Just got back from a trip to Red Rocks. If anyone hasn't thought about heading out there, my advice is to start doing so NOW! Quite an amazing place! I'm a bit of a newbie to climbing out west, having only done two trips to J Tree, so maybe I'm just a little punch drunk from the size and scope of things out thar. Nonetheless, I can definitely say that I'll be back out there soon.
We spent 8 days climbing from the 7th through the 16th. The weather was great, mostly mid- to upper-70s, except for one windy day and a brief spit of rain.
We ticked off a bunch of 5 star classics like Frogland, The Great Red Book, Ragged Edges, Physical Graffiti, Cat in the Hat, Dark Shadows, Solar Slab and a slew of 3 and 4 star routes. Unfortunately, a sore shoulder on my part, and my partner's bad back, kept us from pushing any further up in the grades. I especially wanted to get on Crimson Chrysalis--what a sweet line. But, with the long weekend (read 'crowds'), the length of the route and our ailments, we thought we'd leave it for another day.
The Great Red Book- Great line. Laybacks, slab and face moves all in a truly remarkable location. The top out looking across at Oak Creek and Ice Box Canyons was spectacular. I froze my ass off at the first pitch belay, though. I'd recommend waiting till afternoon to do this one if you're out there in the fall. Timing is essential to comfortable climbing out there this time of year--not to mention currect layering schemes. This was commented on by several people who responded to my initial email for beta, but we had to learn it the hard way.
Dark Shadows- I can't recall a route name that so completely fit the bill. The dark polished sandstone on this route was downright oppressive, not to mention the huge roof looming overhead. The way the route is framed off by the roof and walls on either side, not to mention stepping across the stream onto the first pitch slab, makes it seem like something out of Dante's Inferno (bit of a stretch, I know, but what a freaking cool place). Another route that required slab, crack, layback and face techniques. Oddly enough, my partner and I agreed that the 2nd pitch (5.7-) seemed more demanding than the third pitch (5.
. Regardless, both were stunning pitches. We didn't do the whole route primarily because of time, but we've been told that the upper pitches are just as worthwhile as the first 4.
Solar Slab- Did this one on the first day of sunshine on the trip. Another aptly named route. Tremendous, varied climbing at a moderate grade. One mistake we made was to do the gully descent. We figured that this would be easier than dragging a second rope up the route. BIG MISTAKE! The gully descent sucked and it took us longer than the climb itself. We would have been back down in about 1/4 the time it took us to wallow down the gully. Nonetheless, stellar route.
Frogland- Another great line that required the whole bag of techniques, including a fun squeeze chimney.
The thing that sticks with me the most about the trip is the amount of verticality and exposure that you can get on routes of moderate difficulty (5.7 to 5.9)--kinda like the Gunks on steroids. Speaking of grades, we found them a bit soft--probably comes from climbing in NE all the time. We also realized that we carried WAY too much gear . With the length of the climbs and the moderate degree of difficult, we found ourselves running it out between placements far more than we usually do back east. By the end of the trip, I felt as if we were climbing with a 'big wall rack' at times.
The BLM campsite, much maligned by most who responded to my initial email for beta, was actually quite nice. Granted, the lack of shade and the dust sucked, but we really were only around camp long enough to eat and sleep anyway.
Many thanks to everyone for their helpful info and route suggestions.