Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Red Rocks

Way over due trip report for our trip to Vegas. But it's slow at work and I've been meaning to get this pictures up... so here goes!

Friday morning we woke up EARLY to find SeaTac jammed full of people. Turns out we were traveling on one of the busier travel days of the year - over Presidents weekend. With no printer between the two of us, we were subject to last minute check in on Southwest - which means back of the bus. But at least we were on a direct flight!

We arrived well before noon and headed to Whole Foods on Charleston Road to load up on java and ooey goeys for the days adventure. We headed up to Red Rocks National Conservatory and made our way to the Mescalito area.

After rearranging our packs and gear, we quickly realized that we had locked the keys in the car, with the radio running and our cell phones. Undeterred, we went climbing. Breaking into the car and dealing with AAA could wait as far as we were concerned! (Notice the keys are in the ignition!)

We climbed The Cat in the Hat, a 5 pitch 5.7 route. It was really easy terrain and a good way to get back into climbing. I hadn't been climbing outside since last July. There were a few demons to get over, that's for sure, but I'm really glad I did it. That is until we got about 4 pitches up and it started snowing HEAVILY. Luckily I came prepared - two puffy coats, long johns, etc. I started to freak a little - to which Chris responded that he learned how to climb in those conditions thanks to his mountaineering and ice climbing background. That didn't do much to ease my mind - especially considering we still had to break into the car! So we opted out of the last pitch (which was a good idea considering the party in front of us was moving super slow) and headed back to the car.

Chris showed his true colors. Locking your keys in your car, with it running and all of your overnight stuff in it, etc could potentially cause a small tantrum. Ryan certainly would have freaked out. But he calmly waved over a couple who was willing to help us (they were from Beaverton, OR) and lent us their cell phone. We called AAA and they were on their way. But there was only one slight glitch - the park was closed and the rangers had long since locked the gates. The nice couple gave us a ride back to the entrance, where we tried in vain to locate the ranger. Next thing we know the AAA truck showed up, flashed his lights in effort to locate us and we came running out of the dark and snowy night. One problem though - we had no way back into the park. So the AAA showed compassion on us and drove us to our hotel. Fortunately my steal trap of a brain remembered the address and at the last minute I had grabbed my credit card and ID so we were able to check in.

The following morning we called AAA and had them meet us in the park. A Vegas cab driver picked us up and $60 later and 15 miles of hearing him bitch about the economy and his miscalculation of Enron stock and gambling problem, we were back at the snow covered car and surprised to hear the radio still singing.

That day we tried to find Geranimo and had no luck! The guidebook lead us to believe the climb started at the mouth of the canyon - and we of course walked right by and continued up the snow crusted boulders only to realize we totally got off route and had little day light left to complete the climb. At this point we needed some entertainment so we headed to Red Rocks Casino (aka freak show!).

The next day we headed back to successful summit Geranimo, a 5 pitch 5.6 climb. The reason we climbed such easy trad routes was because sandstone rock gets super brittle when wet. Big huge jugs can break off in your hand without much effort - and when a foot hold broke off mid way up Geranimo, I was thankful to be seconding Chris's lead. The views were great - and we got to check out Crimson Crysalis - a 5.8 that has a super hard chimney in it. But this trip it was covered in snow.

The next day we woke up to rain so we hiked into the Prince of Darkness canyon area. (Wish I could remember the proper name for that one!) Ryan and Andrew had climbed in the area a few years prior and I swear I could feel his presence. There's something extremely magical about that canyon. Tears were shed in his memory - but good tears. I felt closer to him there than I often do in our house. That night I had a vivid dream about him.

Our final day in the park took us to the Magic Bus area. It was a crazy weather day. On one side of the park it was sunny and beautiful and across the valley was a stormy snowy sky. We were happy to do some super easy mellow sport routes and were greeted by several Canadians who were happy to be somewhat defrosted from the cold weekend.

I actually had a really good time climbing moderate routes and pushing myself just ever so slightly.

My thoughts were with Ryan throughout the weekend and am really thankful for Chris's companionship. As I experience more and more firsts, their difficulty eases and I'm ever amazed at the journey it takes to complete them.

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