Nope, not the Red Rocks in Colorado. Vegas, baby.
A short drive out of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Wanting to squeeze in a quick climbing trip before winter set in, four of us booked plane tickets and a condo and headed out for a whirlwind four days of climbing. The area is known for its long, moderate trad routes. So, naturally, we stuck to sport climbing.
I had come down with a pretty bad cold the day before the trip, but my partners were feeling strong and picked up my slack. Despite being sick, I was able to enjoy being out in the desert, being with a great bunch of people, and even got on a few routes while I was at it.
We also took one day and drove up to Zion to climb a really fun and beautiful route. If you didn’t see that report, you can find it here. The pictures alone are worth the click.
I digress. Back to Vegas. We spent three days in Red Rocks, and stayed mostly in the second pullout. Here are the areas where we climbed:
Black Corridor: This area is basically an outdoor climbing gym. The approach is short, and the walls are bolted on both sides of a narrow corridor. We were fortunate that it wasn’t too busy while we were there, but I can see how it could get pretty cramped. We spent a good portion of our time here ticking off routes. When the midday sun got hot, the shade of the corridor was a welcome relief.
My favorite routes were the ones with giant huecos on the lower level, right side, such as Need to Rest (5.10b/c). Even being sick, I was able to lead a few 5.9s, and get on some 10s, thanks to my rope gun buddies.
We hit a lot of routes in the Black Corridor. There is a concentration of moderates in the Upper Level, past the giant rock pile. In the Lower Level are the hueco’d routes, and quite a few steeper grades. My climbing buds really enjoyed Vagabonds (5.10a), Nightmare on Crude Street (5.10d), and Need to Rest (5.10a) in the Lower Level. In the Upper Level, 757 2×4 (5.7) is a nice mellow warm-up. Lewd, Crude, and Misconstrued (5.9+) is a lot of fun, mostly because it involves climbing under and around a large, overhanging rock.
A word of caution: The first few routes on the left in the Lower Level are different on Mountain Project than they are in the guidebook. According to Mountain Project, two routes have been added between The CEL and Bonaire. So if you’re looking to climb Bonaire, as I was, it’s probably the fourth route on the left, not the second (or the first, as it once was, long ago).
The Great Red Book: There are two long, exposed moderate sport routes on this wall. Even though the wall is visible from the parking lot, the approach is not a short one. We spent a morning there and climbed Dangling Participles (5.8) and Subject Verb Agreement (5.8), both 90′ sport routes.
We had the wall to ourselves and cell phone reception, so there was some music and funny dancing going on. We know how to party! This wall gets full sun, so make sure to hit it in the morning before the day gets too hot.
Someday, when we’re trad savvy, Seth and I plan on heading back to this wall to climb its namesake, The Great Red Book (5.8), a 270′, two pitch route that works its way up an inside corner on the left side of the wall. It’s quite beautiful.
Magic Bus: This is another wall in the second pullout with a few moderate sport climbs. I really enjoyed the moves on Neon Sunset (5.8) and thought this wall was a nice way to start the day before heading to some more challenging territory.
Sweet Pain Wall: My rope-gun friends gave this area a go on our last day, before heading back to the airport. The climbing looked challenging, but fun. Paul finished his trip on a note of awesome when he put a rope up on Glitter Gulch (5.11a). Seth and Marianna gave it a go as well before we all sullenly headed to the airport.
Next time we head to Red Rocks, I want to be leading trad so that we can get on some of the moderate multi-pitch routes. The sport climbing was fun, and it was an easy trip to make when the weather had turned too cold in Minnesota to venture out on the rock. But, the sport climbing is only a sliver of what this park has to offer. I’m looking forward to getting out there for some further exploration.
Thanks to my awesome climbing crew for a great trip, and for being my rope guns when I was too sick to do it myself.