Red Rocks TR, Round II


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Trad climber
One Step Beyond!
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 3, 2009 - 11:58pm PT
Justthemaid and I met in Lost Wages for another few days of climbing adventure this last week. We met up on Sunday for her birthday and I pampered her a bit - flowers, dinner and a new pack.

The next day we were going to do Crimson Chrysalis, but it was windy, so we climbed at the second pull-out. A couple of climbs at the Black Corridor during a brief period of sun, then we moved up to HST Wall and tried a couple of new sport routes that were fun. We then moved over to Magic Bus and climbed 3 more moderates - en route and on route:

Not bad, we got in 7 routes, and still felt "GUD2GO" for CC the next day. We picked up a campsite and crashed early, setting the alarm for 5:30.

The next morning we arrived at the gate at 6:50 AM expecting to wait in line for entry - and the gate was open. Crap. We blasted through, worried that we may be too late. When we arrived at the parking area, there were already two vehicles there. Crap again. As we geared up, another car pulled up and we chatted with them for a minute. Turns out they had set their alarm for 5:40, thus our advantage, apparently.
Skip and I had done this hike on our last trip, so we had it pretty dialed. We showed up and sure enough: 2 parties ahead of us. Sigh
As we waited FOUR more parties arrived. It seems the wind had been stacking up the would-be ascentionists for days.
It was quite entertaining listening to the decision banter as we waited - knowing this time it was ours.
Finally we were on the climb, the parties ahead were moving along well (at least initially), and of course the parties behind, as well.
I had to admit a bit of a clusterfvck mentality cracked my normally happy-to-be-climbing-armor.
It was cold, too. Skip was wearing my down jacket and climbing in it by pitch 3:

The climbing is awesome! Sustained 5.8 and stellar moves.
By pitch 7 the team above had slowed considerably, and we ended up waiting for another 30 minutes over the next two pitches for the leader to finish. Meanwhile the first party had finished and were rappeling, their ropes crossing our waiting path. It was kind of funny - I had to get a picture of the ropes and a patient Muppet:

We finally got to the top (more out of a desire not to have to come back than anything). Cloud tower summit:

More later


Trad climber
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:08am PT
Dinner and a six pack cool,

Looks like a great bday trip

Social climber
Jtree, now in Alaska
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:09am PT

Still to this day i think that is my favorite climb i have ever done.

Good job guys, we had the climb to ourselves the day we did it. I cant imagine what dealing with other parties rapping off while your still climbing.

Trad climber
One Step Beyond!
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2009 - 12:22am PT
I read somewhere that Russ lead this rig with just quickdraws - badass!

All the other parties had bailed by the time we did our seven rappels to the ground, so we didn't have to deal with rapping over them - that was nice. Allin all it was an amazing climb. Airy, fun potato-chip heaven. Highly recommended. We got a Motel room that night and ordered pizza and watched bad TV - excellent!

The next day we were both pretty tired, so we took a rest day and went to the Bellagio and checked out the fountains and arboretum, then went to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum - a really great permanent display - worth the time and eight bucks.

Thursday was Skip's book signing, so we only had a half a day. We went back to the second pullout and played in the Black Corridor again for a bit before she had to get ready:

She never dresses up like this for climbing!

We got a little silly getting all sugared up for our respective afternoons ( me driving, her having power lunches with glass magazine editors)and engaged some more gummi bears in scenes of sending and brutal chewing death.




Old Pueblo, AZ
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:26am PT
Stoked you ticked a classic and had a good birthday
AND got down safely.

SKIP- here's my belated b-day gift to you...

what else didja do?

Los Angeles
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:40am PT
I do too climb in stuff like that.

Locker has photographic proof from New Year's somewhere.

Climbing the CC...

There was no way I was hiking the Ho Chi Minh Manzanita-march a third time so we resolved ourselves to deal with the cold. BTW... I don't do cold. I'm perfectly happy climbing J-Tree in August.

It is an awesome climb. Everyone should do it... once. Pitch after pitch of juicy sustained 5.8 goodness. The moderate that keeps on giving.... Kinda run out in spots- even when you have gear. Yes... Russ is OFFICIALLY bad ass for treating it like a sport climb.

I was worried that it would be a monumental clusterfvuck once the two parties above us started rappelling, but it all sort of choreographed itself into a weird synchronicity with everyone ropes staying mostly out of the way and a manageable # of people at each belay station.

PS Thanks Jefe!

What else did we do?? .. Well, as you can see- we ate gummi bears.

Old Pueblo, AZ
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:47am PT
Did you swap leads or were you JTM?
I'm with you and the cold- I'm waiting til it's roasting to go to RR.
Some nice exposure/summit shots-
thanks for postin' up y'all.

Los Angeles
Apr 4, 2009 - 01:14am PT
JTM that time. When speed is actually an issue- we don't swap leads. I am the slowest leader on the entire planet. Cold also tends to make somewhat less than motivated to get anywhere near the sharp end as well.

Mr. E was just lucky to get my shivering carcass up that thing.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 4, 2009 - 08:42am PT
'tis the season for good Red Rock TRs.

Congrats on ticking a big goal in fine style, through the cold and the crowds and the alpine start.

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Apr 4, 2009 - 09:32am PT
Nice TR you guys. Tradchick and I just got back from our RR trip,and will post a similar report for fun later.CC is on our list for next time and we can't wait to go again.

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2009 - 05:58pm PT
Happy Birthday!
Looks like you had fun.

Apr 4, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
Nice, Mr. E and JTM! Great to hear what you're up to and more about Chrimson
(I'm hoping to bag that one on my next RR trip...
psyching myself up for the cold and the early wake-up call...*groan*....)

Kudos to the Gummi's for sending Mt. Cupcake!

Russ Walling

Social climber
Upper Fupa, North Dakota
Apr 4, 2009 - 06:10pm PT
That alpine start stuff will just get you a bad place in line..... try the Noon start and let the panic of impending darkness be your buggy whip. Way less people on the route at 8pm as opposed to 8am.

good job kids! See ya on Sat.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 6, 2009 - 11:02am PT
I've been an occasional visitor to Red Rock longer than almost anybody, yet I've never done
the classic route you guys climbed -- Chrimson Chrysalis. In ye olde days it didn't exist,
of course, but in later years I've heard it calling. Trouble is that just about every TR I read
about this route features crowd issues, as a major part of the day. And yet every now and then
someone reports they had the route to themselves.

So, apart from darkness and bad weather, when is CC least likely to be crowded? Is
there any relief on weekdays, or in fall compared with spring? Does it stay shaded in hot
weather? Winter cold and winds don't appeal.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 6, 2009 - 11:07am PT
Mr. E,
Sweet! And thanks for posting up. But, haven't you heard that dirtineye thinks climbing threads and especially TR's suck?

He'll be expecting you to dump this anytime, so we can get back to whatever he thinks is worthy......

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 6, 2009 - 11:12am PT

Los Angeles
Apr 6, 2009 - 11:31am PT
Chiloe- It's north facing- entire climb is in the shade all day. Twice we went there on weekdays (spring) and there were multiple parties on it. If you don't mind the heat...Mid-summer- mid week might get a bit of reprieve from the hoards? Hike in would be hot but the climb would be shaded.

Might try around Mother's Day? My favorite weekend to climb at J-Tree. It becomes a ghost town. 3 years on a row didn't see a single other climber anywhere in the park. Vegas might be different though since it's a tourist destination.

Any locals? Other suggestions?

Trad climber
Wilmington, DE
Apr 6, 2009 - 12:12pm PT
Chiloe, Crimson Chrysalis is shaded for 3/4 of the year except the top belay. In summer it is in sun. The route is pretty much straight up and back down, so you can rap off easily enough but having others rapping down and sharing the semi-hanging belays is the biggest hassle. Well worth doing either way, but the later start strategy has worked well for some.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Apr 6, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
Hiked in very, very early once to do CC to find 7 parties ahead of us. Many of them slept at the base. Grrrrr. Never tried again. What a mess to deal with especially with so many other great climbs to be done.

Glad you guys got on it!

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 6, 2009 - 12:58pm PT
I think it's luck of the draw whether or not CC is a madhouse or not. This last October (perfect weather) we did the get up early thing - showed up at the parking lot and another group started hiking in before us. We knew a "short cut" approach and started running to the climb to one up the other party.

Not sure where the other party went, but we were the only ones on the climb all day.

That climb seemed to be hungry for our ropes too.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 6, 2009 - 01:55pm PT
Chiloe, I've done CC twice. Once many years ago (20?) when Joanne Urioste's guidebook was the only one and the climb had not yet become popular. Had the climb to ourselves. Then once again I think four years ago in March, on a dark and blustery weekday. The weather apparently scared off everyone (who had a modicum of good sense) and we had the route to ourselves again. So I've never done the route with anyone else on it!

I suspect that "bad" weekdays in March may be a good bet in general as they were for us, but of course you don't want to get behind a slow party when it is chilly and the winds are howlin', so its always going to be a gamble.

By the way, there has been quite an increase in the number of bolts on the route over the years. Other than the belay anchors, I remember very few.

The climb is in a wonderful position, but the climbing, in my opinion, isn't memorable. Not knocking it mind you, the same statement would apply to a number of RR climbs which are nonetheless worthwile for the beauty of the rock, the position of the climb, and the views from it.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 6, 2009 - 05:25pm PT
The climb is in a wonderful position, but the climbing, in my opinion, isn't memorable.

I'd sort of gathered that from other reports too, but had kind of a nostalgic reason for wanting
to do the climb someday, in addition to its merits today. Back when Joe and I hiked up there in
'72, en route to our first try at the Rainbow, Joe pointed out that formation. He already had
named it Cloud Tower, and dreamed about finding a route.

Sport climber
Meff-ferr, Oregon
Apr 6, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
Cool TR!
A friend of mine and I jumped on CC the same week as you guys. We bailed after two pitches because we were both shivering and couldn't feel our fingers. And I thought I could handle cold.
Went cragging in the sun after that.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 8, 2009 - 12:41pm PT
Bump, especially for the 'wokka wokka wokka'!!!!!!!

(and the climbing)--yee ha!

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Apr 8, 2009 - 04:51pm PT
Thanks for the TR. I got up early and hiked in once to do CC and found more parties than I could count either on the wall or waiting to start. I think some had slept at the base. We went sport climbing instead.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Apr 8, 2009 - 05:49pm PT
On my most recent visit, we just did shorter trad routes in the canyons. All excellent,
and we had every route to ourselves -- but that was lucky.


Apr 8, 2009 - 05:56pm PT
I climbed a bunch at Red Rocks from 91-95ish. I miss it, but the last few times I went back (2001? maybe?) I got pretty down. I know I sound like a cranky jerk, but I just can't help comparing what it used to be. I know people go there now and have a blast and not knocking them, jealous actually of their good attitude. But thinking of that route, being stressed to get there early enough, waiting for slow parties, sharing hanging belays, rapping through crowds... god, how can that be fun?

Anyways, thanks for the pics and story. Bittersweet memory is an interesting emotion

Trad climber
Apr 8, 2009 - 06:17pm PT
For those who go up to do Crimson, there are two better routes just around the corner that go to the top of Ginger Tower which is to the left of Cloud Tower as you look up at Rainbow Mtn. Ginger Cracks 5.9, mixed gear and Unimpeachable Groping,5.10b, 7 pitch bolted sport climb(but bring a couple smaller pieces of gear anyway).
These two routes are not crowded, within a couple hundred yards of the start of Crimson. Also, the descent for these two routes is not down the route you climb up, but down Power Failure which is a burly 10c not done as often so you won't be rapping over the top of people and hanging out with a crowd at the anchors. My two cents worth.

Trad climber
Apr 8, 2009 - 09:28pm PT
Sweet, nice post!

Trad climber
One Step Beyond!
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 8, 2009 - 09:43pm PT
Thanks for the beta, Studly.

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Apr 8, 2009 - 11:27pm PT
I tell you what... coming from Arizona, you go across the Hoover Dam (for now) and that bridge they're building that will move the traffic off the dam is one of the most impressive engineering feats I've seen in a long time. The pictures don't do it justice. Maybe even worth driving out from Vegas if you have a rest day or some such, just to see the thing in progress.

These were shot from the truck while crawling across the bridge in traffic on the way home.

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