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• Red Rocks (Sept '14): Triassic Sands
Dow is good friends with Jorge and Joanne Urioste, who put up several of the classic routes in Red Rocks in the 70's, scoping the canyons for long and beautiful lines. Perhaps their most well-known route is the grade IV, 1600', 5.9 Epinephrine,
which has become THE classic Red Rocks route—I still remember the sustained 600-ft chimney when I climbed Epinephrine on my first trip to Red Rocks in 2007. (When I asked Joanne how the route got its name, she told me that while working on the route, Jorge had had an allergic reaction to something on the route and had to go to the hospital to get a shot of epinephrine.)I
f you skim any short list of must-do Red Rocks classics, you will notice that about half of the routes are Jorge and Joanne's—Cat in the Hat (5.6, 6p), Olive Oil (5.7, 7p), Frogland (5.8, 6p),
Crimson Chrysalis (5.8+, 9p),Refried Brains (5.9, 4p), Epinephrine (5.9, 13p),
Black Orpheus (5.9+, 8p),Sour Mash (5.10a, 6p),
Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a, 7p),The Nightcrawler (5.10b, 5p),
Gift of the Wind Gods (5.10, 10p), Levitation 29 (5.11, 9p),Woman of Mountain Dreams (5.11a/b, 17p), Ixtlan (5.11c, 3p), and many many more. (Great route names by the way!)
Anyway, Dow thought I would enjoy meeting Jorge and Joanne. Jorge and Joanne live on the outskirts of Las Vegas (the Red Rocks side of course). Joanne was eager to get out for a day of climbing on the upcoming weekend. So Dow and I made a quick two-day trip to Red Rocks. The plan was that Dow and I would climb a route on Friday (Sept 5), visit and stay with Jorge and Joanne that evening, and climb with Joanne on Saturday (Sept 6).
So on Friday, Dow and I drove two hours to Red Rocks and climbed Triassic Sands (5.10b, 730', 5p). Dow had climbed this route several times before, but it was one of his favorites of the grade, and also completely shaded, a must on a day where temperatures were pushing the triple digits in Vegas (fortunately, the climbing temps in the canyon were comfortable, at least in the shade). Indeed, Triassic Sands was superb climbing up an elegant crack system rimmed with varnished sandstone jugs. My only complaint is that the route is too short—I wanted about three times as much of it, it was so good! After climbing Triassic Sands, Dow and I arrived sweat- and dirt-covered at Jorge and Joanne's doorstep, where we were invited right in and enjoyed an evening of dinner and interesting conversation. Jorge and Joanne are really cool people and have a lifetime of great stories to tell. The next day, Dow and I climbed with Joanne and her friend Kenny Rathcke in Red Rocks; we helped them put up a few more pitches on a new route the Uriostes were working on in Black Velvet Canyon (a couple of months later, they completed this new 2100 foot climb). It was a really fun day in great company doing some adventurous climbing with a lady who knows Red Rocks about as well anyone. Although he did not climb with us on this day, Jorge still climbs too. Jorge and Joanne are truly inspirational, and it was a gift to get to meet them.
This page gives a trip report for Triassic Sands, as well as a few photos from our time with the Uriostes.
UPDATE: About 6 months later, in March 2015, I made a blitz three-day trip to Red Rocks to climb with Dow. I stayed with the Uriostes, and Dow and I spent a day climbing in Black Velvet Canyon with both Jorge and Joanne. (Click here for the trip report.) This was definitely a climbing trip I will never forget.
(5.10b, 730', 5p)
(on Ixtlan Buttress on Whiskey Peak at the head of Black Velvet Canyon)•
This long, elegant crack system is one of Red Rocks' oldest and most classic routes.It was the first “real” rock climb of significant length at Red Rocks. It was originally climbed as an aid route in 1972 by Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton, as a warm-up for the Salathé Wall. Along with Jorge and Joanne, Joe and Larry were two of the most productive early Red Rocks climbers, and together accounted for a number of serious routes including both the Rainbow Wall and the Aeolian Wall (in fact, Joe had been along with Jorge and Joanne when they put up Epinephrine in 1978).
The first free ascent of Triassic Sands was in 1979, again by Joe Herbst (and others). Apparently, this route is most often done by climbing the first three pitches and then rappelling. However, this misses out on the excellent fourth pitch (which you can also rappel from) and tagging the "summit" if you continue even higher. I like to get to the top of things, so Dow and I went all the way to the top. From there, the descent is an easy walk-off. The route is north-facing, so it is a good choice for a hot day. The climb is mostly 5.7-5.9 climbing, with just a couple 5.10ish moves. My only complaint about this route is that it is too short—if Pitches 1-4 were repeated and stacked on top of each other about three times, then this would be one of the best climbs of its grade in North America.
10:55 - base of route
11:20 - start climbing
2:17 - top
2:55 - back to packs at base of route
3:50 - parking lot
~ 40 min approach, ~3 h climb, ~40 min decent, ~5.5 hours rt
Climbing with and staying with the Uriostes•
The Uriostes are really great people and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know them a little.