A Week in Red Rock---A Photo Essay

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 102 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 11, 2008 - 03:38pm PT
(RG photo)

Steve Molis and I spent a week in Red Rock in mid-March. We were a rather motley crew, since Steve, with a resume including the Diamond on Longs Peak and the Leaning Tower in Yosemite, has been logging mostly gym time in recent years, and I am staggering on to my fiftieth year of climbing. The effect of the advancing years has been to provide me with opportunities to re-experience adventure on moderate routes. In this regard, I'm reminded of the various comments I've seen about increases in technique compensating for the inevitable loss of strength that comes with age. I am happy to report that these comments are true; technique can indeed make up for the ravages of time. In particular, photo manipulation technique enables me to make the climbing look harder, thereby compensating for my reduced level of ability. So it is without apology that I note that some of the photos are not quite as they came out of the camera---the viewer will have little difficulty, I suspect, in noting the distor...ah...enhancements.

Steve was really determined to get photos of the climbing, while I was considerably less dedicated to pulling out the camera while belaying. The result is that I am over-represented in the final result. (Sorry about that, Steve.)

I arrived a day before Steve and took a little walk out to Calico Tanks.

On the trail:

(RG photo)

The main tank:

(RG photo)

Three views of the main tank environs:

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

Our first climb was on a weekend during Spring break, so we avoided the popular destinations and headed for Jubilant Song on Windy Peak. This was a good call; there was no one else in Windy Canyon that day. The hike in, our first of the year, was more like a Mournful Lament than anything either triumphant or tuneful, but at its end we found a very nice climb in a lovely remote setting, with an exciting crux high on the route and stoutly undergraded in my opinion---we thought it as hard or harder than pitches rated 5.10a on Dream of Wild Turkeys and Overhanging Hangover, with the protection further away and not drilled.

We took all the standard "hard" options on the route, the 5.8 overhang at the end of the big roof traverse and the crux continuation of the water groove on the second-to-last pitch. The original Urioste guidebook calls the second water groove pitch 5.7--5.8, and Handren goes no further than dropping the illusion that it might be 5.7. The Mountain Project description refers to the second water groove pitch as "difficult 5.8." Brock grades the climb 5.7 and then immediately takes it back, saying it is "more like 5.9." (She also includes a full-page picture of the 5.6 traverse under the overhang and incorrectly labels it the "crux pitch.") Swain and Barnes sensibly avoid these issues by not mentioning the climb at all.

In view of the difficulty of the second water groove pitch, the spaced (and leader-placed) protection, the position of the crux high on the climb, and the relative remoteness of the setting, I'd suggest a leader ought to be comfortable on 5.9 for this route.

Windy Peak from the pull-off:

(RG photo)

Hiking in---Jubilant Song is marked.

(SM photo)

SM at the base of the route:

(RG photo)

RG starting up the first pitch.

(SM photo)

RG following the second pitch.

(SM photo)

RG on the start of the third pitch. The main problem on this easy pitch is figuring out how not to pull on loose blocks.

(SM photo)

SM traversing under the big roof.

(RG photo)

SM arriving at the awkward belay below the 5.8 overhang.

(RG photo)

RG starting up the roof traverse pitch:

(SM photo)

Two shots of RG on the traverse under the roof:

(SM photo)

(SM photo)

Unfortunately, even Steve's dedication to photojournalism was not enough to enable further pictures of the crux sections, and our next shot is a summit panorama:

(SM photo)

The descent is supposed to be an easy 45 minutes back to the packs at the start, but we got lost, first wandering up because we thought we were too low, than wandering down because we realized we were too high. By the time we got back to our packs, the light was fading, and a hike back in the dark was assured.

Even with good headlamps, this proved to be problematic, since every gap between bushes looked like the trail under headlamp light. We were saved many long hours of wandering by having a gps unit that created a track log on the way in; this allowed us to continually correct our off-route meanderings on the way out.

An overnight snow storm and cold weather made for a day better suited to photography than climbing.

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

With the weather still cold and blustery...

(RG photo)

...we headed over to the Solar Slab to try to stay warm...

(SM photo)

...opting for the combination of Beulah's Book and Heliotrope. No complaints about the grading on Heliotrope, but the 5.8 climbing is pretty run-out, and sometimes the pro you are running it out over is questionable, either because of the placement itself or because the feature employed fails to convey a sense of permanence.

SM belaying after leading the 5.9 second pitch of Heliotrope:

(RG photo)

RG placing the only solid protection for a while at the beginning of the third pitch traverse.

(SM photo)

RG higher on the third pitch:

(SM photo)

RG following the poorly protected fourth pitch:

(SM photo)

RG leading the rope-stretching fifth pitch:

(SM photo)

SM at the top of the route:



RG at the top of the Solar Slab rappels:



On the descent, we experienced the worst rappel hang-up I've ever had: after releasing from the anchor, the end of the rappel rope hung in the middle of nowhere and absolutely refused to budge no matter how hard we pulled. By the time we gave up trying to pull the rope off whatever it was wrapped around, it was getting dark. Since we were using half ropes, we had one we could still lead with. Climbing by headlamp light, Steve led up the regular Solar Slab route and got high enough to free the rope from above, even though he couldn't reach it. He then downclimbed back to the anchors, an inspired performance that saved the day figuratively and the night literally.

I've pretty much stopped climbing with anything but a pair of half ropes. In this case, had we used a single with a tag line and, as is most common, pulled the tag line and therefore hung the single, we would have really been up the creek.

The rappels in the lower Solar Slab gully were a major pain. In the daylight, I've downclimbed most of this gully, but in the pitch dark we rappelled almost every non-horizontal foot of it. Throwing the ropes into the darkness and finding them sitting, massively tangled, on slabby rock 20 feet below was the order of the day---or night---and the process of rappelling, untangling, throwing, rappelling, untangling, broken only by the concern about rapelling past the next anchor, seemed to go on forever. As darkness enveloped us, the lights of Las Vegas mocked us with the reminder that, while we were fumbling in the inky confines of the gully, sensible people were enjoying the pleasures of Sin City...

(SM photo)

After spending a good part of the night out, it was surreal to walk through the lobby of Arizona Charlie's to the sounds of the slot machines' electronic siren song. All around us, diehard gamblers slumped in various postures of defeat, staring in bovine incredulity as their bank accounts flowed into the casino's coffers. Out of place and returning from pursuits no more rational, we threaded our way past the Zombies of Slot and collapsed in the synthetic comfort of our hotel room.

Our next climb, and arguably the best of the trip, was Dream of Wild Turkeys, a terrific line that links together features of the Black Velvet wall rather than just bulldozing up.

(SM photo)

SM at the top of the first lead:

(RG photo)

RG at the first belay:

(SM photo)

RG starting up the second pitch:

(SM photo)

The second pitch is long!

(SM photo)

SM arriving at the second belay:

(RG photo)

SM starting up the third pitch...

(RG photo)

...and traversing over to the belay:

(RG photo)

RG following the traverse. Graded at 5.10a, this part seemed more like 5.8 to us.

(SM photo)

(SM photo)

RG starting up the fourth pitch:

(SM photo)

SM nearing the final crux few feet at the top of the fourth pitch. These are the hardest moves on the climb, and I managed to fall off them on the lead. I high-stepped onto a sloping foothold, both hands crimping on, well not really on anything, just lower-angle ripples, and a cam hooked itself under the pant cuff of the raised leg, making further upward motion impossible. I succeeded in shaking loose the cam, but unfortunately the method employed was a bit too vigorous, and I immediately found myself quite a bit lower. The second attempt was uneventful.

(RG photo)

SM diagonaling upwards on the fifth pitch:

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

RG following the fifth pitch:

(SM photo)

RG moving leftward on the sixth pitch:

(SM photo)

SM in approximately the same spot following the sixth pitch:

(RG photo)

SM at the crux of the sixth pitch, just before the belay:

(RG photo)

RG following the seventh pitch...

(SM photo)

...and arriving at the belay, just a bit worse for wear than at the start of the climb:

(SM photo)

My leader fall and a badly stuck cam had consumed enough additional time that we decided to call it a day at the end of the seventh pitch. Additional motivation for this decision came from the fact that the day itself had also made the same decision:

(SM photo)

After Dream of Wild Turkeys we returned for a rest day ascent of Frogland, a great classic I had done once before and still enjoyed immensely the second time around.

The first pitch corner of Frogland glowing in the morning light. The prominent sharp white flake marks the route:

(SM photo)

RG stemming high on the first pitch

(SM photo)

SM on the fourth pitch:

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

RG near the top of the fourth pitch...

(SM photo)

...and about to tunnel under the giant chockstone at the end of the fifth pitch:

(SM photo)

A very fast Welsh team followed us up the route and took this summit shot of us. Our car (the black one) is visible on the stretch of road appearing between my right hand and Steve's left knee.



Steve found this Chuckawalla lizard on the way down...

(SM photo)

...and we enjoyed, for once, returning along the trail in daylight:

(RG photo)

Our final climb, done on the morning of Steve's flight out, was Birdland.

(SM photo)

(SM photo)

RG on the very easy first pitch. Interest is maintained because the features on this face are a bit too big and thin for mindless romping.

(SM photo)

A mountain goat crew paid little attention to our presence:

(RG photo)

SM leading the second pitch...

(RG photo)

...and RG following it:

(SM photo)

The third pitch is a little smoother;

(SM photo)

(SM photo)

SM leading the fourth pitch...

(RG photo)

...and RG following:

(SM photo)

SM following the justly renowned fifth pitch:

(RG photo)

RG starting the fifth pitch rap...

(SM photo)

...and SM waiting his turn:

(RG photo)

Our dedication to showing up early really paid off, as a conga line of climbers of varying degrees of experience and ability clogged the pitches behind us without every getting close enough to be noticeable---until we had to rappel past them on the way down. As we walked out to make Steve's flight, they were still strung out along the route:

(RG photo)

I might add that, thanks to early starts, we were either the first or the only party on every climb we did, and so did not suffer at all from the effects of Red Rock overcrowding, even on some of the most popular lines.

I think it is possible, especially for visitors like ourselves, lulled by the superb climbs and beautiful desert, to fail to register to the ghastly urban development in Las Vegas that crowds ever closer to the mountains we may be taking for granted. These lands are available to the highest bidder as never before...

(RG photo)

...and the mountain environment is just some developer's best buy.

(RG photo)

So I think it appropriate for this TR to end, not with a glorious sunset to bracket the sunrise I began with, but rather with a catalog of a lurking danger, the obscene developments whose ultimate effect can only be to strangle the wild places we cherish.

Instead of old-fashioned "development" like this,

(RG photo)

we have instead modern developments like these:

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

(RG photo)

Is this really the American Way?

(RG photo)

Does it have to be?
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Jun 11, 2008 - 03:46pm PT
SUPER!
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
Jun 11, 2008 - 03:53pm PT
Rich, What a great TR! Looks like you not only had fun (descending in the dark is fun right?), but ticked several long classics. Now I'm motivated to head back to Red Rocks this Fall and do some long routes. The only upside of a recession may be a slow down in the mindless development. Thanks for posting.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jun 11, 2008 - 03:55pm PT
Very nice RG!!!
cowpoke

climber
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:09pm PT
looks like a fun trip -- thanks for sharing the report!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:11pm PT
Nice trip. Quite jealous.
Rick
NMClimber

climber
Carlsbad Ca
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:18pm PT
Damn fine post rgold! What an inspiration. Thank you!
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:19pm PT
Thanks Rich - a nice report!

A Dream of Wild Turkeys is a good route, with something of a natural line for the first half. It does have its moments, though.

I believe that until a year or two ago Las Vegas was the fastest growing city in the U.S. Apparently quite different now.
Cosmiccragsman

Trad climber
Apple Valley, California
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:29pm PT
Awesome TR, RGold!!!!

I agree with you on Jubilent Song.
When I did it back in the late 80s,
I thought it was harder than 5.8.
I would say it is 9 plus or 10a.

Nice pics of Dream also.It's one of my favorites at RR!!



Cosmic
crusher

climber
Santa Monica, CA
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:35pm PT
GREAT photos and TR, thank you.

The amount of Vegas "development" is sad. Tract homes on Charleston almost all the way up to the loop road and I suspect those mini malls pictured are the ones all along the 215?

Anyway thanks for the wonderful pictures and writing!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:38pm PT
great TR Richard! good on you guys...
HighGravity

Trad climber
Southern California
Jun 11, 2008 - 04:39pm PT
Love the photos! Great TR!
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Jun 11, 2008 - 05:37pm PT
Really great photos! Took the viewer right along with you! Great commentary also....(In the old days Chuckawallas were considered tasty treats!) Thanks for taking the time to post all that good stuff! lrl
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Jun 11, 2008 - 05:38pm PT
Great TR guys!
It looks like you had WAY too much FUN!!!!
happiegrrrl

Trad climber
New York, NY
Jun 11, 2008 - 07:25pm PT
Beautiful photos and descriptions! I started to load the page and, seeing the number of shots, decided to go take Teddy for his walk while it came in!

Thanks for taking the time to write it up for us.

le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Jun 11, 2008 - 07:50pm PT

You have made ST a better place today, rgold. Thanks for taking the time.

Good puns on day/night, I think I counted two solid ones:

"...an inspired performance that saved the day figuratively and the night literally."

and

"My leader fall and a badly stuck cam had consumed enough additional time that we decided to call it a day at the end of the seventh pitch. Additional motivation for this decision came from the fact that the day itself had also made the same decision..."

That's my kind of humor.
nature

climber
Santa Fe, NM
Jun 11, 2008 - 08:03pm PT
There have been some incredible trip reports posted to this forum - this is one of the best! Thanks for putting the time in. What an enjoyable way to sip a Black Hook.
Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Jun 11, 2008 - 08:09pm PT
Great routes and great pics, RG!

JL
maldaly

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 11, 2008 - 08:17pm PT
RG, thanks for the effort on that TR. Made my day! What a great trip.
Mal
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jun 11, 2008 - 08:19pm PT
For those of us who don’t know who rgold is, who Ritchie Goldstone is, he was a completely unique legendary climbing figure in late sixties, early seventies climbing in the Gunks and environs. An accomplished gymnast and intellectual at the same time. He came out to the Valley then and had the plan to do “our kind of climbing”. He was always in white, did daily extreme gymnastic routines on his tarp, and kept really clean. He could do iron crosses, one arm hand stands and everything else that was expected of a professional gymnast. A really elegant one-armed pullup also. Either arm. I mean, he was terribly strong. Meanwhile, he was also very shrewd and intellectual while being incredibly funny and wry. What a joy to have him in camp; thinking back on it, I just am so grateful we were friends then. His wife was Evie, who was still back east and perhaps at contretemps. Ritchie was working on himself in his own way and we all thought he was fantastic.

As you can see from the phenomenal grace detail and depth of his post, Ritchie is still working deep and it is not surprising because he had all this stuff in place even before 1971.

best to you, PH.
Messages 1 - 20 of total 102 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews