Daniel Woods - Raging in Red Rock

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Raging in Red Rock 

By Daniel Woods

I recently returned back from a two and a half week trip to Red Rock, NV. I went with southern powerhouse Jimmy Webb, Finnish crusher Nalle Hukkataival, Cam Maier (BearCam media), Courtney Woods, and Kasia Pietras. Our objective was to check out Paul Robinson’s aesthetic test piece, “Meadowlark Lemon (v15),” as well as the multitude of classics and undone projects that Red Rock has to offer. My previous trips to Red Rock involved participating in the classic event known as the Red Rock Rendezvous.  I had yet to sample the mysterious Grade A sandstone that this area presented.


Twelve and a half hours of driving through the night (beating out a snowstorm that eventually left the front range looking like the ice age), we arrived to sunshine, sand, cacti, and 50 degree temps. Welcome to the desert…

Meadowlark was everything that I had imagined. Its marble cake looking presence just begged to be climbed.  The holds were a perfect texture and just in the right places to make the movement flow. It presented an all around package. Jimmy and I just stared at the line, planning our attack and soaking up the view. We returned back to our car with more motivation than before, creating a new obsession. 

When we returned to the boulder we turned on our propane heaters (it was 30 degrees back in the canyon), and went to work. It is always fun to give a good flash try on something, regardless of how difficult it is.  My flash try was pathetic, but Jimmy gave it a solid effort. He fell 3 moves away from the end and it was one of the sickest things I have seen. I now know why he is the world’s greatest flasher ;).  The style of climbing is technical. You have to put your body into the right positions and hit the holds perfectly in order to stick. It is 9 moves long and each move is roughly around the same difficulty. The last move is an awkward lurp to the lip of the boulder and then you can breathe before topping out. We did all the moves fairly quickly and started to make send attempts. After a couple of slip-ups, I was standing on top of Meadowlark!

With the mission complete we had a few days of sampling some of the classics (Wet Dream (v12), Lethal Design (v12), Book of Nightmares (v11), The Shining Path (v12), Americana Exotica (v10), A Clockwork Orange (v12)) before the motivation to find a new hard project crept into the system.  So deep into the wash we hiked and there sat the project boulder… tall, perfect, and out of this world! 

Gazing up at the 25 foot house size boulder, our jaws drop. Not only was there the project we’d seen in photos, there were three more potential lines that would go.  We went to work on the main objective for the day.  We stared at the canvas and brushed chalk onto the lower rails, feeling the holds. Once the line was brushed up, we tried the upper moves. This part was deceiving. It looked straightforward but we could not find the right balance to do any of the moves.

Fast-forward five days.  The battle continues with new beta unlocked, new methods showing promise for each of us, but nothing that links the entire puzzle together.  Our time at Red Rock was coming to an end, which meant the clock was literally ticking for us to complete what we’d dubbed “The Nest” project.  Three tries later, Jimmy and I had both set our high points pitching from moves heartbreakingly close to the finish and were about ready to call it good enough for the trip.  We looked up at the boulder we were both so close to sending and it was decided.  Jimmy and I were going to give one last attempt before throwing in the towel.

The temperature dropped and the air was slightly humid. The holds felt in mint condition. I pulled on and began the intro with a clear head. The iron cross felt smooth and natural. I grabbed the miserable two-finger razor and pulled into it as hard as possible, not caring if my tip split. I reached to the final block pinch and came into the right hand gaston. This position felt familiar and I had a bit of déjà vu. I kept tight and reached to the final rail.  Slow motion faded and I knew the boulder was finished. I climbed the remaining 10 feet of v1 and was on top of the raddest boulder I have climbed. I still felt in the zone and could not believe what just happened. “The Nest (v15)” was born and it was such a great experience to climb it. Jimmy was all psyched up and gave it one more attempt. He climbed it perfectly and stood on top of “The Nest,” for its second ascent. We both felt relieved getting this thing completed. I never had such an intense back and forth experience with someone on a boulder. We both went through the same epic and mental war. This is my proudest climbing moment. Battling with a good friend on an undone project and having both of us come out victorious on our last try of the day… priceless.

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