Imagine a rock climber’s utopia: Abundant climbing partners, too many routes to count, good music, copious swag, and stomachfuls of glorious beer. Yep, it’s that time of the year. Red Rock Rendezvous. My time was limited there, and I was pleasantly surprised to get in so much climbing….
I fly in Wednesday night, crashing at Viren and Julie’s. I see other AAI personnel have the same idea. Jason, Kevin, Viren, Forest, Alasdair, Kurt, and Alaina (and now me) pack the place like a free-range guide homestead. Jason is pouring over some papers in the corner – printouts of the Disappearing Crag. “So you wanna do an FA tomorrow?,” he asks me. Jason knows Red Rocks (um, I mean Red ROCK. “It’s not called Red Rocks!”, as the Jason diatribe starts) better than ANYONE. Really. He knows the best routes, best beta, and the most obscure crags.
Hence, Jason, Kevo, and I take the van down a janky-washed-out-backroad early Thursday morning to bag the climb. We hike for an hour in tick-infested wasteland, heading to our proposed destination. I didn’t really care about an FA. I just felt lucky to be climbing with two awesome people. Every time I go out and climb with one of our guides, I learn in a day what probably would have taken me a season of climbing to figure out on my own. What I saw and did was awesome climbing. I was happy with being deadweight – they did all the leading (Jason busting out the 5.9 crux lead on a traversing crack with no feet). After checking a million times to see if we were keeping off the route that was next to us (or “inverse” route finding as I call it), we finally top out. We were all feeling pretty darn good. I perform my tenth OCD tick-check and I lace up the tennies and we walk off. Then, upon the decent, Jason falls on a cactus – full-on-hand in-the-spines fall. Yes, the cactus pretty much stopped his fall. Route name: Pricks and Ticks (5.9, II+).
Check out Jason’s Mountain Project post here.
Dyan Padagas, Program Coordinator