Cat in the Hat: 5.6+, 6-7 pitches
Cat in the Hat is one of the longer climbs on the Mescalito. Its pitches include face, crack, huecos, and some easy pitches. The route winds around from the back of the Mescalito to the front but does not go to the top of the Mescalito.
Follow the trail from the parking lot all the way to the Mescalito until you are forced off of the trail into a wash. Follow the wash for a few minutes and cut up and out on the right side which will place you on a bushwhack on the left side of the Mescalito. Walk around the Mescalito until you see a steep rocky trail leading up. The climb starts where an offshoot of the trail leads you to a huge rock to sit on and a cleared dirt area to belay. The route picture in the book is misleading and you can not see the beginning of the climb (or the next few pitches) from the front of the Mescalito.
The two guide books contradict each other and both are out of date. Do not look for a "horn with slings" for the end of the first pitch. (Swain combines P1 and P2 of Urioste's guide for his P1). We climbed about 150' to a comfortable ledge to a belay. We continued up to where we saw slings on a small scrub oak for a semi-comfortable belay. After that, we could follow Swain's book description easier. When you eventually get to an exposed white rock for a belay with slings around a part of the rock, you can finally see the parking lot. You need to traverse out towards the front of the Mescalito by stepping down about two steps and then going over to an area with an enormous leaning rock. Belay here. If you have extra long ropes you may be able to finish the climb from there. We climbed the black face and set a traditional anchor about 15' below a bolt in the crack. From there, we went up to the white rock and anchored into the slings at the "top". It is a long 3rd and 4th class to the top form there, which we did not do.
Rappel down the side (90 degrees form the face that you just climbed) to the white exposed (yet comfortable) belay. Next rappel goes to the rappeler's left heading towards the back of the Mescalito. You end up at a scrub oak with slings (you have been here before). Continue to rappel down the back. The second to last rappel ends up at three shiny new bolts so you no longer have to down climb between rappels. You just need to be on a long sling so you can step right from the anchor to pull the ropes. That station will then get you to the ground on regular double ropes. (2 rope rappel for all raps) You end up where you started.
Johnny Vegas: 5.7
Johnny Vegas is a 4 pitch climb that feels more like a 5.4, though you will want to be a 5.7 leader to lead this climb. This climb can be used as an approach to Solar Slab (5.6 PG)
You will need the Rock Climbing Red Rocks (Swain) guidebook as this is not in the Select book.
For the descent, you can rap the route or rap Solar Gully. We decided to rap the gully since there were a lot of climbers on Johnny Vegas.
The first belay is uncomfortable for several people so you may want to wait until the leader in the party ahead of you has left the anchors before you climb.
We combined the last two pitches so save time for the parties behind us.
The top of the climb is perfect for a picnic lunch.
The Cookie Monster: 5.7-, 3-4 pitches
The Cookie Monster is also on the Mescalito. Unlike Cat in the Hat, you can see the beginning of the climb from the parking lot. Unfortunately this climb is not in Swain's current guide book. We made up where the pitches ended, but started and ended properly. Cookie is the second crack from the left on the Mescalito when viewed it from the parking lot. The crack has "running paint streaks" just to the right.
The first part of the approach is the same as for Cat in the Hat, but (Do not do what we did from this point on) when we got close to the Mescalito, we cut up towards the tallest white block formation and bushwhacked and scrambled to the left of the largest block.
Once we got to the uneven row of white blocks (the white blocks are like a set of lower teeth for the Mescalito) we had to do miserable bushwhacking and had to traverse some very scary exposed rock
Our approach was awful - maybe you can find a better trail! When we got to the base of the climb, Bill decided it looked too scary to climb because we did not know where pitches when or where they ended. (no guide book).
After considering what we would have to climb and scramble down to get back home, we decided to do the climb anyway, but with the packs on because it would be the easiest way out. (So that is how awful our approach was!)
Just right of "paint streaks" at a dihedral with visible roofs, you climb the dihedral, stepping around roofs until you want to belay. We belayed (b1) at a slotted cave on the climber's right (which is where you can stash your pack for a few minutes), (b2) at slings about 40 feet higher, (b3) at a huge cave on the left (stash the pack again) with a partially hanging belay (thin ledge), then we climbed the last 40-50' to a tree with slings directly above (small bulge/overhang here as a crux). A lot of huge hueco climbing that was really cool.
Here we were told to "climb down and left about 20 feet to the scrub oak with slings on Cat in the Hat". We decided that belaying someone to down climb and then having the second down climb while removing pro to be safer idea. One may try to rap here, but we are not sure if the rope might get stuck. Once you are at the scrub oak with the slings, rappel as if on Cat in the Hat.
You can also climb the rest of Cat from the end of Cookie - the first black face is on the climbers left from the end of the Cookie climb, though we saw a guy go straight up, too.
- Red Rocks Select by Todd Swain (published by Chockstone Press).
- Rock Climbing Red Rocks by Todd Swain (published by Chockstone Press). This book includes climbs not found in the Red Rocks Select book (like Johnny Vegas) and the Ultraman Wall