Jubilant Song is hailed as one of the most remote and yet best 5.8’s in Red Rock Nevada. It a south facing 850 ft. wall on Windy Peak and is written up in the most guidebooks as a super climb if you want to get way from the crowds. All I knew of this peak is pictures because you cannot see it from the highway. In order to even get a glimpse of this peak, you must drive on sketchy dirt roads that often require a high clearance vehicle and then hike a good 40 minutes to get your first glimpse of the mountain. Once that mountain comes into view you have a another hour hike and at least another 1,000 feet of elevation gain before you at the base of the climb.
The ideal time to climb this peak is in the early spring, late fall or even on a decent winter day. The south facing exposure sees sun all day and the size of the mountain serves as a good shelter from the northern winds. Brad and I found ourselves with friends on a climbing trip over Spring Break 2018. The conditions seemed perfect. We decided to make Jubilant Song the focus of our trip. On line trip reports revealed horror stories of climbers getting on top after dark and lost trying to hike off. An early start would be our key to success.
On our first day we warmed up on a small crag that was just off the trail that leads to Windy Peak. The climb was called Jackass Flats, two pitches and rated 5.6. It gave us a good chance to refresh our familiarity with the type of rock and get our climbing heads on. After spending a few hours doing our warm up climb, we used the balance of the day to hike the rest of the trail to the base of the climb. Given the limited daylight hours that spring poses, we used this day to craft our plan. On the next day we found a nice and slightly longer pitch called Ballentine Blast, that was four pitches and rated 5.7. This further bolstered our confidence. We felt ready.
So on day three we left our condo a little after 5:00. After a quick stop at Starbucks we arrived at the trailhead at 6:30. This put us at the base of the climb at 9:00 am. The climb proved to be everything we had hoped it would be. The climbing was spectacular. We felt it was sustained for the rating but of course we believe if we returned to do it again tomorrow, the fear the of unknown would no longer be part of the equation and it would be much easier.
P1 offered a challenging roof move. It was good that Brad led this pitch as I felt his height was an advantage as it allowed him to reach the jugs high on the roof. It appears it might have been possible to avoid the roof by taking a line just to the right but I was forced to follow Brad’s chosen line and remove his gear. I found P2 to be the most strenuous and sustained pitch of the climb. It was an awkward corner that sucked me in as the crack offered the safety of gear placements but once in, I felt at any moment it would spit me out. In hindsight I think I would try to stay outside of the corner and climb more on the face and rely on the crack only for gear. Brad took P3 which required a little route finding to pick the easiest line to the left corner of the roof. This was perhaps one of the easiest pitches on the climb but an important pitch to ensure we finished at the start of P4. From his belay stance, I took over and found my small size advantageous to doing P4 which posed a traverse under the roof. This pitch required more gear than anticipated so I was forced to stop at the far end of the traverse and rely on Brad to lead P5. This was a perfect place to stop as it marked the halfway point of the climb in our minds. We were making good time, and feeling confident we would be off the summit by 3:00 pm.
Brad took off on what is coined the crux of the climb. We both viewed this as a do not fall zone as we were tethered to a few rather large blocks that gave the appearance they could detach from the wall at any moment. This roof move while not hard was very difficult as it required the leader to commit and trust that holds would appear. It also felt as though a slip would pull the climber, the block and the belayer off the wall send all three to a 400 foot free fall to the ground. The holds appeared and Brad safely moved through the crux and then he moved even further right of the next section avoiding a section of wall that had no real handholds or footholds. The next lead was mine but I was a bit shaken from the two tough sections and asked Brad to take over for a while. Brad ended up leading three more lines. P6 got broken up in two smaller pitched. The end of P5 stops at the base of a chimney but Brad chose to climb the wall on the left as it appeared to have more holds. This took us to a large tree where we set an intermediary belay. From this tree we were stumped. It appeared the climb could go left or right. Right was the the correct path in hindsight and the move was very tricky as the footholds were all but non existent. As Brad moved up he had a lot of choices and he successfully got us through P7 to the exact start of P8. This pitch has some tough moves and it not certain if they were hard because we were tired or hard because the moves were just tricky.
I took the rope and made some of the most fun 5.5 moves of the day. 15 feet off the belay I thought I was on top until I looked west and saw a pile of cairins a good 80 feet away. They were so close yet so far away. The rope drag was tremendous despite the climbing being easy. We found ourselves standing on the tippy top at 3:30, just 30 minutes behind our goal. Our tip for the decent is that you walk further to the North and West than you might think before you find a very distinct and clearly marked path down the very open gully. The walk off back to our packs was not bad at all. It would be very difficult to find your way in the dark as there was a lot of switch backs. We returned to our packs and drank and ate before we embarked on the long hike back to our car. We reached our car and the main highway by 7:30 and were eating tacos and drinking margaritas at the Red Rock Casino at 8:00 pm. It was a glorious day.
On day 4 we celebrated by spending the day at the Canyon Ranch Spa in the Venetian!!!!
One Reply to “Jubilant Song. A climbing adventure in Red Rock Nevada.”
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