Myster Z/Armatron Linkup - Red Rock NV (w/ the traveling stopper)
Old Lady H was kind enough to send me the traveling stopper in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Along with my good friend, Bill Thiry (co-author of “Red Rock Odyssey” Guidebook/History book) we decided to take the stopper to Armatron, a route which contains 2 of the best “stopper only” pitches in Red Rock.
We quickly roped up and set off around 8:30, with us trading the first 3 pitches. By the 4th pitch, we set off within a few minutes of each other, and simul-climbed the remaining 3 pitches very quickly. Climbing alongside us and passing us near the top, simul-climbing all of Myster Z on their way to “Sweet Thin” were our new friends, Oskar and Kevin. We un-roped and quickly hiked the 10 minutes to the base of Armatron, it now only being about 10:15 or so.
We took a solid 30 minutes to rest, ate some food, and roped up. Because we would pass them on the descent, we left our smaller packs at the base here, with extra water, layers, and snacks inside. From this point, we merely climbed with a small water bottle attached to the back of our harness. Bill took off on pitch 1, cruising through it quickly and clipping 5 bolts (a mellow sport pitch). I took the lead for the crux 5.9 pitch 2 finger crack. I felt the 5.9 section, which perhaps lasts only a couple of moves, to be mellow for the grade, and one could totally zip it up. I screwed up at the end of the pitch, and set up a belay at the bottom of a left facing corner with a bolted anchor. I came to find later that this is actually the bottom of the pitch 3 for Sweet Thin; the actual anchor for the top of pitch 2 of Armatron is another 30 feet up and to the right of the corner.
Bill set off on pitch 3, the first of the two “vertical cobblestone” pitches. The varnished plates on these two pitches are very unique. For the most part, these two pitches protect mainly with stoppers only, and this is where we were able to place the travelling stopper twice, once on pitch 3, and another time when I led pitch 4. The stopper deserved…..no…needed to be placed on these two pitches. The climbing here, is not particularly difficult at all, but is fun, unique, and exciting, as we didn’t place any cams, and it is a great exposed feeling.
Video I took from the top of pitch 4 showing the cobblestone pitches and the amazing views
We quickly dispatched the final two easy pitches, and then ran up the final short 3rd/4th class scramble to the true summit of Juniper Peak.
All in all, Armatron is a great 3 star route. I found the rating to be pretty soft for the grade, but the exposure, views, and uniqueness of the route, make it a 5 star day.
The descent down the gully back to our smaller packs at the base of Brownstone Wall was easy and quick and quite fun. We then continued down the slabs to the base of the canyon below Rainbow Wall, and then back out to the mouth of the canyon, and to our larger packs. A final 50 minute push took us back to our car.