Tunnel Vision, Angel Food Wall 5.7 R
Avg time to climb route: 4-6 hours
Approach time: 30 minutes
Descent time: 1 hour
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 700'
OverviewAwesome, juggy face climbing and stemming up a fearsome looking chimney system, Tunnel Vision is great fun and a good introduction to easy chimney climbing. However, as with most chimney climbs, there is poor protection for long stretches, including the crux 5.7 pitch. The tunnel itself is a blast on polished rock which will make you nervous, but never gets too hard. Several variations including a new one on the crux pitch offer even more variety on an already sweet climb.
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HistoryFA: Joe Herbst, Randal Grandstaff, 1974.
Tunnel Vision marked the beginning of an age of expansion in Red Rocks climbing. The previous year saw ascents of both the Rainbow Wall and Velvet Wall. Both climbs were achieved by parties that included Joe Herbst. Several years earlier, Joe adopted the clean climbing ethic while working with the influential Doug Robinson. As a leading figure in those days at Red Rocks, Joe passed on this influence to the next wave of climbers.
One impressionable youth who really picked up the ball and ran with it was young Randal Grandstaff. Just 16 years old at the time of the Tunnel Vision climb, Randal was at the beginning of a productive climbing career. His resume would soon include numerous significant Red Rocks ascents, many big Yosemite routes, and even extended to an Everest expedition. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the establishment of the Sky’s the Limit guide service. Randal’s efforts put guiding on the map in Las Vegas and allowed him to make a living doing what he loved.
As if to complete some kind of cosmic great circle, Doug Robinson grew to know Randal well in the career they both shared. Doug observed, “Randal was a great guide. He was the kind of person who could inspire a client, who could help them to have their greatest experiences in the mountains. He had the ability to sense what his clients needed. He could fit in at a laid back climber’s camp, then turn around and command the respect of the Special Forces troops he trained for the U.S. military.” Randal died in a tragic rappelling accident in 2002.
– Larry DeAngelo
StrategyTunnel Vision usually has a line, and slow parties are very common as inexperienced leaders face the frightening prospect of running it out on chimney climbing.
Right off the deck is a short corner followed by a bouldery traverse to the right. While the pitch is rated 5.7, if high on a route this boulder problem might rate 5.8, so use a spotter and be careful.
To protect the climb well at the crux on the third pitch, large gear would be needed (#4 and #5 Big Bros), but would be difficult to place. A few good nut and okay thin cam placements can be used. Better to climb confidently and calmly through the runouts, and to rely on the great stems for rests. The crux section is wild—stemming past a narrow chimney that has an amazing flake at one edge to lieback.
As with other routes on this wall, great protection in small pockets can be found for tri-cams or narrow cams.
RetreatYou can retreat from any point on the first half of the climb by leaving long slings threaded through natural arches or around blocks. There is a bolted anchor as well on top of Pitch 2.
ApproachHike down the old road from the White Rock Spring parking area (at the end of a short, but rough, gravel spur off the main Loop Road). Take the well-worn trail to the right when the road turns left and follow it up through a short bouldery streambed. Many trails lead up left to the base of the wall; please try to stay on the most heavily used (hopefully some trail consolidation work will be done here).
The trails lead to the base of Tunnel Vision, which traverses under a large roof only 15 feet up to gain a low-angle dihedral. Group Therapy starts about 150 yards to the right of Tunnel Vision from boulders at the base of large trees, on the lower left wall of a huge shady chimney/recess.
DescentFrom the top of Tunnel Vision, drop down in the large 3rd class chimney and follow it left to a large terrace. Hike around into a gully, and either rappel 50 feet from slings around a large block, or hike up 20 feet and over into the next gully and descend there (3rd/4th class). Descend following cairns, past numerous short 3rd class drop-offs, boulder scrambling, and a lot of annoying oak trees and cacti. Swing around to the base to pick up gear. It will save you about 10-20 minutes if you don’t leave gear at the base, but on the other hand the best trail back is to traverse all the way to the trail you hiked up on.
To descend Group Therapy, go down the big 3rd class chimney, which joins the start of the Tunnel Vision descent after crawling under a huge chockstone.
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