Monday, November 17, 2014

Red Rocks: November 14-16, 2014

November 14-16, 2014

Five of us (Paul, Richard, Jessica, George, and I) drove from Flagstaff on Thursday night and arrived to a full campground, packed with Subarus and trucks plastered with mud and climbing logo bumper stickers.  It was obvious, that the majority 100+ people crammed into the isolated, non-charming campground were here to climb at Red Rocks. With mild temperatures and clear skies, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area becomes a destination for climbers in the spring and fall months of the year.  There are a numberless amount of routes that climb 500 to 2,000 ft walls at a moderate grade; this is all I have ever asked for!  Almost all of Zion's and Yosemite's walls require at least free climbing at 5.10 on gear AND some serious aid climbing.  This makes Red Rocks unique.

The group
Friday morning, we drove out to Black Velvet Canyon to climb Frogland (5.8 trad, 7 pitches, 770 ft.). Due to a late start and short line to climb this very popular route, we didn't start climbing until after 11 am.  Paul, Richard, and Jessica climbed Bourbon Street (right next door) to save time.  One particularly slow party prevented us from moving very fast at all.  I led all the pitches, and my roommate (George) who just started climbing this fall, followed. Champ.  We waited at every belay for at least 30 minutes as the slow party moved along and our frustration mounted.  As we got higher on the wall, the wind picked up and the sun got lower turning our casual outing into more of an epic night climb. Luckily we climbed the runout crux pitch and got on top of the famous chockstone before it got dark. Unluckily, we only had one headlamp.  I led the final two pitches, in the dark without a headlamp...exciting!  We were greeted by our friends at the top and a nice view of the Las Vegas lights 20 miles to the east.  We scrambled down the gully to the southeast and hiked back to our gear and car.

George finishing up the first pitch
Richard leading the second pitch of Bourbon Street
George finishing up the second pitch 
If you look closely, you can see Richard belaying up top, Jessica climbing with the orange helmet and the spider-like figure below is Paul
Pitch 3
Mid-climb picture of George belaying me on pitch 5
George approaching the chockstone on Pitch 5
George climbing up the 6th pitch with a headlamp
Saturday morning we got up a little earlier and made our way to Pine Creek Canyon to climb Dark Shadows (5.8 trad, 3-4 pitches, 360 ft.).  This route was fantastic.  The route starts above a pool in the creek that flows through the shady and wooded canyon.  It climbs an easy slab and then a nice dihedral and crack to the top.  We were the only ones there when we arrived.  I led all the pitches and George happily followed.  The second pitch is the money pitch and it was so sweet.  Paul, Richard, and Jessica climbed as a team of three right behind us.  We rapped the route with one 60 m rope from the lower chains on top of the route.
Pine Creek Canyon 
George coming up the first pitch (we combined pitches 1 and 2)
George traversing to the belay ledge at the top of pitch 1
George working his way up the steep corner towards the MEGA jugs on the classic 2nd pitch of Dark Shadows
Our buddies starting the third pitch as we rappel down
Richard working through the crux 
Paul and Jess on top of pitch 2
Looking up at the route as Paul, Jess, and Richard prepare for their second rappel
Eroded concretions on a sandstone block
After finishing up Dark Shadows, we stopped by Straight Shooter Wall to climb Straight Shooter (5.9+ trad, 1 pitch) and other routes.  Richard led this route and we all had our fun on top rope.

Paul on a 5.7 close to Straight Shooter
Richard on Straight Shooter
After a long windy night in the Red Rocks campground, we spent a cold, windy Sunday morning at Cannibal Crag climbing a bunch of sport routes.  Highlights of the day: Paul led a 10d, George led his first route ever, Richard and Jessica huddled for warmth.    

Cannibal Crag 
Random guy on the 11b arete
George leading his first route ever.     

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Humphreys Peak in November

My Brazilian buddy, Mateus, doesn't have a car and has always wanted to hike up Humphrey's Peak so I took him.  Dani happened to be driving through Flagstaff too, so the three us went for it on Friday.  Luckily for us, it was a beautiful and mild November day.  We followed the Humphrey's Peak trail from the Snowbowl parking lot to the top but on the way down we took a short-cut and hiked down the partially snow-covered ski runs of the Snowbowl Ski Resort.  The hike down took an hour less than it would have on the meandering trail through the woods.  
Looking south towards Agassiz Peak
Hiking along the windy ridge
The summit
Pals on the summit
Close to the bottom of Snowbowl

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Southern Utah Fall Hiking and Climbing

I spent Halloween weekend in southern Utah with family and friends.  I spent Halloween with my sister and her family and did some local climbing.  I spent Saturday and Sunday with Ryan, Charlotte, Kayte, Dani, and Luke.  Our original plan was to hike Buckskin Gulch but we were deterred due to cold water and air temperatures.  Our plan B was to do some less involved hikes in the Zion area.  We hiked the Subway from the bottom up on Saturday in chilly and wet weather.  We then hiked Angels Landing on Sunday in similar conditions.  Monday morning (those of us who stuck around) went climbing in Kolob Canyon and did some of the classic sport climbs in the area in frigid conditions.
John leading a fun 5.9 at Pocket Rocks 
John leading a fun 10b at Pocket Rocks
Geology picture - weathered fiammé in an ash-flow tuff deposit 
Dani leading a juggy 5.8 on a conglomerate unit near Gap, west of Parowan

The group on the approach to the Subway 
Ryan and Charlotte leading the way towards the Subway 
The beginning of the Subway
Luke stemming up above the frigid water, trying to get above the impassable waterfall 
Sketchy traverse above the 20 foot waterfall - don't try this in chacos
Braving the waist deep cold water in November in the Subway
The Subway in November 
Looking down on the Virgin River from the Angels Landing trail
Zion Valley 
Angels Landing
Virgin River
John leading Namaste 5.12
Luke climbing Huevos Rancheros

Sunday, October 12, 2014

San Francisco Mountain Ridgeline Traverse - 6 peaks

October 11, 2014

The Ridgeline:
Rees Peak - 11,484 ft.
Aubineau Peak - 11,878 ft
Humphreys Peak - 12,633 ft.
Agassiz Peak - 12,356 ft.
Fremont Peak - 11,969 ft.
Doyle Peak - 11,460 ft.

Total Elevation Gain: ~7500 ft.
Total Distance: ~13 miles

San Francisco Mountain is a large stratovolcano that was built up to an estimated elevation of 15,000 ft. between 1 and 0.4 million years ago.  Today, the top of the mountain is missing and the highest point is Humphreys Peak at 12,633 ft.  It is thought that the jagged peaks that we see today used to be part of the ancestral San Francisco Mountain.  The inside of the mountain is now a deep valley, called the inner basin, that has been carved by glaciers and water erosion for hundreds of thousands of years.  It remains unclear whether the valley is a crater made by result of an explosive eruption, or is an erosional valley eroded slowly through time (U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 017-01).       

View from Sunset Crater National Monument.  Dotted line represents the projected topography of the ancestral San Francisco Mountain
Today, instead of one mountain with one major peak, the mountain has 6 distinct and prominent peaks, including the 6 highest in Arizona.  As soon as I realized all the peaks in the San Francisco Mountains are linked by a long ridge, I made the goal to link them all up in a day.  Fortunately, my friend Paul happened to have the same goal.  We used some information from and just went for it.

Panorama from Rees Peak.  Peaks from left to right: Doyle, Fremont, Agassiz, Humphreys, and Aubineau
We started hiking from the Lockett Meadow around 6:15 am, stomachs full of donuts and bananas. We followed the Waterline Road to the north until it crosses the ridge the leads up Rees Peak.  From here, we got off the trail and followed the ridge all day.  The initial climb up Rees required some minor bushwhacking and was steep.  We reached Rees Peak around 8:30 am.  We hiked down the other side and up Aubineau, down Aubineau and up Humphreys Peak.  The climb up Humphreys required some class 2 talus scrambling for about 500 vertical feet.  The northwest side of Humphreys had a little snow left from a storm that blew through a couple days ago.  We grabbed a snack and kept going.  3 peaks down, 3 to go.

Our route.  We began and ended at Lockett Meadow.
We quickly hiked down from Humphreys in order to stay warm on the windy and chilly ridge.  We scrambled up Agassiz Peak, literally ran down the steep scree slope to the saddle, hiked up Fremont, hiked down and then up our final peak, Doyle Peak.  From Doyle Peak, we just followed the ridge through thick trees until we reached Lockett Meadow and our car.  We did the traverse and summited 6 peaks in about 10.5 hours.  A fun day in the mountains.

"I have a ponytail, whats up." 
The Inner Basin and the rounded summit of Doyle Peak
Upper Inner Basin with Fremont Peak on the left and Agassiz on the right 
Not posing.
What's up world? 
Frigid south ridge of Humphreys
Humphreys Peak
Panorama from the other side of the ridge 
Aspens - no filter