Mountain Beast, Red Rocks, NV

April 25, 2008 / 5.10d, 8p, trad.

After a short day on Black Magic, we climb a longer route, "Mountain Beast" (8p, 5.10d) on the Eagle Wall in Oak Creek Canyon. We drive the loop first thing in the morning and approach from the Oak Creek trailhead. We leave the car around 6:30AM. I didn't remember how brutal the approach up the wash is: constant scrambling up, under, and around large boulders takes a lot out of you. It's pretty warm and sweaty.

We reach the bivy site with the big pine trees in the wash at around 8:15AM and take a break. We leave the big packs there, take just what we will use on the climb, and proceed up the approach ramp to the base of the route.

The two Belgian climbers, Nico and Griet, we'd met in New Zealand at the Pioneer hut couple months earlier are here too; they're doing Eagle Dance. They chose to rap back down from above the roof. We're going to the top, and walking down.

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On the approach trail into Oak Creek canyon early morning.
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Going up the slab ramp leading to the base of Eagle Wall.
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Looking back at the large pine trees in the wash below, where we left our packs.
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Mountain Beast is shown in red.
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Gearing up at the base of the route.

After another break at the base, we put our shoes on, reorganize the climbing pack and start climbing. It's 9:30AM.

The route is pretty good overall, though not as consistently good as the classics. It also has a lot of fragile rock, likely because it had never been documented before the publication of the supplement to the Red Book and never advertised much before the publication of the new guidebook by Jerry Handren a few months ago.

The first pitch is a straightforward warm-up for the crux second pitch, which turns much harder very quickly: a few thin moves straight up (about .10a) lead to the super-thin traverse (3 bolts), on micro-edges. Pretty intense, but short and very well protected with nice, modern stainless steel bolts.

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The first pitch follows a 5.9 left-leaning crack and is a nice warm-up for the crux pitch, which comes next.
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Looking toward our friends on Eagle Dance, another good route on Eagle Wall.
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Eric starting pitch 2.
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The crux pitch climbs a face straight up (10a at first)...
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...then traverses left on super-thin moves (10d) to a bolted station.

The next pitch (p3) starts with very awkward 5.10a moves right off the belay (hard to protect; potential for fall onto belay) then follows a much easier corner to a good ledge.

Next is a short but steep 5.8 face with tricky pro.

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Pitch 3 starts vith awkward 5.10a moves right off the belay.
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Views.
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Eric starting pitch 4...
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...a short but steep face with tricky pro.
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Nico and Griet on Eagle Wall.

The 5th pitch is a quintessential RR face (5.10b). The crux comes early (1st to 2nd bolt), and the rest of the pitch is sustained 10a or so. Really fun, despite the sometimes scary hollow flakes.

Above this is a fantastic 5.10a crack (p6) with small finger holds up a very steep dark wall. Looks much harder than 10a from below, but the good holds make it really fun.

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The 5th pitch is really fun face climbing (10b), typical of Red Rocks.
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Mmmh, Gu!
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Another shot of "Eagle Dance".
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Pitch 6 (10a) is one of the best on the route.
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Higher on pitch 6.

After the 6th pitch, the rock quality deteriorates considerably as one enters the white band. A long, somewhat loose, wide corner crack leads to a huge sloping ledge with a large tree (5.7, sorry, no pic). We take a long break in the shade when we reach this point.

The last pitch (p8) tackles the white left face of a huge corner directly (7 bolts). Many really bad, large, thin hollow flakes here! Must not have been done often. Note that both last pitches feel a bit stiff for the grade, perhaps in part because of the fragile rock.

Another bit of a scramble bring us to lower angle terrain.

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Views from our rest spot near the tree atop pitch 7.
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The last pitch goes up a white face (bolt protected)...
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...with really bad rock.
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Looking back at Eric from our unroping point.
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Scrambling up to the top.

The descent is straightforward; up a bit then across ramps at the top of the wall, around the back side of the red towers, over a col, and down long, low-angle slabs to the wash. We find flowing water in the wash and refill a couple of bottles.

Typical RR scrambling down the wash gets us back to our packs around 4:30PM. Not a bad time. It takes about 1 hour from the top of the route back to this spot. The Belgian team makes it back down the ramp a few minutes after us.

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Negotiating the slabs down the wash.
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Pretty flowers are everywhere!
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Smelling the flowers on our way back to the car.
   

The walk back out (scramble really) seems really long. Lucie is developing a large blister under her heel (ouch!). We take time to look at and smell the lovely spring flowers and get back to the Oak Creek trailhead before dark.