It’s early November. We arrived in Red Rocks late Friday night & have gotten in a few warm-up pitches on Saturday. We’re hiking back to the trailhead. There’s an old man hiking into Pine Creek Canyon. “Hello Mr. Beckey” I say while scooping my jaw off the ground. He ignores me. Shirley’s hiking 20 feet behind me. She gets a big smile and – as I later find out – a wink from Fred Beckey. Lucky him that he’s 50+ years my senior…. who am I kidding, lucky me that the man is old. A wink and a smile from Fred go a long way apparently. The next day we do Black Orpheus swapping leads, with Shirley leading the money pitches. In fact, this trend has continued – Shirley has been sending all her projects at Smith (including shit that I’ve been hanging on and falling off of…did I mention that Beckey ignored me?), taking half the leads on multi-pitch outings, and tackling crux pitches that I just “was not in the mood for.”
2. Brass Wall Cragging
It’s mid February. Once again rain has been driving us up the wall. Even Smith has been wet. We extend our Presidents’ Day Weekend by a day. An epic Valentine’s Night flight to Vegas and an even more epic car rental episode culminating with “Mister, I don’t give 2 shits about your reservation – my shift’s ending!!” It’s 3am by the time we crawl into sleeping bags at the 13-Mile Campground. In the late morning we hit the sunny Brass Wall for a short day of cragging. Shirley does the leading while I spray the ever helpful poser beta from base: “this one looks easy”, “that’s too much gear” etc…
3. La Cierta EdadWe flip through the guidebook zeroing in on a plan for day 2. It rates La Cierta Edad 10c. Online opinions scatter from 5.9+ to 5.11-. Only one way to find out.
Shirley takes the odd pitches. Despite the tropical-sounding cliff name, Refrigerator Wall is shady and cold. How much worse can it be than Frigid Air Buttress last January? We start late hoping for more warmth. The descent gully next door has much ice. Blocks of it come off during the day – an alpine ambiance. The 160-foot first pitch with 4 bolts is like a cup of coffee. I’m happy to have a top rope. Pitch 2 is mine. Wide chimney to flakey crack. Great fun, especially when viewed from the bolted belay at top.
Pitch 3 looks as though it favors taller folks. But that is Shirley’s problem now. She grabs the rack and starts up. Despite accidentally cleaning a flake (makes much noise as it bounces off my helmet), she sends the pitch.
OK, time for the crux. Shirley smiles and gives me the rack. 10 feet of sub-vertical wideness, 2 feet of tips and crimps and the angle eases. WTF?! Was that it?
The rest of the pitch consists of hollow sounding rock but easier climbing. Guess we’re through. Shirley dispatches the final fun (all pitches on this one are fun) 5.8 wideness pitch.
Raps go smoothly and we manage to avoid icefall in the descent gully.
4. Sedona Scenic CruiseWe go to sleep planning on another Red Rocks route but wake up in the mood for a change. Probably the smell of bacon & eggs from neighboring campsite made us lazy. We head to Sedona for a different red rock experience. Once again I find myself “not in the mood” for the route we really wanted. We go for Sedona Scenic Cruise. Five pitches of 5.9 fun with – if you trust online posts – scenic views of Sedona’s suburban sprawl. Search for trailhead seems easy. Start the approach hike – wait, why are we moving away from the formation? Hike back to car. Drive around for half hour. Come back to same spot. Repeat same hike. Second time approach directions make more sense. We’re at the base. Entire formation looks like choss. I start up the first pitch – very nice actually!
Shirley takes the even pitches.
Crimpy climbing on sandstone takes some getting used to. Views are indeed scenic. Stone is solid. Nice mix of sport and trad pitches.
The route is equipped for comfort of climbing: well protected climbing, large belay ledges, largely independent rap line, and a “summit register” hanging at final belay station (well below actual summit). We rap and are back in the car in the afternoon.
A quick dinner & a short drive back to Vegas. Morning flight home and we head straight to work. But wait – the f..ing airline has lost all of our bags: 200 lbs of climbing & camping gear!