Red Rocks in November, a 2006 TR


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Messages 1 - 17 of total 17 in this topic
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 16, 2006 - 01:36am PT
Red Rocks - Autumn Trip 2006 - Part 1

Last March I went to Red Rocks for the first time to escape the unusually wet NoCal spring. I needed to climb, and I needed to be warm, and Red Rocks seemed the place to go.

It is a place of unique beauty not too far from Las Vegas, like 15 minutes. So you can be eating in suburban strip malls at night, drive up to the BLM 13 Mile campground to sleep, and wake up to venture out on long, moderate trad routes on Aztec sandstone.

Mt. Wilson at sunrise.

This trip started out as a plan with rgold who thought that climbing in the autumn would fit his schedule, and be warmer than the spring trips he had taken in the past. This plan was hatched back in March or April, I blocked a two week period on my "Meeting Maker" with the intent of preserving at least one week for climbing.

Unfortunately, Richard had an elbow infection which hadn't cleared up in time for the trip... so I had to figure something out. Fortunately, an old friend and climbing partner had never been to Red Rocks and thought it would be a great trip. Though he couldn't stay the whole week, I arranged to meet up with Greg Barnes and with Gary for parts of the week. Even that plan didn't quite happen as Greg needed to attend to car troubles in Bishop.

I drove down on Friday and picked Dave up at Las Vegas' airport at midnight (!). I wasn't up for much the next day so we went over to do Johny Vegas 5.6 with the intent of going up on Solar Slab.

Here is Dave approaching the top of the first belay on John Vegas.

Being Saturday, and being on a very popular climb, we ran into a slow 5 person party before us... when we got to the top, Dave checked his watch and it seemed too late to keep going. So we rapped the gully and headed back to the car. A time check in the car revealed that Dave hadn't set his watch back for standard time! Doh!! it was nice anyway... (I came back later in the week with Gary, described later)

The next day Dave and I decided to do a little sport climbing, and choose the Second Pullout area (of course), more specifically the Black Corridor. We warmed up on a few routes, Bonaire 5.9, Vega Bonds 5.10a... and Crude Boys 5.10d. Dave liked the look of this route

with its phantasmagorical huecos, which was Nightmare on Crude Street 5.10d.

We started out having the place to ourselves in the morning. It is a very popular area and by early afternoon it was packed, and being just a corridor, very loud. We took off for Stone Wall and did a bunch of things there, coming back much later to do a few more routes in the Black Corridor. This is Dave at the top of a new route there...

a wildly narrow spot.

We decided we were done and exited for the car. This is the scene from the mouth of the Black Corridor in afternoon light.


Now Monday, the plan was to do Prince of Darkness 5.10c in Black Velvet Canyon. We got up early for the drive out... the canyon gets morning light, but that's about it for the day this time of year. Here it is from the parking area:

We make our way up the canyon, with a misstep of two, and get under the climb in pretty good time anyway. Dave is getting his stuff together.

I am totally intimidated by the wall, and the prospect of climbing a 5 pitch sport route (the first pitch is 5.6 trad). Here is Dave leading the second pitch, 5.10b

and while some complain that the route is overbolted, it seemed nice to have the security. Pitch 3 is 5.10a, p4 5.9 and p5 5.10a but they all seemed pretty similar in difficulty to me.

The crux pitch is the last, p6 at 5.10c. For some reason this also didn't seem much different from the rest. Here is Dave far above the crux getting ready to finish the route.

Think of doing about 400 pull ups, that is what Prince of Darkness seemed to be to me. On an absolutely stunning wall going from steep to steeper and then backing off a skosh. The desert varnish on p6 is as slick as any glacier polish in Tuolumne Meadows... p3 my left shoulder was screaming at me, I won't repeat what is was screaming but you can just type in a bunch of uppercase top row keystrokes and imagine what the words are. Dave was brilliant, and I got up the thing. After the long raps down and being on the ground, I thought it was a great route. But it was more than I expected, physically. More steep sandstone climbing. Why do I do this to myself?

The beer back at the campground went down very nicely. Off to dinner, and then succumbing to fatigue. The moon rise was beautiful.

Dave was not done! but more of that in the next part of the story.
Greg Barnes

Nov 16, 2006 - 01:59am PT
Dang it Ed, you're writing trip reports and my truck is still waiting for the 2nd shop visit on Friday! Luckily the more ominous problem turned out to be no big deal, now just waiting for a minor part (the headlight switch, lights went out at night on 395...just the low beams though, highs still worked.)

Nice pics, glad you had good weather and found partners!

Trad climber
Nov 16, 2006 - 02:04am PT
Eating in stripmalls in Vegas is s sin. Next time try the Wynn or Belagio.

Nov 16, 2006 - 02:12am PT
The buffet at Treasure Island is fine with me. Had pretty good luck playing blackjack there. And the fish tanks in the lobby are nice.

Nov 16, 2006 - 02:17am PT

Great photos - I really like the shot of the .10b pitch and beyond (gives an image to your 'intimidating' adjective), and the moonrise.

Speaking of the moon and sky, don't forget about the leonids this weekend.
Standing Strong

Mountain climber
crashing into emeralds @ 11*11
Nov 16, 2006 - 04:02pm PT
nice tr :) i'm on a dialup so i couldn't see all the pics, but, i enjoyed reading... :) red rocks is so pretty, i was there with my science class for a night last spring, i would love to go climbing there. oh and ya gotta love the donkeys that traipse around the place!
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Nov 16, 2006 - 04:10pm PT
Great trip report! I love that area. Been there a bunch, years ago and done a lot of multi pitch there including that Princess...still my most memorable experience was just hiking up to just below Rainbow wall during a 20 month drought which ended in a major way as my wife and I watched 100+ waterfalls rage into the upper gorge. On the hike out, there were 20 foot long, 10 foot deep pools which had been bone dry on the way was awesome!

Social climber
No Ut
Nov 16, 2006 - 04:11pm PT
Nice pics and report, Ed. Isn't Black Velvet where Dream of Wild Turkeys is? That's the only long route I've done in RR, but your photos of Prince of Darkness reminded me of that climb. Wild Turkey's had so many bolts it was impossible to clip them all! But the climbing was fun. I look forward to the rest of your report.

Social climber
St. Louis
Nov 16, 2006 - 04:22pm PT
Loved the TR. Thanks.

I've done POD several times and loved it everytime. While on the wall, I have two major thoughts. The first is "When will he get done climbing? This is the longest pitch and my harness is KILLING me." The other thought is "When will I be done climbing? This is the longest pitch and my feet are KILLING me."

Then I go back and do the climb again. Love it!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Nov 16, 2006 - 04:25pm PT
Awesome, I need to get out there and get some of that.

Social climber
The West
Nov 16, 2006 - 05:29pm PT
coolness I probably Will go back there.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2006 - 01:35am PT
Red Rocks - Autumn Trip 2006 - Part 2

OK, well after Prince of Darkness I hit the bottle of "Vitamin I" pretty hard. My left shoulder was toast and I just really wanted a rest day to let it cool off. Dave's enthusiasm was infectious, however, and the next day we were off up First Creek Canyon to do Lotta Balls 5.8. I thought that it couldn't be all that hard, but my tank of mojo was empty and I was to be a tourist on this particular outing... here is Dave approaching the first belay anchor.

This particular pitch seems to be a real rope eater, we had seen a bit of cord hanging down (just visible in the picture under the roof), Dave thought it was someone's project, my opinion was that it was someone's rope!

The second pitch is the one on the balls... here is Dave just starting out form the anchors. The balls are really amazing, you grab them, you step on them, and you just keep on going. Cool!

The whole place is so very pretty... the view to the east down First Creek which was in fall foliage.

While we were atop the first pitch we spied a trio coming up to do the route. We went on our way, scrambled/rapped off the top and rounded the corner to the base of the climb to find them playing around with their rope, which had become stuck in the flake. They had been working to free the rope for quite sometime, but no luck. In the end they had to cut off about 10 meters, nothing else to do... apparently there are a lot of ropes in that flake... watch out!

I was finished with climbing for the day. My shoulder had returned to rebellion and I needed to have something left to climb with Gary later in the week... we had talked about Epinephrine. Anyway, I wasn't going to push it today. Dave decided he did want to push it... what a guy! And he choose Gin Ricky 5.10c/d, a nice 160' corner on really slick rock. Here he at the beginning, the route follows the corner up to an anchor above.

Dave sends! his hardest trad lead!! Later that night at dinner Dave orders a "Gin Ricky" but no one at that restaurant knew how to make it.. he gets a Gin and Tonic instead.

Here is the recipe:
Juice and rind of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 oz. Gin
Add ice, juice and rind of lime to tall glass.
Add gin.
Fill with soda, stir.
Top with cherry.

I just shake my head... I have decided that I am a belay slave tomorrow.

Dave wants to go back to the Black Corridor and finish off all the routes there. It's his last day and he wants to max out the experience. We are all over that place... here is a shot of a Canadian climber on Nightmare on Crude Street from the upper tier.

Dave is a monster... here he is on Rebel Without A Pause 5.11a, overhanging, juggy, edgy, and definitely not shoulder friendly.

I didn't bring anything except water and my harness, no climbing, just resting. That night I drop Dave off at the airport and resolve to take it very easy. The shoulder is deciding that it isn't as hurt as it thought it was... there is a chance that Gary will actually have a climbing partner when he gets into Vegas!

Before dawn I am out and taking pictures, chasing the moon around and shooting it setting over all the ridges.

There is a weather change coming, first clouds of the trip

The last night was windy, and the day is colder... weather change even though Gary has been sending email to my pager with good weather reports. That night I pick him up at the airport (I really know the airport by now). This night is even colder than the previous one... and in the morning I am thinking that we should be climbing in the sun... our objective was supposed to be Frogland but the SuperTopo says it is frigid in the winter with no sun... and we're already cold. I suggest Solar Slab 5.6 and Gary approves. We go via Johnny Vegas with Gary leading the pitches I did with Dave... here he is on the first

and doing the 3rd pitch (which he ran to the top). This is the 5.9 variation. I had done this thinking it was 5.6 or something... Dave informed me that I had done the variation after we got down.

There is one party above us a ways, the sun is warm and the wind cool, and we are just in cruise control making our way up. Gary approaching the top of the third pitch

with Oak Canyon already going into the shade. The gully behind Gary's head is the ledge that Johnny Vegas ends on and Solar Slab begins on. Gary snaps a picture of me...

I love the rock colors and textures... the route goes up the left facing corner to my right. On top we get to look to the east... the shadows are getting long.

The rap goes so-so, with only a couple of rats nests to deal with but no rope hangups. But even so, we are at the base at 4:40 pm, we have 20 minutes to get to the car! We take off at a "run" for the 2 miles back to the car... fortunately it is not too dark. We watch the car lights slowly tracking the loop road, my guess is the last pair are the ranger's. It's 5:04 pm when we reach the car, throw the gear in the back and take off down the road.

No ticket tonight! We make it.... over beer at dinner I congratulate Gary on the Marine Corps' birthday, "ho ha", "Simper Fi"... it was appropriate to do a 2 mile forced march with packs after all.

Next morning I recall from my 1944 "Boy Scout Field Book" the rhyme:

Red sky at night
Sailor's delight,
Red sky at morning
Sailor take warning.

This is the scene on returning from the head...

Not good... but Gary cannot be deterred! He has come to climb... anything short and in the sun? How about Brass Wall? so off we go down Pine Canyon. The day is looking a lot less cooperative. We trudge up the hill, someone is on Straight Shooter... so we move left. But I snap a shot of the sky before continuing.

it looked a whole lot worse in person.

We intend to warm up on an easy climb, then do more difficult routes. But a group of about 12 people are wandering around on the trail below, pointing at us... hmmm, maybe they are just tourists? nope, they start to come up. By the time Gary goes up Heavy Spider Karma 5.6

all the other routes are taken and the sky looks bad. Gary sees that I am not in a social mood. We pack up and head back... 5 minutes later it is raining gently. This is the right thing to do!

We get back to camp, pack everything up. My last trip to the head, getting into the car, a huge gust of wind sends unsecured tents flying into the desert. Literally the sky opens up... yes it is time to leave.

Gary made me take this picture so that his accusations that I am just a fair weather climber can be refuted

I like to think I have good mountain weather sense... but I really was just ready to leave. Good thing there are lots of easy climbs at Red Rocks, my body needs to get a lot better before I can tear up the place like Dave...

And even though I was ready to go home after 9 days, I really enjoyed the trip. I'll be happy to return in the spring again to do a bit more... but I will schedule in the rest days too!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 18, 2006 - 11:51am PT
The second pitch is the one on the balls....
The balls are really amazing, you grab them, you step on them, and you just keep on going. Cool!

The FA party broke off a few balls and stepped cautiously on others. They didn't think the pitch would last as long as it has!

Thanks for sharing your TR and photos of some classic routes.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 18, 2006 - 11:42pm PT
I'm really sorry to have bailed on ya Ed. After seven weeks, antibiotics, icing, rest, nearly giving in and having an operation, I've just started doing some moderate climbs. So far so good---if no new problems arise, I'll be ready to freeze my butt off in Red Rocks this March, which is what's happened to me every other time I've gone at that time. But people keep telling me the weather can be nice, so perhaps I'll try again...'s a picture of Bragg starting up pitch 3 (I think) on Frogland on one of the few days I could actually operate a camera without getting numb fingers.

A picture from the campground as one of the many storms cleared off.


Finally, driven off the rocks by the weather, we drove to Death Valley to see the unprecedented bloom the wet spring had brought on.


Social climber
No Ut
Nov 19, 2006 - 12:03am PT
rgold- those are golden photos...thanks!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 19, 2006 - 12:32am PT
Nice pix Richard, no problem for the trip... stuff happens. I had a great time even if Dave was a bit more exuberent then I am used to. And it's always good to climb with Gary.

Maybe next spring?

Ice climber
BrujÚ de la Playa
Aug 27, 2014 - 04:08pm PT
Was wondering what the life span of tiny urls is



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