Red Rocks

Going someplace good.

Going someplace good.

Simon and I slid together down our ropes into the blackness. Light from my headlamp faltered as the batteries strained and drained, our eyes squinting for the glint of bolts. We had already voiced our shared our fears of rappeling in full dark, but it didn’t change the necessity of doing it. There was a peace in the abyss though. The night air was still. We were looking for bolted anchors on a clean and obvious route. My companions were the kind of friends that make any “extra” adventure seem like legitimately more fun, rather than something scary or annoying. We had topped out the Ginger Cracks route on Rainbow Mountain in Red Rocks, and despite the fading light, our stoke was bright.

Simon gets us off the deck.

Simon gets us off the deck.

Ginger Cracks is an old school Red Rocks classic 5.9 that took us just a little longer than expected. It was a perfect day that started with looking at the line of people waiting for their turn on “Crimson Chrysalis” and making a fast decision to do something else.

Simon is all smiles on top of the crux pitch.

All smiles on top of the crux pitch.

I would rate Ginger Cracks as one of my favorite 5.9s anywhere- long pitches of varied climbing with occasional runouts and awesome position. I still haven’t climbed the more popular classic next door, but I didn’t need to for a perfect day out.

Simon runs out the gear on pitch 6.

Simon runs out the gear on pitch 6.

Summit?

Summit?

Summit!

Summit!

I’ve never been one to shirk the season and head for the sun, but when Ky floated the idea over Thanksgiving, there was no way I was going to miss out. The union of old and new friends in the winter desert was a perfect idea, and I dare say- perfectly executed. Ky and Joe flew in from Bellingham and Boulder respectively and got a few pitches on Thursday afternoon.

A long journey, in a very short time.

A long journey, in a very short time.

Bacon and coffee. I must be on vacation.

Bacon and coffee. This is living.

Simon and I took off after work Thursday night in the Jetta and swapped shifts to keep the car moving- an all nighter under full moon in the desert didn’t feel like much effort. We made it in time for a full but slightly groggy day of climbing “Birdland,” a perfect warmup.

Splitter headwall pitch on Birdland. Thin.

Splitter headwall pitch on Birdland. Thin.

I would travel most anywhere to climb with Ky and Simon, and didn’t think much of it when Ky started pushing Red Rocks. I’ve been there before but with mixed success- despite it’s beauty the place hadn’t held my heart. This time was different. Meeting Ky and Joe, with Simon felt like a reunion of brothers. Perfect weather, a gorgeous landscape, and boisterous climbing set the backdrop for an unbelievably fun weekend. To some, driving so far for such a short time might not make sense- but it was a perfect chance to reconnect with the spirit of adventure that is commensurate with living fully.

The only limits are the ones in your own mind. Climbing with a steady head on Sheep Trail. John Bachar 5.10a.

The only limits are the ones in your own mind. Sparse gear and a steady head on Sheep Trail. John Bachar 5.10a. (Photo by Joe Stephenson)

My best friends have always been the people that inspire me to do the things I’m afraid of. To be more honest with myself and the world. They are people that I love and admire so much that giving my best doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, it’s simply the most obvious and essential course of action. They remind me how to serve others better, to dial my own needs in so I’ve got more left in the tank for others. It was a weekend with some of those people, and I never doubted it would be.

Summit stoke.

Summit stoke. (Photo: Joe S.)

Disproportionately, I find these friends through silent sports done in nature. Indeed it might be why I do them at all. This time, we got Red Rocks right and I look forward to the permanence of the memories.

One thought on “Red Rocks

  1. Pingback: Liminal | stickthefeeling

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