Red Rocks Delivers

HoldemBlake on the first pitch of Texas Hold’em, Black Velvet Wall

Just returned from a long weekend of climbing at Red Rocks.  As my climbing partner Blake says, “Red Rocks always delivers”, and this time was no exception.  We’ve done many of the 5 star routes at Red Rocks so we’re starting to climb off the beaten path a bit.

Here’s our tick list:

We flew to Vegas early, grabbed lunch at our favorite cafe, and headed to the cliffs for a little afternoon cragging…

solarPsyched x 3.  Me, Blake, and Andy at the top of Solar Flare.

We hooked up with our friend Andy and hiked into Oak Creek Canyon.  This was my first time to climb as a party of 3 where the leader brings both followers up at the same time using a Petzl Reverso.  I’m normally not a fan of 3-man rope teams but this system worked really well and was only about 20% slower than climbing as a party of 2.  You have to bring two ropes anyway for many routes at Red Rocks (for rappels), so why not use them for a third climber?

  • Solar Flare (5.10, 5p) – An OK route – wouldn’t do it again.
  • Beulah’s Book (5.9, 3p) – We did the first two pitches.  The second pitch is one of the best of its grade at Red Rocks!
  • Red Zinger  (5.10+, 2p) – Pure “Indian Creek style” crack climbing – it felt hard and sustained!  We only did the first pitch because we were getting tired and the overhanging thin hands second pitch looked a little intimidating.

photo 2 (2)The stellar second pitch of Beulah’s Book

photo 1 (1)Leading Red Zinger

Each time we visit Red Rocks we like to spend at least one day in Black Velvet Canyon.  The canyon’s namesake wall is the crown jewel of the area.  At over 2000 feet tall, Black Velvet Wall has perhaps the highest concentration of high quality (and mostly moderate) multipitch trad routes in the world.  Andy had recommended a route called Texas Hold’Em, which checks in at 5.11c over 9 pitches.  However, the first 6 pitches can be climbed at a more manageable (but still challenging) 5.10d rating.  Black Velvet Wall is huge and intimidating, and this route had a pretty serious feel to it.  Every pitch – even the ones with easier ratings – has something to keep your attention.  No gimmes!

The crux pitch was long and sustained, beginning with an overhanging 10d fist crack followed by 150 feet of  sustained 5.10 face and thin crack.  I was psyched to get the onsight – and also exhausted both mentally and physically.  After rapping down we realized that we were the only people in Black Velvet Canyon – very unusual for a Saturday in April.  We enjoyed the quiet hour-long hike back to the car (and also the mountain of sushi we ate later).

photo 3 (1)Looking back at Black Velvet Wall on the hike out.  Beautiful and quiet.

With a flight to catch in the afternoon, we needed an objective with a relatively short approach and a quick descent.  We have had our eye on the “new Red Rocks classic” route La Cierta Edad (5.10d, 5p) for a while so we decided to give it a go.  It was fantastic – the pitches were varied (runout face, thin crack, wide crack, chimney, etc.) and each was challenging in its own way.  The 5.9+ chimney on the second pitch gave me fits (chimneys are my weakness – Blake cruised it) but the 10d offwidth felt surprisingly easy.  Our favorite pitch was the 3rd, with a sustained 10a off-fist crack and lots of stemming.  We moved quickly and were back at the car before 1pm.

photo 5 (1)La Cierta Edad, P3

photo 4 (1)Hanging belay selfie on La Cierta Edad

Another great trip – Red Rocks always delivers.  Time to heal up and plan the next one…



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