Friday, April 4, 2014

Red Cap & Calico II Peak - 4/4/14

Red Cap View from Tanks Level

Las Vegas Strip from Above Main Calico Tank

 Twelve hikers showed up for the ever-popular Red Cap hike ... ahem ... scramble via the traditional crack ascent route. We had four visitors today and we showed them the ropes! (The younger ballet trained visitors showed us a few ropes as well!) We began from the Sandstone Quarry parking lot off of the Red Rock Canyon NCA scenic loop road. It was an overcast day but the temperature was good ... just a little on the cool side when the wind kicked up on the peaks.

Redbud Tree and Sandstone
 We noticed the redbud trees were blooming in the sandstone canyons as we hiked through the familiar maze behind the Calico Tanks Trail.

Chris Prepares the Group for the Traditional Crack Ascent

 We hiked up to the beginning of the Red Cap crack ascent and started the climb to the peak. First came the almost vertical scramble then "fat man's squeeze." After this, it was a steady steep climb up the slab keeping the wall on your left. To our right, the views were colorful and vast. Even in cloudy weather, this view is beautiful. The scramble continued as we arrived at the tanks level. The tanks level is so called because of several tenajas located within close proximity at this elevation.

Don Gets Surprised by the Camera
 This is where we met up with another popular hiking club from Las Vegas hiking in the same area as we were today.

Chris Gets Surprised by the Camera

 The next part of the climb turns to the left and soon, we were climbing the red portion of Red Cap (Minor). There is a small amount of exposure associated with the last bit of climbing but all twelve hikers reached the peak undaunted. Once there, we had views of the Las Vegas Strip, the Red Rock escarpment, the La Madre mountain range, Gray Cap and the North Blue Diamond Hills.

The Red Rock Escarpment from Red Cap Peak
 The sandstone ridge of the tanks level stretched out below us and we could see several of the tenajas. The tanks had water but they were not full.

Red Cap Summit Photo

The descent from the peak is done on the opposite side of the small ridge from whence we had gone up. We dropped back down this way then continued the return down to the tanks level. Today, we would get a complete tour of the tanks so we began by dropping down behind the ridge to see the Wall Tank. This tank was the most dry. Next, we circled around the Sundial Tank and went on to check out the Sunken Tank.

Hiking Past a Nearly Dry Wall Tank
 Both of the last tanks had more water than the Wall Tank.

Ballerina Reflection

 Backtracking, we then exited the tanks level by dropping into the dry Large Tank that now is the home of a very large hefty cairn. The drop down the chute is fun but is also the reason for many patched hiking pants. At any rate, we waited for everyone to make it down the chute then hiked through the length of the dry tank and climbed up out of the other end.

Super Cairn in Large Tank
 This brought us to the top of a very steep descent that ends next to Mass Production Wall. (The rock climbers named the wall. ... who knows.)

Descending Sandstone Slab to Mass Production Wall

Safely down, we junctioned with the Calico Tanks Trail. After a somewhat reluctant consensus, we agreed to continue the hike up the trail and summit another small sandstone peak to the south of the main Calico Tank. The climb up the many steps on the trail was what everyone was reluctant to face but once we were up at the main tank, all was good. We slowly managed to climb to narrow wash up to the Calico II Peak and took a second break there.

Arriving at the Calico II Peak Area
 After another bit of discussion, we decided on a less exposed descent by utilizing the second phase of the Tanks Discovery Scramble.

A Rocky Descent

 This descent took us across the back side of the ridge down a rock fall, through some brush and down yet another sandstone slab. Finally, we junctioned with the Calico Tanks Trail again. We followed the trail using the higher sandstone route back to the cars. Not having scrambled a lot lately, this was quite enough of a workout for many of us.

4 miles; 1250 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Down Yet Another Slab

Near Junction of Calico Tanks Trail

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