Red Rock Days 5&6

For Paul and me, day 5 was meant to be a trip to Pine Creek Canyon and climbing Red Rock classic – Birdland – a 6-pitch 5.7+, 180m.

We thought that since it was midweek, we might get away with not having to get up at unholy morning hour, and just show up at the base and climb at leisure 10am or so. After all, for the last couple of days, it is what we did and it worked ok.

Calvin & Clare (who decided to take it easy and rest at home) just looked at us and smiled (knowing very well it was a risky plan) but wished us luck nonetheless as we were leaving the house at 8:45am.

By the time we strolled to the ‘viewing’ distance of the face, it was obvious to us that we wouldn’t be climbing it that day. As a matter of fact, we wouldn’t be climbing anything in that area – the place was very busy. Birdland had a party of every pitch already, with another one waiting to set off at the base already. There were climbers on all popular adjacent routes as well.

Below: Many teams on Birdland. How many climbers can you spot?

We just looked at each other and decided to take a day off too. We did a little looped hike to check out the area a bit, and back to the car it is.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing with C&C at the house, and in the evening Paul dropped me off to the South Point Casino, for the 6pm tournament.

This time I finished 18th out of 114 players (16 was the bubble). Deep, but not deep enough for my liking. The game ran great for me in the first couple of levels, where I made it to 300BB in the first 20 mins! With time, however, others caught on (as it’s expected in semi-fast tournament play).

Below: 300 big blinds after 20 mins? Happy Days!

The pivotal hand was when I lost a big pot (25bb, 1/3rd of my stack) when I raised 2.5x from the Button with black K9s, BB called. Flop 499 (2hearts). BB checks, i Cbet for 1/2 pot and get jammed on. Can’t fold here. I’m only beaten by 44 and A9. People here will jam with all sorts of over (and UNDER) pairs, as well as flush draws. Unfortunately, this nice lady woke up with 44. Cooler. A little card dead from then on, won some and lost some, but blinds rose quick in the middle stages of this game.

The final hand was in the Bubble stages of the tournament, I had 5bb, MP limped (always suspicious!), but I couldn’t ignore my TT, and pushed for all of it (in 3 hands blinds would get to me, and after BB+ante, I’d be left with 2BB). The player to my left just called my all in. It’s back to the initial raiser who suddenly re-raised all in. Everyone at the table immediately knew what it meant. The Caller folded reluctantly, and as we all correctly guessed, the limper was trapping with AA. K high runout was no good for me, and that was it.

The buy-in was still worth the 5h of entertainment value. I hope I can play this game once or twice more before we leave in 6 days.

Day 6 – Return to the Pine Creek Canyon.

Calvin & Clare decided to go to the Brass Wall Area of the Pine Creek Canyon and targeted some lesser climbed lines (mostly to try to avoid the crowds). Somehow they always get up before us and are out of the house first (They are that good and motivated, or maybe we are just lazy!).

Below: Clare on one of their routes on the Brass Wall.

Nontheles they had a long day, and returned home at the same time as us. Clare said that access there is particularly challenging and convoluted.

We decided to go back to Pine Creek, but instead of going for Birdland and getting disappointed again, we aimed at the opposite side of the Canyon and hoped to get on and hope that either (7 pitch 5.10b bolted + some trad, 230m) or (7 pitch 5.9 trad, 270m) will be available.

Little did we know, the traffic on those routes wouldn’t be a problem – but getting to them would! To be honest, we probably still left too late….

Below: Our main objective for the day.

The approach is a maze of interconnected paths, shrubs, cacti, boulders, and other obstacles, with a lot of it uphill. The book says around 1h approach. We gave up after 2 hours, after getting lost one too many times. By the time we knew where we were, it was rather late to start such a big route. We turned around and went back down towards the main path.

Below: So close, but still so far away...

After some deliberations, the main motivator to try to find an alternative area was the thought of “What will we say at home to Calvin and Clare? Two days off in a row? We will never hear the end of it :)”

Either way, once on the main path we we walked back a bit and headed towards the Flight Path Area, on the opposite side of the Canyon. This was our 3h of walking.

We did 4 out of 5 routes found in the particular section we were in.

3 of them that Paul led were bolted (with supplementary nuts needed). All of them felt like they’d be in the HVS range.

The Crack I led (Picture below), while impressive looking from the distance (or as seen on the picture taken from the top of the route next to it) was only at around HS 4b in difficulty, but very pleasant to climb!

Below: Paul on "Belief in proportion to the Evidence, 5.10a" and exposed start of “They Call the Wind #!&%”

All routes were nice, earning 2* (in the 4* system on

I was glad we went there, it was a nice way to redeem ourselves after the failures of the morning. Pine Creek Canyon is truly impressive and a host to a number of classic lines. The fact that the approaches are longer than elsewhere doesn’t seem to take away from the popularity of this truly breath taking place.

Below: Pine Creek Canyon as seen from the star of approach path, late in the afternoon (with majestic Mescalito, smack in the middle of it).

This weekend is a public holiday here in the US (Memorial Day) – with nice weather we expect all the popular areas to be very busy, so we are going to figure out what to do next later (maybe its time for some obscure area nobody wants to visit?). Time will tell.

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