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Trip Report: Red Rock Canyon

A red Red National Park wall with a climber going up an aesthetic crack
With everyone in the office heading out on extended climbing trips and all the guides in the field on AMGA courses and exams, I was feeling a little left out. Luckily, I was able to sneek away for a four day weekend last week. Wednesday was actually my Friday, and it was the best Friday ever! Straight from work Wednesday afternoon, I headed to the Table Mesa Park and Ride, caught the bus to the airport and waited patiently to board the plane. Off to Vegas!

I was a little worried about the weather… Last time I was there it was freezing cold and I couldn’t feel my hands, or my feet, while climbing. I guess that’s what I get for climbing in the shade in late November. This time, the forecast was for 100 degrees and sunny. That’s more like it! Hiking in was a bit warm, but the temperatures in the shade were PERFECT!! (Yes, I learned my lesson the hard way. I will now always find routes that are in the shade/sun to match the respective season. I even learned to check what month the route was put up. First ascentionists aren’t that into suffering!)

Leading up the first pitch of Wholesome Fullback.

My favorite climb of this trip was Wholesome Fullback to Our Father. I was lucky to lead the money pitch of Wholesome Fullback, which starts as thin fingers to perfect hands. Pure sweetness! The traverse under the roof was easier than I thought it would be and easy to protect. I am finally applying the knowledge on how to protect traverses and avoid rope drag- place a piece and extend the runner. This was key, as the pitch was a rope stretcher!

The crux of the climb came at the end of the traverse, transitioning back into the finger crack with an awkward move. Keeping in mind rope drag, I extended my last piece and tried to keep climbing. I struggle mentally with climbing above my gear on routes that challenge me (ok, even on easy routes, but I get over that a little faster). While climbing through this section, I could not stop thinking that my feet were above my last piece, and the runner was extended to make for an even longer fall. Eeek! Did I mention I hate falling?
Chad, thoroughly enjoying the first pitch. 
I was able to plug a piece in and go, returning to sweet hand crack you can see from the hike in. Running out of gear and nearing the end of the rope, I was able to build a belay at a decent stance and belay my partner up. Chad followed me up, and took the lead to the top. Wholesome Fullback is definitely a route that I would love to come back to and climb again!

Perfect hands to start the third pitch of Our Father.

The decent of this route is two rappels with one rope. The first bolted rap station is set up perfectly to climb the thrid pitch of Our Father. We decided to continue with the goodness of climbing cracks in Black Velvet Canyon, and took turns lowering each other on Our Father. So good! Perfect hands to a steep layback to a defined crux. So good! (Did I mention that already??).

Chad, flying through the crux of Our Father without blinking. 

 We rapped the route and I sure hope the little tree for the second rap station doesn’t die any time soon. There’s a bomber nut backing it up, and I know I don’t generate much force while rappelling… Being the last day of my climbing trip, it was kind of sad returing to terra firma.  After staying up late exploring the infamous “Strip” of Vegas, Monday morning I flew out on a red-eye flight.  Driving straight to work after the bus dropped me off at the Park and Ride, I had the best-worse case of the Mondays ever!

Rapell anchor on Our Father.
This four day weekend was a super quick trip, but one of the best I’ve had in Red Rock Canyon!  Being the mecca of moderate multi-pitch climbs, anyone and everyone can climb there. If you need a guide, call me at the office and I’ll hook you up! We’re running an October Special, October 22-31, 2011. With custom guiding and group courses, there’s something for everyone!
 Katy Pfannenstein
Colorado Mountain School
1-800-836-4008 x3

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