An early start is in order since long lines are not uncommon on Frogland. We leave the bus just before 6AM, get to the Black Velvet parking area at around 6:30AM and start the quick approach (30 minutes) just after sunrise. There are already 3 cars there but we suspect they belong to parties aiming to climb the long "Epinephrine" or one of the super-crowded classics of the Black Velvet Wall. It turns out we guessed right.
Not a soul when we reach the base of the climb. We get ready, eat a bagel and enjoy the warmth of the early morning sun. As I start leading the first pitch, a party of three and two parties of two arrive at the base. There is no time to loose. I pick up the pace as I do not want anybody stuck on my heels. The first pitch climbs up a white flake then heads up a black varnished dihedral - beautiful 5.7 liebacking. There are 3 bolts on that pitch. I clip them but there are really unnecessary. Bomber gear placements can be found anywhere in the crack. It's a full pitch; I'm almost out of rope when I reach the ledge with oak trees where I set up a belay. There is a bolted anchor at the left end of the ledge (rap anchor for Rain Dance) but it is best to belay from the trees. I put Eric on belay and he flies right up.
The next pitch follows a shallow, low angle, left leaning dihedral. I climb up the dihedral and reach a ledge after 80' or so. There is a bolted anchor here for an optional belay but I continue on and climb the 5.6 chimney above. SuperTopo recommends climbing the face on the left and labels the chimney as "ugly". I strongly disagree. The chimney/flake system is really enjoyable and with good pro. The exit moves are really fun as they involve liebacking off the flake. Note that there is also a crack system to the right of the flake with plenty of chalk on it. Do not follow this - if you do you'll have to make a tricky traverse back left to the belay ledge. After pulling over the flake, I reach the belay ledge with a bolted anchor. It sits just below a prominent bushy ledge. Once again, I'm almost out-of rope (2nd pitch is about 150 ft).
The third pitch is also 5.6. After pulling a small ceiling, I traverse left into the main dihedral. It is also possible to climb a crack system a couple meters to the right of the dihedral. I finally reach the belay stance with a bunch of slings wrapped around a boulder. This pitch is also a full pitch, about 150 ft long. After I bring Eric up, we take a break before the crux pitch. We make it short though since we don't want the guided party below us to catch up.
The 4th pitch wanders quite a bit. From the belay, I climb up the low angle chocolate face on the left using the crack on the right to place pro. I then head straight up, past a bolt and continue toward a small roof. There, one has to traverse left to the arete and a thin crack. I thought this was the trickiest part of the climb. The traverse is not bad though, as you can place pro high in the crack on the right before traversing. However, it feels relatively insecure as you are traversing on good hand holds but just smearing you feet for the most part. I feel much better once I reach the thin crack and am able to place a piece. I continue up the thin crack and dihedrals to a stance by a small bush, just below a low angle seam on white rock with a bolt. This pitch is not as long as indicated by the guidebook; I'd say about 120 ft.
The 5th pitch - the chockstone pitch - is really fun! As the previous one, it is also 5.8-. I face climb up to the bolt, finding a good placement for an alien in a horizontal crack along the way, then stem up between the two cracks just beneath the chockstone. Going under the chockstone looks a little intimidating at first but is actually really easy. There is a great hand crack beneath it that offers good pro and good jamming. After tunneling behind the chockstone, I step right and turn a small roof. I then start going up an easy chimney but one of my ropes gets stuck as I had placed a piece too close under the roof. It's impossible to move up; it's completely stuck. I have to downclimb and place a piece way to the right to act as a directional and keep the ropes out of the crack. After this annoying exercise, I go up the chimney and set up a belay on a small stance just below a flake. I probably belay a little higher than shown in the topo.
From there, I'm able to reach the top in a full pitch. I face climb right on white rock following thin cracks for pro. The pitch is rated "PG" in the guidebook but I thought the pro was adequate (Supertopo goes so far as to call it 5.4R! I think that's bullshit: the thin cracks offer very reasonable pro). Instead of moving back left per the topo, I just continue straight up on the white face (low 5th class). I am soon out of rope and at the top. Eric joins me quickly.
It's 11:30AM. The guided party is two or three pitches behind so we have plenty of time. From where we are, we have great views of the Black Velvet Wall. We have lunch while watching several parties make their way up "Epinephrine".
The descent is easy to follow and really quick - about 20 minutes. We're back at our packs in no time
A great day! "Frogland" is definitely one of the best 5.8's at Red Rocks, with sustained climbing at the grade and a bit of routefinding for spice.
Note: the frogs you heard were recorded in the creek bed in Black Velvet Canyon, just below "Frogland".
Frogland, Red Rocks, NV
|It's not called "Frogland" for nothing...!|
|Frogland stays just right of the white buttress (Frogland shown in red; Rain Dance in white).|
|The first pitch follows a wonderful left-facing dihedral to a good ledge.|
|Lucie starting the 1st pitch (5.7).|
|Almost at the belay ledge.|
|The second pitch (5.6) goes up a fun low angle dihedral.|
|Higher on the second pitch.|
|On the third pitch (5.6), traversing left into the main dihedral.|
|Just past the crux traverse on the 4th pitch (5.8-).|
|Belaying Eric up the 4th pitch.|
|Starting pitch 5, the chockstone pitch (5.8-). A great pitch!|
|Approaching the chockstone.|
|The chockstone, up close and personal.|
|Crawling under the chockstone...|
|...and stepping right to a bulge.|
|Starting the last pitch (5.6 PG).|
|Reaching the slightly runout bulge.|
|Nearing the top.|
|Great views of the Black velvet Wall from the top of Frogland.|
|On the way back to the car.|