Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Red Rock, Nevada - Day 1, Part 2

As I mentioned earlier, the rock here was very cool and neat. The layered swirls of red and grey sand dunes that we went past had a vaguely impressionistic look to them. I wouldn't be surprised if some New York artist painted this on a canvas and sold it for several thousand dollars at an art show.

Our next stop for the day was Ultraman Wall. There are 8 routes here, ranging from 5.6 to 5.9, from 100' to 165' tall. I kinda wanted to get on Ultraman, a 110' slab, but it was rated 5.8+ and I wasn't feeling my oats quite THAT much. :-/ So I decided we would go up Scent of Ultraman, a reasonably well protected (7 bolts) 110' long 5.7 route (noted by the green line in the photo), and the first one we came to when we finally worked our way over and up to the base of the slab. Since it was another bolted route, as I geared up and Michelle and Claudia flaked out the ropes, I left my trad rack reluctantly in the pack, and loaded up with all of my quickdraws. Gazing up the rock wall I could see the first four bolts fairly readily. I was admittedly a little bit nervous, for once again, a new route into the unknown. But I've been on 5.7 slab on Stone Mountain where pitches can run 200' with only a couple bolts for protection. Here I'd have 7 in 110'. That made me feel muuuuch better. :-)

Ropes flaked, I started to head up. The first bolt was 20' above me. I reached it with no problem. In fact, the getting to the next few bolts was almost boring. I grew concerned that my partners of the day would be in tears from such an unexciting route.

However, by the 4th or 5th bolt (can't remember now), the route got a little spicy. Suddenly my attention was torn from the landscape behind me (see photo right; the parking area faintly visible is from where we started the morning; the visitor center is the low building in the distance before the hills) to finding exactly how I was going to make the next moves. NOW we were talking! I gingerly made a few moves up a steep section of the slab, delicately placing my feet on small holds, gripping edges with my finger tips, until I could get to the next bolt and clip it.

But it wasn't over with yet. The fun continued until I got to the last bolt, then the climbing eased off a bit.

We had thought to try and set a top-rope up on Clutch Cargo, a 5.9 to the right of Scent of Ultraman, but as I looked over to the anchors 15' away, I could not see an easy way of reaching them. I thought maybe I could get to them after rappeling down. So I continued up the last 15' into a semi-sheltered alcove with chains at the top of my route.

I then belayed Michelle and Claudia up. They came up without any problems, but both noted that they could easily tell when the 5.7 section hit. :-) (photo at left is of Michelle just getting into the 5.7 portion of the route). Then we rigged the rappel line and they went back down. I followed last, and attempted to bounce over to the anchors for Clutch Cargo. Alas, I was only able to get within 4-5' before I was pulled forcefully back by the extreme angle of the rope to the anchors we were rapping from. No way could I get over to set up the top rope. Ah well.

As it was starting to get la
te (it was nearly 4pm), we decided we had had a good day. Maybe we could do one more climb? I had one in mind. Chips and Salsa at Tuna And Chips Wall was a 210', two pitch 5.3, but I proposed we only do the first pitch (60') (click on photo to left, the first pitch of Chips and Salsa is dashed in green, and you can see a climber circled on a 5.8 to the right of it; in the upper right skyline you can make out two people still scrambling/hiking around on the rocks; this photo was taken at 5pm). But by the time we pulled the ropes, packed up, and got back down from Ultraman Wall to the trail, it was already 5pm. The park was listed to close at 5pm, and heavy, heavy fines ($200+) would be levied upon anyone still within after closing. We decided to not try for the climb, as it would probably take 20-30 minutes to work our way through the maze of rock and canyons to get to the base of it, not to mention climb up, rap off, and hike out.

Despite the hour of t
he day, and despite the fines for being in the park after closing, there were HUGE numbers of people still around! We saw several groups still climbing (see photo above for one), many others still hiking (again, photo above for a couple; they would be down in no less than half an hour), and even a wedding photo being shot (at least of the bride). It was kinda surreal. Since no one seemed in a hurry to drive out the 10 or so more miles to get out of the park (the loop road is one way), I noted there was a special type of geocache called an Earthcache nearby. I went off to tag that while Michelle and Claudia watched some climbers do some hard stuff on Tiger Stripe Wall, a bit closer to the parking area. We learned from the climbers that while there is a fine, the rangers aren't rigorous about the 5pm "get out" time. They close the front gates at 5pm, then give a reasonable amount of time for people to drive out. That was good to know. So we packed up the car and headed up the loop, stopping briefly at the "highest point along loop road" overlook to take a few sunset photos, then continued out. The photo above shows the bulk of the Calico Rocks from the overlook; we had climbed in the grey and red area on the right half of the rocks. You can see Vegas in the valley beyond the rocks.

We drove around the loop road and found Carlos and Francesca's car at one of the last pull-off parking areas to the canyon climbing areas. We were about to leave a note when they breathlessly came running up to their car. It was quite late by this point, about 5:45p, and Carlos was aware of the late departure fines. But the parking area was still fairly full, so we didn't think there'd be any major problems for them. We headed back to Vegas to grab showers before they arrived (five people, one shower, gotta plan this out carefully!).

Once some showers were taken, we headed off to find some dinner. We ended up at a Chili's with a 25 minute wait time. As we were all starving (it was going on 11pm EST, 8pm local), we opted to just eat at the bar and do catch-up on our day's adventures. Then back to the hotel and we all crashed for the night. Tomorrow would be a much longer day. In my sights: the 4-5 pitch 5.6 route called Cat In The Hat at the Mescalito...

1 comment:

  1. dammit...I really need to get back to the gym so I can have cool adventures with Indy too!