On Monday night we drove to this camp in the Coconino National Forest just west of Flagstaff. New snow made it a bit chilly and wet.
Once we arrived in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, we met up with Bill. Bill was already out there having just completed the Silverman Ironman-distance triathlon a couple of days earlier. We went straight to climbing at the Brass Wall. Here, Bill leads the first pitch of the two-pitch 5.8 route “Varnishing Point”
Allison following the second pitch of “Varnishing Point”
The Mescalito Formation just up the canyon. The Brass Wall is the shiny, varnished wall in the right side of the photo.
After climbing “Varnishing Point” we climbed the single-pitch 5.9 route “Topless Twins”. Really great twin cracks up the nicely varnished wall.
Bill leading up “Topless Twins”.
Starting up on lead of the perfect finger locks crack of “Straight Shooter”, 5.9+.
On day 2 of our trip, Allison, Bil and I headed to Juniper Canyon to climb the classic 5.7 “Olive Oil” route on Rose Tower. We drove in when the gate opened at 6am and enjoyed a nicely colored sunrise on the drive.
After a 40 minute approach we started climbing the four-pitch, 5.7 route, “Olive Oil”. Allison seconds the 5.7 first pitch.
Bill sets off up the second and third pitches (5.7, 5.6). He linked the two pitches in one 210' pitch.
Allison seconding the second and third pitches.
Seconding the second/third pitch of “Olive Oil”.
Bill sets off on lead of the fourth and final pitch, a 5.7 corner pitch.
The view of the cool, candy striped rock with Vegas in the background.
Fun climbing but now time for the walk-off descent.
A very big cactus excites Fritz.
A view back at Rose Tower. “Olive Oil” climbs roughly on the left skyline.
Our next climb for the day was “Dark Shadows”, 5.8, on the north side of Mescalito.
The Dark Shadows route was very nice but even more pleasing was our surprise when we discovered that a large spring near the base makes for a beautiful, cool and lush setting complete with frogs.
To start the Dark Shadows route, you step over this pool at the base of the wall.
Leading the first pitch of “Dark Shadows”.
Leading (linking) the second pitch of “Dark Shadows”
I linked the first two pitches of the route (5.5 and 5.6). Here, Fritz starts up while Bill looks on.
The first pitch was fun, easy 5.5 slabby stuff above the pool of water and fall colors. Fantastic.
Bill starts up the route.
Fritzer making the short traverse left to the top of the second pitch.
A slower party ahead of us meant we spent about thirty minutes just hanging out on the nice ledge at the top of the second pitch waiting for them to get up a bit higher. Often these forced waits for parties ahead of me are annoying but with the location of this route and the fine weather, it was a joy to hang out. Here, Bill starts up on lead of the grand third pitch of the route.
The very varnished rock on this wall makes for some unique and amazing holds and features.
Allison seconding the third pitch. This perspective really shows the cool features.
Hot damn that rock is stellar!
Leading the fourth pitch of “Dark Shadows”
At the top of the third pitch rapping down
Sunset on our hike out
For our third day of climbing, we had picked up Minesh at the airport the night before so Bill, Minesh, Allison and I set our sights on the super classic, always crowded “Crimson Chrysalis”, 5.8+. This 9 pitch route always attracts a crowd so getting into the park to get the base of the route first is the real crux. This day, we failed. The black car in the front of line had a pair that was super aggro and sped to the parking area while we drove much slower behind a couple of vehicles. The climbers beat us to the route by ten minutes and turned out to be a slighty slow party choking up the route for most of the day.
On the approach to Crimson. The route climbs the obvious right skyline of Rainbow Mountain's East Peak, the major peak in this photo.
Looking up Crimson Chrysalis. Nine pitches of 5.8 straight up! We waited for the guys that beat us there to start climbing to decide whether or not we wanted to follow them up. The relatively slow progress of the first leader coupled with the fact that he had hexes on his rack was a tell-tale signal that we had better find something else to climb. Bill and Minesh opted to wait and follow them up.
Allison and I went around the corner to climb a more recent “classic” addition to Red Rocks, the seven pitch, 5.10b sport route “Unimpeachable Groping”. Established in 1999 and named in honor of Bill Clinton, the lines climbs the continuous 5.10- face through well-protected patina-laden face climbing for 700' to the top of Ginger Buttress. This is a view looking directly up the route.
Allison following pitch 1.
The position on the face is amazing and exposed. Nearly completely featureless save for the just-enough patina face holds, the face gives you a “really out there” feeling.
A view of the big roof to start pitch four. It's big, steep and intimidating looking but big jugs just above the roof keep it at the reasonable 5.10- level. Fun!
Above the big ledge and big roof on pitch 4.
As we got higher, the varnish on the face became more profuse making for a bit easier climbing even though the angle steepened.
It was a hot day in the sun so as the shade began to consume us a little after 11am, we were pleased.
The final pitch to the top of the buttress turns the corner from the face and follows fun 5.8 climbing up a face with more quality rock.
Beginning our rappel descent
One last view of the face we had just climbed seen during our descent of the neighboring route, “Power Failure”
interesting rock coloring
We walked back around to Crimson Chrysalis to eat lunch and see how Bill and Minesh were doing. Minesh on lead of pitch 7 maybe?
It was, as usual, a busy day on Crimson. At least six parties were on the route.
After lunch Allison and I decided to climb the four pitch route “Spare Rib”, 5.8, just a bit left of Crimson. Looking up the first pitch.
Looking down the fun 5.8 first pitch of Spare Rib.
I linked the second and third pitches (5.8, 5.6). Allison following.
Smiles on the descent
After climbing “Spare Rib” we checked on Bill and Minesh again. They were now descending but the descent involves rapping the route and downward progress looked a bit complicated and slow.
So we started our hike out knowing that it would be dark before Bill and Minesh got out. Since fines are heavy for having a vehicle parked along the scenic loop after dark, we'd plan to drive the vehicle out if a ranger showed up before Bill and Minesh arrived. Thankfully B and Minesh arrived at 6:00pm before the ranger did.
It was a colorful sunset that evening.
And a full moon!
Black Velvet Wall is the obvious tall and darkly-varnished wall near the center of the photo.
Close up of Black Velvet Wall
On the approach hike to our planned route, “Frogland”, 5.7
Allison following pitch 2 of Frogland
Allison on pitch three of Frogland
The fifth pitch of Frogland involves squirming through a tunnel. Easier for smaller people.
Allison approaching the tunnel
And coming through the tunnel section.
The view of the Vegas Strip from the summit of Frogland is more complete than the view of the strip from other routes in RR since the route is further south.
We did the walk-off descent in time to see Bill and MInesh working up the fifth pitch into the tunnel above.
George stepping up to the scare on the first pitch of “Wholesome Fullback”, 5.10a.
To top off the day, Bill and I climbed the two pitch “The Misunderstanding”, 5.9. Me starting the first pitch.
Moving up to underneath the large roof on pitch 1
Because I own a long set of legs, I used my big inseam to my advantage on this wide stem making the first pitch 5.8 rather than 5.9.
Moving around the roof is the crux of the first pitch.
Bill cannot stem as wide as me. Too bad for him.
The second pitch is really the reason to climb this route. Bill graciously gave me the lead of the second pitch too. Stellar stemming lead to some wonderful, committing layback moves up high.
For our last day, day five, we headed to Angel Food Wall in hopes of climbing one of two popular routes there--“Group Therapy” or “Purblind Pillar”. Unfortunately, we had a late start to the day after packing up and checking out of our room at Bonnie Springs Motel and arrived at the wall to find parties on both routes. I've done enough waiting around other parties to realize we had better just get on something else. Allison and I chose “Eigerwand”, 5.9, to the left of uber-popular Tunnel Vision. Looking down the juggy fun crack/trough of the first pitch.
The second pitch went up the rest of the crack to some slabby 5.9 moves to the light-colored bulge/ledge (below) and then moved to the varnished easy crack/face here.
Allison just above the 5.9 face moves on the sloping ledge/bulge
The third pitch climbs easy face along a big, wide splitter crack on the outside of the wall directly over the tunnel pitch on Tunnel Vision. It was cool to climb over it and hear the voices of climbers passing through the tunnel underneath.
Allison seconding the third pitch
View of Calico Basin and the strip beyond from the top of the Angel Food Wall
Allison on the last pitch of Eigerwand
On our way down the descent gully I spied this face with a nice looking crack going up it next to a big ledge. Since we had lots of time to kill while Bill and Minesh finished up their route, I gave it a go. It was quite fun. We decided to name the line “Killin' Time”, 5.8. A Red Rocks first ascent? Not likely but one never knows--it's obscure enough but a nice way to get in some bonus climbing after climbing a route on the Angel Food Wall.
Allison, Bill and Minesh were done climbing for the day but I still had some go-juice and talked them into humoring me so I could get one more classic line climbed--“Chicken Eruptus”, 5.10b, is a 200' single pitch route on bullet hard varnished rock. Looking closely here you can see me starting the line in the right-side of the photo.
The line started up some fun, big holds before moving into smaller crimpy face holds on great, steep varnished rock. A couple of bolts protect the spicy sections but a good bit of gear is required to protect the rest of the route.
Well past the crux into easier terrain.
Bill following the route.