BLOG- UW Climbing Team
OUT IN THE OPEN - UW climbing team
Jan. 20th, 2016
WRITTEN BY: Josh Lowy
This winter, some of the UW climbing team members and I made the bouldering pilgrimage down to Bishop, CA and Red Rocks, NV. For me, the trip ended up being a cold week spent in Bishop, followed by a sweet day and a half in the warmer sandstone canyons of Red Rocks. I met Nate in the mecca that is the Buttermilks at Checkerboard after my drive in from Sacramento. Not warmed up, I gave this glassy v8 a couple of poor efforts. Since I arrived late, we moved over to the main boulders for a quick send of Leary Bard Arete to end the day.
The second day, Nate and I went to the Happy Boulders down in the tablelands. After warming up on a few highballs, we were intrigued by Grindrite, a lower canyon boulder with slotted pockets leading up to a horn-like jug. From there we moved up to the East Rim where we both shakily navigated Bouldering.com, an extremely rotten and tall v0. Nearly all holds were suspect and I would recommend avoiding the climb for any interested. To finish up the day we played around at the Flying Saucer, a frisbee-like boulder situated on top of a wall made for good mantle practice but also excellent for reachy struggles.
Christmas day, Nate and I trekked up to the Pollengrains, another scattered boulder field above the Buttermilks with plenty of variety and highball problems. On the Honey boulder, Cover Me With Flowers (v2) turned out to be a very pleasant climb with a stunning view surrounding it. Towards the Beekeeper boulder we were tempted by the looming Mead boulder and its fittingly named highball Vic’s Demise (v0). Due to the very limited protection we had and a possibly rotten hold at the beginning, we backed off. Perhaps with more pads and spotters we will push past and ascend the sheer granite face another time. High up in the Pollengrains we had fun completing Timothy Leary Presents… (v2), an interesting juggy hueco climb with a jump start, and the John Bachar Memorial Problem (v1) on White Slab boulder, a remarkable climb with a committing crux.
The next morning Eric had arrived and joined us for another day in the Happy Boulders. We started at Heavenly Path and More Water, Less Power boulders which provide a diverse warmup for climbers of any experience. On the Happy Boulder, Eric played around on Disco Diva (v8), Nate found a sharp kneebar on Vulcan Traverse (v5), and I was able to make my way through The Hulk (v6). Afterwards we hiked up to Mr. Witty and Every Color You Are, two classic 6’s which either test your technique or your head. By late afternoon, Nick had rolled into town so we moved over to the Hall of Mirrors, a heinous pocket traverse on a blank slab. Using whatever we could find, whether it be mono pockets, or crammed crosses, we attempted to navigate the miniature canyon. Frustrated from searching we returned to the Flying Saucer to give Nate an opportunity to redeem himself on Antigravity Geobat (v3).
By day 5, Nate had left, but Alex and Dylan made it to Bishop so we decided to impress them with the towering Peabody boulders and the rest of the Milks. After a couple of warmup runs up the Grandpa and Grandma, we moved uphill to the Womb boulder. Alex, Dylan, and Nick were given the introductory offer of onsighting A Birthing Experience for a free meal. Unfortunately for them, no onsights were had. Eric and I worked next door on High Plains Drifter (v7), a beautiful climb with heel hooks and sharp granite perfectly described as a test piece. Nearby on Green Wall Boulder, the other 3 gave their all on the Green Wall Essential and Arete (v2 & v1). As the sun began to fall in the sky, I wrapped up my day on Iron Man boulder surprising myself with many near catches on Iron Fly (v9) a dyno in the middle of the traverse.
Again we returned to the Happies, eventually finding ourselves mostly stationed by Solarium (v4) and Happy boulder, but also by Savannah boulder. While Nick and Dylan worked hard reaching for the lip of Solarium, further into the canyon, Eric introduced me to what may now be my favorite climb, Ketron Classic; a beautiful v4 on a hueco’d overhang. Fun movement on decent underclings leads to a poor sloper, where different betas will bring you to the short jug-haul finish. Nearby we all worked Sucker Punch (v5) or Carrot Top (v3) as a group.
After calamitous weather kicked us out early, we attempted to get a few sends at the Buttermilks on day 7. The boulders were covered in a blanket of snow, making for pretty landscapes but not easy climbing. Because of this, Eric and I decided to make the barren 4+ hour drive to Las Vegas, trolling through empty desert basins on roads matching any cliched southwest movie drive.
Red Rocks is the hidden natural beauty of Vegas hidden behind the clubs and slot machines. Slanting, striped sandstone sculpts the landscape, forming canyons and fields of boulders to be climbed on. We spent most of our time in the Krafts, a playground which provides adequate climbing for all: diverse easier climbing, introductory routes for difficult movement, and an assortment of arduous problems testing all aspects of the bouldering art. I warmed up on Plummer’s Crack (v2), a picture-perfect chimney highball which widens towards the top. Because the crack widens, you transition from shimmying to tight presses to true chimney techniques by the top. Once we warmed up, we moved over to the Cube boulder, a fitting name for this relatively geometric formation. On it are classic climbs of varying difficulty, Perfect Poser (v2), the lesser climbed Marriage (v5), Fear of a Black Hat (v9), and Clockwork Orange (v12). It’s necessary to be at least somewhat experienced as Perfect Poser is also the best downclimb option. We gave Fear of a Black Hat a few good efforts before moving into the Krafts main area. There, we made quick work of Jones’n, a short v4 with good examples of varying sandstone holds. Nearby was Angel Dyno (v6-8), a classic whose grade is height dependant. Good flat-edges prepare you for the dyno to a fat sloping rail, but a small vertical crimp may be used for alternate beta. Either method pushes you out from the rock upon catching the dyno hold, making the recovery the true crux of the problem. Further in are more awesome lines on beautiful sandstone, my favorites being The Pearl (v5), Vino Rojo (v6), the Alexisizer (v6), and the Porckchop (v2).
Our next and final stop was Windy Canyon. For its approach we navigated 3 miles worth of poor dirt roads followed by a confusing hike over a few washes during which we lost the trail multiple times. The only climb we went to was The Sting (v4). Very cool in appearance, but less appealing in practice. Upon leaving the boulder our trip was over, and we returned to Seattle. While this trip was only for hauling around crash pads, Red Rocks also offers plenty of world class TRAD and sport climbing. Desert memories have filled my mind for the past 2 weeks and I’m eager to revisit these climbing meccas.