Red Rocks has been one of our favorite climbing areas for a long time. It is also one of the most beautiful desert areas anywhere. The weather there is generally good year-round making it possible to climb during the winter months. Tired of looking for the odd ice climb in condition, we were really looking forward to a bit of sunny rock climbing.
Over several trips to Red Rocks during the few years before this trip, we had already climbed most of the long moderate classics (see our "climbing resume"). We still had a couple of the easier ones in mind, as well as many harder ones (Levitation 29, Resolution Arete, and others). Since this was early in the season and we were almost completely out of shape, we would probably take the opportunity to climb a few easier routes on sunny aspects.
After we got set up at 13-mile campground (the first time we had to pay to camp on this trip), we enjoyed two days of beautiful weather. We climbed Olive Oil and Black Dagger during that period. After that, a week-long storm moved into the area (and must have liked it!). It rained, snowed, and got freezing cold most of the time. We kept hoping for better weather day after day, but ended up spending more time watching movies (free DVDs can be borrowed for the Blue Diamond library) and working on this web site than we wished.
When the weather finally cleared, we climbed a short line next to the obvious water streak on Rainbow Mountain: Power Failure. The next day, we got up early to climb the very long combination of Johnny Vegas and Solar Slab. With 13 pitches in all and a very substantial descent, this took us all day. The next day, more weather moved in and appeared to settle again. Not willing to wait it out anymore, we decided to move to the Owens River Gorge, near Bishop, CA.
Save Red Rocks!
As a side note, new residential and commercial development in Las Vegas is totally out of control. The city is the fastest growing in the US and it shows. Even more disturbing is the fact that a large part of that expansion is creeping up Charleston Boulevard, and getting dangerously close to Red Rocks. From one year to next, there have typically been one or two new "mega-blocks" of cookie-cutter, fenced "communities" at the West End of Charleston. Developments now extend to the very edge of the Conservation Area. It does not stop there, however. Last year, a developer actually came within a few days from breaking grounds for a brand new 20,000+ people "neighborhood" on the Red Rocks side of the Blue Diamond mine hill. This would have increased traffic into Red Rocks tenfold and put a medium-sized town, complete with schools, supermarkets, etc. in plain view of most classic climbs at Red Rocks. The developer was stopped at the last minute after massive public outcry forced the county to refuse the necessary zoning changes. This battle is by no means over, however. Just recently, the property has been purchased by another developer at a cost of $50 million. Opposition to these development plans is led by several devoted volunteers in the small town of Blue Diamond. They maintain a web site with current developments at www.redrock.org. The logical alternative is for the BLM to purchase the land from the mine. BLM officials have so far refused to discuss that option. Attempts at passing state legislation that would prevent zoning changes are underway.
|Welcome to Red Rock Canyon.|
|Wide panoramic view of the Red Rock escarpment.|
|Overview of long classics at Red Rocks (©)|
|Preparing the gear at the 13-mile campground.|
|Lucie working late into the night on the web site...|
|Homemade pizza... hard life on the road.|
|Unfortunately, many of our days at RR looked like this on our first stop there...|
|Approaching Juniper canyon in early morning.|