Red Rock Update

I just got back from a few days doing some teaching of squeeze chimney and offwidth climbing at the Red Rock Rendezvous. That place is amazing!

Red Rock was reached via a 3-part ride from Denver.

  1. Two local guys from CU gave me a ride to Zion, where I cragged for the day (sent Dire Wolf, 5.12- fell off  the 5.11- ) and met YOSAR guru Sam Piper.
  2. Turns out Sam and I knew about a million of the same people, and Sam gave me a ride out to I-15.
  3. Jesse Mease from SLC picked me up at a grocery store,  and we finished the drive to Red Rocks, celebrating our arrival with an ascent of "Heart of Darkness" and the first time up Mescalito Tower. Descent from the Mescalito is really easy if you just keep heading back and left (facing away from the loop road) and follow cairns and ledges on south side of the summit ridge. One 25m rappel from a tree at the end is required.
After the climbing clinics,  I was around the area for a day and a half contributing cockamamie suggestions for  new climbing clothes/gear to the company Outdoor Research.   From the owner (an avid skier/climber) to all the other folks I have met in the Seattle office, (who remodel their workspace by dry-tooling the cubicle walls...) Outdoor Research is fully staffed with friendly, motivated, and inspired skiers and climbers. They have given me some clothes to test and abuse, in return for my ramblings posted to their Verticulture site. It may not be a 'Bank Bonus', but still pretty good deal on my end, and I'm forever grateful for the help.  Rather than just be one in the crowd of good gear-making companies, it sounds like OR is making a big push towards unique and innovative stuff that you can't get anywhere else. Anyone who stumbles across this post and has a gripe about gear or an idea for "the holy grail" of climbing items, definitely share it as a comment, email, or message to OR. It's great that they are small enough (and not run by a board of directors or larger corporation) to have the freedom and desire for constant improvements of their gear.

P1 The Gobbler

DoWT: Not onsight-down-solo terrain for me...

After the design meetings, my friend Sol Wertkin came down, to celebrate Spring Break in Vegas. Or at least nearby to Vegas. Despite some snowy and cold weather (lots of falling ice derailed our Ancient Futures attempt...) we managed to have a blast. My favorite three days were:
Sol on Cloud Tower Crux

  1. Triassic Sands (4 pitches) in 40MPH winds + Gobbler to Dream of Wild Turkeys. 
  2. Cloud Tower with Sol and our friend Kurt Hicks. We got the "non-sight". Sol fell on his crux onsight attempt. I sussed out the sequence* and punched it to just above where tips turn into finger locks, but had sandbagged myself into thinking it was all over. Instead, the crack narrowed and more green-alien laybacks awaited. I got pumped out and whipped my way back down.. Kurt got the TR flash of this pitch, and had his token fall on the very last move of the route, a super-impressive effort on his onsight of the route's final 5.11 pitch.
  3. Texas Hold 'Em into Lone Star - Perfect temps in the shade and a good time with Sol made this route a blast. Sol crushed the route's 5.11c crux pitch on his third burn, holding on to the swinging barn door move with a guttural monkey shout  that was echoed back our way by Tad McCrea, an ubber-psyched fellow Washingtonian on Epinephrine. Sol then hauled the pack on this pitch so I could follow it free. My 5.11c pitch (the easier of the two) was hemmed and hawed over, and eventually sent onsight, so I earned the no-fall day of all 21 pitches. The most memorable pitch pulled through a huge roof band that would require a second rope fixed to the lower anchor in order to be rappel-able without getting stuck in space. Think Incredible Hand Crack, then make it drastically overhanging and leading to a hidden escape route. Our friend Jens has a good writeup of this climb here, and I'd suggest a double rack to a #3, with one #4. No wires, one purple TCU/Blue Alien, and a 60m rope is fine, since the descent is a walkoff from atop Black Velvet Peak.

Rapping in Red Rock: often the crux

Ice and Snow falling down form Black Velvet Peak - Too wet to climb on Sandstone

Red Rock has finally changed the management policy to allow for the replacement of old and unsafe bolts with new bolts in the same spot, and that's a big step in the right direction. There are real signs toward a new policy for adding bolts/route, and the BLM has hired a climbing range who is reaching out to the community. Pretty cool stuff!
Me sussing out Cloud Tower's crux
*Note to self for Cloud Tower (and don't read it if you don't want the info): Get to the rest with left hand in the arete bucket, left foot in the corner, right foot on face. Put left foot on good arete chip. Right hand up on tips crack layback. Left hand pinching above the bucket. Now cross through with your right foot into a layback, using a higher and worse foot hold than the one your left is on. Bring left foot up to bucket hold. Stem. Smile. Keep in mind that it's green aliens for a long ways, it doesn't really open to yellows and get an easier until you are basically done with the corner.


  1. You definitely made the most of your trip to Red Rocks. Awesome read; thanks.