Troy arrived in Las Vegas on a warm Saturday night and I could tell by the smile on his face that he was eager to climb. After a busy fall with limited time for climbing, he was really excited to get on a big route and log lots of mileage on the rock. The forecast was calling for one more day of good weather before a big storm system was scheduled to arrive, so we made a plan to go as big as we could with the weather window we had. After discussing different options, we settled on an ascent of Johnny Vegas & Solar Slab. These two routes combine to offer 11 pitches of climbing in the 5.6-5.7 level of difficulty, and amount to nearly 1500′ of climbing. Mileage here we come!
The first four pitches of our ascent were on the route Johnny Vegas, a five star 5.7 climb that many parties do as an outing in its own right. With highly varnished sandstone and thrilling exposure, we could see why it had received so many good reviews.
Johnny Vegas finishes on a large terrace below a gigantic, leaning face called the Solar Slab. The main Solar Slab route – our primary objective – splits the lefthand side of the face for 7 more pitches of exposed, airy climbing. One of Troy’s goals for the program was to learn more about techniques for efficiency in multi-pitch climbing and the extended multi-pitch climbing we were about to embark on would be a perfect training ground.
To make sure we were as efficient as possible we positioned ourselves at belays in the order we would be leaving the belay for the next pitch, we would always re-stack the rope at each belay to ensure there were no tangles, we would try to build our anchors at chest height to maximize comfort, and we agreed on a system to clean and re-rack the gear on each pitch. These steps ensured we were making the most of our time on the wall.
As we ascended the route we found a pleasing rhythm to our system and we were making good time. The climbing felt comfortable and never rushed, despite turning in an average time of 30 minutes per pitch, which is pretty darn quick! The flow was great and we were really cruising up the wall with a steady and consistent pace. Our attention to efficiency was really paying off.
We reached the top feeling great about the climb. Troy got the mileage he was looking for, and some hands-on practice with efficiency methods, and I enjoyed a wonderful day on the rock with Troy’s great company.
We rapped down and hiked back to the car, making it back to Las Vegas in time for a nice dinner of Thai food. What a great day!
Thanks for reading,