Rock Climbing – Red Rocks, NV – Birdland

Red Rocks, NV in Spring

Victorious on Birdland (5.7)

Hotties Who Did Birdland (5.7)

On Saturday, Rachel & I climbed Birdland (5.7), a nouveau classic multipitch wonder. I had been researching climbs all week. When I suggested the list of possibilities, she immediately responded positively at the utterance of the word “Birdland”. She had done it last October and was certain that I would enjoy the climb.

Gentle Reader, a bit of background…I have been **massively** jonesing for the finger crack on the last pitch, ever since first seeing a picture of it in Jerry Handren’s masterfully intriguing guidebook, “Red Rocks A Climber’s Guide”. In fact, I think I subconsciously purchased the book in part *because* of the beautiful pictures & accurate depictions of the climbs at Red Rocks…But, enough about the book.

We got up at 5am Saturday morning and drove out to Red Rocks. By the time we got to the gate, there were dark clouds over the mountains, and we were a little stymied at first. We stopped at the second pullout to use the loo, and we discussed options.

I pointed to the crag over at Pine Creek Canyon, and claimed, “It’s in the sun, so why don’t we just go over there? If the weather deteriorates, we’ll just hike back to the car.”. I was determined to stick to the plan.

We drove through the high point of the loop, and it sleeted a tiny bit on us. We both looked nervously at each other, but I was resolute. It would *not* be sleeting in Pine Creek!!!

Red Rocks in Springtime...Love At First Climb

We got to the pullout, and parked the car. Two young men walked by, and nodded politely. They were climbers…and I hoped they were not headed to Birdland. I dared not ask, for fear of what I might do if they responded in the affirmative.

For a fleeting moment I thought about just beating them up and dragging their lifeless bodies out into the desert to be found by some tourist…But, Rachel pointed out that there were a multitude of classic climbs available, at Pine Creek so they’re probably not headed to *our* climb. Thank goodness for Rachel’s practical nature!

Magic Mountain From Spectrum Area

Rachel in Front of the Spectrum Area & Brass Wall

We began hiking around 7am, and chatted nervously about the weather. I was most concerned about afternoon gusts, so we decided on a plan of action in the event that we needed to bail.

Rachel Racing to Birdland

About 45-60 minutes of hiking passed and we were standing at the base of the climb. I was ecstatic for two reasons:

Our loneliness did not last long. Sure enough, just as I was roping up, a group of three girls showed up…

Dorothy, the leader, and two of her co-workers (all OB-GYN’s from NM, I believe). It was Dorothy’s 3rd time on the climb, and it was obvious that she was excited to be climbing. I thought to myself, “If somebody comes back to do a climb for the 3rd time, it must be good!”.

Our performance statistics for the day:
Elapsed time ascending was 4.5 hours.
(Start time ~8:35, finish time ~13:00).
Rachel & I averaged between 45 and 50 minutes a pitch (this includes the swapping/racking of pro and securing of anchors).
We did 5 pitches, and the shortest one was 85′.
With an 80m rope, rapping was very much simplified, but still tricky.

Pictures of Birdland Pitches:
Pitch 1: 110′ (5.6) Vertical Jughaul.
Pitch 1 of Birdland (5.7)
Rachel Top of Pitch 1 of Birdland (5.7)

Pitch 2: 110′ (5.7) A notch or chimney. Hardest section on the climb for me.
Rachel Finishing Pitch 2 of Birdland (5.7)
Hotties 2 pitches up Birdland (5.7)

Pitch 3: 85′ (5.7+) A ramp to a traverse (protected by a bolt in the perfect spot).
Dorothy Wrapping Up Pitch 3 of Birdland (5.7)
Rachel at Top of Pitch 3 of Birdland (5.7)
Peace Out, From Dorothy Top of Pitch 3 Birdland (5.7)

Pitch 4: 95′ (5.6) Slabby and Slightly Runout, but Chalked like a gym.
No pictures, Sorry!

Pitch 5: 95′ (5.7+) The Fingercrack!
Rachel Tackles the Final Bulge on Birdland (5.7)
Rachel Dancing Delicately Upwards on Birdland (5.7)

Some Notes about the day:
Rope Snag on Tree @ Start of P3 of Birdland
Rappelling this route was tricky and mentally draining. With so many people on the route, it was insane. It took us 2.5 hours to get off the climb, read on to find out about the various parties behind Rachel & I…

Dorothy & team forgot their water, so Rachel shared some water with them. In return, Dorothy was nice enough to offer plenty of beta (although I must admit, I couldn’t hear much of it because of the little gusts of wind). The most helpful thing she told us was to watch out about the rope getting stuck on rappel. Unfortunately, it ended up happening anyways-but at least it wasn’t a surprise!

There was a second party of 3 (an instructor & two college students). The instructor was nice, and pointed out an alternative rappel technique to Rachel, which she really enjoyed.

A party of two men (one big guy with red hair and a beard-super nice!) was behind the second party of 3 (they later rapped off the end of the third pitch, to avoid having to spend the rest of the afternoon waiting).

There was a party of two behind the red headed nice dude. One, named Norm, a Canadian from Vancouver and I think his partner was named Jeff…I met them as I was rapping down the 2nd pitch.

Lastly, I met up with a guy named Rick and his friend Jess (who was nice enough to free our stuck rope as she ascended pitch 2. Rick talked about climbing in the Bugaboos, and got all nostalgic on his & Jess’ last trip up there…the boo’s sound amazing. Maybe one day I’ll make it up there!

So, if you were counting, that’s 12 people that I passed while descending Birdlands. It’s a popular climb! And Rightly So!!!

4 Responses to “Rock Climbing – Red Rocks, NV – Birdland”

  1. granite4brains says:

    Hey Clare! I finally got my password fixed so I can log in here again! Looks like an awesome climb – especially the finger crack at the top! Glad to see your getting out a lot. I really like the Colorado scenery in all your albums.

  2. climbergirl says:

    Thanks, Evan! Glad you enjoy the pictures…I’m finding it’s hard to take a *bad* picture here 8^) Which is good for my level of skill with the camera. The crack *was* my favorite part of the climb…For Sure! Hope you are both doing well out in Cali…is it hot there yet?

  3. granite4brains says:

    it’s been real nice weather wise out here (well except for the wind!) But, it’s gonna hit 96/97 later this week … our first taste of the upcoming summer heat.

  4. climbergirl says:

    Geez, good luck with that…I hope you guys can get up in those mountains to escape the heat. Dennis & I went skating today (I’m teaching him how to inline skate) and the wind was blowing us *uphill*. You know it’s windy when that happens!