Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Red Rock pt. 1: Epinephrine

Climbing in Red Rock canyon has been on my tick list for a long time. I wasn't sure how it would go. Usually climbing in Yosemite or the High Sierra, I fell in love with crack climbing on granite. My face climbing and sport climbing experience was limited, but there were so many crack and face routes in RR which looked amazing that I was super excited to try them all anyway! Epinephrine, Cloud Tower, Inti Watana to Resolution Arete, Adventure Punks, The Fox, Rainbow Wall, Levitation 29, Prince of Darkness, Dream of Wild Turkeys, Frogland, Texas Hold'em, Solar Slab, Fiddler on the Roof, Birdland, Unimpeachable Groping, Crimson Chrysalis, Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride, Yin and Yang, Black Orpheus and the list went on… I WAS EXCITED TO GET OUT THERE AND CLIMB, A LOT of cool looking routes. Problem was that my vacation was only a week and my partner sprained an ankle on the second day of our vacation. However, that allowed me to meet a few more people and him a few days to heal before he resumed to crush. 
Black Velvet Canyon parking lot
Mark following P2 on Prince of Darkness (6 pitch 5.10c)
Weston took me out to do some cool bouldering too
I ended up climbing for 8 days in a row and ticking Prince of Darkness, Epinephrine, The Fox, Yin and Yang, Birdland, Inti Watana to Resolution Arete on Mt. Wilson, Unimpeachable Groping and Levitation 29. Favorite part about the trip was climbing with a few new people. Weston (WML from ST) took me out to climb the super classic Indian Creek style corner crack The Fox and did some cool bouldering with me. Lisa from Seattle was adventurous enough to get on a 20 pitch grade V link up of Inti Watana to Resolution Arête link-up on Mt. Wilson.  
Me leading the last (5.10c) pitch of Prince of Darkness. 
Mark starting up Epinephrine IV 5.9
Mark in the chimney system on the Epinephrine
Looking down the chimney system after linking the last two pitches of it

I will break down this trip into three reports and talk about several main climbs in more details. First report will be on The Epinephrine. Before climbing the route, I thought it was named due to its exciting nature. Epinephrine is the same thing as Adrenaline, which is a hormone secreted by the Sympathetic Nervous System in response to a stress or due to high levels of excitement. After a bit more reading I found out it was not at all the case. The climb got its name because Epinephrine (the drug) saved Jorge Urioste’s life after he got bit by an insect in the process of bolting the upper pitches. He had an allergic reaction, which nearly cost him his life. I didn't find any bugs on the route, but the climbing sure was exciting!
Looking down at the Black Tower. Looks fairly white from here.
Mark leading high on Epi
Mark following somewhere on Epinephrine
Epinephrine is one of the most popular climbs in Red Rock Canyon. To be honest, I totally underestimated this climb. I thought it would be far easier since everyone says “Red Rock ratings are soft,” and 5.9 is something I usually cruise anyway. Even though NEB of Higher Cathedral gives trouble to many Yosemite climbers, I thought Epinephrine is a tougher route. Possibly my new favorite multi-pitch 5.9. At least I can’t come up with another one that I like more. It had a mix of fun chimneys, a few cracks and a lot of cool face climbing higher up. In addition you get to summit Black Velvet Peak.
Me starting to lead the last two pitches of the prominent chimney. I linked these.

Fun face climbing! PSSSAAAATTTT!!!
 We arrived around 1:30pm on a Saturday and immediately went to climb Prince of Darkness (6 pitch 5.10c) in Black Velvet Canyon. Since the internet experts claim Red Rock ratings are soft I expected 5.10 face climbing would be similar to gym ratings so I linked the first (5.7) pitch with second (5.10b) pitch. In reality, the climbing turned out to be pretty challenging and thin. It took a lot of effort to do the second pitch without takes or falls. Next pitches were mostly 5.9 and were easier but had sustained climbing which never turned into a cruise. Last pitch was the 5.10c crux and my lead. I honestly thought I would land on my partner’s head trying to reach for a tiny hold which was higher than I wanted it to be. Somehow I got through it and managed to get to the top before total darkness fell. Both Mark and I thought this climb was not a super easy 5.10, worth doing, but a bit monotonous. That evening we were magically able to get a spot at a campground. It was a RR Rendezvous weekend, so we were surprised by our luck. The night at the campground was rough. Big gusts of winds did not allow us to get much rest and in addition it started to rain in the morning. Frustrated by the weather we were thinking of going to the city and taking the day off from climbing. By 9am we left the camp but the sunlit peaks grabbed our attention. “Let’s do the approach to Epinephrine and climb it if the rain doesn’t resume. Seems like it is mostly clear out there…aside from that giant cloud to the side.” Mark agreed and we got to the base of the climb around 11am. Not the typical start for such a long route but at least we had the whole thing to ourselves!
View of LV from the top
Summit register on top of Black Velvet peak

Me leading the Fox (5.10+). A great IC-style crack in a corner. Takes you through many sizes and has multiple challenges in one great pitch.

Mark took the first pitch, and immediately found the climbing to be challenging. Just a 5.8. He linked the first two pitches and found a few run outs. Higher up the climbing was fun and less run out. I got us into the chimney system, Mark got us through what is supposed to be the crux, and I found more cruxes for myself by going deep into the chimney when I linking pitches 4 and 5. Climbing mostly in Yosemite, I had no idea the normal route goes mostly on the outside of the chimneys through a series of big edges and cracks. I buried myself deep in and went through one cruxy bulge with a BD .5-.75 size crack through a tough bulge and than through a long squeeze chimney which took me to a bolt. Mark and I had a laugh about it on top of the Black Tower and resumed climbing. The climbing from here was mostly on face holds and thin cracks. There were a few AWESOME roofs that are negotiated on 5.8-9 jugs. Exposure and position above the canyon is incredible.
Calico Basin
I noticed pain in my left hand a few days after falling into some cactus while descending from Epinephrine. There was also something that looked like a broken bone or a foreign object in my hand. I could still climb as long as I didn't have to do fist jams so I resumed climbing in RR and waited till I got back to SF to seek medical help. Doc had a pleasant surprise...it is not a broken bone! :)
Intellectual humor on the strip

Due to position of this route, it is in the shade all day. Cold temps and frequent gusts of wind forced us to move and even though it is a 16-18 pitch route (if pitched out) we got to the top before the sunset. I was glad I didn’t get on this two years ago as a total noob. Some of the face climbing higher on the route was fairly exciting with runouts that would give me nightmares back in the day. I loved the route, but not the descent. Part ways down Mark sprained his ankle and was forced to take a few days off.  While Mark could not climb, on Monday I got out and met WML - one of the Supertopo users. It was cool to finally climb with a person I saw around the internet back when both of us posted on summitpost. He knew I liked the cracks and took me out to do The Fox (5.10+). It took me through variety of sizes from thin to a full on OW. I found this climb to be pretty tough and not at all softer than some of the classic Valley 10d climbs like Five and Dime, Catchy or Finger Lickin. After leading the climb clean and loving the quality I took a few more laps on TR and we went to boulder at Calico Basin. Even though the first few days of climbing at Red Rock did not at all suck, I was a little frustrated my partner was forced to take some time off. Our trip wasn’t too long and I felt guilty for continuing to have fun while he couldn't.

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