Dark Shadows 5.8
Mescalito, Pine Creek Canyon
About the Climb
Dark Shadows is a fantastic route with great and sustained 5.7-5.8 climbing up a beautiful varnished corner. It's located in a scenic setting with a small waterfall, a cool creek, and water pools. Great spot to hang out! But as you might expect, this combination makes the route popular and it can get busy.
Located on the NE face of Mescalito, Dark Shadows only has a little bit of early morning sun and is a perfect route to do on a hot day. You can climb another short route in Pine Creek in the morning, and climb Dark Shadows in the afternoon, when it is too hot to climb in the sun.
Even though Dark Shadows actually goes all the way to the top of the Mescalito buttress, the first four pitches provide the best quality climbing. Most parties rappel down after that. The crux comes on the last rappel and consists of keeping your ropes out of the water.
Because Dark Shadows is relatively short, you can easily combine it with another route. Luckily for you, there are many classic climbs only 10-15 minutes away.
The closest route is Y2K (5.10a) which is only a few hundred yards south of Dark Shadows. Although rated 5.10a, it is more a 5.8/5.9 climb with a single 10a move, which is protected by a bolt just where you want it. Confident 5.8-5.9 leaders should not have too much trouble on it. Even though Y2K is a 4 pitch route, it's possible to only climb the first 2 pitches if you're in a hurry.
For something easier, you could go for Birdland (5.7+) or Rawlpindi (5.7). Both are great climbs on the left side of the Brass wall. However, these two climbs can make for a killer full day when combined, so it would almost be a pity to only do one of them after or before Dark Shadows. Brass Wall also has many great single pitch routes to keep you busy.
The southern end of the Mescalito buttress is home to Cat in the Hat (5.6) and Cookie Monster (5.7). Cat in the Hat is the most climbed classic of its grade in Red Rocks, so it can be busy. You can avoid the potential crowds by climbing Cookie Monster, which ascends an amazing corner filled with jugs and huecos. It then joins the top, and best pitches, of Cat in the Hat.
It is hard to find another beautiful varnished corner like Dark Shadow. As mentioned above, Cookie Monster (5.7) is somewhat similar, following a corner filled with jugs and huecos, and makes a great combo with Cat in the Hat (5.6).
Black Dagger (5.7+) high up on the Brownstone Wall also climbs a beautiful varnished corner for one of its pitches. Don't let the lower grade mislead you. Black Dagger feels harder than the crux on Dark Shadows, and it's also a more committing route because there are no bolted belays.