Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roof cracks in Vegas

Red Rocks!
introduction to desert sandstone at the Yin&Yang crag. Pic by Edouard
In the last two days, I got to climb two routes off the top end of Red Rocks grade index ticklist :) two single-pitch roof crack climbing testpieces that were so good I believe I'm now spoiled for the quality of routes here. I'll have to get on more to find out! I arrived to Red Rocks a few days ago. It is one of the best venues in the States with nice weather, a ton of climbing in all styles and beautiful ambiance among walls of desert sandstone. All that, bizzarely enough, only few miles out of the most outrageus city on earth, Las Vegas, a human monument to... money? 

A few messages and video links were exchanged and we had a team. Eric, the man and his moustache, and Kathy, the short but oh-so-crusher girl who talks as much as she climbs. All in all just a genuinely good vibe on belays and climbs :) thanks guys! 
The objective was two 5.13 roof cracks: The great red roof and Desert gold. 

THE GREAT RED ROOF from Sonnie Trotter on Vimeo.

Sonnie Trotter's video got us all syked on The great red roof. I will say it was a bit misleading when it said sketchy protection. In the vid one can only see two cams sticking out the crack. We ended up bringing too little a rack, well, we were missing one piece actually, but for people less balsy than Will and Sonnie, this can be meaningful :D Red Rocks is the first time I'm climbing trad on sandstone and I'm still getting used to it. When rock was breaking and flaking under my shoes on approach, it reminded me to be more careful with pro. Sandstone is much more prone to break than the granite in Yosemite. Chicken or thoughtful, anyway I am mortal, unlike those guys!

The great red roof barely climbs like a crack. It is ten metres of a cool flake/sloping feature (the crack is angled, rather than perpendicular to the roof) with almost no footholds at all. Ha... jams are few and poor, you are supposed to campus it! It takes good pro, that is incredibly strenous to place. 
Somewhere midway your forearms, lats and back are burning with pump, feels like a weird sport route without bolts, so wack!
I came close to flashing but eventually pumped out. On my second go, I felt my core power waay weaker, but somehow managed to pull it off, in a clean style, placing gear! Kathy found better tight-hand jams that put all my this far earned crack technique to shame, some ninja kicks, and did it with only a hang!
crew working on the roof

getting pumped on The Great Red Roof. Pic by Irene Yee
Desert gold is different. It is an actual splitter crack with a crux in a slightly overhung ring-lock section. It gets progressively wider and turns into a roof with hands and cupped-hands (for those not familiar with the art of climbing air between two halves of rock, these are all references to crack width). Hard finger section into a pumpy roof with exposure! 
Crack climbing on sandstone is much different to granite. Because there's less friction, technique is even more important. The finish to Desert gold felt harder than Separate reality, even though it's said to be 11d (lower grade than Separate - that one is a bit of a given :P)

look at that crack!
pulling on the ring lock section. Thanks for the photo Eric!
somewhere above the desert... Eric belaying Kathy on Desert gold
I managed to send despite struggling with the ringlocks,

I am so looking forward to my apprenticeship in crack climbing in Indian Creek! No footholds, no crimps on the face beside the cracks. No european cheating (besides an odd layback here and there, I am keeping this!), only fingers, hands, up to elbow- and thigh-jams, whatever goes, whatever jams.

Alrght, cut the crap... this trip has been a whirlwind of fun and new discoveries. I could go on about routes I did and others did and whatnot. Although sending matters, I remind myself to take in every day as it comes and enjoy every aspect of it. The climbing community here really is composed of great people and this is what is making my experience unforgettable. Shout out to road trip buddies and climbing partners! Let's keep the send train going! Off to Indian creek tomorrow, yeeee!

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