Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Texas Tower Direct to Texas Hold’em to Lone Star link up (V 5.12 A0)

Climbing in Red Rocks blew my mind a month earlier and I could not resist Luke’s offer to go back for another round. We have done a few fun outings together and I knew he would be up for climbing a bunch of good routes. Since I have to cover for my co-worker this summer, my colleagues were kind enough to let me have another mini vacation on a short notice. So on Thursday night (April 24th) Luke picked me up from LV Airport and we spent the next 9 days climbing, resting, eating, hanging out, cracking jokes and taping our fingers. Aside from climbing a bunch of awesome pitches we spent time hanging out friends and making new ones. On one of the rest days we met the notorious x-supertopo superstar Cosmiccragsman. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to rope up, but meeting up was a good start.
Hello Red Rocks!!!Let’s get this party started!!!
Luke sending the first 5.12 pitch

Boulder problem on Texas Tower Direct
Following something super exciting and exposed
When Luke asked me about what I wanted to do as our first climb, I told him we should get the hardest thing out of the way. The psyche would be high and fingers would be fresh. He proposed Texas Tower Direct to Texas Hold’em to Lone Star link up (V 5.12 A0). He did a few variations on that wall a month or so prior and wanted to do the link up to the top. It seemed very intimidating, since 5.12 is something I don’t get on, but it turned out to be the right challenge and a route that I now consider in my top three. One of the few routes that rivals Astroman.
While we climbed, Luke replaced some of the tat with new ASCA rings. What a saint! :)
Luke below another short flare
Me excited to start the 5.11c pitch (one of the funnest pitches on Texas Hold'em)
Weather was iffy throughout the day
 Since Luke knew this wall far better than me, he came up with the strategy and selected the leads for both of us. Day started well. Luke led and I followed one of the crux 5.12 pitches clean. We did a pendulum through the short v6 boulder problem and Luke led another awesome (and difficult) pitch. It had a few one-legged squats and fun climbing on the arete. I followed clean and led the next pitch clean as well – a 5.12a according to the book. Maybe it is the softest 5.12a in the world, maybe Luke’s tips helped a lot, maybe I just got lucky, but I was super excited about leading my first 5.12a clean.
Me leading the awesome and very overhanging last pitch of Texas Hold'em
5.10 traverse pitch on Texas Tower
Luke laying it back on Lone Star
One of the few enjoyable sections on Lone Star
We skipped one of the coming 5.12 pitches in favor of a 5.10 traverse and Luke send another 5.12. Luke was on a roll and his energy was contagious. After figuring out some crazy way to avoid using the tiny holds that Luke crimped, I was able to follow it clean. WOW, some of the wildest moves I have done while rock climbing. I heard lots of people put down Red Rock routes for being “like the gym,” but I love it. It was the first time when I had to commit to gymnastic moves sticking which seems highly unlikely outdoors.  
Luke skipping all the bolts! Just kidding, that's a tag line. :)
Me starting the 5.10a R pitch
Surprised to be on top of the Black Velvet Peak way before the sunset. 12 hrs c2c!
I led the next two pitches, which as I remember were the last two of Texas Hold’em – 5.11c (flaring chimney/face traverse and 10d/11a (chimney that leads to the crux – an overhanging crack). Both of them were beautiful and I managed to get them clean. From there we continued up Lone Star and took it to the top of Black Velvet peak. Compared to Texas Tower and Texas Hold’em, Lone Star does not stand out in quality, but is a logical continuation to the top. I liked some of the pitches on it. 5.10R pitch was fairly memorable, especially because I continued going up instead of traversing after reaching the “easy” ramp. Luke got some exciting Lone Star climbing while leading the wide pitch lower on the route and when he missed the 4th class ledge traverse to the top of Epinephrine. Instead, he took the direct finish up an unprotected chimney/face. While following that horror show I broke two holds. When we did get to the top we took some photos and hiked out. This time the descent took under one and a half hours and our car to car time was just over twelve hours! What a day.

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