Great Trip Report from Eric Odenthal; owner of Windgate Adventures in Moab, Utah; climbing, canyoneering and photography guide extraordinaire. More pics to come. http://windgateadventures.com.
DREAM OF WILD TURKEYS BLACK VELVET CANYON, 5.10a, 7 pitches and rap or head up another 4-6 pitches to top out and hike down; tons of commentary on mountainproject.com regarding additional pitches. Kenn Kenaga and David Honeywell last known ROWCC members to top this route out. Long day similar to Epi if done this way.
After just working the 13th annual Mountain Gear Red Rock Rendezvous, which I have photographed, taught clinics or worked with Five Ten. This was my 12th year at the event and it was just as good as ever. Perfect weather and amazing clinics and fun people.
When I arrived at Spring Mountain Ranch I asked around to see if anyone knew of a partner I could climb with on Monday. Immediately I was told that I should climb with Denise.
On Sunday Night I was totally destroyed after big days at the event and hiking all over the place. I was wavering on just bailing, but thought, how often to do I have a chance to climb in Red Rocks these days. I found Denise and made a plan the next day to climb Dream of Wild Turkeys.
We borrowed an 8mm 80 meter static line from a friend which would help with the descent.
Hearing how solid she was from everyone led me to believe she was capable of the 7 pitch route. She mentioned on the drive she had not done many mulit-pitch climb before and wasn’t into leading any of the pitches. Being the lead hog that I am, I was psyched!
On the drive I followed my instinct and after that led us down the wrong road I pulled out the phone and looked on the map to see that the road connected to the correct one. We followed the blown out roads until I could see the parking area with a load of vehicles scattered on the road. If that route wasn’t open our other option was Sour Mash, the same length and just up canyon.
On the hike into the giant sandstone wall we saw two people hiking out saying there were 5 or 6 parties on Frogland. Geez! That’s a good one, but there are so many others of the same or greater quality. We kept hiking in and passed incredible fields of choila cactus, blooming cactus and oak trees covered in gnats. Two dudes passed us on the hike in on their way to Triassic Sands, an ultra classic route I climbed with Johnson years ago. We topped it out and I highly recommend doing this.
Denise stopped to get a drink of water as I hiked to the ridge, waiting for her. After 5 minutes I wondered where she was, yelling her name and not getting a response. She was quite, but playing marco polo in the trees wasn’t that fun. She had found a spur trail and hiked up to the main wall, but after back tracking was on her way.
On the wall I could see one party on Prince of Darkness (POD), they were on the second pitch. Two parties were on Dream of Wild Turkeys just starting pitch 3. We arrived to the base to see another party casually walk up the stream bed and I’m thinking, great, they are totally heading to that route. They actually were climbing Sour Mash.
We racked up and I was off on the first 5.6 pitch. The sandstone in red rocks is some of the most solid sandstone on the planet. It was an enjoyable pitch filled with holds and minimal gear around 100′ or so to the anchor. This is when I realized the 80 meter static was going to be burly. I had to pull it to the anchors and flake it out for the next lead. The static definitely weighs more than a dynamic. We had a stance that I gave to Denise when I headed up the next 150′ second pitch. This pitch was wild.
When I was packing my gear I realized that could either bring a new pair of anasazi velcros, totally stiff or bring my 10 year old resoled verde’s. I chose the old shoes with no support and minimal rubber. I’m telling you, I was super tired.
As I climbed the right angling crack/slab my feet began to burn as I stood on those small edges, looking for gear placements every so often. I would look down and see that the pitch was angling about 80′ across the wall in the distance of the pitch. I became a little gripped because she was new to this and a fall down the blank wall below could create a problem. I held it together and made it to the anchor and quickly pulled my shoes off to let my feet breath. Denise says to me, complaining and can’t handle the pain, you know, the usual, giving Jedi shit. ha!
I showed her how to flake the rope and was off on pitch 3 which follows a crack to a 5 bolt traverse. Once I struggled from lack of slack to clip the first bolt of the traverse I looked down to see she had a cluster of a knot, which she just tossed off of her lap. Ahhh! What are you doing? This is something you do not do in red rocks. The rock with keep your rope, eat it and spit you out. I held onto those edges for a solid 10 minutes because I wanted to free climb this route. She worked it out and the next belay was an actual ledge which was much needed.
Pitch 4 worked 170′ up a wide crack to a vertical face/crack and onto the crux .10a slab just below the anchor. I clipped the tag into the last bolt to relieve me of weight before making those moves. It was totally Joshua Tree style, thoughtful. Denise cleaned the pitch and off to the left, the POD crew and one in front of us bailed due to foot pain. After getting to the fifth anchor I thought the same, but decided, hell no! I was there to climb it and with two more pitches left, it was go time.
Pitch 6 was an all time classic arching bolted face which took all of my draws I had and finished with a stellar short finger crack. At this time I think I was about ready to puke because of the foot pain. The views though were off the hook, wild and vast. The only people we shared the wall with were the team on Sour mash to the side and wayyyy up on Epinephrine 400′ higher.
The final pitch lay ahead, a solid 5.8 which may as well have been 5.10. We had been on the wall for about 5 or so hours and I knew the raps would take time if it all went smoothly. We made it to Turkey Ledge, took some summit shots and got ready to head down.
Our path for the rap was to rap to the top of pitch 6, over to the POD anchor, and follow that down 5 raps to the ground. I tied a knot in the end of one rope and as I was pulling it up, it stuck in a notch, I worked it and hoped it came out because rapping down to clean it and come back up would be brutal. It popped out and we cruised down with no problem.
A dream route finally done. I know that most of the climbing club has done this route, mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m just trying to keep up to these amazing tick lists.