Matt and Joanne’s Page

November 10, 2006

Red Rock Canyon

Filed under: Climbing — joannestamplis @ 12:00 pm

This year we went to Red Rock for 2 weeks during the Thanksgiving holiday. We stayed mostly in the campground but stayed in a hotel every 3-4 days to wash up. We climbed a whole lot but unfortunately I failed my goal to red point a 5.11 during this trip and possibly in 2006. Got pretty close, though, got a 5.10d on lead :). Matt climbed an 5.11b and called it “Soft like butter!” and tricked me into leading it.

Remember we mentioned that we finally saw 2 wild burros on the last day of our trip last year? Guess what — this time we saw burros almost everytime we drove through the 13 mile loop. Toward the end of the trip, every time we would see the tourists pulled over on the side of the road taking pictures and feeding the burros, we were like “Not again!”.

The most memorable climbs we did (at least for me) were Tunnel Vision, Cat in the Hat and Olive Oil.

Tunnel Vision is a 6-pitch 5.7 route in White Springs. The climb involves a lot of chimmney climbing and it gets it’s name for the 5th pitch, where you climb through a dark tunnel (headlamp is recommended). During this climb, we met another group of Mazamas from Oregon (what a small world). We thought the tunnel pitch was quite fun and unique but I listened to the group behind us have a very different experience. The leader got off-route in the tunnel (didn’t traverse far enough left) and ended up in a nasty unprotected chimmney/cave. It sounded like he was going to kill himself in there from all the grunting and cursing I heard.

Matt thought the hardest pitch was actually the last one: instead of escaping left to the descent he took a direct line another 50 feet up a steep face. It was probably no harder than 5.7 but the protection was sketchy (at best).

On our descent, which involves easy scrambling down a gully liberally marked with cairns, I lost my prepaid cellphone. I was really upset because it still had $80 in it. Luckily Richard (the Mazama) found it during their descent and when we called the phone, we managed to meet up and get back the phone. Thank god, phew!

This is Matt, cramped in one of the chimneys in Tunnel Vision.

Another climb we did is Cat in the Hat. This climb is rated 5.6 and has 4-5 pitches (We did it in 4). Our first attempt to this climb fail miserably. We got to the base of the climb at 10.30 am and there were 3 groups waiting to start. Not to mention there were already several groups above climbing. We managed to start the 1st pitch by 12 noon. I couldn’t find the belay anchor (it’s further right than I realized) and ended up sort-of linking the 1st 2 pitches together. By the time Matt got up, it was 1pm and the traffic already started with people descending and ascending the same time. We decided to bail because we would never make it out by 5pm (the park closes at 5pm in the winter and the rangers begin ticketing).


Here’s the approach to Pine Creek Canyon. Cat in the Hat goes up the left side of Mescalito, the peak right in the middle of the canyon.

We came back the next week and on our second attempt, we were at the base of the climb at 8am and 1 couple was already there: at least they were the only other ones on the route. The girl in this group turned out to be a pretty slow climber. The whole time Matt was like 3 feet away from her and I was really antsy (thinking in my mind, pass her Matt, pass her). At the end of 1st pitch, Matt asked if he could pass them and they weren’t all that happy that we were right on their tail. They were from New England and they are not used to sharing routes with other climbers. In Red Rock you pretty much have to expect to share routes with climbers of all different speeds and passing can sometimes make the experience better for both parties involved.

So we continued ahead: Cat in the Hat gets better the higher you climb as the climb gets more and more exposed. The 1st and 3rd pitches were both good fun but the last pitch was definitely the highlight, a nice juggy crack with good protection followed by a thin, balancy crux right before the “top”. The standard route doesn’t reach the top of the Mescalito buttress and most parties choose to rap from here instead of reaching the true summit. We’ll have to go back and continue to the summit (possibly from another route), although I’ve heard getting off from the very top can be an adventure of its own.

Anyway, we finished the climb in a couple of hours and were done on the ground again by noon, with enough daylight left to try another climb, Olive Oil.


This is me on top of Cat in the Hat, pondering our success and the descent.


When doing a long day of climbing, it’s important to have a good supply of food. Here’s Matt snacking down on a Hooah! Bar before heading off to climb Olive Oil. Yummmmy. Also, note the color of his hands after a couple days of climbing without a shower.

We got to Olive Oil around 1pm. By the way, I forgot to mention that both Cat in the Hat and Olive Oil are in Pine Creek Canyon and all the climbs’ approaches are all somewhat long (35+ minutes). Olive Oil is a 4 pitch climb rated 5.7. Since we called ahead of time to get a late permit for the park, we were not too worried about time: we just needed to get up to the top and at least find the way down before it got dark. But we were moving fast and topped out at 4pm, leaving plenty of time to descend. The whole climb was a bit of a blur but the 2nd/4th pitches were quite nice and the climbing super mellow. A great route!

On the descent, we finally spotted a herd of big horn sheep. Matt saw them first and told me to move slowly to him. There they were, 6 sheep keeping an eye on us but still completely calm. It was a pretty spectacular view. I can’t believe I didn’t bring the camera! We made it back to the car at 5.35pm. It was a big success for us to complete 2 longer climbs in a single day.

Here’s Yogi looking very proud the fact that he pushed all that sand into both his water and food bowl. We ended up throwing out his sand-laden food.


Here is a shot of The Great Red Book, which follows the obvious left-facing open book feature. If you look closely, you can see two parties on the route. I led the 1st pitch and Matt led the 2nd. We both thought this climb was one of the best cragging routes we did in Red Rock – it was a lot of fun!


Perfect view on a perfect day. Taken from Tunnel Vision, before entering the tunnel.


The Second Pullout is the place to go for Sport climbing.


Yogi’s looking at the Sweet Pain wall. He’s kinda spooked by it.


Matt climbing a route in the Black Corridor (Lewd, Crude, and Misconstrued)


Another sport route in the Black Corridor, Joanne enjoys a no-hands rest while being swallowed whole by huecos on Nightmare on Crude Street.


Joanne scrambling on the approach to climb the super-fun Classic Corner of Calico. Matt had gotten spooked on this (one of his first trad leads) the previous year so we had to go back and do it again. With a little more experience, it was easier to enjoy!


A Yucca Plant in the shade.


We spent one night at the brand new Red Rock Resort & Spa on the West edge of Las Vegas. It was super nice, with a flat planel TV above the bathtub and a super comfortable bed. Yogi liked the bed too! Now if we could only have afforded the room for more than 1 night!


Sunset at the campground.

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