Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red Rocks Climbing

Now I see why people like Red Rocks – predictable, sunny weather, easy access to Vegas, thousands of named routes (I just searched Mountainproject for moderate routes between 5.5 and 5.9, and found 560) and great rock.

Russell and I hiked into “Armatron” the first day – 1.5 hours hike uphill to the base – and saw one other group of climbers on a different route. The photo on the left is the money pitch of “Armatron.”  Thousands of serving-sized plates with holds all around each plate. Very fun.




The second day, we hiked about 30 minutes into “Cat in the Hat” This is perhaps the most popular multi-pitch climb in Red Rocks. There was a group of four climbers 3 pitches ahead of us. We caught up with them and passed them. Which I had Cat in the Hatnever done before. Since they were using the good belay station, it meant I had to set up an anchor for a semi-hanging belay to belay Russell up. Since I knew he’d be examining my setup, I put in 5 pieces instead of only three. or four. His comment, “You’re not an expert in placing tri-cams, are you?” Nope. 

This is a photo of Russell leading the last and hardest pitch. Below him, is the lDSCN1706eader of the other group. Whose rope kept getting caught in my day pack. And running over the top of my shoulder. So I did not like this climb as much as Russell did.




On the third morning, we picked up Miriam, (“The Killer”) at the airport and tried out two of the sport areas in Red Rock. First we went to “The Panty DSCN1822Wall” which only has a few climbs but they were perfect for an intro to leading at Red Rock. We did a few climbs there and “Killer” led two of them.  Here she is doing her first-ever rope transfer at the anchors.



Next we hoofed it over to the “Black Corridor.” There we encountered 15-20 people all dressed as Superman. (What you do in Vegas, stays in Vegas.) This is a great place to climb – a 25 foot wide slot canyon with 80-100 foot high walls and bolted routes on both sides. And it is very popular; there were 40 or so people climbing while we were there. And we did three climbs. Here. Here and here.

Here are Russell (Hondo) and Killer (climbing a route near the mouth of the canyon) in the Black Corridor.


I was surprised that on a Wednesday, there were so many people climbing the sport routes. We probably saw 60-80 climbers in just three areas. Of course, these are all within 20 minutes of the highway.



I know there is a controversy regarding Red Rocks and a nearby housing development. The opponents of the housing say it will “ruin” Red Rocks. I don’t know how seeing some houses in the distance, would ruin the experience for me. (I could see The Strip in downtown Las Vegas from almost everywhere we went.) What would ruin Red Rocks for me is having all those climbers. So I would want to avoid it during the weekends and holidays.

Here is a list of recommended climbs for first-time climbers. There is even a first ascent program from the American Alpine Institute. And here’s a video slideshow of our trip:

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