Taming the Big Bad Wolf

My first multi-pitch sport climb…   and some other stuff I did.

In a semi-last minute state of hunting a weekend getaway to escape the heat, Billy and I decided to go to Red Rock last weekend.  Yes, this is correct, we went to Las Vegas to escape the Los Angeles heat wave.  It might not have been cool, per say, but it was consistently over 10 degrees cooler than LA.  I’ll consider that a win.

We arrived in Red Rock at our quaint little hotel by the name of Bonnie Springs Motel, shortly after midnight.  I feel I could use an entire post to describe this place, but I will leave it to this single picture of me on the evening we arrived sitting on our bed.

Room 114... Just in case you want the same one. They have themed rooms too!
Room 114… Just in case you want the same one. They have themed rooms too!

We spent various parts of Thursday and Friday trying to figure out which routes we were going to do that weekend.  Billy picked Big Bad Wolf for me to do my first multi-pitch lead on right off the bat.  But our plan was to climb that Sunday, which meant Saturday was still a question mark.  It wasn’t until we actually made it to the hotel that we got serious about what climb we were going to do, and even at that, we just took a gamble at which route we thought would be in the shade out of the 3 routes we were considering.  We ended up on Birdland, but we were wrong about the sun, which was friece on our 5 pitch climb.

Even through the heat, which I don’t think actually got above 90, Birdland is a great climb.  I can see why it is on the list of classics.  It’s an easy hike in, minus the last small push to make it to the first belay station.  As you are climbing, little birds swoosh by you at top speed, which is pretty incredible.  Furthermore we lucked out because there was only one other team on the climb the whole day, and it was people we knew coincidently.   Normally popular routes like these are stacked with lines to get on if you aren’t the first team there, but taking a gamble on heading to Red Rock early in their season definitely paid out with the lack of crowds.

I would love to say I have some crazy Vegas story for you but I was getting a little hangry coming off the route (sometimes I forget to eat) and after taking a beat down from the heat, I was exceedingly tired.  We did hit the famous buffet at Ceasers Palace where I saw a guy in a wheelchair puking as we were waiting to be seated.  But that is about the extent of the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” saga.  Next time.

On to the good stuff:


Yeah, it deserved it’s own heading.

I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated by the idea of doing my first multi-pitch lead, especially with a 5.9 start.  But part of my goal of coming back out to Red Rock was to redeem myself on my mental game.  My first visit to Red Rock was on our way back from Moab, which was daily smack down of crack climbing.  The routes in Moab were pretty unforgiving to me.  It was like they were bullying me to test my self confidence, which I really didn’t need tested.

By the time I hit Red Rock, I was intimidated by EVERYTHING.  It was like I was carrying around a 2 ton gorilla that could speak, and all he would do is tell me everything I couldn’t do, even if I could do it.

That is the real reason I picked Red Rock for our weekend excursion.  All the other stuff fell into place, but I wanted to go up to gorilla and tell him to go fly a kite, and while he is at it, get the fudge out of my way because I have some climbing to do!

And climb I did.

When I first saw Big Bad Wold I almost had to laugh; the bolts start off placed so close together, you know this route was bolted it for sissys like me.  I personally thank whoever bolted that route.  Big Bad Wolf is anything but big and bad.  I think they should’ve named it Goldylocks, because the route is not too hard, but not too easy; it is just right.  Starting off with a well bolted 5.9, moving to an easy start but slabby 5.8, followed by another 5.8 that gets a little more vertical, and ending on a 5.0!  A 5.0!  You can sprint up that pitch, kind of, not really, but sort of.

It was great.  I was so proud of myself.  I wasn’t perfect but I had a ball and learned a lot.  I even got to practice some trad placement before taking off.  And I would’ve given that gorilla the finger just for good measure but I think the big bad wolf scared him off.


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