We'd had this route in the back of our minds for the last couple of years but other trips, issues, and priorities seemed to relegate this climb to the distant future. Then last week, Ben phoned me up and talked about a RR trip this coming weekend. After a brief discussion, we both agreed it was time to do the Joe Herbst classic first put up in 1973. Ben and I had done a fair amount of climbing as a team so we both felt comfortable with each other's strengths, weaknesses, quirky habits, etc. Previously, we'd done both the Prow and Moonlight Buttress together. Friday- Left for Vegas at 3pm from Orange County. Arrived in Vegas at about 9 pm. Stopped by Desert Rock to pick up a tag line and then headed back to the BLM's 13 Mile Campground to get a few hours shuteye. Saturday- Woke up at 2:30am, geared up and drove to RR. Started hiking in to Juniper Canyon at about 4am via headlamp. As usual, Ben arrived at the base of the climb about 15 minutes before I did. The approach took Ben about 2 ½ hours and I took about 15 minutes longer. We started climbing at about 7am.
SATURDAY Pitch 1 & 2: I ran these two together. Easy free climbing on the first pitch and easy aid on the second. Supposedly A2 but felt more like A1. Pitch 3 & 4: Ben runs these together. Both are combination free/aid pitches. Some wide crack and offwidth free-climbing mixed with some small gear and a few Fish hooks and Leepers. Pitch 5: This is my pitch with more combination free/aid climbing. I take 2 short hook falls. Pitch 6: Ben fires off this mostly free pitch that brings us to Faith Ledge. Pitch 7: I lead this 5.8 wandering free climbing pitch. Pitch 8: Ben free climbs up to Rainbow Ledge where we bivy for the night.
SUNDAY Pitch 9: I lead this mostly free climbing traverse that is technically easy but provides some cool exposure. As I'm setting up the belay, rocks come raining down from above as a result of another party rapping the route. Pitch 10: Ben gets the first pitch of the Red Dihedral. Lots of small gear, Fish Hooks, and Leepers. Ben takes a small fall and rips out a leeper and a Lowe-Ball. A rock the size of a golf ball hits me in the shoulder. Already bruised and battered. Pitch 11: The second pitch of the dihedral that requires a lot of small gear, Leepers, and Fish Hooks. I bounce test an RP and take a daisy chain fall on my Leeper which holds the fall. These things are GREAT! Pitch 12: This is probably the most technically demanding pitch on the route and Ben does it without any problem Lot's and lots of thin stuff including Fish Hooks, Leepers with a #4 Camalot thrown in for good measure. Pitch 13: I take us to the top with a couple of easy aid roof moves and then a 4th class scramble to the top. It's 3pm. We hang around the summit for about an hour and then head back to the car. It's been a great couple of days. I'm tired and sore. But most of all, I'm happy. Some general observations: This was a fun route with a nice bivy ledge. Long approach…long descent. Finding the descent at night could be an epic. We did the route clean. Nailing would make it easier. Leepers, Fish-hooks and rp's got us by those sections that generally require nailing.
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe