Olive Oil, Rose Tower 5.7 R


Red Rocks, Nevada USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 2-3 hours
Approach time: 1 hour
Descent time: 1.5 hours
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 550'
Olive Oil is one of the best Red Rocks moderates with its excellent, varied climbing on great rock. The long, awesome crack on the second and third pitches, some routefinding on easier terrain, and a final huge stemming dihedral all add up to a great day. With some runout sections at 5.7, it is not a good climb to break into that grade.
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  A total of (20) submissions of route beta on Olive Oil
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FA: George and Joanne Urioste, John Williamson, 2/78. Portions may have been climbed by Joe Herbst & Larry Hamilton, 1/76, during FA of Rose Tower.

John Williamson was one of Red Rocks’ original pioneers, but he had been out of Las Vegas since the early 1970s. During a visit in 1978 he teamed up with George and Joanne Urioste for several routes. Olive Oil is most notable to today’s climbers for its clean rock and moderate difficulties. In his younger days, John would often acquire climbing partners by introducing some innocent friend to the sport. Frequently they were overwhelmed by his drive and enthusiasm, so John was especially happy to meet the Uriostes, who were at least as overboard as he was.

John recalls that after Olive Oil they were driving back to town in the gathering twilight. As they proceeded along what was then a deserted stretch of West Charleston Boulevard, George ran over a jackrabbit. He brought the car to an immediate stop, backed up, jumped out and retrieved the rabbit. He took it home and cooked it (in curry sauce John recalls 25 years later!). John says, “I don’t remember that Joanne and I ate a whole lot of it.”

John probably doesn’t realize how lucky he was. George says, “I always wanted to try everything. The worst we ever had was a coyote. That wasn’t good at all. One time we found a bobcat that someone hit and that was the best.”
– Larry DeAngelo

Immensely popular, it is difficult to get to Olive Oil without others ahead of you. Start at the gate the moment the Loop Road is open, have your packs ready, and head straight for the climb. Alternatively, wait until late in the day—it is common to climb Olive Oil after first doing another nearby route such as Crimson Chrysalis or Geronimo (which both have the same crowding issues).

The first pitch is the serious section, with 5.7 face climbing without great protection to the left of a polished chimney. The fourth pitch goes up a crack system, then heads to the right to gain the top of a pillar —this unlikely traverse to the right is where people get off-route. The final dihedral is runout on easy terrain down low, then better protected (but not great protection) through a steep chimney section.

Retreat with two ropes from bolted belays and/or natural protection. Note that all the bolted belays on this climb were added by unknown parties around 2002, and may be chopped at any time because they are not original and reduce the commitment factor on this classic traditional route.
From Pine Creek trailhead, hike on the main trail down the hill and up the main trail up Pine Creek. Go past the Fire Ecology Trail (two entrances, it is a short loop), past an unnamed trail on the left, to the main Arnight/Knoll Trail (just past the prominent concrete foundation of the old homestead—about 15-20 minutes from the car). Cross the creek, go right for 150 feet, then follow the nicely graded trail left and up the far bank. Hike on the trail for about 10 minutes, then take the right trail heading towards Cloud Tower. The first prominent trail on the right is the approach to Rose Tower and the Northeast Face of Jackrabbit Buttress (the descent trail from Rose Tower intersects earlier, but it is hard to see from the main trail). To continue on to Crimson Chrysalis, Geronimo, or anything up the main Juniper Canyon (Brownstone Wall, Rainbow Wall), stay on the left trail.

From the top of Olive Oil (also the top of One-Armed Bandit), scramble up and left to the top of the formation, and hike back along the ridge top then down the gully. There is a 10-foot 4th class downclimb just before you reach the gully—use care here, and the first down can spot partner(s).
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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff Last update: March 31, 2013
Rose Tower - Olive Oil 5.7 R - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Greg Barnes
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