Friday, April 18, 2014

Red Rock pt 3: Levitation 29 (III 5.11c)

When we got back to the car after climbing Inti Watana To Resolution Arete I was psyched we didn't have to ever use headlamps. When I checked my phone and read a text message from Mark, I got even more excited:

“Fuck it! We are doing Levi29 tomorrow. So hopefully you aren’t too worked.”

Well, aside from doing a Grade V route on 6th consecutive day of climbing, I feel great! Some active rest, wouldn’t hurt though. Mark and I settled on climbing Unimpeachable Groping (6 pitch 5.10+) on day 7 and saving Levitation 29 (III 5.11c) for the 8th day. On the way back to the Bay Area I was really excited that my body handled eight consecutive days of climbing. However, those who have heard of Henri Barber’s climbing habits will smirk. If you have not, I would strongly suggest to listen!
Eagle Wall - Levitation 29 goes up the middle of this beast
Mark likes to play around with rocks
Me posing on the approach
Climbing on Unimpeachable Groping was some SERIOUS FUN
Aside from screwing up the approach to Unimpeachable Groping and finding a three man party on the route with another party at the base, the day went great. Party in line decided to climb something else, and we took our time climbing the route on a windy day. Weather in Red Rock have been fairly ‘alpine’ for the whole duration of our trip. Cloud cover and winds made cragging feel a little less enjoyable. Poor man’s Patagonia indeed.

Not much to say about Unimpeachable Groping. It was steep, clean and had cool climbing. Kind of the usual, I loved it. Mark however, wasn't impressed. He was impressed by Levitation 29 though! Since he sprained his ankle on the descent from Epinephrine he didn't get to climb much for majority of our trip. I been climbing my ass off every day, so we decided he will take the evens, which included the 5.11c crux of Levi 29. I would be lying if I didn't admit Levitation 29 was really intimidating to me. 5.11c face climbing. Jesus, I usually suck on 5.11 face in the gym. Crimps are probably my biggest weakness and I sport climb as much as I get laid. Since Mark is stronger at face climbing it was logical for him to take the crux pitch anyway. But at least I had a better excuse for not fighting hard to take that lead.
Mark leading pitch 1 of Levitation 29
Another look at Mt. Wilson
 'Snail eye' before leading pitch 2 (5.11) on Levi 29
We started the approach early and got it done in exactly two hours. We took the low 5th class direct option which seemed fairly easy to follow, but not very direct. There was no scary scrambling on it. Top third of this approach was like walking up a never ending Half Dome. Steep slabs for eternity. As Mark racked up for pitch one another party showed up and got in line behind us. “Great,” I thought, an audience to see me flail like a rag doll. I told them that if they were mega crushers who would be slowed down by a few dudes who want to ‘get up’ the route, they could pass right ahead. They said they weren't in a rush and made a great first impression, which was strengthened by continuous positive communication we had through the day. At times having another party on a route is a nuisance, but these guys only brought joy to my day.
Mark on the approach with Mt. Wilson behind him
Mark following pitch 2
Party behind us on pitch 2
Mark leading the crux - pitch 5
Mark led the first pitch not without huffing and puffing. Even though ‘just’ a 5.10b, this pitch was more interesting than any of the 5.10 pitches we have done on the trip. Next pitch was a 5.11 roof which is supposedly another crux of the route. It seemed giant and I was intimidated. The lead started out well but than I got hit with some insecure stemming and was forced to slow down. After figuring it out I continued up on cool edges, used a two finger pocket to get under a wild roof and than it took me a long time to commit to some action there. After a few false starts I tried to do something I had not much faith in and almost took a fall. Even though falling here would be like falling on top rope, I really wanted to do the moves clean. I was barely able to down-climb back to my stance likely with help from a tight belay provided by my patient partner. After a bit more thinking I figured out a completely different way of putting the moves together. The moves actually went smooth and I got the pitch clean! Mark ran up the next pitch – a fun 5.8, and I took pitch four (5.10b).
Mark following pitch 6
Guys behind us having a blast
Original bolt on route
Another view of Mt. Wilson and the descent canyon
After we got done with the first four pitches, the crux was staring us in the eyes. We heard a lot about it, but seeing it in person was a different experience. Thin face climbing to a short section of fist jams through a roof than crimpy face climbing to the anchor. The pitch was so tightly bolted that I don’t think there would be much difference in a length of fall between leader and a follower.  : )  However, locking off and clipping the draws/rope into the bolts makes it a different game. Mark did really well but messed up the sequence through the roof. I had a desperate time but followed the pitch clean. It took a lot out of me and I was pumped out of my mind. While leading the sixth (5.10d) pitch I thought I was gonna go for a ride mid way up when my footwork and fatigue from following pitch  five put me in a difficult situation. I was really proud of my ability to block off fear of falling, concentrate on pulling hard, making the moves to work my way out of shitty situation and succeed. Mark led the 7th pitch (5.11a) and we were done with the hard climbing. Both of us thought the 6th and 7th pitches were quality pitches with difficult climbing. Some people recommend rapelling after pitch five, but we don't understand why. Last two pitches are 5.8 and 5.9 and we were not sure if we could rappel after those so we rapelled after pitch seven. I was fairly happy with my performance on the route – no falls, no hangs. Since I am a mountaineer at heart, the only regret I have was for not going to the top of the formation, which I am sure will happen at some point in the future. I enjoyed the route very much and the whole outing to Red Rock kicked ass. The climbing style was completely different than what I am used to in CA, which was enjoyable and challenged in the same time. Can’t wait to go back and climb in Red Rock some more!

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