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We had such a good time climbing Turkeys two weeks prior – especially with my wife providing me with a TR on the crux pitches – that we found ourselves once again in the beautiful Red Rocks of Nevada on a partly sunny Thursday not-too-early-of-a-morning. Given that Shirley seemed to be eating up leading the thin sandstone edges of Red Rocks, I figured I would ride that gravy train and try and tick off a couple of routes from the list over the course of four days.
Thursday. Power Failure, 5.10-, 3P
Short night of sleep was offset with a late wake up call and a long breakfast (lunch?) at Einstein’s Bagels. We thought about the seven pitch Unimpeachable Groping but upon the 2pm arrival at the base, settled on the three pitch Power Failure next door. I got the odds and Shirley dispatched the crux pitch: a short, thin crack to a slabby step right followed by easier terrain. A very nice route in a small package! Two hours later we were flipping through the guidebook over some Vietnamese noodle soup. Love that Vegas climbing experience: no need for greasy, shitty diner food after climbing! You have your pick of affordable dining options. Choices were made, alarms were set...and promptly ignored. Maybe the continuing family feud in the motel room next door that kept us up most of the night might have been to blame…
Friday. The Gobbler, 5.10-, 3P
Anyway, out the door we went a brief 4 hours past the crack of dawn. “Yes – breakfast sounds good”. Getting to the crags by noon tends to narrow down your options. We remembered admiring The Gobbler a few times before from the base and so made it our goal for the day. No less than 10 cars at the Black Velvet trailhead reminded us that it was spring break season…oh well. Many parties on the classic lines – though we’d see many bail a pitch or two up after realizing just how cold things were on the shady walls and with a breeze blowing through the canyon. Shirley led the beautiful looking first pitch: a series of face traverses on good, positive rails that are mostly invisible from below (making things appear harder than the advertised 5.9). I took the second pitch whose rating is set by a single (highly height/reach-dependent) move in the chimney of sorts. Shirley did not care for this pitch (did I mention reach-dependent?) but led the third beautifully. Now that one seemed pretty damn thin for its 10a rating! I was happy to have the TR as my big clunky shoes searched for footholds while my fat stubby fingers were fishing for incuts…Great stuff!! Some of the best Mexican food (& margaritas) we’ve ever tasted finished off the day.
Saturday. Inti Watana, 5.10, 12P
We asked for a room switch the night before to a non-residential wing of the Motel 6 just to be sure we’d actually wake up on time. So we’d either tick off a longer one this day or not at all on this trip. With this motivation in mind and a good nights sleep under our belts, we found ourselves in a pullout on the state highway at 4am…it’s cold and early…OK, let’s sleep for an hour in the car (you know, with “lazy!” being the theme of this climbing trip and all). Finally we were hiking by 5am armed with a single sheet of paper: our friends Eric & Lucie’s approach overlayed on a photo - dead-on accurate approach beta. Two hours later and after some 4th class scrambling up the White Rot Gully, we passed the start of Resolution Arete and were soon looking up at our route of choice from the depths of a snow choked freezer gully in the guts of Mt. Wilson: 12 pitches of beautiful climbing fully visible from the base. Since the guidebook mentioned a roof (reachy??) on pitch 9, I took the odds and Shirley led the evens. This lined her up nicely for the crux 2nd pitch of the line (5.10…or 5.10c/d per some reports) as well as the other reported 5.10 pitch at the very top. I was all set. Crux of pitch 1 was trying to keep my rock shoes dry while starting from a 20 degree snow slope. Shirley led the crux pitch with one hang to figure shit out….though I think it was just a mental hesitation due to that little voice in her head saying: “it might be 10d…DDDDDD!” After that things eased considerably. Beautiful climbing – bolted where needed, trad protected elsewhere. A direct and an exposed line to the top of the buttress. Only down side was the cold temperature – we had direct sunshine for only about 2 pitches, otherwise it was shivering time at belays. Pitch 9 roof was trivial: not reachy and with a bolt in your face. Pitch 10 was some of the best face climbing we’ve ever done – super positive and steep patina flakes (solid too!) with over a thousand feet of air below your feet. Simply AWESOME! I linked pitches 9 & 10 and Shirley linked 11 & 12 to the top. The reported 10c 12th pitch was probably no harder than 9/10a and only for two or three moves. The 9 double rope raps down the face went without a hitch and we were back in the car as the sun set. A wonderful day of climbing and our first line on Mt. Wilson.
Sunday. Diet Delight, 5.9, 4P
The state of lazy was officially reinstated on Sunday. We decided that the boundary conditions for the day were: short approach and easy climbing. Flipping through the Hendren scripts over more Einstein bagels, Shirley pointed to Diet Delight on Windy Peak’s east face. As I recalled Dow’s SP description speaking well of this line, the decision was ratified and soon we were dragging the muffler of our economy rental to the trailhead. Shirley led the Straight Shooter-like first pitch (very aesthetic IMHO) and I led the evens. We spent an hour on top sunning ourselves trying to soak up enough rays to hold us over in the rainy Portland till the next desert outing. For something that is 3.5 pitches long, it sure has a pain-in-the-ass descent. Later that night we were home soaking in the 40F temps and relentless drizzle.