Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Red Rocks Rock Climbing

The wonderous period in time came to pass when all college students run away to forget the woes of their education, and when those who have since graduated journey outward in their last hurrah. It is the annual celebration otherwise known as spring break.

My particular adventure brought me through a 32 hour road trip to the Red Rocks of Las Vegas, NV. Myself and 9 other companions awoke every morning before the sun rose prepared, and set out to climb pillars of sandstone. We would arrive at twilight to our homely campsite and the slab of poured concrete that served as our bed , and exchanged our tales of adventure from the days passing.

On the third day, I experienced an adventure of epic proportions, one in which I will probably remember for years to come. We woke early in the morning and decided which parties would go to which routes for the day. Half the groups went to the Pine Creek Canyon while myself and three others decided to climb the "Black Dagger". At 8:30 am we arrived at the desert trail and made our way towards Juniper Canyon.

As the sun rose higher into the sky and the heat began to rise we made our we across the desert and up the canyon. It became obvious that our approach was not going to be 2 hours long. We arrived at the feature around 11:45 and 4 hours after starting. We then debated which feature was our actual route. As we noticed the large dark menacing right facing dihedral...we didn't want to believe it was the route, but it was. One of my companions remarked it was only 5.7, and the other aptly replied..."IT'S A DIHEDRAL THE SIZE OF FUCKING PALISADE!!!!!!!"This pretty much summed it up; we had a bit of apprehension.

As we began to climb the first few pitches of the 7 pitch climb our moods lightened, we excitedly climbed the wall. The dihedral proved difficult, but do-able. Following the dihedral, I began to lead...my first pitch was up into a tunnel carrying our pack. It wasn't easy smearing 15 feet up to a hole, tossing the pack through, then wiggling myself through it's narrow grip.


As I went through the hole I became aware that the wind was picking up and the fact that we were all shirt-less didn't help the sesnation of cold that was coming on. I lead the next pitch as the sun was setting. When my climbing partner arrived at the ledge of the pitch I had lead it was dark, he popped up noticing blood on the rock...my knee had gotten a tad scraped. The wind picked up to 40 mph and we all began to shiver, with our headlamps leading the way we quickly leap frogged leadin pitches in hopes to top out the climb quickly. I shivered so hard the my gear rattled. The climb proved to have 9 pitches of roped climbing instead of the 7 indicated by our guide book. When we reached the top at 10:30 pm we celebrated the sight of a cairn. I followed the kairn into the darkness not know what lie around the corner...all the while the wind on top blew furiously, and I shivered. I walk along decent ledges bordered by cliff falling off into an abyss of darkness, I climbed upward and into a sheltered rock pit and set an anchor. My companions all came and hunkered down sheltered by the wind. We continued around the back of the mountain looking for a walk down. We discovered the walk down, through a narrow gap called Gunsight Gap between mountains. Aptly named it was not wide enough for a pack and was chock stone ridden. We descended our way 1000 ft through the gap and began our 4 hour hike to the road.

Being that all approach trails came of a scenic rd that closed after 10 pm, we then had to bush wack 3 miles through the desert to the highway. We arrived back to our rides at 3 am. And so an 18 hour day of climbing cam to pass. We all went to be and slept with out a sound, and woke only to the mid-day heat the next day.

The days following included many more climbs, adventures down the Vegas strip, laughter amongst friends, and sleeping under the stars. The desert became like home. We drove home 10 days after starting, not really wanting to leave. We stopped in Souix Falls SD for the modest mouse concert (lots of fun!) and continued on our way. Arriving back in Minnesota was a reality check, and one I wasn't looking forward to...we all parted ways, tearing at the bit of comeraudery that had been built. I was sad to see it go, but resolved only that adventures as this one should continue to happen and would look forward to the next...

1 comment:

Troy said...

That looks pretty sweet. We will have to do some rock climbing this summer. Wish I had people to climb with out here, since it is pretty epic up by Boulder. Just out of curiosity, did you all loose your shirts or something?