Trip Report
Three Red Rock Moderates May 2012
Saturday May 26, 2012 4:18pm
After suffering through a spring mainly consisting of paper pushing and fluorescent lights I finally made it to Red Rocks with a few friends. Two of us arrived around midnight on Wednesday. The next morning "a crack of noon start" leads Bill and me to the North Fork of Pine Creek.

North Fork of Pine Creek
North Fork of Pine Creek
Credit: Quasimodo

Base of Dark Shadows
Base of Dark Shadows
Credit: Quasimodo

Desert Duck at the Base of Dark Shadows
Desert Duck at the Base of Dark Shadows
Credit: Quasimodo

Bill leads the first two pitches without any trouble. My lead of the third pitch started with a sloppy cam placement down low and followed by a twenty plus run to a good stance and pro above. Bill was not pleased by the potential ground fall to the belay ledge. Luckily, up higher on the 3rd pitch I found my rhythm and technique to keep Bill from never climbing with me again.

3rd Pitch Dark Shadows
3rd Pitch Dark Shadows
Credit: Quasimodo

The 4th pitch was steep and had a few committing moves on lead. I was pleased to find a perfect blue TCU placement at the top of the flared pod. The wind was literally ripping through the North Fork canyon of Pine Creek. Sometimes the wind made sounds like huge sheets of fabric were being torn apart. I suppose that the extremely featured rock created these disconcerting sounds...similar to blowing over the lip of a glass Coke bottle. The wind sounds scared me more than leading.

4th Pitch Dark Shadows
4th Pitch Dark Shadows
Credit: Quasimodo

The first rappel of Dark Shadows with one 70m rope could be problematic if you don't pay attention. Fortunately, Bill had the good judgment and insistence to convince me to move the 4th pitch belay anchor down to the lower anchor. There are two sets of anchors at the top of the 4th pitch. You will come up short with one 70m rope if you choose the higher anchor. We were amazed that we only saw another party when we were rapping off Dark Shadows late in the day. It was 90+ in Vegas but the temps in the canyon were comfortable on the first two pitches but downright cold on the upper two pitches.

That evening Michael flew in to join Bill and I. We met up at 6AM and arrived at the base of Frogland around 8AM. To our surprise no one was waiting at the base. Last year I tried to climb Frogland with a gym friend but bailed off at the top of pitch one. He could not wrap his head around a 6 pitch climb. I was thrilled to get back on this classic and finish it.

Black Velvet Canyon
Black Velvet Canyon
Credit: Quasimodo

1st Pitch of Frogland
1st Pitch of Frogland
Credit: Quasimodo

Leading the 3rd pitch was interesting. There are so many possibilities that it gets confusing at times. Judicious use of long slings is mandatory or you will suffer terrible rope drag.

Michael leads the low variation of pitch 4. The high version just under the roof looked harder. Next time I would like to try it.

4th Pitch of Frogland
4th Pitch of Frogland
Credit: Quasimodo

The 5th pitch stemming and squeeze under the huge chock stone was a great lead. My 6'-4" body made the squeeze awkward and physical. I placed three cams in ten feet to avoid launching through the birth canal.

5th Pitch Frogland
5th Pitch Frogland
Credit: Quasimodo

Again we were alone most of the day. Another party of three came up behind us to climb Bourbon Street. They quickly gained on us and beat us to the summit. The temps were perfect but a light jacket helped to stay warm at the belays. The view from the top of Whiskey Peak looking back at the Black Velvet wall is amazing. We could see a party on Prince of Darkness near the top of the 6th pitch, I believe. We were careful not to go down the first gully and found the easy descent trail one gully over.

Climbers on Bourbon Street
Climbers on Bourbon Street
Credit: Quasimodo

Top of Frogland
Top of Frogland
Credit: Quasimodo

The next morning Bill and I were tired from two days of climbing but Michael was just getting warmed up. We headed off to First canyon at a typical "crack of noon start". I was hoping that we would climb single pitch climbs so I could sleep and eat between turns.

Michael leads the 1st pitch of Lotta Balls. This is a fun steep pitch with great pro.

1st Pitch Lotta Balls
1st Pitch Lotta Balls
Credit: Quasimodo


1st Pitch Lotta Balls
1st Pitch Lotta Balls
Credit: Quasimodo


When I got to the 2nd belay Michael handed me the rack and said, "It's your turn." Looking up at the pitch that gives "Lotta Balls" its name was intimidating. The first bolt is 10 feet above the belay and another bolt is about 8 feet above the first. Then you get a twenty to twenty-five foot run to the crack at the base of the dihedral. At first I wanted to rap off and try something with better pro. The knob climbing up the 3/8 inch round spheres looked like fun but the run out to the crack made my butt pucker. "What the hell it is only 5.8+", I said. Falling before the first bolt results in the belayer getting wacked. I set off past the second bolt saying to myself, "Please don't fall. Move smoothly and slow it is only 5.8." Next thing I know I am at the crack. I plug in a good cam and my leg begins to vibrate. I look down at the distance to the last bolt and a flood of adrenaline follows and soon my whole body is vibrating. I finally calm down and finish the cool dihedral to a huge ledge. The next pitch is fun stemming. Again we only see one other party all day on the adjacent classic Black Magic.

3rd Pitch Lotta Balls
3rd Pitch Lotta Balls
Credit: Quasimodo


On Sunday we drive home before the herds of Las Vegas weekenders clog I-15. It was a great trip with excellent and motivated company.

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Quasimodo
About the Author

Comments
philo

climber
  May 26, 2012 - 04:22pm PT
Super Nice. TFPU. I always love seeing RR TRs.
Great routes to do.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  May 26, 2012 - 04:30pm PT
by far and away one of the wonderful destinations... have to get back out there for sure, lots of climbs yet to do
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  May 26, 2012 - 04:44pm PT
Awesome place and awesome climbs, thanks!
I've try first creek canyon!
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  May 26, 2012 - 04:47pm PT
Can't wait to get back there! Thanks for the share...
moacman

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  May 26, 2012 - 05:05pm PT
Three well chosen climbs....nothing but fun...goog job.....

Stevo
Alpinista55

Mountain climber
Portland, OR
  Jun 1, 2012 - 05:52pm PT
What a great introduction to a wonderful area!

Here's my recommendations for your next trip to Red Rocks (to step it up a notch):

Crimson Chrysalis, Cloud Tower
Epinephrin, Black Velvet Canyon
Jubilant Song, Windy Peak
Solar Slab, Solar Slab Wall

Jk
Quasimodo

Trad climber
CA
Author's Reply  Jun 2, 2012 - 06:39pm PT
Jk
Climbed Chrimson Chrysalis a few years ago. Great climb but rapping through three parties was interesting on the descent. It would be nice if the descent was separate from this very popular climb.

Jubliant Song was on our hit list but the temps were too warm for south facing routes. I melt in the sun if the temps are above 80. JS appears to be a classic although I read one report that claims it was loose and unaesthetic. I like the remoteness of this climb.

Epinephrine looks amazing from the top of Whiskey Peak. The three chimney pitches are intimidating for someone who has little experience climbing long chimneys. I need to find the right partner who is psyched to climbed the entire route. Recently, I had a friend spend the night on top because they got lost on the descent in the dark. This route requires a very long day.

Next time I am in RR I want to do Armatron on the Brownstone Wall. RR has so many classic iroutes it makes selection difficult. So many climbs ....so little free time.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Jun 2, 2012 - 06:43pm PT
Back for another oogling of your TR. Looks so fun!
thedogfather

Trad climber
Was Red Rock, now KANSAS
  Jun 2, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
I can vouch for Armatron and Black Dagger if you are into a little more spice. Also, Black Magic, right next to Lotta Balls is one of my favorites. If you go back into Pine Creek again, think about hitting Topless Twins and/or Y2K on the way out. They are not to be missed.
TFPU
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Jun 2, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
Love the 7th island! Thanks for sharing.

OT: One thing I have learned....don't drink the house merlot till 2am and think all will be well to climb later that morning.

Great fotos, reminds me how fun that place is.


Aloha,
Will
Grammy

Trad climber
North Conway, New Hampshire
  Jun 5, 2012 - 09:42am PT
Great trip report...thanks!
Red Rocks has become my favorite destination, psyched to see you getting on some real classics out there. Damn...now I want to go.... :/
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jun 5, 2012 - 03:06pm PT
Bump!
Ado

Trad climber
Dalmeny, Australia
  Jun 5, 2012 - 06:04pm PT
Awesome report and photos. That took me back. I did those three plus many more in the Autumn of 1998. All three are just the bomb. Others at the grade well worth doing are Tunnel Vision, Cat in The Hat and Olive Oil. Stepping up (in speed and efficiency) are Solar Slab and the mega classic Crimson Chrysalis.

Thanks again for sharing.
BigB

Trad climber
Red Rock
  Dec 31, 2015 - 08:33am PT
Well Done! Thanks for the TR!
End of the year climbing bump!
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