I am very late in posting this, and for that I am sorry! I was in dire need of a getaway, and our trip to Red Rocks was exactly what I needed. Two weeks in the desert with a tiny splash of Vegas was exactly what the doctor ordered. I had never been to the desert before, nor Vegas, so I really got two new vacations for the price of one.
The first day we obviously did the Vegas thing. We stayed at the Rio which was absolutely gorgeous and massive, and had a cool view of the strip. I had heard that if you hung around the penny slots and played a little, the waitresses would come by and give you free drinks. So after resting a bit, we ventured down to the strip and went to a couple of casinos. At the Bellagio, we tried our hand at some penny slots and had a few FREE Coronas (although, it’s not quite free if you’re pumping money into those machines). I ended up spending a total of like 4$ and won it all back plus some. Another classic stop is the buffet, which we hit up later that night at the Gold Coast. I miss it already.
Our camping situation worked out differently than we expected. Friends had given us directions to back country camping in case the campground was full, which it was all week. By the time we found out it was full, the sun had already set and so we did our searching in the dark. It wasn’t actually that hard to find, luckily. Our tenting spots were so close to the main road yet not visible from it. Weird for the desert! We were mostly undisturbed there, and we were able to leave our tent and stuff unattended during the day. It was a bit far away from the climbs, but you can’t beat free. Plus, the privacy was nice. We camped here the entire two weeks except for a second night at the Rio to freshen up after 8 days without showering. It was nice to be able to run my fingers through my hair again. I’ll never take that for granted again!
The climbing was out of this world. The sandstone was soft on the skin yet made for some really nice holds. We had both rope and bouldering guide books so we did a little bit of both. Some climbing highlights included:
- Sending my first V6/7 outdoors! The “Red Dragon” at Black Velvet boulders. It was a couple of big moves and a top out in which I desperately got, but I did it! I was pretty happy with this. I worked it one day for about an hour, becoming increasingly more pumped as time went on. The second day I got it my second try!
- Getting my “lead head” back. I started leading again and felt more and more comfortable as the week went on.
- Having so many areas and climbs to choose from. It was difficult figuring out where to go every morning, but I wouldn’t say that was a bad thing! 🙂
- Multi-pitching 4 pitches! Prior to the trip, 2 pitches was my highest multi-pitching experience so I was happy to improve on that number. It was great, and I’d like to go higher!
- The flattest approach ever to Kraft boulders.
- Bouldering outside again. Man, I love bouldering outside and wish we had some closer to home. But, I appreciate these trips even more so for the opportunities we cannot get at home.
Kraft boulders had an easy approach, where as some places (like the Black Velvet) required an aggressive drive and a slightly longer hike. Our first climbing experience at Windy Canyon had no trail, and so I had grim expectations of our future approaches. That approach was the exception though, as the others weren’t bad at all!. The sport crags I attended had great approaches too, though I’m sure that’s not true for them all.
I hadn’t expected to see SO many tourists in and around many climbing areas. On the weekends it was next to impossible to find parking spots inside the scenic loop because of all the visitors. Usually climbing destinations are in the middle of nowhere, but this one was so close to Vegas it is impossible not to attract tourists. Rightly so – it’s a beautiful place.
Our “rest” days were almost just as exciting as our climbing days. We visited the natural Arizona hot springs by moonlight, which was probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. It was an hour hike in the middle of nowhere through a canyon wash to a natural but man-maintained hot spring. There was even a climbing celebrity there. Luckily the long hike deters tourists from visiting, otherwise I know it would have been packed. It had 3 pools between two tall rock cliffs, with the first being the hottest and and the others getting progressively less hot. There were sandbags set up to create the 3 divisions, and a filtration system to keep the water flowing. The last pool was the only bearable one in my opinion – the first two were excruciating! After running through the first two, the last one was just right. Absolutely fantastic night.
I got carried away with the hot springs there, but we did do other rest day stuff too! We obviously went into Vegas and toured the Strip and the Old Strip. Seb and I went to Joe’s for a couple of days which weren’t rest days by any means but still a change of scenery. Together we all went to Zion National Park in Utah and did a short hike there. The drive was longer than we expected, so it was really a short visit. We visited the “Heart Attack Grill” where you wear a hospital gown and drink wine from an IV (or, feeding tube as the nurses pointed out). We were never without something to do!
I’ll let these pictures do the rest of the talking! :
Best. Trip. Ever. Video is forthcoming! Next trip is the Red or the New in a month so back to the grind in the mean time to fund our next adventure! 🙂
Climb on xx