Climbing Log – 4/3/08 – Solar Slab Wall

a night view of las vegas

After resting a couple days after my accident, I figured I could climb again but perhaps should start with something easy. Jason proposed to do the Solar Slab Wall – with a combination of two routes from the base to the top, Beulah’s Book (5.9) and Solar Slab (5.6). This climb offers 1,500 feet of climbing. Given its south-facing nature, it would be a sunny and therefore warm climb.

Beulah’s Book (5.9)? –

(Note: We after all climbed the 5.7 arete variation)

The 5.9 pitch is the second pitch. Since Jason is a stronger climber, I set off to lead the first pitch. Either because we did not start at the right place or I went off route at some point, I climbed almost a rope length to reach a bolt anchor while the first pitch was supposed to be much shorter—130 feet. Looking up, the next pitch above us was an easy climb; I felt sorry that Jason had to settle with a lower grade. Jason jumped on the lead and soon he used all the rope with the intention to link the remaining two pitches to finish the lower tier of Solar Slab Wall. Since that was an easy climb, Jason requested me to simul-climb (for an explanation of simul-climbing, readers can refer to I took myself off from the anchor and shortly after we both were bathing in the sun at the top of the lower tier.

Solar Slab (5.6; with a 5.9 finger crack variation) –

Solar Slab is a 7-pitch climb based on the guidebook. When we arrived at the base of Solar Slab, another party was climbing the first pitch. Jason assured me that he would not fall and asked me whether I would be comfortable simul-climbing again; I nodded so he requested the party for permission to pass them at the first belay anchor.

I started to lead, passed the party, and because of poor communication with Jason at the base, I clipped into the second bolt anchor, and belayed Jason to the spot. Jason was surprised that I stopped because he thought I would have kept climbing until I ran out of gear. However, I thought he wanted me to simul-climb until the second anchor.

He took over the lead and urged me not to forget that this time we were going to simul-climb. I belayed him until I only had a couple feet of rope left, and started to take myself off from the anchor getting ready to climb. I yelled “Jason, climbing!” and soon I heard “Ting Ting, you are on belay.” I did not understand why he abandoned the idea of simul-climbing until I reached a consistent finger crack. The finger crack is a 5.9 variation and to the left it was the original 5.6 route. Jason couldn’t resist the calling from that beautiful finger crack and it was indeed an intriguing and delicate climb. Even though I did not fall on that section, it was definitely a better idea to belay the follower at a 5.9 section.

At that point, we only had 4 pitches left and all of them were easy pitches, so we embraced the idea of simul-climbing again. This time I was the leader and I tried to climb as efficiently as possible, putting protection gear here and there occasionally. Before I almost topped out the sixth pitch of Solar Slab, it started to rain and I started to speed up wanting to finish the climb as soon as possible so we could descend and get layered up.

When I reached the base of the last pitch, the follower of a prior party was just about to climb up. I waited for a while and started to move because of cold. The last pitch started with a 5.4 followed by a 5.5 chimney, I wanted to put some pro at the intersection; however I couldn’t find an appropriate piece because I did not have much gear left. After a couple attempts, I yelled at Jason, “I ran out of gear, I am just gonna free solo this section.” At the top, it stopped raining and the sun came out again. I looked at my watch, it took us only about four hours to finish the climb.

The previous party and we did some 3rd or 4th class travel on the top to find the hike down but we did not have any luck. We therefore decided to rappel down the route, and because they did not bring a second rope, we rappelled down as a party of four. Even though we simul-rappel the whole time, it still took us three hours to get back to the ground. In the process, our rope got stuck once, luckily the party Jason and I passed on our way up helped us to untangle the rope.

I remember that last time when I was in Red Rocks, I planned to do this long route the next time I visit here. I am glad that we pretty much cruised the whole way up, but frankly speaking, if not because of that finger crack, this climb would not have been as enjoyable.

Photo: A night view of Las Vegas
Photo Credit: Ben Smith

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