Summit of Mescalito (via Dark Shadows)
40 million people visit Las Vegas each year to pursue their vices. I’m one of them, although my vice is a different than most. Just 20 minutes west of The Strip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (a.k.a. “Red Rocks), one of the premier rock climbing destinations in the world. So for me and my climbing partners, it’s climb all day, eat a lot, then early to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat…
Last weekend Blake and I spent four days climbing in perfect late-season weather. Here’s our tick list:
FRIDAY: Dark Shadows to the top of Mescalito. This has been on my tick list for years. Dark Shadows is a mega-classic and I’ve climbed the first four pitches (the standard route) several times. However, the route continues for 5 or 6 more pitches to the summit of Mescalito. The climbing was excellent the whole way and we moved quickly, summiting at noon. The crux of the day was the descent – we took a wrong turn and ended up thrashing down a death gulley with several sketchy rappels.
An oasis in the desert – Clear water pools near the base of Mescalito
SATURDAY: Refried Brains and Triassic Sands (p1 only). Refried Brains is one of the lesser-climbed routes on the amazing Black Velvet Wall. We found the climbing to be outstanding and more varied that the nearby mega-classics (Dream of Wild Turkeys, etc.). We did the route in four long pitches but it felt like a bigger route. Afterward, we walked next door to Whiskey Peak and did the first pitch of Triassic Sands (one of my top 5 favorite routes).
SUNDAY: Frigid Air Buttress. I did this route in 2007 and thought it was fantastic. Five years later I had a little different opinion. Of the seven pitches, only 3 are notable in terms of climbing quality. The route has a discontinuous, “mountaineering” feel which some people love but is really not my thing. However, on the positive side the route has huge legdes at every belay — a big plus for sore feet. All in all a fun day but I won’t do the route a third time.
Ice Box Canyon after rappelling from Frigid Air Buttress
MONDAY: With bodies sore from 3 days of climbing and a flight to catch, we decided to say on short routes at Calico Hills. We started with Great Red Book, a fun, aesthetic trad route that follows a massive red dihedral for two pitches. Afterward, we walked to the Black Corridor and did a few sport routes:
- Lewd, Crude, and Misconstrued
- Rebel Without a Pause (5.11b onsight!)
- Black Gold
- Nightmare on Crude Street
Blake on the first pitch of Great Red Book