Cat In The Hat 5.6
SW-face Mescalito, Pine Creek Canyon
About the Climb
Cat in the Hat is one of Red Rock's easiest multi-pitch trad routes. The cruxes are short, and there are fixed belays on every pitch, which makes the climbing fast and retreat possible at almost any point. The route follows several crack systems, but the climbing is mainly face climbing, and the cracks are used for protection. Most parties only climb the bottom 5 or 6 pitches, but Cat in the Hat actually goes to the top of Mescalito.
Cat in the Hat is one of Red Rocks' most popular classic climbs. That being said, the popularity sometimes scares people away, so you might get lucky and have the route all to yourselves. The route faces south and gets a lot of sun, so it's a nice one to climb in winter. However, early and late in the year the surrounding walls might keep the base in the shade.
If you arrive at the base of Cat in the Hat and there are several other parties waiting, a good option is to start on Cookie Monster (5.7). This route is located just around the corner, and from its top you can easily continue on the top, and best, pitches of Cat in the Hat.
The top half of Cat in the Hat definitely has the best climbing. A great alternative to reach these top pitches is to climb Cookie Monster (5.7) on the SE face of Mescalito. This allows you to avoid the first 3 pitches of Cat in the Hat and to possibly pass other parties waiting at the base of Cat in the Hat. Cookie Monster has fun climbing, following a corner filled with jugs and huecos for 3 pitches and we think that it actually provides a more enjoyable start to Cat in the Hat. However, there are no fixed belays on Cookie Monster.
If you finished climbing early, you can fill your day with many excellent short climbs in Pine Creek Canyon only about 15 minutes away. However, most of them are more difficult. Dark Shadows (5.8) climbs an amazing varnished corner for 4 pitches, and is located in a very scenic oasis. If you want something harder, check out Y2K. Although rated 5.10a/b, the crux is a 1 move wonder, protected by a nice bolt. If you are a solid 5.8-5.9 leader, you won't have too much trouble.
Birdland (5.7+) on the Brass Wall is also an excellent climb. However, this route alone offers many great combination possibilities for a superb full day of climbing. The Brass Wall also offers many great single pitch climbs.
For classic climbs at a similar grade with a similar commitment try Johnny Vegas (5.7) or Geronimo (5.6). Both climbs have more face climbing than Cat in the Hat. Johnny Vegas has bolted belays, but on Geronimo you have to build some belays on gear.
Another great classic climb at this grade is Solar Slab (5.6). However, to get to the start of Solar Slab, you first need to climb the Solar Slab Gully (5.3) or another route on the lower tier of the Solar Slab Wall. In combination with a long descent, this makes for a very long day.
If you are looking for something a bit harder, try Olive Oil (5.7). This route is very popular, so it's best to get an early or late start. None of the belays on Olive Oil are equipped.