Trip Report: Red Rock Bouldering

Wow. That’s it. That’s all I have to say about Red Rock.

Not really, but that really does sum up everything about Red Rock. It’s absolutely amazing. For me, especially living in Seattle which is only a 2.5 hour flight, it’s the perfect climbing trip. It’s only 30 minutes from the strip, Vegas is cheap (if you don’t gamble), the problems are top notch, and there. is. so. much. rock. Seriously, how is there so much rock climbing in one place?? I was there from the 11th to the 17th and we barely got out of Kraft.

The first day was just me and my fiancee. For some reason I thought taking a 6:00 am flight so we could get a full day of climbing in was a good idea. This meant we had to wake up around 4 am… So arriving into Vegas at 8:30, zombified and running on psych alone, we immediately set off to Kraft. After warming up a bit, the first tick of the trip was a flash of The Pearl, one of the most classic problems of the area. It sits alone, right off the trail, with a magnificent backdrop of rusty peaks. I believe Kevin Jorgeson once said something to the effect of “climbing is about becoming a part of the landscape.” That is exactly what drew me to do this problem. Sadly, the movement was not as pleasing as I had hoped. My big goal for the trip was to do Progressive Guy, so that was the next stop. Now this problem had some very pleasing movement; powerful yet intricate, it really is a full package climb. The crux revolves around first stopping on a right hand, barely-there slimy sloper, then falling on a facing-the-wrong-way rail, while maintaining full body tension. I surprised myself by quickly doing the first crux move, then being able to stop on the rail. However every time I hit the rail my heel would blow and I’d rocket backwards off the wall. Feeling tired and a little defeated, I packed up with the intent of only hiking around looking at problems to try the rest of the trip. Then I stumbled upon a problem I had no real intent on trying, Timmy’s Problem. The problem is short: two right hand bump moves, a big move to a left hand horn, then an easy top out. After feeling how good the holds were and having seen the beta on video, I decided to try it. Somehow, about 30 minutes later, and after unlocking some alternate ninja tactics beta, I was standing atop my 2nd V9 ascent. I knew this trip was going to be a good one.

Timmy’s Problem, V9. Ninja kick beta

The next day, more of our group arrived. A friend from Austin, Kyle, came early enough to get in some climbing before the rain. We went back to The Pearl to warm up, which Kyle of course flashed. Next we went to Scare Tactics. Kyle is a crimp fiend and he almost flashed it, really only dropping off due to a dab. Truly impressive to watch. He sent 3rd try. Next we went back to work on Progressive Guy. Kyle quickly put together all the moves, but wasn’t able to piece it all together. Instead, he had to settle for a flash of Angel Dyno between attempts on P-Guy. With the arrival of more of our group, came the rain. Luckily it was light, so we didn’t have to take too many days off to wait for the delicate sandstone to dry out.

The next climbing day was a short one spent at the Monkey Bar boulder. I was taking a rest day, so I just watched and filmed Kyle destroy everything he tried. He flashed Monkey Bar Direct despite grabbing almost every single hold wrong. Starting to doubt he’s human. That evening our group was completed with the arrival of another Austinite, Kevin.

The next day we started back at Monkey Bar. Kevin wanted to do the Traverse, and I wanted a go at the Direct. I was able to do the crux by skipping a bad hold, but then blew the send by forgetting my beta and trying to use the wrong foot. I decided to stop trying to conserve energy; I knew I could come back to it later to finish it off. We then all migrated to Vino Rojo. It was a little tall for me, but Jordan and Kyle both crushed it. After that, the trip took a bit of a turn for me. As we were packing up to move to another spot, I took a spill on the trail, falling straight backwards and smacking the back of my head on a rock. As Kevin said “[I] only saw colors and shiny objects the rest of the day.” I was pretty much zoned out and very loopy; unable to climb anything really. I definitely received a slight concussion. But Kyle had a good day! While I went off on my own (probably not a good idea) to try Family Feud which I felt I was close on, Kyle finished Progressive Guy! This was Kyle’s last day and he definitely made the most of it. Days later Kyle put up an FA in Austin of a new V11 at McKinney Falls, a crag that is notoriously sandbagged so V11++. Good job buddy.

With the departure of all but me, Kevin, and the other Mark, we changed it up and checked out some other areas. Mark and Kevin went to Calico Basin to do the Dirty Rail. Kevin sent and Mark basically did as well, pumping out on the jug topout. While they were there, I went back to work on Family Feud, coming devastatingly close to doing my first V10. The problem is a one move wonder. The first move is a fall on a mini three finger pinch, which is the crux, then you do a big lurp to a jug and it’s over. I knew once I stuck the first move I would do it, or so I thought. After trying that move maybe 30 times I finally stuck it, but that one move completely sapped all my energy and I missed the jug!!! I guess I should have expected that from a basically one move V10. Once we all met back up, we went to Red Springs so I could try the Red Wave, another one move V10. The Red Wave is a fantastic problem if you like deadpoints. It’s a sheer, maybe 35 degree face with no other holds on it except a large foot rail at the bottom, two small crimps at about the 6′ mark then a single pocket at the 8-9′ mark. Again I got devastatingly close to sending; one attempt I was solidly in the pocket only to find it was so painfully sharp I couldn’t hold on. Although I wasn’t able to do it, I still walked away happy. When I first tried it I was barely even able to pull off the ground; I’ll take that as an accomplishment. Completely exhausted, I think we all went to sleep around 9 pm.

Getting Close on the Red Wave, V10.

The next day was our last day of climbing and it was pure magic. We went back into Gateway so Kevin and Mark could try Mr. Moran, a sloping traverse with a tenuous mantle finish. I didn’t put in much effort on it as it was straining my wrist; I was on camera duty. Mark systematically pieced together the traverse section, perfecting his beta and made the mantle look effortless. Truly a pleasure to watch him float his first V7! Oh and he skipped V6, no big deal. Kevin hopped on the send train and crushed it right after; he put in a serious fight on that mantle. It was awesome.

Mr. Mad Rock, Kevin, sending Mr. Moran, V7.

With the first accomplishments of the day, it was time for me to try American Exotica, a problem I had looked at with Kyle a few days before. Looks were deceiving with that problem. All the holds are huge, but turned out much harder to hold on to than I expected. From what I could tell the first couple moves are the hardest and for third day on, I was happy with getting them but not sending. I will be back for that problem, and I will do it!

Americana Exotica, V10
Americana Exotica, V10

Next we went back to Monkey Bars to try to get in one last tick for the trip. As I pulled onto the start hold of the Direct I felt a rush of despair; what previously was an easy first move felt impossible. I had nothing left, my body and spirit were exhausted and my skin was raw and thin. I fell off the second move and immediately curled up into a ball of defeat and thought “maybe I should switch to golf.” It was the last day and I had nothing else to lose so I just kept trying. Pull onto the start jug, place the feet up high. Do a long right hand move to an awkward two finger pocket. Lock the left heel in, dig the right toe down. Right foot blow; shit, get it back on! Match the left hand in the greasy pocket complex. In an act of desperation, grab an intermediate right hand crimp. Latched it perfectly, it feels solid. Set up and go again to the good right hand edge, solid. Jam my toe into the pocket and with what feels like every fiber of my bicep muscle at full tension, crank to the next edge. Walk the feet up, and do a big move to the finish jug. Send!

Cranking it out on Monkey Bar Direct, V8

Trying to jump back on the send train, Kevin set off on the Traverse. I pointed out some much easier beta and he got to the jug! Unfortunately, he slid off it. Sad to see, but a solid effort on his part. The last thing on our list was for Mark to finish the Pearl. At this point everyone’s fingertips were completely pink, and we were all exhausted. Maybe it was the last day best day magic, maybe it was shear force of will, or maybe it was us telling Mark we were going to leave him if he didn’t finish it, but he crushed that rig with style.

This was a fantastic trip with a great group of friends and I can’t wait to go back there. Video highlights.

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