While in Michigan for work this last week, imbibing upon some beverages after work, I just wanted to be home. Naturally, I began plotting things for my return to Las Vegas - the temperatures are increasing and I wanted to get on some climbs before the heat rises to obscene levels.
One such climb I had been eyeballing is La Cierta Edad (5.10, Icebox Canyon), a classic Urioste route which had prompted much discussion
. The climbing line was aesthetic, the climbing varied, and the reviews were solid. Now to find a partner...while imbibing I was texting Jon and Travis both to see what their weekend plans were - Jon was going to be in San Diego and Travis might be game if he was free. Well, come Friday night I'm back in Vegas and both are free to go (no SD for Jon) - time to make it happen!
With an alpine start meeting time of 7:30...am....at my house, we load up Travis's truck and head to the park.
20-25 mins of hiking deliver us to the pedestal at the base of the route. The first pitch is about 110-120' and has 4 bolts on it...but fun 5.7/8 climbing!
A quick belay changeover and off I went to lead the next pitch, a 5.9+ super fun chimney to some awesome techy corner climbing. Sweet stemming, delicate footwork, and placing ornamental protection in hollow sandstone made this a pitch to make sure I stayed on the rock and not flying through the air. These first two pitches put me in a proper head space that routes like this sometimes can demand. The technical nature of the climbing kept my mind immersed in the work at hand, with the consequences upping the ante.
The chimney was particularly captivating given my smaller (5'7) stature...
After the awesome previous pitch, you look up an aesthetic crack in a corner that varies from tips to wide. After collecting gear and BS'ing a bit I launched off into the third lead of the day. Jon and Travis really enjoyed this pitch, and how couldn't they? Excellent aesthetic movement in a 5.10 dihedral with a variety of movement. I took the camera with me on this pitch....
Unfortunately after that last shot, the camera died. The adventure, however, was still on. The third pitch ended at a very uncomfortable hanging belay in a corner, and given our party size things were more than cozy. I took off on to the much-ballyhooed fourth pitch, where estimations of the grade of the pitch ranged from 5.9 to 5.11 - a rather broad distribution. Time to find out what the hype was all about!
After climbing the easy OW (5.8ish) to the crux move, things were pretty obvious as to what to do. I felt the moved weighed in somewhere in the 5.10 grade, where...who the hell knows. My partners thought it harder, as others have...so who knows. It is fun, well protected, and no reason not to go for it.
Following the crux I was keeping my eyes open for a rap station as we were going to rap the route. Unable to find this station (more on this later), I keep going...and going...and going....into poor rock quality and lacking protection, things became quite adventurous quickly.
I found what I thought was the fifth pitch corner (it was) and some bail gear at the base of it. From below it looked harder than 5.10 and the bail gear made me think I might have been off route. After talking it over with Jon and Travis, I decide to take off on this last pitch we hadn't planned on climbing. I go from being scared we are off route to elated when I saw the bolted anchors and rap slings...it truly is incredible the range of emotions a single route can put you through.
From here the descent was uneventful once I brought the guys up....thank God. I was afraid of rope snags the whole time, yet fortuitously we escaped with no ropes hung up and walked out with plenty of daylight left.
All in all, La Cierta Edad is a classic route and regardless of the grade, deserves more traffic than it gets. We did have to wait at the base a little bit for the slab to go into the shade. Dark varnish + well-spaced bolts + sunlight (and warm temps) == good conditions.
Oh yeah, and this also was Jon's first multi-pitch trad climb! He did one hell of a job following and keeping his composure.
Thank you for reading!