Monday, April 20, 2015

Red Rocks Trip - Day 3: Juniper Peak

Chris Weidner on my Myster Z

After 15 hours climbing the Rainbow Wall, I was pretty tired the next day and moving slow. We agreed to get up at 7 a.m. but then we dawdled quite a bit before heading out. Originally I was going to take the 10 p.m. flight home, which didn't land in Denver until 1 a.m. That was when I thought we'd be going big today, but that was out of the question for me so I changed to the 4:30 p.m. flight. With that out of the way, we made plans. I might have been content to just go watch Heather on her project - Where is My Mind. Alas, that would have been unsatisfying. Chris told me that he had soloed a nice linkup in Juniper Canyon. He took the 1100-foot 5.7 Myster Z on the Jackrabbit Buttress and that led quite nicely to Birthday Cake (5.6) on the far left of the Brownstone Wall, leading to the very summit of Juniper Peak. That sounded just my speed and Chris agreed to repeat it.
Looking out from my "cave" belay

I didn't want to solo the route onsight, so we took a rope and a light rack. I didn't take climbing shoes, though, trusting my La Sportiva Mix shoes with a fresh resole of ultra sticky rubber. We hiked in with ultra-light, minimalist packs and just climbed with them on. First pitch of Myster Z is a very steep chimney, but with a plethora of big holds. I strung the first two pitches together and by then had exhausted my Spartan rack. Chris followed and then led up a long 3rd class section and I took over again.

I led up a really nice crack in a right facing dihedral and that led to a groove-chimney thing where I stemmed a long ways to another nice crack. I belayed in a sort-of cave, in the shade, and brought Chris up. From there I traversed a bit right and up an easy crack that was supposedly 5.7, but felt like 5.4. We continued simul-climbing up very easy ground to the top of the buttress. Here we checked the time. We'd been going for about two hours, from the car, and had to be back at the car in 1h50m. I asked Chris if he thought we had time to add on Birthday Cake and his response was, "Let's go for it." Heck, he didn't have a plane to catch!
Heading towards Birthday Cake on the Brownstone Wall

We coiled the rope and motored up scrambling terrain and some 4th class to get to the base of Birthday Cake. Time was tight and we'd have to climb the route in about 15 minutes. Chris mentioned that it was easier than anything we'd already climbed and that we could just solo it. I agreed and I felt quite comfortable on the route. It wasn't very exposed or sustained.

We signed the summit register and then pushed the pace on the descent all the way back to the car. Chris even threw in some trotting on the smoother sections of the trail. I appreciated him pushing things a bit to lower my stress of missing my flight. As it turned out we made it in plenty of time.

What a great trip I had! I hope to start visiting Red Rocks annually now, replacing my Zion trip. There are so many long routes I want to do there, like Traffic Sands and Lone Star (11a, 21 pitches, one of the longest climbs in all Red Rocks) in Black Velvet Canyon and Blue Diamond Ridge (1500', 5.9), Lady Wilson's Cleavage (1100', 5.9), Sentimental Journey (2000', 5.9), Inti Watana (1500', 10c),  Woman of Mountain Dreams (2110', 11a), and Umimpeachable Groping (700', 10b), Paiute Pillar (1500', 5.9) in Juniper Canyon and countless other climbs.

Thanks for the great hospitality, Chris, and the excellent guiding on the Rainbow Wall!
Soloing high on Birthday Cake (5.6)

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