Red Rock Mix

Page Type
Trip Report
Arizona/Nevada, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Feb 17, 2008
Trad Climbing
5147 Hits
91.45% Score
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Page By:
Red Rock Mix
Created On: Feb 20, 2008
Last Edited On: Feb 28, 2008

1. Before

Black OrpheusBlack Orpheus

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

Varnishing PointVarnishing Point

Topless TwinsTopless Twins

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 Edad

We 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.
La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P1

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.
La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P2

La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P2

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.
La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P3

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?
La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P4

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.
La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P5

La Cierta EdadLa Cierta Edad, P5

Raps go smoothly and we manage to avoid icefall in the descent gully.

4. Sedona Scenic Cruise

We 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!
Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P1

Shirley takes the even pitches.
Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P2

Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P2

Crimpy climbing on sandstone takes some getting used to. Views are indeed scenic. Stone is solid. Nice mix of sport and trad pitches.
Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P3

Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P3

Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P5

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 airline has lost all of our bags: 200 lbs of climbing & camping gear!
Sedona Scenic CruiseGibraltar Rock


Got our bags back later that night.
Sedona Scenic CruiseSSC, P3


Post a Comment
Viewing: 21-24 of 24

bolojm - Feb 27, 2008 8:30 am - Hasn't voted

Fred's hearing

Fred is known to be hard of hearing, but it is very "selective." Guys can talk to him all day and he won't (seem) to pick up a word. As soon as the ladies talk, though, he is all ears!


rpc - Feb 27, 2008 12:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Fred's hearing

"Guys can talk to him all day and he won't (seem) to pick up a word. As soon as the ladies talk, though, he is all ears! "

gotta respect the man even more :)
thanks for visiting!

Dow Williams

Dow Williams - Feb 27, 2008 1:09 pm - Voted 10/10

too strange...

the man is every where....Zach and I first met Fred in Zion when we were climbing Ashtar brother in law had climbed with him, so I sort of knew him from that....but on a cold and windy day in Red Rocks, having Crimson Chrysalis all to ourselves for that reason, we notice this single figure far below hunkering down in the brush watching us for the 2nd half of the climb....when we rapped and walked by him, it was Fred...he was all laid out for a bivy for the night and wanted to know if it was windy up there....not another soul around....the man is all over the place...I did Mount Brussels in Canada, a truly obscure alpine climb, with the grandson of the first assenter...we are reading his grandfather's original notes in camp, and sure enough he mentions running into Beckey (on the way out failing the ascent due to weather) on his way in for a one month seige of the mountain...glad that Beckey had failed to beat him to the first ascent....


rpc - Feb 27, 2008 5:14 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: too strange...

Good story Dow. There's another good story about Beckey in Kearny's Northwest Climbs book (chapter on Liberty Crack where basically he was "reserving" FA of routes for himself by hanging ropes on lower pitch(es))

"the man is all over the place"
Yup - seems to be the case. Very impressive for a man his age IMHO!

Viewing: 21-24 of 24