Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Climbing at Red Rocks National Conservation Area - Las Vegas, NV

Mountain View, CA - Suwei and I are now back in the Bay Area. She's back at work for a few days and I've been running around getting ready for our drive out to Colorado. But first, let's talk about Vegas.

Our original plan was to have Red Rocks and Vegas be the kick off to our big trip. We we going to use all of March to travel and climb in select spots all over the west. Well, that plan was altered when Suwei was asked to work through the end of March and start her leave of absence on April's Fools Day. Thus we were left with only the Red Rocks portion of this climbing month. So, we worked at maxing out the week.

First off we rented a house up near Summerlin, which is far from the strip, but very close to Red Rocks. Then we invited all of our climbing buddies. Then half of our climbing buddies bailed either due to work, more work or travels of their own. In the end we were Seven in the house (Karl, Suwei, Jen, Kent, Bill, Tanya & Glen). Our goal was to climb. Climb a lot. Which we did. We were usually out of the house somewhere between 8 & 10 (depending on what time we passed out the night before) and returned well after dark. There were plenty of good intentions of going out, hitting the town, even visiting the strip. However, after plodding our way back to the cars in the dark on the verge of starvation, grabbing a quick bite to eat on the way back to the house, then taking a hot shower, the best laid plans usually morphed into passing out in front of the TV with a beer.

Here is what Suwei and I did each day:

Day 1 - Monday 3/5 - Hiked into Pine Creek Canyon. Climbed Cat in the Hat (5 Pitch, 5.6) with Kent & Jen.

Jen on the top of the 4th pitch, Cat in the Hat

Day 2 - Tuesday 3/6 - Hiked into Ice Box Canyon and went cragging. Suwei lead a 5.7 of which I have forgotten the name. Then we top roped a 5.9 (name also forgotten). I then lead another 5.7 (you guessed it... name forgotten). And finally Suwei lead a 5.8 named Cold September Corner. I remember the name of this one, because we felt the need to tell the others about it. It had a huge roof for a 5.8 which proved to be a challenge to protect on lead (good job Suwei!).

Suwei at the roof of Cold September Corner

Day 3 - Wednesday 3/7 - Hiked out toward Willow Springs from the White Rock parking area. Climbed Purblind (6 pitch, 5.8). The only really tricky part of this climb was when it started raining on the 3rd pitch. Suwei was leading and found a nice belay spot below a good sized overhang. I lead the 4th pitch, but as I worked my way out of our grotto it seemed the rain was not going to let up. Suwei had actually spotted snow coming down. The rock was we and a bit slippery, but I was doing OK until I reached a very wide, very wet, and very slick crack. I took a few timid attempts at it, but decided to go back down, dry off under the roof, and wait for the weather to pass. While eating our lunch we realized we still had cell service. So we gave Kent a call (he was taking an off day) to get the latest weather report. Although the service predicted a 0% chance of rain, the radar showed the light sprinkles that were currently wetting our route. Kent predicted that they would move on quickly, and that more may follow if we didn't get a move on. So, after an hour of watching the dripping rock we decided to press on. When I got back up to the wide crack it was still wet, but the drizzle was now replaced by sun. I took another shot at it and felt like a complete wimp for letting it shut me down the first time. It was a piece of cake and as we moved on to the rest of the climb we found the other pitches already dry. Our 1 hour wait did result in a long walk off in the dark, but we were still able to pick Bill up at the airport by 8:00 pm. We asked him to pardon our stank and went out for hole in the wall Indian food before picking Tanya and Glen from the airport at 10:30. Overall a full day.

Suwei on the 3rd pitch of Purblind

Day 4 - Thursday 3/8 - Hiked out to Oak Creek Canyon. Climbed Johnny Vegas (4 pitch, 5.6) with Tanya & Glen. This was supposed to be an easy day, but I suppose Suwei and I were pretty tired from the day before. We climbed, we enjoyed it, and we were tired.

Suwei & Karl, Tanya & Glen at the top of Johnny Vegas

Day 5 - Friday 3/9 - Hike out to Pine Creek Canyon. Tanya and Glen wanted to do Cat in the Hat. Since we had just done it on Monday, Suwei and I climbed Cookie Monster (3 pitch, 5.7) which meets up with Cat in the Hat at the top of pitch 3. After rapping down Cat in the Hat I walked back to the base of Cookie Monster to retrieve our extra gear. While pulling our pack out from its hiding place, I dislodged a good size boulder, which promptly came to an abrupt stop on the big toe of my left foot. If there was a squish to be heard, I missed it due to my uttering of a lengthy string of swear words or maybe it was muffled by the blood. For those of you keeping track.... yes this is right next to the toe the foot doctor is trying to fix. So, I taped it up to keep it clean and hobbled back to the car.

Tanya & Glen rapping off Cat in the Hat

Day 6 - Saturday 3/10 - I stayed home and stayed off my feet. Suwei climbed Black Magic, a 3 pitch 5.8 near A Lot of Balls Wall with Kent, Jen & Bill. Tanya and Glen brought pizza back early and we all rested up for our last night out. That night we actually made it out to the Strip to see Zumanity, the Cirque du Soleil show at New York, New York. After the show Tanya prepped for the remainder of her Vegas tour by purchasing a slightly smaller than actual size Statue of Liberty glass full of Margarita. We then set out in search of a roulette table at which Tanya fulfilled a co-worker's request to place $20 on black and let it ride 3 times. It stayed for two rolls.

Suwei on Black Magic & Tanya hitting the tables in Paris

Day 7 - Sunday 3/11 - Had breakfast for the third time of the week at the Original Pancake House where the chocolate crepes I ate provided me with enough sugar to walk back to the bay area if the need arose. Luckily we drove so it just went to my gut.

Which brings us back here to Eng-Shien's house. So, today I had another appointment with the foot doctor. He explained what he learned from the MRI images (that the toe is still firmly attached but very inflamed), then I explained why my big toe was squished and purplish. He decided to give me a shot of cortisone in the pre-dislocating toe to hopefully control the inflammation, and then drilled two holes in my big toe to relieve the pressure under the blackening nail. I'm just crossing my fingers that all this will work and that I'll have a relatively pain free summer of hiking.

Oh... sorry... I wanted to stick in one more photo I found funny:

This cracked us up! In Las Vegas a cell tower disguised as a pine tree stands out much more that a cell tower disguised as... say... a cell tower.

So there are more photos from the climbing trip here:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV
If the captions do not show up in the slide show, hit "show captions" once or twice and that should get them rolling.