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The Climbing Club • View topic - Red Rocks 3/12-19/12

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 Post subject: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:02 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Ben and I took at trip to Las Vegas for what would be both of our first, and definitely not our last, visit to Red Rocks. The weather in Red Rocks is perfect this time of year for the longer multipitch climbs. At least the weather had been perfect for the last few weeks, we’d be dealing with the threat of rain by the end of our trip, so we wasted no time getting on the rock. We started out with Dark Shadows, a 4 pitch 5.8 that goes up a corner capped by an ominous roof (most stop short of the roof, for an enjoyable ½ day of climbing, but you can go on for several more pitches and a much more serious day). Ben rocked the long 5.8 corner pitch, I found that I needed some more time to warm up to this strange new type of rock: sandstone, not the scary stuff like at Peshastin, but still with strange formations and not perfectly parallel cam-eating cracks. In the end, I’d place more nuts on this trip than on any other. The next hurtle for me was getting used to leading the long pitches, many were solid 5.8-5.10 pitches that were 160-180’ tall. For some reason, my mental stamina craps out after about 100’ of solid lead climbing between belays. It was a nice intro to climbing at Red Rocks, just a few hours off the plane and we’d banged out a five-star route.

Corner pitch on Dark Shadows


We wasted no time getting on Black Velvet Wall. Our second day there we were making the hike out to Black Velvet Canyon bright and early for a 6 pitch, 5.10a mixed climb called Sour Mash. I was originally quite ambitious, thinking that we’d knock out this 6 pitch climb and finish the day with Frogland. I still needed to get used to these long pitches. With many of the pitches being 100-160’ tall, this climb was 695’ with most of it in the 5.9-5.10 range (not interspersed with the cruiser, wandering pitches that we often get in Washington). It was pretty cool getting up 695’on this steep wall. The wall really never let up, with no ledges, no rests, just steep climbing all the way. We got done at a reasonable hour, but definitely not in time for Frogland, and we were both pretty tired by the end anyway.

Hiking in to Black Velvet Canyon




About to lead P2 of Sour Mash


Rappelling Sour Mash


View of Las Vegas from Black Velvet Canyon


Hiking out


Day three was a slight rest. We took a break from Black Velvet Canyon and hiked in to Lotta Balls Wall to climb a 3 pitch, 5.8 route called Lotta Balls. I took the middle pitch, a long 5.8 that started on face holds (little balls), then went into a corner crack that had stemming, face climbing, chimneying, everything! It was just fun and was one of my favorite leads of the trip. After Lotta Balls wall, we decided to check out “The Fox”, a 5.10d corner crack climb on red sandstone that looked to be straight out of Indian Creek. Ben led out, pretty sure that he’d seen the anchors from below (Ok we were rushing a bit too much here). He led most of the climb quite well. He was almost out of view when he shooted down, “We have a situation…”. He couldn’t locate the anchors (the climb ended up being a walk off and the anchors that he thought he saw where for a sport climb now below him). Ahead was an intimidating offwidth that was too big for the gear we had. He built an anchor using a #0.5, #4 and #5 and lowered off. I’m not sure what our logic was anymore, but somehow I ended up at this anchor a few minutes later. Huh… well, I could bring up Ben, but then we’d both be stuck hanging off this #0.5, #4 and #5. Instead, I spent the next several minutes very carefully deconstructing the anchor, making sure that I was always attached to two pieces. This is an odd situation, and I’m sure that I talked to myself quite a bit as I reminded myself what I was attached to and what was safe to unclip. Finally I had the pieces back in a line as if to lead…. Ok… now I have to lead. Hmmmm…. I spent a while whimpering about not knowing how the hell I was going to climb this thing, spent a while wishing that we’d brought the #6, then Ben yelled up, “put your leg in the crack”. Wow, it was oddly secure. The whimpering stopped and grunting began as I worked my way up probably the first real offwidth I’d ever tried to climb. I topped out to the night sky and the lights of Las Vegas, pretty cool view! We were not disappointed by The Fox. Seriously, don’t miss this single pitch climb if you go. You can even TR it from the top (with mid-sized gear and a cordellette) if you don’t want to lead 5.10d. So our rest day ended up being our latest day out for the entire trip.

Lots of Balls on Lotta Balls Wall






Top of Lotta Balls


Approaching the Fox


Ben leads the Fox


Topping out on the Fox




Day four was to be our most ambitious climb of the trip, “Dream of Wild Turkeys”, another 5.10a multipitch outing on Black Velvet Wall. We set a very conservative turnaround time of 3pm given that we’d just screwed up a single pitch climb as badly as we had the night before. This was a very fun climb, and despite the steepness of the wall here, it had more belay ledges than Sour Mash and was a little more comfortable for a long day. The crux pitch was a solid 180’ 5.10a with an insecure last few moves of face climbing with a ton of rope drag. I was happy that Ben took this one. After that, the climbing eases considerably. We were moving along nicely, but decided to not risk another long day and turned around at 3pm at the top of the 7th pitch (a common turn around point for many parties at turkey ledge). We cruised down the rappels with about 2-3 hours of daylight to spare. I think that we were finally getting our system figured out on this 4th day, unfortunately, it was our last day of multipitch due to weather approaching.

Back for another round of Black Velvet wall:


Awesomely steep Black Velvet Wall:


Pitch 3 on Dream of Wild Turkeys:


Pitch 5 on Dream of Wild Turkeys:



3pm, turnaround time, no epicing today!


Rappelling Dream of Wild Turkeys:


Day five, Sonya (who I’d met in Mexico over Christmas) joined us for some cragging. We did a couple of long 5.7s, a long 5.10a, and then Ben went back to try to redpoint the Fox. No send, but it was our 5th day in a row and we may have been getting a little tired at this point. Still, I was happy to follow the Fox again. It is packed with just about every type of jam available.

Cragging in Calico Basin




Day six the weather was imminent. We went bouldering with Ben’s friend, Joey (who had kindly let us spend the week at his house), and a few others. Seeing a bunch of 5.13 climbers working their projects was surprisingly boring. Bouldering in Red Rocks was surprisingly fun though. The boulders here are highly featured and interesting, the setting was cool, it was not a bad way to end the climbing portion of the trip. It rained hard Saturday afternoon, the sandstone was out for the rest of the trip.





Weather moves in to Red Rocks


Day seven, Ben joined Joey on what was supposedly an epic and rare powder day in Las Vegas. I continued my chase for sunshine and drove to Death Valley for the day. With so many warnings about that place being intensely hot and dry, it was my best bet for more sun. I found plenty of sun, but not much else. The valley is immense, the clouds were cool, but I eventually I became bored of the panorama function on my camera and headed back.







Our final day was another lazy day, I went on a morning hike in search of the desert tortoise that is supposed to live there, no luck. I started out in the sun and ended in the snow, another crazy weather day. For our last couple hours there, Ben and I set up the slack-line in Calico Basin, a beautiful place to just hang out. Ben practiced his moves, while I just tried… and tried to stand up.

Snowy Red Rocks


And no, he’s not about to eat shit. This is called surfing.


Red Rocks is yet another winter destination that I’ll keep in mind (one must know all the good winter climbing areas that are easy and cheap to get to if one is a climber who lives in Washington).

Stats: Climbed 6 out of 8 days there (six days in a row), gained 3000’ of pure vertical rock!


(even) More photos can be found here: http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2543 ... 9210ovQSBg


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:25 pm 
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UW Climber
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Wow, awesome trip --Thanks for sharing! I've got to get out there now. From the photos, it looks like you two were using a set of twin ropes (clipping both ropes through every piece). I've been thinking about investing in a set of half-ropes myself, so I am curious... why twins instead of halfsies?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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These are the Mammut Genesis half ropes. I just bought them for this trip and I already love them. I had been planning to clip every other piece as I have when I'd ice climbed before with this set-up. I ran into some others at the base of the crag that morning though who suggested to just use them as if they were one rope: clipping both and even tying in with both together in a clove hitch. This worked beautifully. Rope management was just as easy as a single and we had both ropes out and ready to go for double rope rappels once we reached the top. I'm curious if there is a good reason to only clip one on rock routes. If the route is wandery, clipping one at a time would be nice. I imagine that clipping one vs. two on ice might be a good idea in order to protect the sometimes suspects screws with more stretch= less force. But on a rock route with good gear, I liked using them this way. I'm curious to hear how others use the half rope setup.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:56 pm 
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Longshanks
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Location: Denver
Awesome trip Val! You've got me convinced that Red Rocks needs to be high on my list.

Those are the same half ropes I've had and loved for years. Full on half rope technique is great for:

-reducing rope drag on trad climbs, as long as you do it right! screw it up (i.e. cross the ropes over each other or twist them) and it can be worse.

-teams of 3.

- clipping over your head; a skilled belayer can feed you slack on the clipping line while you are still protected (without extra slack) on the other.

- equalizing widely separated pro at a belay; it's easy to clove hitch into pieces 15' apart with each strand.

It sucks for rope management, and without constant vigilance you'll end up with a huge tangle at the belay.

The danger in clipping half ropes as twins is that it will increase the impact force. Also, while traditional wisdom has it that half-ropes give lower impact forces, this may not be true. (See: http://willgadd.com/?p=274)
So that half rope tested on Will's blog that gave an impact of 9 kN might give a rather high impact force on two strands. But then, these numbers are for a monster whipper, and a good sized man falling (85 kg). You've probably got nothing to worry about.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:33 am 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Location: Seattle
Looks like good times in NV. Red Rocks is definitely on my "To Visit List."

As far as the twin vs half rope technique, says that you can use either for their half ropes. I've heard that other manufacturers say the same thing.

Sterling's is certified as both (7.8 mm), while they make no mention for the Marathon Half (8.8 mm).

I have not looked at other manufacturer recommendations.

_________________
"It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid." Q


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:43 am 
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Cool trip! I love Red Rocks. I also highly recommend getting on Crimson Chrysalis (5.8, 9 pitches, 1000') if you ever go back.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:15 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:15 am
Posts: 129
Wow, first visit to Red Rocks. Such a wonderful experience, always. In all the places I've climbed, my experience leads me to believe that Red Rocks presents the highest concentration of long multipitch moderate trad routes, anywhere.

Red Rocks, A climber's Guide, by Jerry Handren, 2007
that is the bible, it's new, comprehensive, detailed, colorful, glossy, and best of all - accurate

Don't rely on Red Rock Canyon, Roxanna Brock and Jared McMillen, 2005
it's inaccurate, sometimes in very critical ways, it has contributed to several epics that I know of

Super Topo is good, and Todd Swain's many books are good.

Dark Shadows 5.8 4 pitches then rappel, or 10 pitches to the top of the formation, Mescalito. It's a classic and I've climbed it several times. I prefer and recommend Chasing Shadows 5.8+ 4 pitches to the same rappel anchor (or take it to the top). It takes a line right of Dark Shadows. And also worth considering is an exciting lead on Edge Dressing 5.10B a 1 pitch variation to the final pitch of Chasing Shadows. It's somewhat runout between bolts but you can top rope it from the top of Dark Shadows / Chasing Shadows.

If you like small cracks and really small pro then Slot Machine 5.10B is an amazing! a lone line that departs Dark Shadows after the first pitch, going right.

That long corner pitch on Dark Shadows is almost a singular anomaly in Red Rocks; I can't recall another corner that presents like that. Yes, the protection is fiddly and rarely bomber.

While hiking into Dark Shadows you pass a classic line Birdland 5.7+ 6 pitches, with a low angle crack similar to the final handcrack on Outer Space on Snow Creek Wall near Leavenworth. So good.

Nice job on ticking off a classic on the same day of travel. Top style points !!!!

Black Velvet Canyon has so many amazing lines. I can't say this enough.

Sour Mash 5.10A 7 pitches is one of my personal favorites on Black Velvet Wall. I don't believe it gets as much love as it earns. Refried Brains 5.9 8 pitches is another sleeper, though not as lovely as Sour Mash.

On the way into Sour Mash you pass perhaps the absolute best 5.8 in all of Red Rocks - Frogland 5.8 6 pitches. Not one of these 6 pitches is a throwaway. Not. One. Not as sustained and singular a line as Crimson Chrysalis 5.8+ 9 pitches, but perhaps more engaging, entertaining and overall fun. And added bonus to climbing Frogland is that you top out on Whiskey Peak, which will aid you immeasurably when you descend from Epinephrine 5.9 16 pitches 2240-feet of climbing.

If you love Frogland and don't mind some lower quality rock and enjoy some navigational route finding then criss-crossing Frogland is Bourbon Street 5.8+ 7 pitches.

Lotta Balls 5.8 3 pitches offers a very mentally demanding second pitch. Nice job Val !!!! Reaching up, pinching and pulling down on those little "marbles" is unnerving, and then stepping ever so gently on them with your feet....... breathless. An exciting variation to the first pitch is 5.9+ Bruja's Brew, tackling the right side of that roof near the ground.

Further right is an absolute gem of a line Black Magic 5.8 4 pitches. The first time where I felt I was climbing an enjoyable sport route but I was placing gear, perhaps similar to New River Gorge in West Virginia or Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

I haven't climbed The Fox 5.10D 1 pitch in Calico Basin, but now it's on my radar. Thanks!!

Dream of Wild Turkeys 5.10A 10 pitches is a standard classic; there's a lot of history in this route. The end of pitch 4 has some very daunting slab moves, truly nerve wracking !! Nice job, Ben !!!! Now you're ready for Darrington and Static Point.

Just somewhat right from Dream.... is a sweet 2 pitch route Overhanging Hangover 5.10A, tackling some roofs.

Obadiah and Jim, get some !!!!!!
Flights are cheap or it's a 20 hour drive from Seattle.

dirtbag tip, if you arrive in the first 1/2 hour the Loop Road gate is open, you are free to enter, there is no fee.

another tip, any long climb you do in the Loop Road, call the same morning and leave a msg for "Late Exit Pass" and you'll avoid a nasty $200 parking bill in case your day turns epic.

last tip, you can camp at Black Velvet p-lot, but get up real early and immediately pack away your sleeping items. if a ranger drives up before you begin your approach hike just casually say you drove in earlier that morning.

food tip, buffet, the casino just several miles from the Loop Road entrance has an amazing value and quality and cheap price. right, like i said, value. [ take in some ziploc bags for your "leftovers" ]


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:12 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2004 3:15 am
Posts: 129
Half Ropes of 8.8mm are my favorite.

I tried Twin Ropes for dozens and dozens of pitches. Thought I might have got an extra curly extra twisty pair so I bought another pair. Used those for dozens of pitches. Turns out ropes of small diameter will twist and curl around each other more than ropes of larger diameter.

I tried the skinniest Half Ropes. Still twisted and curled and tangle far more than I would accept.

That's how I began with 7.2mm lines and now swear by 8.8mm lines.

My Half Ropes are a bit heavier and a bit bulkier than other Half Ropes and certainly so compared with Twin Ropes. Yeah, whatevs. I like most of all that they don't spontaneously tangle together.

You can clip both Half Ropes thru a bolt but never thru pro. You should always clip both Twin Ropes thru bolts and always clip both Twin Ropes thru trad pro. Yes, manufacturers are beginning to blur these lines but these rules have been the standard for many many years.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:18 am 
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Location: Seattle
Great discussion. After perusing through the thread, I see mention of the following half ropes:

Mammut Genesis 8.5

Any other favorites out there? (and why?) I am looking to invest eventually. Has anyone tried the Petzl Dragonfly 8.2?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:31 am 
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For climbing and cragging in the cascades I think the best systems are the single 70 m rope and a single twin rope (doubled over for leading). Some thoughts:

1. Twin ropes do tangle unless you are very careful and even then they will. When they do, it's a lot of rope, 2x60 m, that you have to untangle. After experiencing this a few times I've been discouraged from ever investing in a full twin rope system (but I don't do ice climbing anymore, if I did, I probably would get twins).

2. Half ropes require more skill on the part of both leader and follower. But, a lot of times, my follower is a newer climber. Also, it requires more thought while leading to climb with half ropes. Personally, I like to reduce the attention needed for my rope system so that I can use that attention for climbing well.

3. Single ropes are simple. I feel that simplicity means safety because there are less things to screw up when you are tired or in a rush. This is especially key for my partner, who may not always be as experienced or as strong. Same reason for why I always tie in with a figure 8; it's simple, everyone knows it, and it's hard to screw up.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Rocks 3/12-19/12
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 5:36 pm 
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UW Climber

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Posts: 129
I have Sterling Half Ropes 8.8mm. I'm on my 3rd pair of these lines. I have nothing but good to say about them from my experiences. I have climbed on others' Half Ropes that were smaller diameter and sometimes the smaller diameter lines did seem to tangle and snarl and spontaneously form knots more often than my 8.8mm lines.

I am not a brand name believer with ropes. New England, PMI, Blue Water, Petzl, Black Diamond, Sterling, Mammut etc etc etc I only care about the maximum impact force ( I prefer a lower rating ). The weight interests me also, but not nearly so much. The number of falls held before the rope broke from testing is also interesting because this tells you the relative longevity of the maximum impact force value.

A rope that breaks after 5 falls will be different than a rope that breaks after 11 falls. The biggest difference between these two ropes, if we already know they are the same diameter, is that the rope that sustained 11 falls will continue to exhibit a maximum impact force similar to its "new" maximum impact force rating. The rope that broke after 5 falls will loose its elasticity faster than the rope that held 11 falls.

The reason ropes break when tested over and over is that they loose their elastic nature. When they have lost sufficient elasticity then the rope will break from repeated testing on the exact same spot of the rope. The way ropes are designed to have elasticity is from the S-turns and the Z-turns in the threads in the strands in the core of the rope, also the heating and cooling of the yarns. The rope's job during a lead fall is to absorb energy, so that the maximum force placed onto the top piece of gear is minimized. The rope absorbs energy by increasing the time during deceleration. The rope increases the time during deceleration by being elastic in nature. To a large degree, the more elastic a rope's design, the longer it will take to absorb all the kinetic energy of the falling climber, the longer it takes to stop the fall the lower the impact force on the top piece of protection.

So my interest is in maximum impact force, number of falls held, price and weight. In that order. Well, maybe price could be 2nd place or even 1st place.

Another thing I would recommend looking for is stiff rope. In my experience new ropes that are stiffer will tangle and snarl and spontaneously form knots far far less often. New ropes that are soft and supple I would prefer to avoid. They tangle far easier and your Figure-8 tie in knot will be much more difficult to untie when you take a lead fall.

Some background on my climbing preferences that may be useful in filtering my personal opinions. Most of my climbing is trad multipitch; most of that on walls and some of that in alpine. I climb at dozens of areas around the US and Canada. I find Half Rope technique immeasurably superior to single rope technique. In Europe, Half Rope technique is well known and used all over. In America, Half Rope technique is fairly rare outside specific climbing areas (Gunks in New York, excellent example), but that in no way diminishes nor detracts from its merits.

When I single pitch crag climb I do prefer a single rope [ Index ]. When I multipitch where the climbing line is very straight and 2 ropes aren't useful for descent, then I prefer a single line. For sport climbing I prefer a single line.

But for most of my climbing I now use 2 Half Ropes. I definitely prefer Half Rope technique for most Leavenworth multipitch and certainly Snow Creek Wall [ Orbit, Outer Space, Mary Jane Dihedral, etc ], Cascade Mts, Yosemite, eastern Sierras, Red Rocks, Gunks, Cannon Mt, Cathedral Ledges, Darrington, Squamish, Lovers Leap, Seneca, Old Ragg, etc etc etc.

For single pitch cragging, a 70-meter single rope can be most excellent ! Index, Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, Squamish, J-tree, etc etc etc


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