Sun, Fun, Sandstone: A Week at Red Rock Canyon

Heading for Pine Creek Canyon and the Mescalito (the red-capped tower in the distance).

Mike and I spent a week rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area — better known as “Red Rocks” —  just west of Las Vegas. It’s about an 8-hour drive from Reno, out of the Great Basin and into the Mojave. Once there, we met  up with Anchorage friends Bryn Clark and Louis Sass, and then Don Wray and his friend Jackie came over from Colorado for a few days as well. So we were a merry group of six climbing up crags and coming back down again, and enjoying beers, food and good company at the BLM campground near the canyons.

Mike organizes gear back at the campground on a balmy evening.

It was fun to spend a few days in the Mojave, with its warmer temperatures, tarantulas on the move, and fragrant creosote. We all did dinner in town one night, at Main Street Station Casino which has a nice brewpub. Our final day in the area was topped off with a Grand Day Out on a route called Solar Slab, twelve pitches and 1500 feet of moderate climbing on sun-baked sandstone. Getting everyone up and down (12 rappels) added up to 13 hours car-to-car — what a day! Here are some highlights from a week of sandstone and sleeping in the “four-season Ford” — deluxe!

Mike on the first pitch of Lotta Balls (5.8), named for the many little rock knobs further up the face, not for an inordinate amount of courage.
"Combining fun face and steep cracks, Dark Shadows (5.7) is in deep shade all day" -- perfect when it's 80 degrees. Louis takes the lead.
As an example of how big the walls are here, we did some routes that stayed within this slab of dark, varnished rock near the mouth of First Creek Canyon. We felt small.
Itty bitty Bryn leads Doobie Dance (5.6) on the dark rock.
Mike on the first pitch of Solar Slab, after 4 pitches of Solar Slab Gully.
Close to the top! Bryn and Louis baking on relatively flat ground.
A rainbow of sandstone at the top.
Heading for the rap anchors, with Mt. Wilson in the background.
The Big City, in the far distance.
One of our 12 rappels back down the gully to the trail at the bottom of the canyon.
Sunset at the top of Solar Slab Gully -- just a few more rappels to go. Whew.

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