I knew I wanted to do something unforgettable for my birthday weekend, and couldn't think of anything more exciting than gathering at Red Rocks with a whole bunch of friends for camping and climbing! We ended up having a great turnout -- about 15 people showed up throughout the weekend to play.
Day 1 - Friday night and Saturday: We drove in the night before and set up in the reserved group site. It was pretty cold, but it didn't phase us. We stood around laughing and warming up with "refreshments."
I knew it was going to be a pretty unpleasant morning, with light morning showers and heavy winds forecast, so camp for me was the back of the Subi. We awoke to just such weather and had to chase a couple tents and other various objects around before packing up and heading to The Original Pancake House for a most delicious breakfast while the skies figured themselves out. The rule in Red Rocks is that there's no climbing for three days after it has rained, but as it turned out, the wind had been blowing so hard that everything was really dry! We set out for the Calico Basin area, hiked past the boulders and boulder-hopped up the canyon to Sunny and Steep. This is the perfect area for cold winter days; the name is right on. I skipped out on any climbing, as my wrist was still iffy and I wanted to save it for multipitch the next day. Took pictures instead.. Sunny and Steep is such a great place to get climbing pics! Near the end of our time up there it began to drizzle slightly, and then sleet.. I actually was welcoming the change in weather, as it's been a long time since I've been in the cold. When we left, instead of heading back the way we came, we made a loop hike to the west and descended with a great view of the Calico Basin area. We then headed back into town and met at Sage (they have birthday deals!!!) for some tasty sushi, before heading back to camp. At camp I got the tent set up on top of a crash pad.. sooo comfy. We got a fire going this time around, which is always a nice change, especially with such chilly temps! I went to bed early to get prepared for the morning multipitch...
Day 2 Sunday: Woke up later than is usually warranted for multipitch! JB and I took our time with breakfast, and then drove the loop out to the Pine Creek lot. On the docket: Olive Oil, a fun, 600ft 5.7 trad line. We couldn't find the base of the climb at first, but once we found it, things got rolling! JB was a bit surprised at how quickly I was able to knock out each pitch. He had been there for my first multipitch, which was an absolute fiasco. With fading light, roaring winds, three people (slow going) and my fear of heights, we'd had to bail halfway up. This time around it was all fun, fun, fun! Mountainproject lists this in seven pitches, but we combined several and did it in four. All of the pitches were very straightforward face climbs, but the final one had an interesting chimney squeeze involved which made me think. I had to approach it twice, since the rope went straight up through the chimney, but the best route wandered quite a bit to the right.. meaning, if I fell I'd swing right into the chimney crack! I took a short mental break, then approached again and remembered to trust my shoes, since hands seemed sparse. I ended up finding a solid way up without a problem -- phew! Got up to the top of the pitch and topped out with a huge smile on my face! Who knew climbing could be this much fun??
And we knocked it out in three hours -- so quick! Bonus points: a very straightforward walkoff, and no worrying about building anchors for rappel. We met up with everyone (about eight of us at this point) at NY Pizza for eats, and then retired to an individual campsite for fire and beers. Camped out inside the Subi again.. why not? Turned out to be a good decision since there was more weather overnight. =)
Day 3 - Monday: We awoke to cold temps and snow! The snow all over the red rocks was gorgeous, so Jeff and I drove around and took a few pictures of the area. For this day we'd all been considering bouldering or climbing at the second pullout, but after meeting at the Pancake House again, people decided to start heading back to Phoenix instead. Jeff and I weren't so ready to give up on the long weekend, so we decided to check out a hot spring on the AZ/NV border that Janelle and Mike had told us about. Unfortunately they decided to skip out on it, probably because of the cold weather. Their loss! It was pretty nice and relaxing, and we met a few other friendly people.. and didn't have to worry about anyone skinny dipping in the small pool with us.
We stayed for about an hour and then got going on the road again. We stopped for gas in Kingman and then went across the street for an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. I texted Janelle our 20, and it turned out she was across the street! She and Mike joined us and shared stories. Then it was back to Phoenix for the official end to the weekend. Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better time with better people. What a great way to welcome me into my 30's!