Cookie Monster 5.7
SE-face Mescalito, Pine Creek Canyon
About the Climb
Cookie Monster is a lesser known, short, but really fun climb with lots of steep jugs and good stemming. The route goes up a corner filled with big holds and huecos for 3 amazing pitches. The climbing feels very secure and the protection is good.
Climbing Cookie Monster is also an excellent and more direct start to the upper, and best, pitches of Cat in the Hat (5.6), which is just around the corner. Using Cookie Monster as an alternative start for Cat in the Hat is a good option when this route is crowded. In our opinion, climbing the Cookie Monster-Cat in the Hat combination delivers better climbing than simply climbing the original Cat In The Hat.
In contrast to Cat in the Hat, the belays on Cookie Monster are not equipped, it is an all-gear route. To descend you have to rappel down Cat in the Hat. Since you don't come back to the start of the route, it is best not to leave anything at the base, but rather make a stash close to the main approach trail, just before heading up to the start of Cookie Monster.
After climbing Cookie Monster, we strongly recommend that you keep going up the top and best 2 pitches of Cat in the Hat. These pitches offer excellent 5.6 climbing on fixed belays. It's also possible to continue all the way to the top of Mescalito, and descend by the hikers' trail on the back side.
If you only climb Cookie Monster, or are fast on the top pitches of Cat in the Hat, you can fill your day with many excellent short climbs. Pine Creek Canyon has many options to choose from. 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, 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, Birdland itself has many options and combinations to keep you busy for a full day. The Brass Wall also has many great single pitch climbs.
Olive Oil (5.7) is a superb classic climb at a similar grade, but is a little longer than Cookie Monster. The route can be busy, so it is best to get an early or late start. None of the belays on Olive Oil are equipped.
At a slightly higher grade, Dark Shadows (5.8) is a great option. The route ascends a beautiful varnished corned filled with huecos. However, the climbing feels a bit more exposed than on Cookie Monster.