I found this climbing trip report from 2006 in my email folders. Thought I’d post it here for posterity.
A Good Day
When my wristwatch alarm started beeping at 4AM, I awoke feeling surprisingly refreshed. Despite seven stiff pitches and a couple hours of hiking the previous day, I felt ready for the Big Day. Our plan was to climb Epinephrine, THE classic climb at Red Rocks. It’s 15 pitches of climbing including 4 pitches of slick, runout chimneys. Plus a 1 hour approach. Plus a 2 hour descent. As my friend Jose would say, “Epinephrine ain’t no punk.” Any way you do the math, it makes for a long day, which is why Epinephrine has been the site of many an epic.
Epinephrine is an ultra-classic route for sure. But to be honest, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me. Which is why I tell a partial lie when Paul asks, “How are you feeling?”. The truth is that I feel really strong this morning. But what comes out of my mouth is, “My calves were cramping up during the night.”
Technically, this wasn’t a lie –- I did wake up to cramps a couple of times. But the message behind my words was clear: I’m not feeling motivated to do this thing. Apparently Paul was having the same thoughts because he wasted no time in replying, “OK, let’s deviate.” And just like that, room 114 at the La Quinta West Vegas fell silent again. But now I can’t sleep. I feel a sense of obligation to do this route despite the suffering it will entail. After all, the conditions are perfect. The canyons are unusually cool for September. The forecast is for perfect skies. Paul and I are in good shape. I search my mind for a legitimate excuse, but I can’t find one.
“Hey Paul, are you awake?” No response. Maybe he didn’t hear me. “HEY PAUL, are you awake?” Again, no response. Oh well, I guess it’s not meant to be. And with that I drift back to sleep, blissfully ignorant that Paul was also awake –- but listening to his iPod (and thus unable to hear me).
I awaken again to sunlight streaming through the seams of the black-out curtains. 6AM. I still feel strong, but now Epinephrine is out of the question. As we get packed up to go, we recite a litany of reasons why we made the right decision. After all, we’re here to have fun, right?
We decide to “deviate” to Ginger Cracks, a 5.9 trad route in Juniper Canyon. The approach to the route is brutal, but the climbing makes it worthwhile. Each of the 7 pitches was long and sustained and required the full arsenal of climbing techniques. And the rappel off the back side is pure joy compared to most of the rock-eating rappels at Red Rocks.
We climbed the route quickly and were back at the base in time for lunch. An hour later we were back at the car. The previous day I had suggested to Paul that we reward ourselves with steak after climbing Epinephrine. Despite wimping out on our original objective, steak still seemed appropriate. So we cleaned up at the hotel and hit Fleming’s on Charleston Boulevard. $108 and two 21 ounce bone-in ribeyes later we were ready to hit the poker tables in an attempt to avenge the prior evening’s losses.
Earlier this year, the new Red Rock Resort & Casino opened. It cost over $1 billion to build and is located just a few minutes from a lifetime of climbing in the canyons. Only one seat was available at the $1/$2 no limit tables, and Paul urged me to take it. I took him up on the offer, promising to have doubled my stack by the time he joined me. Unfortunately, the opposite happened when my pocket Aces were beat on the river by two pair. Half an hour and a few bad hands later, the $200 I started with had dwindled to just four $5 chips. Not the start I was hoping for.
However, after Paul joined me, the tide began to turn and eventually I caught a run of good cards. 6 hours, 3 eggs, and two pancakes later both Paul and I were up by about $200 and decided to call it a day. As I lay in bed, I thought about the choice we had made that morning — Climb Epinephrine or climb a lesser objective and enjoy Vegas’ other amenities. Either choice would have resulted in a 20 hour day. But only one of them would have found me in bed with memories from a great day on the rock, a belly full of prime steak, and enough poker winnings to pay for it all. Maybe I’m losing my fire as I get older, but as far as I’m concerned today was a good day.