They were made aware of our existence by our laughter that ensued.
After work this week I went mountain biking a ton. I have been battling some injuries of late - a damaged finger tendon this summer derailed a lot of my local plans but resulted in some fun trips out of the area to get on non-crimpy things. A nagging tendon pain in my elbow tempered my "get strong by bouldering a ton of mileage" plan once the monsoon ended a few weeks ago. In order to keep amused and get the cardio back to where it needs to be, I went mountain biking quite a bit after work this week
While going out and seeking serenity on singletrack, I saw the hordes piling out at both Oak Creek pullouts, First Creek, and had seen an unusual amount of people heading out to the already popular Black Velvet Canyon.
The elbow still would pulsate in a bit of pain and indicate to me that climbing was a poor choice. As the week went on, things started to feel better...ice, rest, and a healthy dose of Vitamin I made things more tolerable.
Then came a text from Dave The Dent(dental student)ist. D-money wanted to go climbing after work Friday - Calico Basin. Sweet, lets rock.
I met up with Dave and his dental school friends after work and we our first few choices had people on them, so we did a quick pitch at Cannibal Crag. A team of six folks from Finland (hilarious, great folks) had been bouted by the shutdown in Yos and were the first of many Euro teams that landed in the desert of Southern Nevada to climb.
After playing at Cannibal, we went to Moderate Mecca. I had seen this cool looking roof there called Scalawag and had wanted to climb it for a while, so I did:
The technical difficulty on that one wasn't too awful, but the burl factor was in full effect. Made my way up that and called it a day.
The next morning I was booked back-to-back. Plans were made to go mountain biking early at the Late Night Trailhead, which hosts both 5-star singletrack as well as the dirt road which leads to the 5-star climbing at Black Velvet Canyon. Win-win!
Went for a quick pedal with Aimee and Mike - their first time riding out of Late Night
With uncanny timing after finishing the ride and starting to get the climbing gear together at the car, Xavier arrived. Amped as always, we went down that dusty road out to Black Velvet and arrivied to 15 cars parked at the lot. Make that 16, including us. Fortunately we planned on a few routes which we didn't assume would be too crowded on Whiskey Peak.
Our "warm up" per Xavier was the STELLAR Maztlan, which features a necky start right off the deck. Mercifully, this was not my lead.
This climb featured a masterful combination of exceptional stemming, jamming, and generally SWEET movement and position. If you removed the first 25 feet of the climb which features the crux and the absence of pro, this thing would have lines out the gates.
Whiskey Peak provides some of Red Rock's most classic cragging on generally awesome rock. Our next line for the day was Ixtlan, which a British team was finishing. The first two pitches were to be Xavier's leads and the third pitch offwidth was to be mine.
As we were pulling ropes from Maztlan and as Xavier was racking up at the start, I heard the grunts of the British team and a lump grew in my throat. Strong Brits, fresh from Yosemite, exerting themselves on this thing. Awesome.
Before I could finish seeing my own doom in the gaping maw 100+ ft above me, it was time to focus on giving a good belay to Xavier.
After following Xavier's lead on the difficult first pitch and feeling a bit worked through the second (which he linked), I wasn't sure if the OW would go for me that day. The first pitch features thin, technical, powerful, delicate climbing that can only be described as awesome. The second pitch follows a huge gong-sounding Stegasaurus flake. Outrageous to climb and so good, but also taxing if you are weak, as I certainly am.
"Sh#t, I'm worked...and my lead is next, and it's hard offwidth" was all i could think of through my battle with the lower pitches, interspersed with "holy hell this is good"
I get to the hanging belay that Xavier is at and take in the exposure below me. I look up at the gash that I am to climb up and through. I fondle the #6 Camalot on my harness and giggle - placing big gear has always been strangely funny to me. Xavier gives me some much-appreciated encouragement and then provides a VERY patient belay as I grunted, swore, and HUNG my way up this thing. Both classic and burly, the pitch gave me what I was looking for and then some.
Pushing the #6 along as far as I could and clipping the rusted, spinning bolt hangers at the crux with the wall falling straight to the base of the peak was definitely a life affirming experience I won't forget. My left side of my body won't forget or forgive me any time soon, either, for that pitch. The crux was a very strange one for me - very difficult to describe, but once it was over it was classic, cruiser face to the anchors. This set of anchors also gives you an awesome view into upper Black Velvet Canyon - somewhere I was supposed to visit the next day.
X makes short work of the pitch and we are both back on the ground in no time. I feel like I was hit by a semi going 75 mph on my left side from the thrutch-tastic time I had up there. We hiked back to the car, X gave some friends of the other Brit crew a lift, and I sat back for the most part and listened to the discourse on the merits of the British system of government and the American system.
I get back to my house that evening and recognize that there is no way I could safely lead hard (for me) slab the next day AND do the long hike back to Sick For Toys. The mountain bike ride in conjunction with the hard (for me) climbing resulted in fatigue which I had underestimated. Nathan, whom I was supposed to climb SFT with, was on his way back from a trip to New Jack City and we quickly decided to figure out an alternative plan in the morning.
Fast forward to Dunkin Donuts after a slow start in the morning for both of us and the stoke begins to flow. We decide to check out a quasi-obscure mellow route called All That, Jazz.
This route is located on the Happy Acres Wall in Calico Basin. A quick 20 minute hike and we are there.
It was shortly after this that Nathan and I were at the belay and started laughing over the VERY loud blasting of "I Got Five On It" in the canyon below. With the level of the noise, it HAD to be a Ghetto Blaster...which made it all the more hilarious as we were a ways back from the road. I set off on P3 rapping the words I knew.
Not too much to say about this route - first two pitches are fun, third pitch has some bad rock and some good rock. I snapped a foothold unexpectedly and almost went for a ride. Must have over-paid the gravity bill this month. The walk-off is beautiful, as you are on the ridgeline between Calico Basin and where the scenic loop is. It was very eerie to see the scenic loop entirely deserted, without so much as a single car parked anywhere. I joked with Nathan that the five BLM LEOs I saw yesterday at the entrance were probably hanging out there again today. As we hiked back to the car, we saw a chopper heading back to the loop - probably to yell at cyclists entering via the exit and being on the loop like they did a few days ago. Hopefully this fiasco ends sooner rather than later - there are routes that await deep in the park.