I met Andrew Sawman last year in Red Rocks. He was floating around the desert with our mutual friend Ian King. They were in Vegas for the Red Rock Rendezvous. I was guiding. We met at Calico Basin Trailhead and climbed Yin and Yang, Atman, and Winter Heat (5.11). We had a great time but Ian and Andrew left soon after the Rendezvous. We didn’t get a chance to climb much.
Last week Andrew sent me a text saying he saw my message on Mountain Project looking for climbing partners. He was in town and ready to climb. We texted back and forth and agreed that we wanted to tick off as many moderate classic climbs as we could.
Our first objective was climbing Jubilant Song (5.8), a remote classic climb the South Face of Windy Peak. The approach was long and arduous. We got a little off route leaving the trailhead, but found the trail at the mouth of the canyon and started heading up. Once we got within view of the first pitch we realized another party was on it. We still had a bit of hiking left and we took our time to give them a head start.
Then it rained in Las Vegas. It rained hard and long. Climbing was out of the question for a number of days. Andrew was considering making his way back to Denver. I was thinking about heading out to Joshua Tree. We both ended up staying put in Vegas. After a number of days to let the rock dry we decided it was time to get back after it.
This climb was put up in 1999 by Mike Clifford and Jorge Urioste. It’s a 7-pitch rock climb that follows a line of bolts up Ginger Buttress in Juniper Canyon. Some parties bring a few small pieces for the beginning pitch, but 15 draws is enough protection for most parties. We got to the wall early and were the only ones there. I led the first pitch and wasn’t feeling very fresh for the climb. But as we made our way up the climb the pitches started to feel easier. As the sun faded behind the looming walls the air got crisp and the rock cold. Even though we were on a sport route it almost felt like an adventure.
Purblind Pillar is a classic. I’ve written about it before. So there’s no need to go into it other than the fact that we had an enjoyably casual day and the large ledges were well appreciated.
Our bodies were trashed from all the climbing we had done over the previous few days. But we had one more day before Andrew took off for the Ouray Ice Festival. Andrew thought we should do Cookie Monster (5.7) into the final pitch of Cat in the Hat. I loved the idea. I hadn’t done the climb and it seemed like a good climb to know for guiding.
We had a leisurely start around 8am. After having our coffee and making a stop at the pit toilets we got on the trail and headed into Pine Creek Canyon. The approach is mostly flat and easy to follow. At the base of the climb we decided to simul-climb the route and combine all four pitches into one long pitch. since I was climbing the entire time I didn’t have a chance to take any photos. But I really enjoyed the route and it’s a great alternative start to Cat in the Hat which will most likely be busier and requires a longer approach.