"MeowWhat? You're going away for how long?"
"Don't worry honey, I'll leave you a big bag of food."
And we're off. Ever noticed how the scenery turns from "Holy sh#t, that's amazing!" to "Meh," right around the time you pass from California into Nevada?
OK, I guess it's not all bad. There might even be some decent climbing in some of these canyons.
The first day we went sport climbing. Phil kept insisting that he was off route. Once I radioed up to him that he just needed to turn around and follow the chalk he settled right down and sent.
No trip to Red Rock(s) would be complete without a visit to the Black Velvet, so we tromped on over to check out The Delicate Sound of Thunder.
This is a totally bad ass route. Amazing, sustained face climbing on the first pitch and then a wicked hard (at least if you're me, which you aren't, but it still might be hard) traverse to a runout pull around a roof. There were some moves that were a lot easier for me at 6'0" than my partner at 5'6" so you might want to have the tall guy lead the first pitch. That is, unless the tall guy sucks at climbing and is a big fraidy cat.
The 2nd pitch is also pretty rad. It starts up a slab, which looks totally ridiculous but is actually not hard at all. Then you get maybe 40' of steep, hard arete climbing and another 40' or so of steep, runout 5.8ish jug hauling. I had broken a hold following the first pitch and was a bit worried about breaking something else up high, but a judicious amount of tapping and a bit of luck saw me through.
My picture taking definitely scales inversely with the difficulty of the route because after this I got zero pictures from Only the Good Die Young (way freaking hard, bailed after a couple pitches due to, uh "the late hour"), one picture from The Next Century:
and about a bazillion pictures from Dark Shadows:
After that it was time to move on to Zion, where I'd heard you could achieve BigWallGlory for only climbing 8 pitches!
We found a halfway decent camping spot
And commenced to racking and beer drinking.
Touchstone wall seemed like the easiest way to claim the aforementioned BWG so we got an early start and caught the first shuttle. Either I ran out of biners on the first pitch or it was so early that I fogot to clip my last two pieces. Regardless, I certainly wasn't going to bother to back clean them when there was some other dude behind me who could do that.
The crux of the route for a couple of aid gumbies was definitely this roof on p2. You have to make a weird move (inasmuch as aid climbing consists of "moves") in a blown out pin scar when you're in that awkward "but my aiders are just dangling in space" spot. There's a bomber pin right below, so no worries, but it took a bit of doing to get through.
After that we were back into the more familiar world of standing on rock instead of gear. Killer splitter fingers and edges on p3:
After the halfway point all the belays are at great ledges, which made some of us really stoked:
And allowed some of us to work on our best Fabio impressions:
Either way, the scenery was spectacular:
Soon enough we were on top. We figured we should include the #4 cam in our summit shot since it came in so handy on the upper pitches. I even used it to chisel some holds into the final sandy slab.
Has anyone ever told you that Zion is not the most beautiful place in the world? If so, that person is lying and you should waterboard them until they relent and show you this picture.
Back at camp we relaxed and pondered how many different combinations we could make out of cheez-its, pickles, cracker jack, turkey, and snickers bars (I'll save you the math, it's 26):
The next day I wanted to go canyoneering, but Phil informed me that it was "Pretty much like doing the descent from Touchstone," so we drove around taking tourist photos.
We also met some of the friendly locals.
The next day, our last, we climbed smashmouth, which is a freakin' amazing route and a really good confidence booster if you believe the guidebook ratings. My camera died, so no pics. I'm pretty sure it looked something like this: