Horndogger Select & Sundog, Red Rocks, NV

April 22, 2008 / 5.8, 3p, trad. & 5.9+, 5p, trad.

After an easy day on Birdland and The Big Horn, it is still too cold to climb comfortably in the shade. Something on Solar Slab would make sense. We have climbed several routes there before but have yet to try the Horndogger Select - Sundog linkup. It is one of the selected routes in SuperTopos so we figured it'd be worth it.

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Solar Slab (seen from high on "The Woman of Moutain Dreams", Mt Wilson).
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On the approach trail in Oak Creek Canyon.
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The Solar Slab Area, early morning.
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The routes are shown in red.
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Eric starting the first pitch of "Horndogger Select" (5.8).

Overall it's OK, and starting up Horndogger makes for a fairly direct and logical route, but Horndogger is really not a very good route. The rock is scary (soft, white stuff), particularly on the first pitch, and the climbing is nothing special.

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The first pitch turns the overhang on the right, but then traverses left.
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Party of three on Johnny Vegas.
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Pitch 2 (5.8) face climbs up on brittle white rock with very fragile knobs.
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Views from the belay.
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On the last pitch of Horndogger (5.8).

Sundog is a lot better, though not classic. The first pitch is 240' long (not 190' as listed in Handren), and really not that runout. The first 30' are unprotected 5.6, but then you get very good pro for the rest of the steeper section, followed by a long (maybe 100'), unprotected low angle (cl 3-4) slab to a single bolt anchor at the base of the steeper wall (good modern stainless steel bolt here).

The second pitch is really fun; lots of edge climbing on great small nuts between varnish plates, just left of the corners.

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Higher on the same pitch.
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Looking back toward Rainbow Mountain.
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Leading the easy but somewhat runout first pitch of Sundog (5.6).
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Pitch 2 (5.8) is one of the best and follows intermittent cracks on the face to the base of the right-facing corner (above Eric).
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Now, there's a scary-looking rap anchor!

After that, the rock quality degrades again, but not as bad as on Horndogger. The 5.8 pitch involves a long R/X section of solid edges at about 5.7. The crux pitch starts with poor pro on steep, fragile rock before the first bolt. Fairly risky. Good bolts after that. The last pitch is pretty fun, and not awkward at all, I thought.

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On pitch 3 (5.8).
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Just above the bulge (crux) of pitch 4 (5.9+).
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Looking back toward Mt Wilson.
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The last pitch follows a right leaning arch (5.9).
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Views from the top.

We top out at about noon (after starting around 9:30 or so) and start the long raps down. Note that belay/rap anchors are slings with rap rings on " to 3/8" bolts with loose hangers. The bolts could use some tightening (though they feel adequate), and the anchors would be much cleaner with chains.

It's four long raps down to the top of pitch 1 of Sundog, then class 3 around skier's left to the main ledge at the base of the upper Solar Slabs. From here, follow the standard descent down Solar Slab Gully (several short raps).

We get back to the packs at 4PM. A glorious hike out among all sorts of flowers (the peak is not there yet, but it's getting quite spectacular already) and we're back at the car.

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Hiking back to the trailhead.
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A far better climber than we are...
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Spring is spectacular at RR. Flowers are everywhere!