Red Rock Nevada

Friday, February 01, 2002

I purchased my ticket to Las Vegas yesterday for $250, and am now trying to figure out what’s next on the gear list.  In speaking with Roy Smith from Quest, he suggests I pick up at least a 20 degree bag for this trip, but recommends a 10 degree bag if I plan to do other trips, which of course I do.  Temperatures in Red Rock Nevada during the day run between 60 and 70 degrees, but drop towards freezing at night.  I still need to pick up a great deal of things, including a jacket, sleeping bag and rope.  Looks like I will be taking a trip to H&R Block.  Not sure if I’ll even have anything left after.  I guess risk isn’t the only cost for adventure! 

 

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

I just filed my income tax and should be receiving $1,500.  And that money will go for the extensive gear list I will need to start this journey of Adventure travel.  I need to purchase a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, rope, helmet, cookware set, back pack and a good parka.  All of that will cost approximately $1,500 - $2,000.  Painful. 

 

Saturday, February 16, 2002

You have to love a tax return!  Today I picked up the remainder of the gear for my Red Rock trip.  I picked up my pack, my bag, rope, helmet, pots/bowls and a ground mat as well as a smaller Gregory back pack with a water reservoir for the mountain biking season all for a heartbreaking $1,200.  There are still a few things on my list, like rope bag/tarp and a jacket and some more clothes, but for the most part, I'm good to go.  This is my gear list as it stands today.

Shoes

5.10 Spires

$100

Harness

Black Diamond Blizzard

$90

Chalk Bag

Petzl

$10

Biners  

2 Petzl Locking Gate

$14

Training Board

Metolius Stimulator

$70

Rope

Blue Water Enduro 11mm Standard 60m

$175

Pack

Dana Design Terraplane X

$469

Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering Badger Super DryLoft

$325

Helmet

Petzl Ecrin

$80

Camping Cookery Set

Nesters

$25

I have explained the reasoning for my particular choices in the gear section for this trip. 

 

 Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Today I took a trip over t Paragon Sports to pick up a Parka and a fleece and possibly a belay device.  I met a guy named Craig who works for Paragon in the climbing department.  A climber himself, he was interested in putting together a climbing corner at the store and took down all of my information.  He recommended gear, and then introduced me to another fellow climber, Brian, who worked in the apparel section. 

Brian waited patiently while I tried on 10 different shells until I found one that fit me.  6'3", it's often difficult to find clothing that fits me and when you're going to spend so much money on one item like a shell, it's important to get it right.  Brian gave me great advice starting with steering me away from and anorak and towards a Marmot zip up shell and ending with recommending the North Face fleece jacket.  I also picked up a pair of Marmot Rainier pants, which I think will come in handy and happened to be 35% off. 

 

Sunday, March 03, 2002

This morning I visited the EMS store Broadway in New York.  I picked up a few water bottles and a different air mattress, the Thermarest self inflatable.  It looked smaller and more comfortable than the one I picked up at Tent and Trails.  I figured it can't hurt to have both just in case.  I also picked up a few small bottles, for shampoo, etc. and a 100liter Camelbak bladder. The bladder that came with my Gregory backpack was not suitable for anything other that water, and being the Gatorade Junkie I am, I figured I needed something more flexible.

I also picked up a couple of pair of breathable wicking underwear.  I am not sure if I will need them, but I want to start to get to know which brands/types I like and don't like before I go on a long expedition like Denali.  The less surprise the better in my opinion. 

This is everything I’m bringing, not including clothes, socks, etc.  In reality, most of this stuff, (if not all) Quest would have provided me, but since I plan on doing this for the long haul, I might as well start getting it all now.

Shoes

5.10 Spires

$100

Harness

Black Diamond Blizzard

$90

Chalk Bag

Petzl

$10

Biners  

2 Petzl Locking Gate

$14

Training Board

Metolius Stimulator

$70

Rope

Blue Water Enduro 11mm Standard 60m

$175

Pack

Dana Design Terraplane X

$440

Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering Badger Super DryLoft

$325

Belay Device

Black Diamond ATC

$14

Helmet

Petzl Ecrin

$80

Camping Cookery Set

Nesters

$25

Parka

Marmot

$300 

Wind Pants

Marmot

$100

Fleece Jacket

North Face

$25

Water Bottles

Nalgene

$9

Rope Bag

Black Diamond

$35

 

Saturday, March 06, 2002

I met up with Roy and the rest of the group at the airport.  When I first met them all I could think was, “Damn, I’m old!”  Ether that, or these guys are really young and in shape.  I would find out later it was a little bit of both.  The flight was nothing new, except that they didn’t serve food!  What’s up with that? 

When we got to Las Vegas, the first thing we did was pick up food for the week.  Since we would be camping out at the 13 Mile Campground, we didn’t need water (it is provided at the group campsites in a Marine Corps mini tanker) but we did need everything else.  By the time we got to camp, we had enough time to set up our tents, cook up some dinner and plan out the climbs for day one. 

 

Sunday, March 07, 2002

CLIMBING DAY ONE 

Panty Prow (98) s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.6

Victoria’s Secret (99)s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.10

Brief Encounter (91)s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.8

Boxer Rebellion (90)s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.8

Silk Panties (89)s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.7

Thong (85)s

Panty Wall

First Pullout

5.7

 A 5.6 is quite a difficult climb when you have never been on a wall before.  Actually, for me it was only hard because I have zero technique!  You can read a million times that you have to keep your body above your legs and try to avoid leaning your body up against the rock, but it’s the first thing you want to do.  Really, that wasn’t the problem.  I just wasn’t prepared for how high up we would be starting.  By the time we got to the crag where we would be climbing for the day, Panty Wall in the First Pullout, we had been hiking and climbing loose boulders for over 20 minutes.  We were high up.  It’s just so much different when you’re on real rock. 

 Once I started sticking my butt out, I realized it was a great deal easier to work the rock.  When you hug the wall, you get much less traction, and it makes you more unstable, which in turn makes you hug the rock even more!  But when you shift your weight over your feet, your feet stick to the wall like glue.  Before you can be comfortable leaning away from the rock, you need to be comfortable with your footwork and the footholds.  At first it feels like you’re going to slide right off of the face of the rock, but once you get comfortable with your feet, it all starts to come together. 

The other thing I had to do was take my time.  Being a basketball player, I have a tendency to race through things, especially sports related activities, because of basketball’s reward or those who make quick decisive moves.  In rock climbing, however, it is patience that pays.  You have to know where you’re going to step before you move your foot.  It’s so important to take your time and plan your moves because if you don’t, you’ll waste most of your energy holding up your body weight while you try to find a foothold large enough to support you.

The Panty Prow was an easy first climb for me, but it was so important to have someone there telling me to get my butt over my feet and to take my time and recommend holds, and steps.  By the time I got onto the 5.8’s, I felt comfortable on the rock, and started to get over the need to rush.  But, I still wasn’t using my feet enough because by the time I got almost to the top of brief encounter, my forearms felt like they were about to explode.  Disgusted in myself, I was lowered to the bottom, cursing under my breath. 

The second 5.8 I did, right after Brief Encounter, was Boxer Rebellion.  It is where I learned about the subjectivity of the rating system, because I got to the top relatively easily.  To be perfectly honest, if we had not had time to do any more climbing after my first try at 5.8, there is no doubt in my mind I would have never climbed again.  I realized in my second trip up 5.8 that a competitive fire is fine as long as it is tempered with an understanding of what climbing is all about.  Continual improvement is the goal and failure is a part of that.   In fact, the likelihood of failure is the beauty of the sport.  Had it not been for the difficulty of Brief Encounter, Boxer Rebellion would have been nowhere near as enjoyable.

*note to self:  Woah…this is high!

 

Monday, March 08, 2002

CLIMBING DAY TWO

Ultraman  (104)s

Ultraman Wall

First Pullout

5.8+

Battery Powered (209)s

Mass Production Wall

First Pullout

5.9

Ultraman was the best climb for me yet.  Challenging, but not overly difficult, it was the most fun I have had so far.  This is the first time I understood what it means to be runout.  As Joe was slowly crawling up the wall, he quickly expressed his discomfort with the length between bolts.  When you have 20 feet between bolts, there is a potential for a 40 foot plus fall.  When you’re following none of that matters, but when you’re leading you are on the “hot end of the rope” as the climbing crowd likes to say.

Mass Production was a blow to the ego and realization how difficult this sport really is.  I couldn’t believe how hard it was. By the time I was two thirds of the way up, I had fallen 3 times and I was breathing like Darth Vader.  It was so tiring to get to that point, by the time I got to the crux, a slight overhang just before the last bolt, I couldn’t even hold onto the rock.  It was in the shade and my fingers were so cold abrased they were stinging.  They felt as if I had rub them on sandpaper all day.  In reality, that’s exactly what I had done!

I was so disgusted with myself.  It’s funny how the mentality of those who partake in certain sports is so similar.  Whenever I revealed my disappointment, they all said the same thing.  “But did you have fun?”  How can you not!

*note to self:  When your fingers get cold, it’s hard to climb!

 

Tuesday, March 09, 2002

CLIMBING DAY THREE 

Arachnoworld  (61)t

Brass Wall

Pine Creek Canyon

5.4

The sky in Red Rock Nevada is so blue, that I feel like I am looking up at Caribbean water in the sky.  But I really couldn’t think about that because the hike up to the crag was kicking my ass.  I couldn’t believe how out of shape I was.  It was worth it though because I got a chance to follow my first traditional route.  Arachnoworld is a really easy climb to follow.  But it was a great learning experience because  got a chance to inspect and play around with the gear placements as I cleaned the route.  I definitely wanted to get some kind of knowledge about trad placement because when I start climbing at the gunks, that’s all I’ll be doing because it’s all trad.

*note to self:  Start running.  You’re out of shape fat man!

 

Wednesday, March 10, 2002 

Today was my rest day.  This is the first time in my life I have gone 4 days without taking a shower.  My hair felt greasy and my skin was almost as bad.  So we took a ride into town and got a shower at the local climbing gym, Powerhouse Gym.  Actually, Powerhouse is a climbing gym, with a gear shop next to it.  In fact, the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides operate their Nevada program out of the gym.  It costs $4 to take a shower, $14 to boulder and $15 to climb.  It is by far, the best gym I have ever seen as far as variety, size and quality of the gym.  It has lead routes as well as toprope.  It has a large ceiling, lots of overhang and a very large cave for quality bouldering.  

The gear shop is very nice too.  They have a large assortment of gear, from climbing to camping to apparel.  They also have a very nice selection of books and magazines for sale.  So if you’ve been out of town and haven’t seen the latest National Geographic Adventure, drop in. 

*note to self:  It gets windy in the desert.  Enough to blow away a tent!

 

Thursday, March 11, 2002

Today we were supposed to climb at the local climbing gym, Powerhouse Gym.  However, we decided to take a road trip to the Hoover Damn.  It was cool, but really, what’s the big deal?  Next time, I’ll veto so we can go climbing!

*note to self:  Gotta come back and kayak down this river.  It’s so blue!

 

Friday, March 12, 2002

CLIMBING DAY FOUR 

Mom and Apple Pie  (102)

Happy Acres

Calico Basin

5.9

Today was another tough approach to the crag.  This time it’s because I’m sick.  This camping out thing is great until it gets really cold.  My hat fell off and I had too many clothes on in my bag and started sweating.  It was all over after that.  I’ve been coughing and sneezing like crazy.  But none of that matters, because now I have officially gotten a 5.9 under my belt.  It was so damn hard, I almost didn’t get it.  I basically did pull-ups the last 15 feet and dragged my lower body like a snail up the wall to the last bolt. 

I actually have to thank Brandon for not letting me down because I had already given up.  Since he wouldn’t let me down, I had to blow some warm air in my hands and press on.  This was my goal after the first day and I did it.  It wasn’t a very pretty ascent, but a successful one nonetheless.  Eight bolts.  Eight bolts of pure, unadulterated hell!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself on this trip because I had no experience with real rock climbing to reference.  After seeing the difficulty of the 5.10 Bob and Tina climbed, and the ease with which they climbed, or appeared to climb it, I must admit I became pretty discouraged on Tuesday at Mass Production.

What did I get from this trip? A new love for climbing.  An idea of how to proceed both at becoming a better climber and at planning future trips.  I got comfortable with the rock. 

This was a great first climbing trip, but that’s all it was.  A first trip.  It’s not even close to being the last.

*note to self:  Next time will be even better!

 

 


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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