Red Rock has some fantastic single pitch crack routes. While they aren't concentrated, they are certainly worth seeking out, and even sometimes have other fun routes accompanying them in the same area.
Gin Ricky is one such route. It is a 180' masterpiece FA'd by Harrison, Crawford, Van Betten, and Obenheim that has a little bit of everything, but the meat of the route is fingers.
But don't take my word for it - T-Pain agreed while following.
The glassy right hand wall on this route begins very well featured, then the features go away and the gloss remaining is as slick as any glacial polish I have encountered in The Meadows or The Valley. This resulted in that familiar, pucker-inducing squeak that results from too much trust in your feet and the friction coefficient not being in your favor.
After a run up Gin Ricky, it was over to the Romper Room for T-Pain to get his lead on. T-Pain took the lead and cruised the super fun namesake route for the wall.
A quick lap on that and it was time for our afternoon session to end. The next day was supposed to be the main event of the weekend - KH, MC, and I were to climb Adventure Punks, a route which had been on my list for a very long time.
While the crux of the route is the final pitch, the psychological crux of the route is undoubtedly the first pitch, with tenuous moves, ornamental protection down low, and a very bad landing. The plan was to have KH lead the psychological crux 1st pitch and 2nd pitch, MC to lead the aesthetic and crack intensive P3 & P4, and for me to get the final technical crux.
No pics of P4 unfortunately, but it is very stout for 10b and was a great lead by MC. The whole time we were climbing, P5 both literally and metaphorically loomed over my head. From the approach you can see the gaping maw of the fifth and final pitch of Adventure Punks. I looked up and my inner dialogue started going at mach speed about how I couldn't do it. This inner chatter kept nagging me and nipping at my heels while following the other four pitches. After I followed the final pitch and started psyching up for my lead, I was also planning to skip the retro-bolts on the pitch as well. I brought the big gear, and the mental image of Richard Harrison on the FA making due with significantly less and just running it out stood out to me. I normally wear a helmet while leading and in this instance, some internet beta had suggested to not bother with one on this pitch. A wise suggestion. In addition to this, some other internet beta has suggested that this pitch is one of those wide pitches where you can bump a cam the whole way and be, for all intents and purposes, on top rope. I had 2 #6's leading this pitch and that is not the case. And the final resting place for the second one is in absolute junk rock. I say this in case someone else who is not that bold (such as myself) is seeking out beta. Be prepared to run the rope on 10d.
Now for the spraydown - the crux moves are transitioning out of the wide as a squeeze chimney closes down on you. Stemming well above gear in very bad rock. At least that is what it was and how it felt for me, YMMV. This was one of the most memorable leads I have ever had due to the committing nature of the climbing and the fact that I was able to overcome myself.
On the way up the crew was laughing hard at the belays, singing all sorts of songs ("Short people ain't got...") and cracking jokes. Climbing a 5 pitch sustained 5.10 route with a party of 3 takes some time. My wimpering and hesitation on the final pitch cost us a serious chunk of time, and we only had one headlamp among the three of us. After MC and KH seconded the final pitch, we had to get down - and fast. 3 of the 5 rappels wound up being done in the quasi-dark, and we had a long hike out of Pine Creek Canyon ahead of us. Fortunately, my cell phone was in a bag at the base so I got to make due with the "brightest flashlight ever" app - one I had contemplated deleting a myriad of times. Needless to say my unexpectedly late arrival home that night landed me in the doghouse with my girlfriend...first time I had needed a headlamp in Red Rock since my night climb last July. Adventure Punks was, indeed, an adventure, and definitely a memorable day in the hills.
The following week I took a trip to Indian Creek, and a few weeks later had plotted going to Zion to take down one of my big route goals for the year. Weather did not permit this, or much else, so it was on to Plan F - Joshua Tree
Heavy winds were expected, and in spite of an early arrival, all campgrounds were in fact full. Normally bandit camping is cool with me, but when the winds in the park were significantly less than in the lands of bandito camping? Not stoked!!!
We hopped on two routes that night. First up was Hobbit Roof:
Next up was the dastardly death route of all moderates, dun dun dun.....Double Cross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Having never been on it before, and having trained extensively for it, I was shaking in my little space boots before takin' off on this bad boy
That was it for us our first day in Joshua Tree. We ate dinner in town and then went out to the Bandito Zone, where not much sleep was had. The wind was battering our tent and eventually rain as well. I feel that this sapped the motivation for the rest of the trip, which truly was a bummer. T-Pain and I eventually found a campsite in Hidden Valley CG and set up shop. The stoke from this got me pumped to try one of the routes I've always wanted to try in Josh - More Monkey Than Funky.
The result? Solid beatdown and even more respect than I already had for JB (RIP). The thought of him soloing that thing and making it look as casual as it looked in the videos I have seen is mind blowing.
The beatdown received on More Monkey was taxing, so off to easier streets for us. Travis was up to lead Buissinier next...a super fun moderate route
That's the end of the pics of climbing from that J-Tree trip, the next day we got in a few quick pitches (White Lightning and Poodles Are People Too), then back to Vegas for us.
Track 3 - TURN DOWN FOR WHAT
Sour Mash was the plan, but other parties and high winds limited our options. Instead we had to settle for another pair of shorter low 5.10 cruise, damnit!
Overhanging Hangover was first on the menu...
After leading the first pitch I looked up with excitement at the roof and the hallmark traverse of this route. The route goes up the corner system to the right and then to the roof and goes out of the angular portion jutting out to the right, traversing with nothing but 200' of air beneath your feet (on improbable edges) to a hanging belay. The first pitch is engaging, technical for the grade, and really really fun.
This pitch, in my humble opinion, is one of the finest easy 5.10 pitches in Red Rock. The position is unforgettable and the movement exquisite. #SORADBRAH #STOKEOFFHARDBRAH #HASHTAG #TURNDOWNFORWHAT
T-Pain gets stoked right out of the gate on this one, and ze stoke does not stop !!!!
The station for P2 of this route puts you in one of the more uncomfortable hanging belays I have had, and then you get a 200' free hanging rappel, in high winds yesterday, so that was awesome
The Gobbler is another Black Velvet classic, offering three pitches of mega-quality climbing and tremendous variety (only one of the three pitches is high-step-and-crimp-land).
P1 goes fast, really cool bolt protected climbing. No need for the rack on this pitch (doh!). We flew up it and were on to P2...
A fun and interesting chimney section leads you to more glory in a corner, then a ledge with an anchor
T-Pain followed this pitch quickly and so far we were flying up the route. This changed quickly.
I launched off on the third pitch lead and came to a fork in the road. Figuring that I'm climbing a 5.10- route, I should probably follow the easier-looking of the two bolt lines. In the words of Borat, "Not so muuuch!" - After the fact I would learn I wandered on to an 11d route. Whoops.
I follow the right-hand of the two bolt lines and things start feeling harder than .10a, a lot harder. I keep making moves and climbing for a ways, keeping iin the back of my head some beta from the internetz saying that the third pitch was quite stout. Eventually I see that there is an anchor in space a ways above me, and I knew that this route ends on a ledge. Whoops. I traverse 20' or so to the left, sketchily, and regain the proper line, which feels easy except for the whole rope drag thing. This whole exercise in poor route finding skillz cost us some serious time. After making the anchors I was pretty stoked, especially after a few fictional pieces of gear like a #3 BD micro-stopper between two plates of varnish. Trad is rad!
Following this we had an uneventful rappel and boogied on outta BV Canyon and went back to our respective homes.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading this TR and gets stoked! Summertime is right around the corner and I'm fired up for lots of fun climbing then as well.