Spent Turkey Day in Las Vegas again this year, driving out there with Stephen, Whit, and the two dogs. It’s much more pleasant to split the 12 hour drive amongst three people.
First day was at the Gallery. Warmed up on a 10d (oops, a bit hard for a warmup), then knocked off the 8 and the 9 next to it. I felt strong so I tried climbing the 11b coming out of the right side of the pod. I wanted to redpoint that fucker, but was a bit pumped, so I had to hang. Too bad I only got one shot at it, as we decided to leave for the Sandstone Quarry. (maybe next year…) Over at the Sandstone Quarry, Stephen and I attempted a route called Red Man (10+), but backed off since the sun was setting fast, the route was poorly bolted, and it was chossy as hell.
(Foreshadowing #1: I woke up that morning and it hurt to swallow. Didn’t think much of it at the time, since the air out there is so dry (it’s a desert, duh), and that sort of thing usually happens to me the first night camping.)
Second day, Whit, Julie Haas, and I headed over to Birdland (5.7, 5 pitches) on the Brass Wall. I was expecting a nice quiet day since the route supposedly isn’t in any guidebooks, but there was a conga line of literally 8 people in front of us. I should have suspected — by the time that I would get to hear about a “secret” route, the cat would have been let out of the bag long ago.
Regardless, we decided to wait and ended up having a pretty nice day. A guided party of 3 bailed after p2 because the guide didn’t want to deal with the expected clusterfuck, and the super slow party of 2 bailed left onto an alternate route. That left another party of 3 who put a lot of space between us when they let their ropegun take all the pitches while we just took our time.
All in all, it turned out to be a pretty nice day and some aesthetic climbing.
(Foreshadowing #2: woke up that morning with a continued sore throat, and now a mysterious pain in the back of my neck/base of my skull. I figured I just slept on it funny and didn’t think much of it. Also, despite it being a pretty nice day, I just couldn’t get warm while climbing.)
Day three saw me feeling like complete and utter ass. Suck = flu. There was no way I was climbing, so I laid in the tent all day sleeping while Stephen, Julie, and Whit ostensibly went to climb Johnny Vegas (5.7). When they got back, I learned that it too was crowded, and they only managed two pitches before deciding to bail and find something with fewer people.
That night (Saturday by now), a wicked wind storm kicked up as they are wont to do out there, and we skedaddled out of town, trying to get a head start back to our respective climes. After “eating” dinner (Stephen, Julie, and Whit ate; I tried not to puke), we bade Julie farewell and headed up I-15, making it to Mesquite, NV before crashing at the beautiful Oasis hotel (I call it… “sarcasm”).
Another night of suck. The shower was nice, but laying in bed and sweating all night was not. Ugh. Up at the next morning bright and early, I was a quivering mass of sweaty jello in the backseat while Stephen and Whit negotiated the lovely storm that had decided to blanket Utah, and later Wyoming. What should have been a 10.5 hour drive dilated into 16 — black ice sucks.
In any case, we made it home ok, and a good time was had by all — even me, even though I had the flu. I love the desert and I *love* Vegas, so I’ll never say that I had a bad time there.
I’ve got a few pics up. Check them out here: