Matt and Joanne’s Page

October 23, 2007

Red Rock Canyon 2007

Filed under: Climbing — joannestamplis @ 8:36 am

We just came back from Red Rock yesterday. Guess what??? We did Solar Slab as promised but we did not manage to even attempt Epinephrine. There are a few reasons why we didn’t get to do it so keep on reading.We arrived in Vegas Friday around midnight. By the time we get the rental car, drove to the campground and setup our tent, it was already 2am. We got up at 4.30am and drove to the highway pullout for Oak Creek Canyon. We decided ahead of time that we were not going to drive the 13-mile loop drive this time. Instead, we parked outside the park and hiked a little longer, arriving at the base of Solar Slab around 6:45AM.

Here’s the wall. It’s bigger than it looks! The first part of the route is called Solar Slab Gully: the exposed upper face is Solar Slab. Our route is more-or-less labeled in red.

We simul-climbed the whole gully and continued up into the 1st pitch of Solar Slab. Here is Matt emerging onto the upper slab.

We continued upward from here, swapping leads to the top of the climb. Our original plan was to actually go to the summit of Rainbow Mountain which adds a few more pitches on top of Solar Slab. Well, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day but the wind was out of control! I have no idea how fast the wind was blowing but it was crazy being on the route in these conditions. I don’t think I ever experienced such high wind s before. It felt like a helicopter was blowing next to me. There was an occasion where Matt got swept off his feet (luckily he was connected to the anchor). By the time we got to the 3rd and 4th class scramble to the top, we were crawling on our hands and feet to stay low and avoid being blown off.

We met this one guy on the route, who came up behind me with around 2 pitches left to the top. At first I looked down and I saw a party of 3 at the big ledge above the Solar Slab gully. A few minutes later I looked down again there’s this guy behind me. I thought, wow, that was really fast, we must be slow. Then I looked again and I realized that this guy was soloing. By the time I reached the anchor, the guy was past us, yelling ‘woo-hoo’ as a strong gust of wind whipped by us. Crazy….

Reaching the top of the route in crazy winds!

We made it to the top (not the true summit) at noon. We climbed the route in 6 pitches and 1 simul-climb within 5 hours which I thought was a huge accomplishment for us. I think Matt said the route is technically 13 pitches long and about 1400 ft tall. We have never climbed that many pitches before so it was really good to know we could move fast enough on a big climb. Well, the time we saved by climbing fast was used during our painfully slow descent. We decided to take the supposed easiest descent route through the Painted Bowl.

Rappelling into the Upper Painted Bowl.

The descent was so sketchy with much 3rd and 4th class scrambling. There was a section that was maybe 30 degree angle, super exposed and if you look down, it’s a several hundred foot drop and here we are, unroped, on a friction slab climbing the exposed face with horrible foot features and no hand holds. I was super spooked here but Matt was being very supportive and helping me through this rough section. Don’t forget the strong gusts of wind were still blowing as we down climb this friction slab. I think I would have had a better time descending if I didn’t have to worry that the wind sweeping me off my feet.

The last 30 feet of the descent involves sliding down water-polished sandstone. It’s actually a real fun slide but Joanne’s face seems to say otherwise!

[*Matt says* I have to edit this next paragraph: Joanne’s description was a little too graphic for me!]

Anyway, it took us about 6 hours from the summit to our car. This is really slow but we took lots of breaks and Matt hadn’t been feeling well. On Thursday he got some kind of stomach ailment and he’d been losing fluids about as fast as he could drink them. By the time we got off the technical section, he rushed off to the bushes. I was amazed that he still had the strength to climb Solar Slab after being sick for so many days.

The high winds continued and we were super worried that our tent would not hold up, If you have seen our tent, you would understand why. We have this super light tent that only uses hiking poles and stakes. All night the tent was shaking furiously, it felt like we were in the middle of a hurricane. As I fell asleep, I was 100% sure I will wake up with the tent on my face. Matt said the wall of the tent was on his face all night. Surprisingly the tent held up the whole night. Needless to say, though, our plan to climb Epinephrine didn’t look so good when we woke up the next day morning and the tent was still shaking furiously. We didn’t want to be caught up in high winds up on the wall again. It was possibly a blessing in disguise because Matt didn’t feel good that day and we only climbed 1 short route before calling it a day to go shopping. Yay for Joanne. I bought a really nice Coach handbag for a really good price.

Matt felt a little better on Monday and we decided to try a route in the Black Velvet Canyon (Triassic Sands). Half way through the 1st pitch, Matt didn’t think he could do it so we bailed and packed up to go home. I think we bailed because Matt was still weak from his sickness. I have seen him climb harder than that before and it’s only a 5.10a section. Anyway, it was all in all a great trip and I hope we’ll be back soon.



  1. holy molly… i dont know how you guys do it – i soooooooo would not be able to climb up that! so sorry to hear that matt wasn’t well, hope he’s much much better now.

    Comment by Lil — October 27, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  2. He’s better now. We just came back from Smith Rock and he’s climbing harder than ever.

    Comment by joannestamplis — October 28, 2007 @ 8:58 pm

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