- By Maureen (Mo) Buckley
When I call Alina my climbing wife it’s not just because we both love mountains. We met on a mountain, I have spent more time in a tent with her on a mountain than anyone else and she is my number one belay partner. So our first choice for a weekend away will usually involve climbing! But when you live in the Northeast (Canada in my case) in November the only place to climb is south…so off to Nevada and Red Rocks we went.
Red Rock Canyon is located just 20 miles from the Las Vegas strip. The following description on Mountain Project, in my opinion, perfectly sums it up: “Red Rock: a few thousand routes, generally warm weather, every kind climbing from short sport routes to big 20-pitch outings, nearby Las Vegas for off-rock activities. Who could ask for more?”
We opted to forgo the dirtbag lifestyle this weekend and booked into one of the casino resorts located between the strip and the rocks thinking that we might enjoy the spa and/or swimming pool after a hard day of climbing. Of course we did neither, choosing instead to spend more time at the rocks, with just enough time to get back to the hotel to shower, eat dinner and get some sleep before we were up early again. With only 2.5 days of climbing we wanted to maximize our time outdoors. After getting in late and acquainting ourselves with the nearby Whole Foods we set off to Calico basin for an afternoon of top roping. A short walk from the car to the crag coupled with a few hours of climbing some 5.6 to 5.8s was exactly what we needed to shake off the jetlag and outdoor climbing cobwebs. We also met one of the colourful locals who offered some unsolicited advice on my climbing technique! But what can I say, the dude was right and once I made the adjustment to my foot placement everything started to feel right
Day 2 we were met with sunshine so back we went to Calico basin to take on Physical Graffiti – a crack climb. Ugh, crack is definitely my nemesis. Physical Graffiti is a classic 5.6 trad climb but there is another 5.9 route just to the right of it that we thought we would try first – oops! Epic fail!! So back to the 5.6 route it was – still tough but manageable. That afternoon we headed over to Pine Creek Canyon to climb Birdland – 5.7+ and 6 pitches. With the sunshine brought the climbers and the route was busy. So instead of the traditional 6 pitches we climbed it in 5 and were rewarded with some fantastic views at the top. Even the sprawl of the strip looks pretty when you are hanging off some sticky rock.
For our final day we met up with our old friend Jonathan Schrock. The goal was to start on Cat in the Hat and see where the day would take us but Mother Nature had different ideas. Rained off the first pitch in a complete downpour (the sandstone is fragile so no climbing during or after it rains) we could have headed to the spa at that point but instead we had Schrock make us some bullet-proof coffee out of his van and teach us some rescue techniques. An excellent end to a weekend filled with tons of laughs, fresh air, pumped muscles and alpine knees (of that is just me) we were now armed with new skills and techniques just in case we need them on our next Mountain Girl Power adventure!!