The black varnish flowed over my head in a wave. The last bolt was far below my feet but I chuckled and wiggled in a small cam. I stared at crest of standstone still above me. My eyes focused on the small flakes crusted in a layer of inviting chalk. Would they lead me to sanctuary or snap off.
Despite two weeks in the desert I was still unsettled by the positive holds, too good to be true for a climber more versed in granite.
Surmounting the roof I was greeted with an assortment of holds in all shapes and sizes. I swam up the wall relishing in the texture and the trials both physical and mental. The bolt spacing was just enough to be safe but infrequent enough to keep you on your toes.
I fiddled in a final pair on nuts, a sharp edge biting into my skin as I clipped. With this final reassurance I finished off a spectacular pitch of climbing.
This was the theme for two days of climbing in Vegas. Both at Whiskey Peak and the Challenger Wall Vitaliy and I sought to work out our mental muscles.
First we climbed Our Father, Delicate Sound of Thunder and Tales from the Gripped. Delicate footwork, and our fear instinct were put to the test.
Often times in climbing people get stuck on an idea and build it up beyond what is real or reasonable. I believed that the challenger wall was some type of mythical place rife with impossible run outs and dangerous climbing.
The colorful wall that rose above us tickled memories from my ascent of adventure punks. The varnish somehow looked different and as we started up the namesake route I marveled at the bottoming and discontinuous cracks.
The movement during our day on the Challenger Wall was dictated by the disconnected features cracks and roofs. Each pitch played out a series of playful problems. The crisp varnish gave me confidence in the thin protection. Perhaps I was starting to believe in the sandstone.
After the six short pitches of Challenger we rappelled off to preview and then climb Jupiter II. The crux second pitch provided a subtle and cryptic section of climbing capped off by punchy and powerful laybacking. This combination proved too much for my flash attempt but both Vitaliy and I managed to climb the crux clean on Top Rope, V having the added challenge of taking out my gear.
Both of these days helped me push the mental envelope and really enjoy climbing a little further above my gear than is comfortable.
I recommend all of these routes highly, especially Delicate Sound of Thunder. It is worth noting that the bolts the upper two pitches on Tales a from the Gripped need to be replaced.