Today we get up late. We're tired from the previous days I guess, and it's really windy and cold, making an early start out of the question. We had talked about climbing Triassic Sands again but it is really too cold for that. We need a short day in the sun. How about the Solar Slab area? We read in the guidebook about a 5.10+, "Red Zinger" that climbs a striking crack in two pitches. We also seem to remember noticing the line last year while climbing Johnny Vegas and Solar Slab - and it looked amazing!
So off we go and make the familiar drive around the loop to the Oak Creek Trailhead. The approach to the Solar Slab area is easy and only takes 45 minutes. "Red Zinger" is still in the shade but the corner is sheltered from the wind so the temperature is quite pleasant. The climb looks awesome: a splitter off-finger crack in a super-smooth orange dihedral. Very atypical of the usually very featured rock in this area. Much more reminiscent of Indian Creek, Utah. It also looks a bit intimidating: obviously sustained and physical climbing with little or no opportunities for rest... definitely "a la" Indian Creek.
A short while later, Eric is stemming and liebacking up the first pitch, a beautiful and strenuous 5.10+ corner. This pitch is thankfully short - only half a rope length - but tiring enough. I follow the pitch, finding it really fun although a bit hard for a warm up!
We hesitate about what to do next. The second pitch looks much harder than the first - a full-on lieback with a tricky looking bulge... What the heck, we'll try it. Eric liebacks quickly to the bulge, places 2 green Camalots, then tries to pull the roof on tenuous fingertip lieback holds above. Unfortunately, he pumps out trying to place more gear and falls. It takes him two more tries before he's finally able to complete the move, finding it pretty tough, even for 5.10+! He finds anchors above the roof and decides to have me lower him back to where he can belay me more comfortably from a rap anchor at the left end of the ledge.
It's my turn now. In view of Eric's trouble, I'm not so confident I can pull it off. I layback up to the bulge as fast as I can, and quickly remove the gear while trying not get too pumped. I give it a first try but end up hanging in the rope for a moment while attempting to figure out the move. Then I go for it: I exit the layback and instead place my left foot on a small hold to the left at the lip of the roof. It goes. I'm there. Eric tells me it was easier for me since I have smaller hands... Sure! But most of the time his reach is an advantage, so I guess we're even. Tough climb regardless. A short rap gets us back to the base.
We have lunch in the shade. It's already pretty late (2:30PM) but we decide to go for "Beulah's Book", a 4-pitch line at the base of Solar Slab. We need to be back at the bus around 6PM for dinner with friends so Eric - the faster leader - will lead all the pitches.
The first pitch is easy and enjoyable. It follows an easy chimney for 20ft then climbs the face on the left side of it. A couple of moves back into the chimney bring you to a bolted anchor on a good ledge. This pitch is about 150 feet long.
The second pitch is the business (5.9) and goes on for a full rope length. It is quite sustained and may seem a bit intimidating from the belay ledge, but it is a beautiful, varied and fun pitch. At first, it follows the chimney/offwidth. After clipping a manky bolt for pro, you can either chimney or stem. I chose to stem. It is pretty exposed but there are good, positive holds. A couple of feet above, I have to go back into the chimney to retrieve a Hexcentric that Eric placed in the wide crack just above the bolt (the guidebook recommends carrying a #4 Camalot but Eric did not use one). A little more wild stemming and the flavor changes: nice liebacking on perfect fingers. Take care with your cams in this crack - it flares and will eat up your pro. Eric found two fixed friends and managed to permanently fix our green Camalot! At the end of the lieback section, you traverse left below a small roof to a good ledge with a bolted anchor. A great, varied pitch.
The third pitch is easy (5.5) as it follows a white face with plentiful knobs so typical of Red Rocks. A bolt protects the first moves off the belay. The pitch trends slightly right to a belay ledge with a bolted anchor. This is also the top of the 4th pitch of Johnny Vegas.
A short 4th pitch (low fifth class) continues up the face to the big ledge and another bolted anchor with rap chains.
From there, you can rap directly to the top of the third pitch of "Johnny Vegas", bypassing one bolted anchor. Two more raps down "Johnny Vegas" bring you down. Be extra careful pulling the ropes - the raps are a bit tricky. We saw one party with their rope stuck while we were on "Red Zinger" earlier. We also found a piece of cut rope lying at the base - bad sign!
We're down. It's 4:50PM and we have no time to loose. We're supposed to meet with friends at 7PM for dinner. We rush back to the bus and have just enough time for a quick shower before they arrive. We drive into town and have dinner at our favorite Mexican place in Las Vegas, "Frank and Fina's Cocina" (formerly Alberto's). Great night! The food is good and we enjoy the company. We eat and talk about climbing all night, the next best thing besides actually climbing…
Red Zinger & Beulah's Book, RR, NV
|"Red Zinger" climbs the steep, roof-capped left-facing corner just left of the arete.|
|Eric starting the first pitch on Indian-Creek-like, smooth sandstone.|
|Higher on the first pitch.|
|Looking up at the hard second pitch from the belay anchor; turning the bulge is the obvious crux.|
|Beulahs' Book is a 4-pitch line at the base of Solar Slab (route in red).|
|It follows a crack and chimney system for the first two pitches, then continues on the white face above.|
|Contemplating the unavoidable (2nd pitch - 5.9)!|
|Stemming the chimney.|
|Higher up in the chimney.|
|Almost done with the wide section.|
|Eric starting the easy third pitch (5.5).|
|Typical Red rocks knobs.|
|On the short last pitch.|