Sunday, October 21, 2012

Taste the Rainbow

Rainbow Wall, schizophrenia pano style

The Original Route(OR) on Rainbow Wall has been on my "must-do" list for quite some time. It is by far and away one of the ultra-classics of Red Rocks in Las Vegas. Having attempted to train for this one by doing other tough classics like Levitation 29 and Cloud Tower, I was hoping my skills would be up for the challenge. However, OR is a bit harder than anything else I have tried before. It is 14 pitches long, with 5 5.11 pitches, 2 5.12 pitches, and 3 5.10 pitches, with 4 medium "gimme" pitches in between. To be honest I wasn't sure if I was up for the challenge, but I enlisted Court with the hopes that we would be able to sack up.

Our trip started out with a stay at Court's parents' place in St George. A temple clean home with glass showers, flat screen tv, and electronic lazy boys made the stay downright comfortable. We hit up the noisy Virgin River Gorge Friday morning where I had set my sights on a 12b called Mentor, one of the best 12's in the country according to some. We were not disappointed. We warmed up on an 11c nearby, then attempted to tackle the overhanging jugfest. Towel racks, pockets, hand jams, mono's, jugs, leg threads, head jam rests, this thing has it all! One bolt was actually a slung chockstone, which was odd for a sport climb. I hung twice my first go, then one hung it my second go after falling on the mono crux. Court wasn't feeling super strong that day and was unable to make it past the crux, but still seemed to enjoy the leg thread.

Court on Mentors awesome leg thread

Mentor Cave. Mentor climbs through obvious big chalked pockets in the roof

 We took off for Vegas feeling pretty pumped out. We gathered our things together and got ready to shlep our stuff up the 2 hour approach to the base of the wall. It was a bit nasty, but we got there, set up camp, and attempted to fix one or two pitches of the wall to get us a head start. Court led pitch 1, an 11c spicy thin sporty pitch that he did well on, despite cheating a few times. Darkness came soon, so we called it a day, rapped down, and listened to ultrarunner podcasts on the iphone while eating bagels.

Court at our bivy

The morning dawned beautiful after court spent most of the night getting eaten by mosquitos. I was fine.

The long slab approach to Rainbow-the route goes straight up the main dihedral

Another group had beaten us to the climb so we had to wait while they made it up pitch 2. We jugged our fixed line, then I started up the 2nd 11d pitch. It was hard. Thin liebacking, hard sporty moves with gear below your feet, and some steep crimpy stuff landed me at the belay after hanging several times. One of the harder 11 pitches I've done. Court did well on pitch 3, an 11a with a sporty runout. I managed to get pitch 4 clean, an 11c roof, which I found to be fantastic. The next 2 5.10 pitches were a welcome relief, and we scurried up the middle crappy pitches to "over the rainbow ledge". We hung out, ate some food, and let the AMGA guides behind us pass. I traversed over to the base of the Red Dihedral, only to find our AMGA guides and the other group swearing and whipping quite loudly on the 2 crux .12 pitches. Our stoke whispered away like second hand smoke. We sat at the base of the 1st .12 pitch, contemplating whether we should continue. We had daylight to spare, but we ultimately decided to bail, for a number of reasons, but the only one that really matters is we are a bunch of pansies. Fresh spring freaking pansies.

Court leading pitch 1

Moving back into corner on 2nd 11d pitch

Looking down from above pitch 4

Fun 5.10 pitch

Party on Red Dihedrals

Looking back to "over the rainbow ledge"


An easy descent with no rope issues landed us at the base. We drove back to St george, ate some Rio and watched my Utes lose another Pac-12 game. Overall the trip was a blast. The bottom 10 pitches we did on Rainbow were stellar, despite their difficulty. I'm always bummed when I don't top out a climb or redpoint an excellent .12, but it provides a reason to return. I'll be back someday once I get stronger, and maybe bring some skittles.

Pitches 14
Hours driven 14


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