Me leading Pitch 4 of Dark Shadows
Last weekend I went to Red Rocks with my friend Michael for a few days of climbing. We went late in the season, so our biggest challenge was staying out of the sun and 100 degree temps. Here’s what we did:
This was Michael’s first multi-pitch climbing trip, so I wanted to start out on something pretty easy. We chose Frogland, a 6 pitch 5.8 in Black Velvet Canyon. Michael did great and we finished early, so we moved over to Triassic Sands, a route that has been on my tick list for a while. The second pitch has a 5.10 crux that the guidebook describes as “an athletic series of moves”. I’ve seen people struggle on those moves, so I was pretty amped up. So amped up that the route felt very casual. The pitch turned out to be one of the best I’ve climbed. All in all, a great first day with 8 good pitches of climbing.
One of the neat things about climbing in the desert is that no matter how hot it is, it’s usually very comfortable if you stay in the shade. However, if you are climbing in the sun, the heat radiating off the rock will roast you.
Unfortunately, our day 2 objective, Dream of Wild Turkeys, was directly in the sun. We knew this before we hiked in, but we hoped the heat would be bearable. It wasn’t. We climbed the first 2 pitches and bailed. After we rappelled down, we had a little snafu with the rope, so I ended up climbing the first pitch of The Gobbler, which looks like an amazing route. I’ll be back to climb that one (linked to Fiddler on the Roof).
After a morning spent in the sun, we were pretty tired and dehydrated. We consulted the guidebook and selected a route that was in the shade called The Misunderstanding. This 2 pitch 5.9 turned out to be a real gem, with incredibly aesthetic and varied climbing.
For our last day, we selected Dark Shadows Wall, which the guidebook says “rarely gets sun”. Unfortunately, we visited during one of those rare times of year. Our intent was to do Risky Business and Dark Shadows. We started with Dark Shadows, which climbs a corner that did provide some shelter from the sun.
Michael leading the first pitch of Dark Shadows.
The standard 4 pitch route is shown in red.
We finished that route quickly, but unfortuntately Risky Business and everything else on the wall was baking in the sun — too hot to climb. So we cut the day short and headed to the airport.
Overall, we had a great time as always. But given the weather, we made a couple of bad route choices that kept us from climbing as much as I’d have liked to. I’ll know better next time.