's possible that a ballnut might be slightly more secure. But still awful. ~130' 5.8 (with a 70m, you could *probably* set up a trad belay in the main corner before the step left to the arete, and then link the remainder of this pitch and the pitch above, thereby avoiding the anchor.)
P4. Go straight up the arete, past many bolts, to a large ledge with an enormous pine tree. There is a little pro in horizontals to back-up the bolts. Generally, you step to the arete, or even reach around it, for the path of least resistance. A lot of the rock is delicate on this pitch. ~150'. 5.10-
P5. The clean varnished dihedral above you is the last 'hard' climbing on the route. Layback the entry moves, and clip (or don't clip!) the bad bolts. Good gear can be found in the back of the crack, if you are willing to peek around the corner. Continue up into a notch past easier (but mandatory runout) climbing to another stance. The Urioste guide says to belay at 120', but I liked the stance and the gear better at around 180', which is about 20' below a white overhang guarding the rest of the chimney system. ~180'. 5.9
P6. Continue up past one bolt and the slightly rotten overhang, and keep running it out on slabby sandy ramp-chimney to a stance. at least 100' (?) 5.7/5.8
P7. Keep going up. Eventually you will punch out into the sun on a little sandy 4th class with a big mostly-dead tree. For me, it was ~200' to the tree. This pitch is awkward 5.6 chimneying, or provocative face climbing outside the crack on delicate holds. From the tree, scramble a few hundred feet to the ridge crest.
Chicken Lips is at the right side of the obvious face in the upper painted bowl. Go up the approach, go to the right side of the wall, scramble up a few yards of 3rd/4th class ramp to a ledge with bolts heading up a blank-looking face.
The descent is much trickier. You could walk all the way to the main eagle wall descent and come down that. it would require leaving your pack way down in the drainage, and is a great descent but long and potentially wet and fugly if the canyons are running.
the Urioste guide describes a scrambling/rappeling descent that takes you to the high point of the Black Orpheus formation, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from the base of the route. I don't want to quote the Urioste guide. If you are interested in this kind of route, you probably already have it anyway. However, their description was a little unclear to me, most likely my own failing, and i spent a little time trying out different exposed 4th/5th class descent gullies until i found one i really liked. based on the Urioste description, my descent gully sounded a little less technical, so i will describe it here.
From the top of the route, walk up/east to the local summit (the high point between higher summits a long ways down the ridge to the east and west) and take some photos. Then head straight down a couple hundred feet to a terrace, and shuffle down into a bowl of broken rock with gullies angling down and skier's left. If you look over the ridge, you can see a red rib of rock a long ways down. That is the the rock that creates the gully you scramble down to get back to the upper painted bowl. Above that is a large ledge with a very large pine tree (and other bushes) and a prominent water-run. You are headed to this ledge. You will see many gully/ramp/ledge systems angling down to this ledge from the ridge. The one I really dig starts here, scrambles down past a big tree and raps off the second one (both visible from beginning of gully). The angle on this gully/ramp was much slacker than the ones further along the ridge to the east. At about mid-point, a platform with a very large live pine tree (the second one, just mentioned) provides a very convenient rap down a 5th class step. I left two slings and a biner here, and encourage you to bring a bit more tat to better establish this painless descent. After this short rap, walk down a few yards, and traverse on pink slab a few yards away from the face. then 3rd class down easy slabs, past a butt-slide move, to more ramps to the big ledge. the gully right next to the cliff here is bushy and more difficult than the chill (but slightly exposed) 3rd/2nd class ramp to the ledge. from the big ledge with the huge pine tree, scramble down and right to where the water run is, and peek down around the corner to the left. Hidden under an overhang is an established rap station (2 old 3/8" bolts on SMC hangers with plenty of webbing/rings). 100' rap here (or slightly left of fall-line to keep rope out of water) to a notch where you walk left on a red ramp. A 60m rope is fine for this rap. A short 4th class step at the end of the ramp takes you down to the top of the black orpheus formation. choose your favorite way to get down from here. (hug the face down a gully past slippery 4th class to regain the base of the upper painted bowl, or head down the slabs to the better single-rope descent into the lower painted bowl)
i built a bunch of cairns at the beginning of the descent gully/ramp on 4/11/06 leading into the gully. they are not visible from the ridge crest. you need to descend to the lower terrace to find them. i will also post a picture of the descent.
i have gone into great detail with this descent description because it is a useful descent from the eagle wall and upper painted bowl. its really quite cruiser and doesn't take much time at all. it has no hard/scary sections if you hit it right. you could consider building a couple critical cairns while you're there so folks are not wandering all over the place, and i imagine it will become a standard descent in a few years.
I would bring a good selection of nuts, from tiny to large. The route does not wander much, but extending slings are definitely nice to take advantage of the pro you can get. Double cams green alien to #3 are good, particularly because a number of the belays require hand-sized pieces if you are into the classic three-decent-pieces thing. hand-sized hexes are just as good at all but one belay, although you still might want an extra cam or two. a blue alien wouldn't hurt, either. If the route has not been rebolted, seriously consider bringing a drill and a bolt to replace at least one of the anchor bolts at the bolted station. and screamers. bring as many screamers as you can get your hands on.
BETA PHOTO: the second half of the chicken lips descent.
BETA PHOTO: the first half of the chicken lips descent, as see...
BETA PHOTO: the top half of chicken lips, as seen from the bla...
BETA PHOTO: C.M. tribute; Real chicken lips
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Jun 30, 2006
Please don't build needless cairns in the desert!!!
|By John Hegyes|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 4, 2009
Has this route been re-bolted?
|By John Wilder|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 5, 2009
not to my knowledge- the asca has been meaning to do it for years, but as far as i know, it hasnt been done because it'll be at least a two day project.
|By Austin Baird|
From: SLC, Utah
Dec 27, 2011
Killis - I've never rebolted a route but I've climbed on enough ASCA bolts in RR to make me feel indebted. If we can work out a schedule, I'll drive down from Provo and help out. Only catch is that we have to climb it afterwards.
Dec 28, 2011
I could swear that the bolts got replaced by greg. Give him a call before headin out.
|By John Wilder|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Dec 28, 2011
Greg never got around to Chicken Lips- he stashed the bolts for it up by the IBM boulder years ago, but we went back and picked that stash up a couple years back and sent it back to him.
Scott and I have been meaning to have a run at it, but its a huge project and we haven't managed to work out the logistics just yet.
Feb 5, 2012
Looking for some volunteers to make a long hike to do some hard work to get this route rebolted and back to where it's safe to climb.
Your help is appreciated.
|By Josh Janes|
Mar 2, 2012
I'd like to go up and do some bolt replacement on this thing. Anyone else want to head up there in the next two weeks and do it? If so, just throw a tentative date out there and we'll make it happen.
Mar 26, 2012
Chicken Lips is wise to avoid until the first five pitches are fully replaced. 1/4 inch bolts that are 30+ years old are snapping under hand pressure, and will not hold even a short fall.
The possibility exists to rip all pro bolts on P4 and take the rusted out anchor and your attached belayer with you. Climb at your own risk. We experienced a partial anchor failure and a boulder popping out of a crack, nearly killing a member of our party. The route has aesthetic value, but isn't worth getting hurt on. Patience is a virtue.
And due to the change in season, it is now officially hot as hell up on the Eagle Wall/Painted Bowl. Unless weather drastically changes for the cooler, it is unlikely the rebolting will be finished before the fall. South facing walls in summer in the desert are not to be taken lightly; skin cancer sounds fun but better to climb the thing when it's not a functioning convection oven. Thanks to those who helped out with the effort and those who at least said they would.
|By Princess Mia|
Sep 10, 2012
Did anyone ever rebolt this one? I would be more than willing to contribute to the bolting fund. I sure would love to do the Solar Slab/Chicken Lips adventure day!!!! But not until rebooted.....
|By John Hegyes|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Sep 14, 2012
I would like to help rebolt this route sometime this winter. My days off are Tues and Wed.
|By Andrew Yasso|
Jan 9, 2013
Any time to put into the rebolting effort on this one? I would be game to hike stuff up and help out anyway possible.
5 days ago
Chicken Lips is completely rebolted with ASCA stainless, all old hardware has been removed and chopped (except a single JU hanger at the start of P4 left to remind future parties of what the former hardware looked like). The Chicken Lips descent as described above by A.A. has also been replaced.
A few thoughts: first, my sincere gratitude to all those who contributed to making this project happen. First of all Greg Barnes, for replacing so much already in Red Rock and making sure that we had all the hardware we needed for such a massive endeavor. None of the routes we enjoy in Red Rock would be in such good shape if not for Greg's efforts. My infinite respect and the beer's on me, amigo. Second, to George and Joanne Urioste, for so much encouragement and positivity about me and my friends attacking the insane challenge of trying to bring some of their most remote and obscure routes back into the spotlight. If you climb Crimson, Coltrane, Time's Up, and more, try imagining enjoying them with loads of ancient 1/4 inch shorties. Hard to dig the setting when the pro is all pre-Reagan years! Third and thirdmostishly, to the hardworking souls that accompanied me up this route more times than I want to remember, carrying haulbags full of steel and water to pursue an ideal of stewardship and adventure. I could name all of you, but that statute of limitations keeps me from involving ink and paper in this transaction. You guys rock. Thanks for making this kind of thing possible without fixed ropes and heavy-handed tactics. Taking the time to do things right is worth it in the end.
Special thanks go to yesterday's party, without the constant motivation sustaining this thing through by a certain 'good ledge giver', I might have called it good enough and not gone up for this final run to make sure all T's were crossed and I's dotted. We had a lot of laughs, worked hard, and got this sucka DONE!
A few thoughts on the route: if descending from Solar or Orpheus, if you have 2 60m ropes, it's a cinch to do pitches 1-3 on this and rap. If doing this, a SR-5" is recommended. These are some of the best pitches on the route and give you some fun bonus pitches at the end of the day and the ability to know where everything is and move fast on a topout run. The full route could be a blast to link with one of the Slab lines or BO but navigating up there in the dark can be mighty tricky. I would suggest climbing the route by itself first with an early start before attempting a link. Knowing the descent is key to making this experience more efficient and fun.
Gear and rope suggestion: since AA's description above covers the scary old version, here's the update- SR-5 or 6", wires 7-11, double cams .4-3. A 9 or 10 hex at the belay atop p5 is more solid than the available cams and leaves more/better gear for the funky belay options atop P6 above. A single 70 is perfect on this route if topping out, the raps all go with a single 60 but the extra length allows for linking 1+2' as well as making the 2nd rap down from the upper painted bowl a lot safer. The pitch lengths in the JU guide don't account for how long the last pitch is. You'll use most of a 60 and the extra length of a 70 allows extension to a more comfortable stance.
Anyone questioning, "Why the big gear?", I would point out that the massive boulder than spit out at the start of P3 and nearly flattened our party has left a slick, wide, burly start to the pitch. We placed a single set of 4-6 camalots on 4 pitches. That's all three cams on each pitch. With the amount of flaky rock happening on the upper half and the massive run outs on sandy, eroding rock on the final pitch (5.6 X in my opinion WITH the big cams), you can skip the weight and hedge your bets on some Jingus cap rock if you feel like it, I like to think more long term than that.
And with that, I would like to announce my retirement from the male modeling profession.