Yesterday after Albert and I completed our early morning adventure in the Calico Basin climbing Physical Graffiti, we headed to breakfast at the Cracked Egg. After breakfast Albert and I headed straight to REI to purchase me a pair of more reasonable sized climbing shoes for my future multi-pitch adventures. Love La Sportiva Nagos, (size 43). A very cool pair of bright red lace up shoes. Anyway thats enough about the shoes.
I picked Albert up at about 6:30am and headed back to the Calico Basin. This was no adventure we were on, this was a speed ascent of a three pitch, 154 metre sports route. We had about four hours in total including another breakfast at the Cracked Egg. We reached the parking lot, grabbed our gear and speed walked to the base of our chosen route named “Big Bad Wolf” (5.9).
Albert and I had discussed how it would go on the way in and Albert tied in to lead the first pitch. 16 quick-draws, a few screw gates and two slings on his harness. On with your helmet mate and lets get going, I said. Albert pulled on to the wall and he was off, the first draw placed and clipped quicker than a flash. He climbed the first pitch with great poise and speed and tied into the anchors. Pulling the rope up while I put on my sexy new shoes and got my helmet sorted. Once the rope was pulled up I heard “climb when ready” responding “climbing” I pulled on to the wall.
The shoes felt a little alien given they were the first shoes other than my La Sportiva Solutions that I have worn in 7 years or more. They were a size larger and a completely different feel to the others. As I climbed through and collected the draws on the way, the shoes became just the tools required for the experience and I forgot about them. The climbing was gorgeous and the backdrop was Las Vegas off in the distance. A sightly different perspective than yesterday. I could see the Stratosphere Tower off in the distance and it was wonderful.
I arrived at the anchors and Albert said “Your turn!”. I grabbed a quick drink of water out of the pack and we chatted about the view and a few other things that we had made topics of discussion over the last couple of days whilst hanging out……..literally. I checked Alberts belay setup and I pulled on for the second pitch.
This was the 5.9 slab section of the route. I was really looking forward to doing this pitch as it just looked fantastic, no real holds as such, just great friction climbing on great rock. The new shoes proved to be exactly what I needed as I inched my way through the first section sticking like glue to the slick, clean rock. Then if it was not clean enough, it got even cleaner and it was on. This is real friction climbing Craig, so suck it up and head up with commitment. On the last section of the pitch to the anchors I was dubious about one of the moves and had to fight my fears to get through it. Clipping the first bolt at the belay was such a relief I didn’t clip the second one for about two minutes. I had broken another barrier and felt wonderful. 🙂
Albert climbed through the pitch relatively event free as this was his thing completely. He just wandered around smiling all the way through to the belay. We swapped leads again and Albert was off and running up through the last pitch. This is where the slab steepened and became slightly over-hanging. The holds were all there and the climbing was easy, but it was a longer pitch and it was starting to get warm. Albert hauled through the last three moves and acknowledged that some of the rock was hollow and a bit loose. I kept that well in the forefront of my mind.
As I pulled on and commenced the last pitch I was thinking to myself “life does not get any better than this!” I was in the Nevada desert on a three pitch route with a good human who was just as excited to be there as I was. I climbed onward and up through the hollow holds and loose rock to be greeted with Albert smiling at saying “How good was that?” We high-fiver each other and stared out over the basin and took a few minutes to rest.
We had to prepare for the three sim-rappels required to escape back to the ground from our lofty perch high in the hills above Vegas. This was going to be the best part of the climb because I had never sim-rappelled before and I was so looking forward to it. We had set up the raps (including the knots in either end of the rope) and were ready to go. We weighted the rope together, counted off and began to lower to the next belay station. This was such a cool thing to do and not to dampen the experience, but I have recently been reading a number of articles where people hadn’t tied knots in the end of the rope and abseiled right off the end of them. This made us all the more aware of our need to be prepared and act safely.
Repeating the process on the next two pitches became our guilty pleasure and we ascended the beautiful red and orange coloured sandstone slowly, almost like it was the hedonism we required to start everyday going forward. We landed safely back at the base of the route and packed our gear quickly to try and maintain our speed to keep our time to the car below 2 hours and 30 minutes. Whooooo hoooooooo…………2 hours and 15 minutes car to car. Happy days and time for breakfast. thanks again Albert another great morning with good humans.