After making a few phone calls for our on-going job search, we went to Icebox Canyon and climbed "La Cierta Edad", a 5.10 multipitch that is recommended in Joanne Urioste's supplement to the red book. And it's a really good climb too!
Felt pretty hard for the grade… unusual for RR. The approach is somewhat unobvious: after dropping into the streambed, we looked around but did not find any trail going up the other side… just thick bush. We ended up going up steep slabs at the left edge of the bushy slope (class 4) to where we finally were able to squeeze between the bush and the wall to the base of the climb (it turns out there is a trail of sorts that drops straight down from the base, but it is hard to see; we built a few cairns in the wash to identify it).
We started climbing pretty late (about 1:30PM). The first pitch is OK: it goes up a slick varnished slab with a couple of tricky cruxes over bulges. The protection is sparse but bomber (brand new bolts) and in the right places. This leads to a beefy bolted anchor at the base of a short but wide chimney.
The next pitch starts in the chimney and continues up the crack above. The chimney is really fun: very wide (Eric could just span it in back-and-feet position), with good pro in a crack in the back and a single bolt (again recently replaced). The climbing above the chimney is good, but on scary rock: breakable flakes and hollow pro placements. The belay anchor is again a couple of bomber bolts. A really fun pitch.
The 3rd pitch is harder and pretty awkward: very sustained climbing up a wide and shallow square-cut recess with pretty good cracks but awkward and physical climbing. It felt hard for 9+. An uncomfortable, bolted, hanging belay marks the end of the pitch.
The next pitch starts with a short offwidth (much easier than it looks), to a weird crux: a strange move out and left onto a small ledge, with a really small fingertip crack for hand holds… tough! Above this, the climbing eases but the rock becomes questionable again, and the pro a bit sparse. I never saw the "good ledge" mentioned in the topo. Instead, I continued up, taking the left-hand option as described in the topo and belaying at the base of a nice looking black corner with a very wide crack (looking at the route description again, I actually combined pitches 4 and 5).
The last pitch goes up the corner (fun and easier than it looks). I noticed an anchor on the right after about 80' but kept going, up and left, on easy but unprotected face. This led me to a ledge system with huge blocks and a cordelette rap anchor. It turns out I should have stopped at the bolted anchor below, as described in the topo.
Very unpleasant rap descent: first, Eric went too high on the last pitch instead of stopping at the bolted anchor mentioned in the topo. This led to some unprotected (but mellow, 5.7ish) climbing to a large ledge system, and a bit of confusion as to where to go from here.
After tunneling right to the top of "Unfinished Symphony" and finding rapping from that point very unappealing, we tunneled back to where we had topped out and used the rap anchor there (a couple of cordelettes around a huge block) to rap back down to the bolted anchor (short, single rope rap). Pulling the rope was unnerving but worked out.
We rapped from those bolts (not the best-looking by the way) down to a small ledge that one can follow right for 20 feet to another anchor. Pulling the rope from this rap took some doing: cannot pull from the next anchor because it is too far to the right, around a buttress with plentiful plates… had to belay Lucie to the left end of the ledge to pull. Stressful pull.
From there, things got better: one long double-rope rap down a relatively smooth and steep wall to another anchor. Then one more full length rap to the ground.
On the way down we got to spy the crux 5.11 pitch of Unfinished Symphony: looks hard! Right-leaning, right-facing, smooth open book, with a weird crack and protected by a few old bolts… no sign of traffic on this one, particularly given the painful-looking offwidths that lead to this point.
We got back down shortly before dark. Quickly traversed back to the base of the climb to our packs and boots and packed the gear in a rush, worried about missing the 7PM closing time for the loop (and enjoying the accompanying $50 ticket).
Overall a pretty good climb; We recommend it.
La Cierta Edad, Red Rocks, NV
|"La Cierta Edad" follows a crack and chimney system, just left of the big corner.|
|Eric leading pitch 1, an easy bolted pitch (with spare protection).|
|Starting pitch 2, a really fun chimney with great pro.|
|Higher on pitch 2.|
|On questionable rock above the chimney on pitch 2.|
|Starting pitch 3.|
|Higher on pitch 3.|
|Finishing the offwidth of pitch 4.|
|Just above the crux on pitch 4.|
|Views from the belay atop pitch 5.|
|The beautiful dihedral of pitch 6.|