Pretty much immediately after I committed to the career move to relocate from Reno to Las Vegas this March, I got in touch with Aaron. When he and I worked together at our university bookstore in undergrad and were complete neophytes to climbing (I still am), we saw pictures of varnished chimneys and alligator skin looking plated faces that went for thousands of feet just fifteen minutes from where I went to high school. For this reason, and the fact that he and I have shared some incredible adventures over the years, I started working on him to fly down here and get on the route with me before the summer heat cranked to 11.
Shortly thereafter, he and his fiance booked their flights - best of both worlds, the cousins (our SO's) get to catch up, we get to climb something we have been eyeing since we started rock climbing, and great times were to be had.
Fast forward to Saturday and the Portlandia folk have arrived in Las Vegas to the first weekend of true summer heat here in town. Aaron and his fiance both make note of the heat, I try to ignore the heat in hopes of denying the undeniable - it's damn hot out. "It's a dry heat, guys...100 here is like 90 back in Reno, it's not so bad." I say with hopes that if I deny the heat is that bad, maybe it really won't be that bad. We all head out to pizza for dinner (Pizza Lounge @ Tivoli Village is delicious!), Aaron and I sort gear after and promptly crash since we know we have a long day ahead of us the next day.
Up at sunrise, eat breakfast, pound copious amounts of caffeine, participate in nervous banter, load the truck, don't forget the cooler with the beer in it, race to the trailhead along 159 and 160 from my house, 30 mins from leaving my driveway we are at the end of the dirt road looking at Black Velvet Canyon.
Jerseys, headbands, and music blaring out of the locker room, it was gametime.
Sometimes a TR requires a soundtrack, Track 1:
Time to let the pictures do the talking:
View from atop P1 - in the sun and sizzlin
Aaron following P1
And so the chimneys begin....
We were fortunate to time things perfectly and hit the upper pitches in the shade...crucial when temps exceeded 105 at the airport and 97 at the visitor's center
What an incredible route. The route, the company, the climbing, the position, the whole thing was awesome. Aaron hadn't climbed anything of significant length, or close to it, in a year and did one hell of a job cruising along on this route, leading a few pitches and hefting the pack while following the chimneys. Without a doubt one of the finest routes I have climbed in my short climbing career,
We brought 2 gallons of water with us, as temperatures in Las Vegas reached 105.4 and 97 degrees at the RR Visitor's Center. This amount of water was adequate but certainly not comfortable. The chimney climbing is airy and spectacular - just when you get tired of chimneying, you get GLORIOUS looking (and climbing) face climbing above, which climbs just as good as it looks, if not better. Just as soon as your feet/toes are screaming at you, the easy ramp systems that lead to the unroping tree begin and lead you to a descent that we did in the dark with relative ease.
If you have decent beta the descent isn't hard to 'onsight' in the dark, but the way down is pock-marked with spots where folks had bivied both on the ramps from the top of the mid-5th climbing, the summit, and below. The descent was harder on my dehydrated body than the approach and climb combined as was evidenced by my sprint to the truck once it was within view to sip ice water which kept some PBR's on ice out of the cooler...
Thank you for reading this TR and I hope everyone enjoyed it and I hope I didn't ramble too much.