The Winter Season at Red Rocks
I spent a large chunk of the winter bouncing back and forth between Bishop, California and Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas. I went back and forth so many times that I memorized every nuance of the drive. The time I spent at Red Rocks was pretty amazing. Other than the lack of good cheap camping and the fact that the park closes early, Red Rocks is a pretty ideal climbing destination. It has a nice blend of multi-pitch climbs and cragging, both in the sport and trad disciplines. To top it off, there is good bouldering and it is very beautiful.
Since Vegas is a popular tourist destination there are many cheap plane fares. Many friends took advantage of this and Vegas was the perfect hub to center climbing adventures. Some times I would drop one friend off at the airport only to pick up another one up at the same time.
Early in the winter I spent time practicing my trad climbing and doing easy multi-pitch climbs. As the season went on I dialed in my multi-pitch systems and I climbed some of the harder long routes. I climbed Cat in the Hat, a six pitch 5.6 three times and cut the time it took me to climb it from a full day to a few hours. Near the end of the season my friend Mike and I climbed Levitation 29, a 10 pitch 5.11c and we did it in good style.
There were some less than perfect adventures as well. One morning my friend Brian and I got my car stuck out in the desert while trying to find a crag. It took us an hour and a half to dig the car out and we never did find the crag. Another time my friend Mike and I got 50 dollar tickets each for sleeping in the dirt. The campground was full when we pulled in late at night so we decided to sleep along the side of a road off in the desert. We learned that nobody will bother you in a parking lot but if you try to sleep in the dirt out in the desert you are breaking the law. I also got a couple of tickets for leaving the park after it closed. When you are on a long route you can’t always predict when you are gong to get off of it or what problems you might run into. We learned to call ahead and request a late exit pass, they are free and only require a phone call.
The most dangerous adventure I had was trying to figure out how to get down off of the climb Eagle Dance with my friend Mike. We tried to follow the instructions that were printed in Todd Swain’s guidebook. They were hard to understand and we began to have a really bad feeling about where we were heading. The terrain we were scrambling across consisted of steep slabs and they were getting steeper. Finally, we couldn’t see the slabs stretching out beneath us anymore and decided that we must be approaching an edge. As I got within fifteen feet of the edge I realized something must be wrong and this couldn’t be the way down. We backtracked and spent an hour finding another way down. As we looked up from below we saw that we had been approaching the edge of a 1000-foot drop off. One slip and we would of died.
Despite the bad adventures there were many more good ones. The time I spent in Red Rocks that winter was a lot of fun and taught me quite a bit. I am looking forward to going back and doing more of the routes there.
Multi-pitch Route ticklist:
Cat in the Hat, 5.6+, 6 pitches (3 times) with: Brian - Angela & Andrew - Matt & Amy