For the Thanksgiving holiday, Sarah and I decided to take a climbing trip to Red Rock Canyon, just outside Las Vegas, NV. When we arrived Wednesday morning, however, it was snowing and very windy. We opted for a Dam Tour instead of climbing.
Andy contemplating the enormity of it all
Three of the four intake towers which supply the seventeen power generators
The new bridge spans high above the Colorado River and the dam's power plant.
eight of the dam's seventeen water turbines
The following morning, the wind had calmed and the skies had cleared, so climbing was on the menu.
Sunrise and sunset are very special times to be in Red Rock Canyon.
Nina getting siked up for a day of howling at the base of the climb (I really wish I was joking about the howling bit.)
On the first day, we climbed Geronimo (5.6, 4 pitches). The first pitch went up the light colored crack left of center to the obvious notch on the horizon (top left).
cool view from the bottom of the first pitch
Andy starting up the first pitch
During the approach hike and the first pitch, we were baking in the warm sun, so we decided to leave our jackets on the ground. By the end of the second pitch, the sun had gone behind a neighboring formation, leaving us to shiver in the freezing cold for the rest of the day. We wouldn't make that mistake again the rest of the weekend.
Sarah starting up the second pitch
This was the last view I had of Sarah before she disappeared around the corning and continued up an exposed face to the right.
looking down the exposed face at the top of the second pitch with the first belay ledge just left of center of the photo
Sarah awaiting my arrival at the second belay
Andy heading up the third pitch
Once we topped out, we were greeted with a few brief minutes of warmth while the sun passed through a notch in the neighboring formation.
After thoroughly enjoying ourselves with the super fun climbing, we got down to business with rappelling back down to the base of the climb. This climb is notorious for eating ropes, so we knew our day was far from over. Luckily, however, we managed to avoid a single stuck rope on the entire descent. Breaking the final rappel into two single rope rappels really helped.
After a futile attempt to snag a Turkey Day buffet on the Vegas Strip the previous evening, we got to bed after midnight. After sleeping through our alarm the following morning, we awoke to a dozen noisy peacocks just outside our motel room door at the Bonnie Springs Ranch. Nina was begging us to let her "play" with them.
back porch of our room
This time we climbed Cat in the Hat (5.6, 4-6 pitches, depending on how you do it), which climbs the left horizon line of this formation. This is a super popular route in Red Rock, so it was no surprise that our late arrival landed us the fourth spot in line. We were actually surprised that there were only three parties ahead of us.
looking down the first two pitches, which we were able to combine into a single pitch
looking up to Sarah as she belays me from the top of our second pitch (underneath the tree)
Andy belaying Sarah up the final few feet of our third pitch
cool view from the belay ledge
Unfortunately, we had to skip the final pitch. The sun was setting rapidly, and we didn't want to get caught in traffic behind the other parties on the way down. We teamed up with the party behind us, and the five of us made a very speedy descent by combining our four ropes.
On our final day of climbing, we chose to do Olive Oil (5.7, five pitches). We got a bit lost on the approach and ended up being the second party on the climb.
looking up the first two pitches of Olive Oil
self portrait on the top of Rose Tower after a successful ascent of Olive Oil
Of the three routes we did on this trip, Olive Oil was undoubtedly our favorite. With several flavors of climbing (slab, crack, face, and chimney), it was hard to not have fun. The walk-off from the top of the formation was also an added bonus. Unfortunately, we were having so much fun that we forgot to take many photos.
looking at the descent gully from the top of Rose Tower
view of the upper pitches of Geronimo (left ridge line with the route terminating below the top of the formation) on Jackrabbit Buttress
cool lighting on the desert floor below (Our car is parked just left of the bare spot in the center of the photo.)
On Sunday morning, we awoke to a dusting of snow. We grabbed the camera and headed to Red Rock Canyon one last time to grab some sunrise shots. Sarah then loaded up the car with Nina and made the ten-hour trek back to Los Alamos. I stayed in Las Vegas the following week for a business trip to the Nevada Test Site.
Jackrabbit Buttress (Geronimo) and Rose Tower (Olive Oil), both in the foreground well below the enormous formations in the background
Mescalito (Cat in the Hat)
all three formations (among numerous others) in a single shot
We were bid farewell by this friendly fella.
Nina was very interested in meeting her new friend.
Red Rock Canyon was a great place for climbing. We had a superb time. We'll definitely be back.