Climbing
30.06.2016

Crack Power Girls #2

Lara, Marine & Florence are climbing across the USA, friends on the harness, looking for the most beautiful cracks. After Indian Creeks, the trio takes on the climbing shoes in Red Rocks.

A change in the weather: the mercury’s falling in Indian Creek, but the adventure goes on! We head south in search of sunshine !As we clock up the miles, some truly incredible landscapes scroll by. First stop: Monument Valley. It’s quite simple: usually, you only see it at the movies! Islands of red rock, jutting up from the desert floor – mythical!

We follow a trail that zigzags between tall red towers and dunes of orange-tinged sand... We certainly don’t regret taking a detour – especially as two young Canadian guys kindly paid for our entrance ticket ($29)! Well, we thought it was too expensive, didn’t want to cough up – and got lucky!

Monument Valley
 

 

We continue our journey towards Tuba City and soon drive through the gates of... the Grand Canyon National Park! Now we’re talking seriously spectacular! You feel so small amid the immensity of the scenery... It’s great to discover such vast expanses with no visible human presence. The weather’s not really following the script: it’s wet and cold. Result: a picnic in our tent, then a session drying out our fabric house, like tramps, in the campsite’s sanitary block (yes indeed – our tent crumples when the wind blows, and it isn’t waterproof... Think we’ve been had?). After walking the path overlooking the Grand Canyon, admiring the landscape from all angles, trying to stick a beanie on a doe, monkeying around in a tree, and taking 15,000 (pretty dull) photos of the panorama, we carry on to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff
"Gluten-free hamburgers and, best of all, stupendous toffee apples"
 

 

Well, if we ever live in the States one day, we’d like to live in Flagstaff!
It’s a pretty little town, with super-cool shops that sell loads of cool stuff you don’t really need but would like to have anyway; a climbing gym (with a nice gent who very clear explains where the best climbing spots are nearby), gluten-free hamburgers and, best of all, stupendous toffee apples!!!! Chocolate-caramel-pecan apple – yum!
The rain forces us to stay put for a few days, which is a real shame: some of the local spots look brilliant. We discover a little slice of paradise: Paradise Forks and its basalt columns... We can’t climb, so we go for walks between showers, and watch squirrels going nuts in the treetops!
The tall sandstone walls of Sedona beckon to us, but the weather’s fairly wet there too... Next time, we’ll need to pack the sunshine in our luggage! So now we’re off along the mythical Route 66 – direction Las Vegas!!

LAS VEGAS
"The next day, I ached more than if I’d spent five days on a big wall"
 

 


Las Vegas: a weird kind of city, in the middle of the desert. One main street and not much else. Neon screens flashing everywhere, casinos and slot machines, topless women, cabaret billboards, hotels, the Coliseum, the canals of Venice, the Eiffel Tower, the fountains of the Bellagio, and... amusement-park rides!
One evening wasn’t long enough to test them all, but rather than end up shaking our upturned wallets in the depths of a casino, we preferred to finish heads down on the legendary New York-New York rollercoaster! That thing shakes you every which way! The girls seem to love it – they disembark with tomato-red cheeks... Personally, I’m white as an aspirin. It was scarier than hanging on a grey micro friend at 500m, dangling in the void. The next day, I ached more than if I’d spent five days on a big wall! And the worst thing is they wanted to do it again. Luckily it was closing – close shave!
We also went wild for some gorgeous Starts & Stripes tights, and a pound of M&Ms with all kinds of flavors! It was 2am when we rolled into our tent and bags. What a night!!
Next morning, getting up’s kind of tricky. Today we’re going climbing in Red Rocks National Park.

«Marbled rock like a big fat strawberry and vanilla cake!»
Red Rocks
 

 

 

Red Rocks are superb cliffs of mixed red and white sandstone... Marbled rock like a big fat strawberry and vanilla cake! What better to work up an appetite! Post-Vegas, we’re bleary-eyed – in fact we’re totally off the pace. These chicks ain’t sharp! And worse still, things don’t pick up during the day! ... Let’s start with our chosen route – and its name, to be precise!! Hilarious! It’s a route recommended to us by some American climbers (in English, of course!). Being nifty little English speakers, we understand that it involves a tunnel, but struggle to decipher the next word... In fact, we all interpret it to mean “Norwegian tunnel” – and there are definitely plenty of tunnels in Norway, so why not! In the route book, we can’t find even the slightest mention of a Scandinavian tunnel round here... We flick through the index: “"Norwegian tunnel"... Nothing doing! We must have misheard… Then one of us exclaims, “Look! Isn’t it that? ‘Tunnel vision’?” Well, yes indeed! We fall about laughing – we’ve been had again! What a bunch of ditzies!

Red Rocks
 

 

For this crazy day, our outfits are on a par with our performance! It’s “tights” day! Having the American flag on your legs is an odd feeling, but you get used to it eventually!! After setting off fairly late from the campsite, and doing the approach walk (in scorching sunshine), munching some M&Ms, and shooting some idiot videos, by 2pm we finally reach the start of the route – ready for the off! On the first pitch, the circus continues: two jammed friends, 20 minutes spent grappling with each one, two bottles of water poured on them in the hope of softening the surrounding rock, four hands, two nut tools wiggling in all directions, a few tasty curses... And finally they come out. We did it!
Progress update: we’ve just spent over an hour on the first pitch. We’ve emptied our bottles of water on the friends and eaten nearly all our M&Ms. It’s 3.30pm. At 6pm, we have to leave the park because it closes (otherwise we’ll get fined!) and have only climbed 1/7 of the route... And what about the black clouds overhead? Were they part of the plan??!! Right: we don’t care a damn, onwards and upwards! Marine’s on lead, with Flo and me following in trainers, talking silly and chuckling a great deal, which surely slows us down even further! The next section is a bit more fluid. This sculpted rock is really terrific… We reach the (not at all Norwegian) tunnel, which allows us to traverse into a handcrack and reach the other side of the chimney – magic! We keep going, and soon reach the top! All we need to do now is find the way down (it was explained to us, but we grasped nothing!). A short gully takes us back down to the foot of the wall, and a pretty footpath leads us back to the car (no ticket!). Then back to the campsite.

Red Rocks
 

 

Tonight, no casinos or rides, just shut-eye! The next day, we opt for a day of single-pitchers in Red Rocks Park at The Gallery, a cute little spot – a short overhang! A well-filled day: reading, sunbathing and brawny pitch-bullying! Makes a change from clinging to ledges! We depart with heavy arms and shrimp-pink bodies! Well, we didn’t make a fortune in Vegas, but we climbed a little and, best of all, we had plenty of laughs!! Watch this space... Let's go to Zion National Park !