Monday, November 17, 2014

Red Rocks: November 14-16

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.     

The following weekend I went back for more.  This time we climbed