The Weather Window

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Sending Potato Chips, Kraft Boulders

For most of the country this has been a harsh winter.  Even in Texas we’ve had unusually cold temperatures and lots of ice.  When skies are grey I (somewhat obsessively) monitor the weather at my favorite climbing destinations, looking opportunities to escape to warmer temps.   Last weekend I saw a window of good weather at Red Rocks, so I gave Blake a ring and we decided to go for it.  Through the miracle of frequent flyer miles we were able to book flights and hotels at the last minute at zero cost.  And it paid off – we climbed in t-shirts and shorts while Fort Worth suffered through yet another ice storm.

Here’s our tick list:

Saturday
We flew in Saturday morning and went directly to Brass Wall to do some short warmup climbs:

Sunday
We’ve done most of the classic moderate routes at Red Rocks so we were looking for something a bit off the  beaten path.  We decided to try Orange Clonus, a 5-6 pitch 5.10d on Straight Shooter wall.  It ended up being more than we bargained for!  Both the first pitch and the crux 5th pitch felt quite a bit harder than 5.10d (and lots of people on Mountain Project agree).  After a few attempts at the crux thin hands corner (which for me was off-fingers with slick feet) I got frustrated and we bailed near the top of the route.  The descent was pretty involved due to the wandering nature of the route.  We ended up rapping a pitch, down-climbing two easy pitches, then rapping into a gully.  If you climb enough it’s inevitable that you’ll have “adventures” like that so you just roll with it.  To regain our confidence we climbed the classic finger crack Straight Shooter before hiking out of Pine Creek Canyon.

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Blake styling Panty Raid, a steep, crimpy 5.10 line on Panty Wall

Monday
We had a flight to catch in the afternoon, so we went to Calico Basin and climbed Classic Crack of Calico, a wonderful 3 pitch 5.9+ on Kraft Mountain.  I can’t say enough good things about this route.  The third pitch may be the best 5.8/5.9 pitch I’ve done at Red Rocks.  After summiting and hiking down, I did a quick lap on the classic V2 Potato Chips at the Kraft Boulders just so I could say I did a boulder problem on this trip.

When we got back to the car, we had messages from American Airlines – our flights to Dallas later that afternoon had been cancelled due to icy conditions.  It seemed crazy since we were getting sunburned in Vegas.  Needless to say, we were NOT upset.  We went back to town to grab lunch and then headed to Panty Wall in the Calico Hills to bang out a few more routes:

With the forecast calling for continued sun and warm temps we were sort of hoping for another cancelled flight on Tuesday.  But all good things must come to an end…

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