Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red Rocks part 2

Three days of late starts and disappointing amounts of daylight finally motivated me to get up early and do some real climbing. While the route we did only amounts to about 800 feet it provided a very satisfying day.

Black Velvet Canyon, BV Wall on the left

After poring over the guidebooks and rereading the Alpinist profile I knew I wanted to test my mental strength on this trip and hopefully sketch my way up a few of the classics pioneered by the so called Adventure Punks. As we all know they climbed in a style that contrasted sharply with some of the other climbers developing Red Rocks' unique sandstone walls.

The beautiful varnish of the Black Velvet Wall, Rock Warrior tackles more or less the middle of the prominent central shield

The logical first step appears to be Rock Warrior, a wandering face line with thoughtful protection and a handful of bolts. It lies on the left side of the Black Velvet Wall in the beautiful canyon of the same name.

Zach following the first pitch

Climbers on Prince of Darkness

Climbers approaching Fiddler on the Roof

As soon as we spotted the parking area we knew that the walls were probably crawling with climbers but it seemed like we had a good chance to be the only ones lined up for the Rock Warrior. The hike went smoothly, it seemed shorter than I remembered, and soon we were staring up at the wall searching for the first bolt.

Zach leading the second pitch

I was pretty sure that the only bolts I could see belonged to the neighboring route, Sandstone Samurai, an infamously runout big brother of Rock Warrior. Figuring that it would be more obvious from up close I racked up and ran up the initial easy ground. I placed a questionable blue Alien and smeared up the white slab, not entirely trustful of my feet. Still lost, a woman on Prince of Darkness took pity on me and asked if I was looking for the bolt about ten feet to my right. Yes, in fact, I was, thank you. Unfortunately those last few feet were the scariest of the route for me, laughably easy when well protected but rather unnerving twenty meters off the deck.

Zach following pitch three and getting psyched for the next lead

The next lead...

I finally manned up (personed up?) and clipped the shiny metal with a sigh of relief. A few techy moves got me onto the varnished face where I felt more comfortable and managed to find some decent gear. This style of Red Rocks face climbing is so unique and a real pleasure to climb, I had sampled such rock but never for so many pitches in a row.

Self portrait (duh), thanks Blake for the awesome windbreaker!

Zach following pitch 5

Zach wandered up the second pitch with confidence, slowly unraveling the sequence from piece to piece. There was a little chalk on the route (nothing compared to Prince of Darkness) which definitely helped with navigation. Many of the holds seemed impossibly fragile but the majority of those I tested were surprisingly solid. By the third pitch I started to read the rock more easily and found a smooth flow.

Zach leading the sixth and final pitch

The wind picked up and the feet started to hurt but before it got too painful we were at the last station and starting the mechanical process of rapelling. Before long we were back at the base slipping into our tennies and enjoying the sunset.

Another team on Dream of Wild Turkeys

Prince of Darkness

Our route came pretty close to the Prince of Darkness, a route of similar technical difficulty but completely different style. It looks like a lot of fun and I'd like to do it some day but I have to say that there's something much more rewarding about moving confidently far above your protection. Like I said, I'm no hardman. But it was nice, if only briefly, to feel like a warrior.


handlebar said...

Very Nice Bud! Sounds like a great day. Good shots and a good story too. Enjoy the rest of your Vegas days!

allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake Herrington said...

Looks sweet Max! We got a chance to do one of the mellower rights off to the right of Rock Warrior last spring, but the guidebook description of Rock Warrior made it sound like a much more memorable and serious route. Sounds like you'd agree... If you get the chance to climb something on the Eagle Wall (Levitation 29 or the others) you should do it, and do the walkoff canyon descent. It's really beautiful and would be great for photos.