Red Rocks Thanksgiving 2012

Desert tree and moon.
Desert tree and moon rising near the summit of Windy Peak.

November 22-25, 2012

Since I just moved to Utah and I don’t have many vacation days at work, I didn’t go back to New England for Thanksgiving, a first for me.  Instead I spent the long weekend in Red Rocks  Canyon just outside Las Vegas.  Climbing there in the past has been fun and it was no different this time.

I traveled down with Jon from work and met some of his friends there.  The first day we went to the Black Corridor.  At first I was not crazy about the idea since there are many fun long routes to do here.  But it was good to get reacquainted with the rock as my last trip was in 2011.  It was nice getting on some routes that I did on my first trip to Red Rocks a few years ago, and it was good to get on things I wouldn’t have even dared even just last year.

Dinner for Thanksgiving was rotisserie chicken wrapped in bacon cooked over the fire on tin foil, mashed potatoes, green beans?, sweet potato and maple syrup, stuffing and pie.  Not a bad meal considering the limited cooking appliances available.

Friday Jon and I did Jubilant Song (5.8), eight pitches.  The climb is on Windy Peak at the very south end of Red Rocks.  The drive was a little longer and hairier than I expected.  We took my WRX from Salt Lake.  While the WRX isn’t super low it isn’t very high, especially with my aftermarket exhaust on there.  We made it in ok but hoped that the other road would be quicker and easier for the return trip.

After topping out after 8 fun pitches in the sun we headed back to the car.  A party next to us mentioned that the direct road wasn’t too bad except for one spot but they got through with a camper van without all-wheel drive.  We figured we could as well.  As the sun set we headed out on this road and it was indeed better.  Until we got to a rocky, bumpy, steep hill.  The section of road wound right and at the bottom of the wash sharply left.  On the up hill, it was bumpy but not quite as rocky.  But it was sandy and cut back right quickly.  The only possible way for me to make it up this was gunning it from the downhill side of the hill.  This required careful selection of the line to take around the biggest bumps and rocks.  On the first attempt I veered slightly too far left and lost traction and came to a stop with one wheel totally off the ground.  The WRX was not meant to do this.  Low speed torque is not how my car is geared.

Off-road in the WRX.
Getting ready for another attempt at this sandy, bumpy, steep hill. Picture does not fully capture the difficulty of the situation.

With Jon spotting I backed carefully down to the downhill side of the section again.  We knocked down some of the bumps and filled in a few holes with some rocks as best we could.  The sun had set, it was getting dark quickly, and there was only the camper van guy who possibly could save us if we couldn’t get up this time; going back the way we came also was out of the question as it was too rocky for an uphill shot.  And I was running out of gas.

Gunning it, spraying sand and gravel all over, I bounced up the hill.  Quite a bit more violently than I would have liked.  At every moment I expected to hear the loud bang of a rock against my exhaust or worse, my oil pan.  While I haven’t been under the car yet I don’t think I nailed anything too badly.  We just made it up the section.  Immediately after the camper van bounced its way up too.  He had decided to take the same route out and I’m glad since if we hadn’t gotten up he would’ve been our only hope of getting out.

We filled up at the nearest gas station and then the next big event of the weekend happened, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  I lost my wallet.

The next day I couldn’t seem to locate my wallet but I wasn’t too concerned since there was a bunch of stuff in the car.  On this day 5 of us headed into Black Velvet Canyon to climb Prince of  Darkness (5.10c) and Dream of Wild Turkey (5.10a).  Jon and I would do Turkey and the others Darkness.  The section of rock these routes are on is impressive.  It is nearly unbroken with ledges or corners for 800 feet or so.

We queued up in line behind a pair of girls from Colorado on Dream of Wild Turkey.  They moved slowly and we found out that it was because the second had only been climbing a couple of months.  The transitions were very slow.  We wanted to pass them at P3 but they didn’t stop for us.  I spent two hours at P3, which luckily was a nice ledge.  During this extended stay when the second was finally moving we had something quite unexpected happen.  She was up about mid way through the 180 ft pitch when she kept saying she was sorry and that she was embarrassed.  Bare assed is more fitting.  She said she had to go to the bathroom and to take.  Jon and I were so shocked and thought she was kidding.  Looking up we saw her squatting while being held on the rope and pulling out a plastic bag.  Was this for real?  Pissing in a plastic bag while mid route?  No it wasn’t, she was shitting.

Shit Show
Moments before the shit show incident.

After that we gave them their distance, but still had to wait for them.  Despite starting at a little after 9am we only got to the top of P6 before we decided to bail.  By that time it was 2:30-3pm and the sun set at 4:30pm.  While on the way down we were again slowed by this pair of girls.  They had rapped around the same time we started and were able to make it to the rap below us.  I was in no mood to wait again so I proposed that the four of us combine ropes and set two raps up at a time.  I went down with our ropes and started to set the next rap.  While this may not have been the most efficient overall, I was at least able to get to the ground first.  Eventually everything worked out and we hiked out before the girls and left them making their way out in the growing darkness in the shady canyon.

Sunday we were all pretty wiped and since we had a 6+ hour drive back to SLC, we went to Cannibal Crag to do a little sport climbing in the sun.  It was fun and did a few steep routes.  The drive back was a little more cramped as we had picked up two more people for the ride back.  We were just able to squeeze into the WRX.  Traffic wasn’t too bad, but it is aggravating when you are going 65 mph in an 80 mph zone.

A good trip and a nice Thanksgiving.  The wallet hasn’t turned up even after checking the car and unpacking.  Losing a wallet is a major pain, something I haven’t had to deal with before.  All the credit cards need to be cancelled not to mention I need to remember what’s in it.  Do you know every thing that’s in your wallet?  Hopefully I’ll get my Utah license on Thursday.  Until then I’m a scofflaw.

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