Red Rock 2010

Gardner on P4 of Dark Shadows

At the end of April, Arne, Dan, Gardner, and myself flew to Vegas for a few days of climbing at Red Rock Canyon (usually referred to as “Red Rocks”).  Just about everyone has been to Vegas, but almost nobody knows that Red Rocks — probably the world’s premier destination for moderate multi-pitch trad climbing — is just 20 minutes west of town.  Even if you’re not a climber it’s an amazing place to hike and explore — a literal oasis in the desert.

I roped up with Gardner, who is relatively new to climbing but has proven to be a strong and efficient partner.  We had a couple of pretty big objectives planned, but right before the trip I came down with strep throat.  Not knowing how I’d feel on the rock, we decided to stick to shorter (but still challenging) objectives.  We ended up doing a ton of climbing anyway — a total of 31 pitches.  Our full tick list is at the end of this post, but I’ll mention a few highlights:

Highlight #1: I finally got to climb Triassic Sands, a route that has been on my tick list for a few years.  You’d be hard pressed to find a better crack climb at this grade anywhere.  I’ll climb this route every time I visit Red Rocks from now on.  Here’s a video of Gardner following the crux second pitch:

Highlight #2: On Day 3 we decided to climb Dream of Wild Turkeys, one of the most poular routes at Red Rocks.  Shortly after we arrived at the base, two women arrived intending to do the same route.  I had a feeling I knew who one of them was, so I asked and sure enough it was Joanne Urioste, a Red Rocks climbing legend!  Joanne and her husband George put up many of Red Rocks’ super classic climbs including Dream of Wild Turkeys, Epinephrine, Frogland, and many more.  What a treat to meet Joanne and watch her climb one of her masterpieces.  She and her partner climbed all 12 pitches of DoWT that day and when we were walking out of the canyon at 5pm they had just started rappelling (good thing they had headlamps).  Here’s a picture of Joanne at the top of the first pitch of Dream of Wild Turkeys:

Highlight #3: Perhaps the highlight of the trip for me was a route called Overhanging Hangover.  This route climbs up and out an enormous roof on Black Velvet Wall.  Looking at it from the ground, it’s hard to believe it can even be free climbed!  The first pitch involves surprisingly hard face climbing with bolts (felt harder than 5.10a to me).  The second pitch follows a 5.9 crack to the roof, which is traversed to a hanging belay on the lip.  I’ve done quite a few long multi-pitch routes and I am normally not bothered by exposure, but this was probably the most intimidating pitch I’ve climbed.  To add to the excitement, the very last move before reaching the belay is the crux move, with a super thin undercling, almost no feet, and 200 feet of nothing-but-air below.  Here’s a couple BEFORE and AFTER videos that give a sense of how wild this route is (although pictures don’t do it justice!):


AFTER P2 (forgive the dorky dialogue — I was amped up!)

Overall it was another great trip to Red Rocks.  Being under the weather didn’t limit me too much.  Many lifetimes of climbing objectives still await — and I’ll be back!


Day 1:
Birdland (5p)
Dark Shadows (4p)
Chasing Shadows
Straight Shooter

Day 2:
Bourbon Street (6p)
Triassic Sands (3p)

Day 3:
The Gobbler (2p)
Dream of Wild Turkeys (3p)
Overhanging Hangover (2p)

Day 4:
Shady Ladies
Magallenic Cloud
Van Allen Belt
Cold September Corner


3 thoughts on “Red Rock 2010

  1. Wow, you guys got a lot of climbing in! I am so jealous, puts our E-rock trip to shame… of course just day 1 of your trip had way more climbing than 3 days at E-rock for me.

    I need to get back into climbing more trad, but I guess that will have to wait till the temps start to drop again.

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