Rainbow Wall 5.12b

 
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Rainbow Wall


Red Rocks, Nevada USA


Trip Report
Rainbow Wall, free
Thursday April 25, 2013 3:10pm
Back in about '93, while we were fresh-faced groms, one of my partners climbed the Rainbow Wall. On aid. And declared it a classic, a must-do, and a great intro wall/trade route. He warned of a horrendous approach with sketchy 4th class and endless slabs, and scary sandstone aid.

The line is obvious, and the line is proud, an awesome corner system right up the middle of the wall. They call it "The Best Route in Red Rock":


Blitzo photo

Twenty years later, I'm trolling for a partner to try to free this thing. At 12b, it's reasonable, with short and often bolted cruxes mixed with well protected crack, face, and corner climbing. This is a very "convenient" route...you can climb it with a very small rack and single rope, belays are bolted, and you could bail at virtually any point on the route. A couple of people nibble, but seem to be not quite what I'm looking for in a partner. But Nate is in, and Nate is solid. We set a tentative date in mid April, and leave the schedules flexible enough to make last minute changes if the weather goes bad.

I am PSYCHED! After a winter spent mostly sport climbing and bouldering, I was ready for what I really love in climbing...a long, aesthetic trad route. My friend JSJ came over from Vegas the weekend prior, and I picked his brain on rack and strategy as we flailed on South of Heaven in too-warm conditions.

And the rack is tiny for a long trad climb. Single cams from purple metolius to hands, with doubles from blue metolius through .5 camalots, a set of nuts, 9 draws/slings. Some people recommend a #3, but we didn't take or need it. We also took an Atom Smasher http://www.fishproducts.com/catalog/haulbags.html
and a 6mm tag/haul line to haul it with to allow the second to climb without a pack. This was a good strategy.

So on Friday the 12, I loaded the Prius, pointed it toward Vegas, and met Nate at the RR Visitor Center. We rolled on to Pine Creek, made some last minute gear adjustments, loaded our packs (the first time both of us had broken out our Dana Terraplanes in many,many years...when was the last time I even bivied for a route?), and set out on the "grueling" approach.

Which wasn't. Grueling that is. Loaded down with bivy gear, two gals of water, food, helmet, and the rope, and being completely out of hiking shape and never having been to this wall, we made the base in a leisurely ~2hrs. A cush, flat bivy platform lies right at the base of the route, and we settled in with some smoked salmon and other goodies before retiring for the evening.

As usual, I didn't sleep well. A midnight visit from a local scavenger (fox?coyote? ringtail?) had Nate sitting up and yelling out "YEARAGHHHH". It woke me and in my sleepy haze I thought he'd rolled off the bivy platform or was having a wild dream. Nope, just face to face with a random wild animal. And while the forecast was for high winds, gusting to 40, it was coming from the SW and the wall is NE facing, giving us great shelter/protection.

Let's get to the climbing, shall we? Morning comes and we take our time with breakfast and other morning rituals. Soon enough we are racking up and flaking the rope. We ro-cham-bo for the lead, 2/3 with the winner HAVING to lead p2 specifically and the other even-numbered pitches. Nate takes the first 2 in our 2 out of 3, with his paper smoking my rock, and that's that. He decided to not link p1/2, with p2 being the crux pitch of the route and not wanting any excess rope drag/weight. So I lead up p1, a 5.6 low angle slab with a few cracks and features, and soon Nate joins me and starts contemplating the crux. His plan is to just get up it ASAP, pulling on gear or whatever, work the moves a bit, then pull the rope and send. Sounds like a good plan.

Nate starts up, gets into the biz, and soon is stemming on blank varnish while clawing at virtually non-existent tips scars in this corner. He looks out left, reaches for the jug, and realizes he has to dyno. A quick rock in one direction and he flies for the jug...and hangs it! Sick, Nate, onsight!

I'm worried, because Nate is taller than me, and the dyno looks iffy. Getting into the corner and established for the dyno is MUCH harder than I expected with tiny, tiny feet, tons of body tension, and ridiculously small pin scars. I get into position and realize this is going to require a giant dyno. So I adjust one foot, load up, and huck HARD. 3 fingers of one hand brush the jug and I manage to check the body swing, match and mantle up. Holy shit! I can't believe I hung it!

End of the Crux,p2 Rainbow Wall
End of the Crux,p2 Rainbow Wall
Credit: Nate

Next pitch is 11d, and called "devious and sustained" in the MtnProj description. There is a mystery rope hanging down this pitch in a big loop, but it seems mostly out of the way and not much I can do about it anyway, so I start up the pitch. Right off the belay is some powerful liebacking off a wide crack, then a face sequence that takes me out right of the corner. Finishing this sequence, I reach an obvious clipping hold, a decent right foot and go "whew! made it through the crux, cruiser from here". But my left foot is pasted on nothing and as I go to remove a draw from my harness to clip...pop! My left foot blows and I'm flying.

Unfortunately, I got tangled in the random hanging rope during the fall and put nasty rope burn on the achilles of one leg and across my left palm (some nice blisters from that). After yelling for a while until the pain stooped and staring at my hand, it seemed mostly ok, good enough to climb on anyway. So I went back up, reached the clipping jug, set my foot a little better this time, got the draw off and....pop! Foot blew again. Geeze o Pete and WTF?! Third time...pop. WTF is wrong with me, I'm falling AFTER the crux, from big holds...what am I doing?!! Next time I just say screw the bad foot, lock the clipping jug down to my chest, clip from a ridiculously strenous position and finish the pitch without further drama. Nate pauses a sec before the crux sequence, then floats it without even breathing hard. My no-taint day is done, but Nate is still on the onsight.

The next couple of pitches are nice 5.11 corners that feel much, much easier than the last two pitches. Liebacking, stemming, a jam here and there...just fun, stress free motoring up this beautiful corner system with a cool little roof at the end of the second one. Here's Nate following p5:

p5
p5
Credit: Elcapinyoazz
p5
p5
Credit: Elcapinyoazz

Nate links the next two pitches of 5.10 and puts us on a big ledge system where the line leaves the main corner for a couple hundred feet. I take the rope and run it through jumbled blocks and ledges for about 50m, Nate does another short lead to put us at the "wild 5.7" pitch leading to Over the Rainbow Ledge. This is a really cool pitch where you blindly traverse around a corner, then climb straight up an easy but fragile face, with fantastic position, to the ledge.

The next pitch is kind of odd. It's "5.8" and traverses straight left off the ledge, eventually gaining a bolt and some well spaced gear, and depositing you at the base of the Red Dihederal, the second crux block of the route. Nate makes the traverse look easy, but when I follow I can't even figure out where to traverse. Eventually the path reveals itself and I'm racking at the base of the gorgeous red corners.

This next pitch, called 11d in some books, 12a in others, is supposed to have the hardest pull on the route, but it's basically a boulder problem with easier climbing on the rest of the pitch. So I start up, pretty confident, because onsighting V4 should be a cakewalk for me and knowing Nate will be leading the next 12a pitch that is less bouldery and more sustained.

Arriving at a nice stance below the goods, I prepare to get my crank on:

1st Red Dihedral pitch (p11 or 12)
1st Red Dihedral pitch (p11 or 12)
Credit: Elcapinyoazz

Again, it's harder to get to the crux move than I expect and I almost pitch off when I grab a sloper sucker hold. Gaining the crux hold, which is about 1/3 pad for a finger and a half, I try to crank into it but the feet are non existent, and stemming seems harder than just cranking. Hanging around on the hardest pull of the route, I quickly decide I'll pump off before figuring it out, so I hang. Feel the hold a few times, brush it, look at all the potential feet, and work out a scheme. I tentatively pull into the move a few times to test my beta, and being satisfied, I crank, bump off an intermediate, and slap for the jug. Stuck it. Nate spends very little time assessing the crux and is soon pulling around the final bulge, with the onsight still in the bag and one hard pitch remaining.

Some reachy cranker liebacking puts him at a tricky transition out of the corner with wild, difficult stemming. Soon he is making some reachy face moves and it finally sounds like he is having to work and try hard. The tag line wraps the bottom of the Atom Smasher and midway through one of the pitches cruxy bits it stops him cold. "TAG LINE!!!" He yells, I kick it off the bag and Nate holds it together to reach the belay.

I'm starting to cramp while belaying at this point, in the tops of my forearms. It's a weird place to cramp, and I've had this once before while chickenwinging up the last wide pitch on the Cloud Tower extension pitches. Now, following the last hard pitch, the cramps are coming with every second or third move and starting to show up in my calves as well. It's not a particularly long pitch, maybe 80ft, but feels long enough:

2nd Red Dihedral pitch, (p12 or 13)
2nd Red Dihedral pitch, (p12 or 13)
Credit: Nate

Yelling seems to help, so there is a lot of "arrrrhhhh. FAAAAAHHHHQQQQQ!" going on.

2nd Red Dihedral
2nd Red Dihedral
Credit: Nate

Some combo tecnhiques...edging with one foot, smearing with the other, while crimping with one hand and mantling with the other get me out of the overhanging part of the corner:

More red dihderal
More red dihderal
Credit: Nate

I'm through the hardest crux, and letting my guard down a little I botch a foot transfer and can't hang on long enough to fix it. Crap, another fall. The rest of the pitch goes ok, and I'm glad Nate led it, with the reachy bits it was tough for me.

Even more red dihedral (p12 or 13)
Even more red dihedral (p12 or 13)
Credit: Nate
The red dihedral never stops
The red dihedral never stops
Credit: Nate
Almost there
Almost there
Credit: Elcapinyoazz
And finally, right before the belay, you get to make a thin balance move...pushing with one hand, crimping and pulling on a sidepull with the other, all while standing on tiny feet:
Push, pull, balance...don't fall
Push, pull, balance...don't fall
Credit: Nate

Alright! Nate has the onsight in the bag, and I've freed everything with a couple taints. But the cramps are horrendous, they are now hitting without me even doing anything...even clipping gear onto/off the harness is triggering them. Some salt tabs lower on the route aren't solving the problem (too little, too late), and I convince Nate to swap leads for the final two pitches, because I don't think I can lead this next pitch through the cramping, immediately after following the prior pitch. Visions of a cramp sending me on a giant whipper, WAY up the wall, sends my pride right out the window.

So Nate leads onward, first downclimbing to a ramp, then through some more reachy terrain, including what was a full-stretch clip that I could never have made from the stance(had to unclip it from mid-crux). I was able to follow this without too much problem, but the cramps still hit every few moves and I as glad we swapped because of the reach issues, pride be damned.

One last lead, a 5.10 thin hands crack, lead out of the little belay cave and to the summit. I stemmed/chimneyed up a move, placed a couple pieces, and pulled the roof of the cave. 5.10? Nah, maybe 5.9 and I wouldn't argue too much with 5.8+. It's about 10 feet of climbing with bomber pro, then a 4th class ramble to the top.

And with that, we're on the Summit!:

Summit!
Summit!
Credit: Elcapinyoazz

Nate quickly found the register box and perused it a bit, but the winds we'd avoided all day were screaming on top. I see how those guys get blown completely off Himalayan peaks.

Big props to Nate who onsighted the entire route in great style. We had a few little snags along the way, but for having never roped up together, things went pretty well.

After removing the mystery rope, we managed to hang up our rope on the same pull that had hung the mystery rope. Another couple raps, including the final one where I inadverdantly rapped off my gear loop instead of belay loop, put us back to the bivy right at dark. Rather than go into the touron hell of Vegas, we bivied at the base again and had a feast of the remaining food. A leisurely stroll out in the a.m. and I pointed the Prius toward SoCal while Nate hopped a plane.

This is a fantastic route, easily in the Top 5 I've done. Don't miss this one!

Rack: Single cams purple metolius to #2 camalot, doubles blue metolius to .5 camalot, set of nuts including smallest ones(offsets useful), 9 draws/runners, single 60m (I'd take a 70m if you go with one rope, it will cut off a few raps).

  Trip Report Views: 3,072
Elcapinyoazz
About the Author
Elcapinyoazz is a social climber from Joshua Tree.

Comments
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The Warbler

climber
the edge of America
  Apr 25, 2013 - 03:28pm PT
looks fuking epic!

Nice work

wish I had the time and fitness to go do it

tks for the bitchen photos!
RP3

Big Wall climber
Twain Harte
  Apr 25, 2013 - 03:30pm PT
Fantastic stuff! Thanks for posting!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 25, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
That is a beautiful climb in a beautiful place, done in style that I'll never come close to touching. It's almost enough to make me want to boulder more, to get strong. But then I'd have to do some cardio too, and it's sooo much easier to just look at your pretty pictures!
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
Very cool! Good job! Nice pix. I'm headed out there in a couple of weeks, hope to give this puppy our best shot... Thanks for the motorvation!
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:17pm PT
Thank you for posting!
Matt's

climber
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
le bump
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
Yikes..Looks far to hard for SLEDS!
deschamps

Gym climber
Flagstaff, AZ
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
Congrats! What an incredible climb. Regarding "reach issues" - don't forget that most world cup climbers are about 5'5" including the men. Less reach means less weight, so that shouldn't hold anyone back (unless they are reaallly short).
Daphne

Trad climber
Northern California
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:39pm PT
Wow! Amazing and +1 for what nutjob said. Thanks for documenting and sharing with us.
caughtinside

Social climber
Oakland, CA
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:39pm PT
Schweet!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Apr 25, 2013 - 04:42pm PT
Wow, well done and congrats about getting it. Climbing there looks amazing. What else is in your top 5?
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Apr 25, 2013 - 05:13pm PT
Real nice, this a great TR. Way to get after it. I must climb this route. Thanks for the stoke!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Apr 25, 2013 - 08:22pm PT
Wow....great writing, great pictures, great climb- best ST read i've had in quite awhile!
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Apr 25, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
thank you for sharing your experience with us via great writing and photos...

great TR.




~peace
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Apr 25, 2013 - 08:43pm PT
Beautiful report.
Thanks for sharing.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Apr 25, 2013 - 09:02pm PT
As good as they get, and please take that monolith outa my butt, dangit!
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Apr 25, 2013 - 09:21pm PT
Inspiring . . . thank you.
MisterE

climber
  Apr 25, 2013 - 11:30pm PT
Great read, Will! Thanks for the excellent TR.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:09am PT
Rad send elcap! Sounds like a fun, challenging day! Thanks for the cool story!!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:15am PT
So freeking sweet! Way to go men!

I know I got a little off route, but it was a long way to that Brownstone wall.....
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:23am PT
great TR ECIYA!
good nudge to get on back to RR, love the canyon climbs
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:26am PT
Eggcellant!
10b4me

climber
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:29am PT
Yeah, thanks for the tr.
Sounds, and looks hard
bergbryce

climber
East Bay, CA
  Apr 26, 2013 - 01:35am PT
Quality TR on what looks like a stellar line. Thanks!
Aerili

climber
SLC, Utah
  Apr 26, 2013 - 02:33am PT
Awesome! Sweet pics and engaging prose.
Gal

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Apr 26, 2013 - 03:11am PT
Cool TR, I've looked across to that beautiful wall many times wondering about it. Great job!
handsome B

Gym climber
SL,UT
  Apr 26, 2013 - 09:35am PT
Nice job!
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Author's Reply  Apr 26, 2013 - 11:17am PT
Just want to give a thumbs up to the climbing community, there was not a single speck of trash at the base, or on the route. A very nice thing to see.

Speaking of seeing...we saw a few bighorn up there each day, just browsing on the vegetation on the slabs below. The desert mallow was all blooming with it's bright orange flowers, the beavertails were blooming, hedgehogs were starting to bloom and even an occasional claret cup was starting to flower. April in the canyons is gorgeous.

We paid close attention to dates when planning, so as to avoid the goat-rope clusterf*#k of the Rendezvous. This route will still be good to go for a while, it's basically fully shaded all day (gets a tiny bit of sun early a.m.) and a good bit higher than Vegas, so even with Vegas hitting 90, should be perfect up there. Jump on it, you won't be disappointed.
WML

climber
Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Apr 26, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
Killer TR!!!!!!!! I gotta get stronger and get on this thing, such a beautiful face...I stare at it from my house quite frequently. It haunts me every time I turn out of my neighborhood...just beckoning.

Great writing style man, makes you totally get a feel for it like you were there.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 26, 2013 - 05:36pm PT
I never tire of your TR's El Cap. This was another superb one.

Thanks much.

John
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 27, 2013 - 12:07am PT
very nice!!!!!
Is Nates last name brown?????

One of the best TRS of the year!!!!!
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
  Apr 27, 2013 - 01:39pm PT
A humble yet skilled ascent Fantastic stuff boys !
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 4, 2013 - 01:52pm PT
swole!
darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
  May 4, 2013 - 02:11pm PT
Nice work! Excellent write-up!
jsj

climber
  May 4, 2013 - 02:27pm PT
Solid work Will!
BluntMan

Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
  May 4, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Great report. Thanks for posting up. Many of your pitch-specific descriptions brought back memories of when I did it this climb about 15 years ago via aid. Great climb no matter how you get to the top.
Crag Q

Trad climber
Louisville, Colorado
  May 4, 2013 - 05:54pm PT
GREAT WRITE UP!
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  May 4, 2013 - 06:17pm PT
What a beautiful line...Nicely done...If that doesn't get a climber revved up nothing will..........Thanx for sharing your story...

Stevo
Johnny K.

climber
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:03pm PT
ToTheTopForClimbingContent
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Rainbow Wall - Rainbow Wall 5.12b - Red Rocks, Nevada USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Greg Barnes