As climbers have been getting back to the rock amidst the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing has remained paramount. The isolated Keyhole Canyon, 45 minutes south of Las Vegas, Nevada, makes for the perfect venue. Says Brooke Jackson, who shot this image of Alex Sklar leading the classic 5.7 crack Demonstrator, Keyhole is old school— “From the group of Baby Boomer climbers hanging out with their radio jamming ‘80s tunes—while playing on a boulder in jeans, no shirts, and drinking beer between sends—to the fact that many of the climbs have no top anchors.” Keyhole also features ancient pictographs and petroglyphs that scholars believe depict the Creation Mythology, and were left by one of three indigenous tribes: Mojave, Paiute, or Anasazi/Pueblo. Most of its walls stay hidden until you explore deep into the canyon, and provide both sun and shade. (For the latest guidebook, contact Jimmy “Frodo” Lybarger at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Deep in the Maine backcountry is the alpine gem The Armadillo, an exposed wall into a castellated ridge that tops out on Baxter Peak, the high point (5,268 feet) of Mount Katahdin. The route is a choose-your-own-adventure romp on clean, featured granite, but most memorable is the stout “5.7” crack—opening from 3 to 6 inches—on pitch three, here climbed by Teancum Bryant. Bryant, who lives in Utah, wasn’t used to the East Coast dampness: “It was my first time experiencing humid cold, where it chilled me to the bone,” he recalls. Above the technical climbing are the Vertebrae pitches, a mix of fourth class and the occasional low-fifth-class move up the armadillo’s spine—the perfect finish to this monster excursion.
On April 26, Ben Herrington established Imagine (5.14-) at Morpheus in the Skykomish Valley of Western Washington. Herrington, 34, a route-setter at Stone Gardens Bellevue, knows the area well, having put up one of his best FAs, Kingslayer (V13), only 50 feet away. However, the leaning arête next to the waterfall had long drawn his eye. “I borrowed a drill and bolts from Rudy Ruana,” says Herrington. “He showed me how to place a bolt in his backyard, and class was dismissed.” Given how steep the wall was, Herrington had to front-lever to get into position to drill. “I could only drill a centimeter at a time before my arms and abs gave out,” he says. After three days preparing the line, Herrington began sorting the beta. The climb opens with an intense three-bolt V11 to a rest, then V5/6-ish slapping up the edge to a final shake and a V9 boulder problem. For the full video, check out @climbnskate.