Monday, December 29, 2014

Anti-trending part II: Red Rocks, week 15-20.

Red Rocks, Las Vegas.  Beautiful sandstone cliffs, some over 2000 ft. high.  It's been my favorite place to climb since the 90s.  You rarely saw other climbers once you walked back into a canyon for an hour.

But it's changed. A lot.  It's trending now.  Today you walk past a wilderness sign to get to an outdoor climbing gym.  Climbers are everywhere.  We hiked a couple of hours in to one route that has a reputation of not being popular.  There were nine people on it. 

There is trash everywhere.  One person brought in a poop bag, used it and just left it there on a rock.  Along with a coffee cup.  Nice touch.  This kind of thing was everywhere.  We need to anti-trend.  ASAP.

It took some time to get over the nostalgia of what a great place it used to be and find climbs we could enjoy in the present.  We took the "connoisseurs of the obscure" to the next level - long hikes to obscure routes and got in some fun climbs.

Here is Sensuous Mortician.  Pretty sensuous.

Brenda on the 6th pitch of Purblind Pillar in the pic below.  A beautiful route close to "Group Therapy".  We're looking for groupless therapy.

 For a change of pace and climate, we even got in some rainy day mountain biking. 

Here's Brenda on her new bike "Gonzo".  The name seems to please her.

This "connoisseurs of the obscure approach" was working out fairly well, but we wanted more.  Even better experiences without any crowding. Zero. We determined to approach routes that were beyond mere hiking, but required suffering to get there.  Or, at least we thought we did.  Inspired by a 16th century Titian painting, such as the one below, we decided to go bigger for a chance at climbing salvation.

While you can't see it in this picture, the one that toured the National Gallery shows the victim having his skin, or outer self, being flayed, or stripped away. The suffering reveals his true nature.  On his face is a blissful look of " I get it now"

Inspired by this notion, we saddled up for a climb called Eagle Dance.  4 1/2 hours up Oak Creek Canyon.  Then 1000 ft of steep slabs to the beginning of the roped climbing.   That gets you to the base of this wall:

Note the eagle image in right lower portion of this pic.  The eagle is outlined by dark varnish and is flying left.  You can make out the beak, eye, neck and wings.   The climb goes through the neck.

To get there, we started hiking in across the desert at 4:30 by moonlight and by headlamp when the trail got rougher. 

In the canyon, it got a lot rougher, scrambling up room-sized, water polished boulders for hours.    Hours of boulder thrashing with climbing packs became our suffering.   But wait - some of the boulders were works of art. The eons of water polishing by Oak Creek has revealed detailed patterns in the stone.  We called this one the Saturn boulder:
 And this one, the hieroglyphic boulder:

We got to the base of the climb a bit flayed.  And proceeded to give it what we had left.

What we had left just wasn't enough to finish the route.  Maybe next time, or maybe I'll just  relax and enjoy the natural beauty of my partner in nature.  Who could ask for more?

 Of course, there's always the hike out by headlamp.  Not to worry - boulder thrashing is easier on the way down.  There was only one casualty - the pants Brenda is wearing in this pic.  She wore the ass out of her britches butt-scooting down the rocks.  She reported that it made for a drafty hike out.  It was just one step at a time for me.


Having not given up on salvation yet, we shifted into Winter mode and headed to Montana with a few days skiing along the way at Alta (near Salt Lake).