Red Rocks

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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and what happens in Red Rocks depends on whether you like 10 meter, 30 degree overhanging sport climbers or 300 meter multi-pitch Trad climbs. Red Rocks has it all, including the Kraft boulders, which I must admit look absolutely awesome. Red Rocks will present some challenges, however. For one, you need to get there, and this means competing against Vegas traffic. Don't even think about heading out to Red Rocks on a Friday night. Way better to leave super early on Saturday morning, or even better than that, leave Friday morning or Thursday night. Camping can be challenging too. There is a campsite for climbers, but it tends to fill up on the popular weekends. You can cruise around the desert and look for stealth bivy camping (I have yet to do this but I have friends that do it all the time). Finally, Red Rocks is a state park, so you'll need to pay a fee to get in.

Sport Climbing

Trad Climbing

Areas Near Red Rocks that you may want to Check Out


As hinted in the introduction, the campground fills up! Yet in winter '06/'07, this didn't deter club president Stephen and club emperor-for-life Sean. After braving the Vegas traffic on a late Friday night, they arrive to find the campground full. Being quick thinkers, they snuck into the group campground and stealthily bivied without a tent, leaving before sunrist the next morning. Worked like a charm! After a tough day of 5.5 sport climbing and catching one or two circ-du-soleil shows, they came back to the campground, and once again were out-of-luck. So once again, the went to the group campground and bivied. Only this time, there was a Boy Scout Troop nearby and they reported the fearless club leaders to the campground host and hostess. After only an hour or two of searching, the host and hostess found the delinquent sleepers and demanded that they pay a fee and leave the premise.

Sean, although not typically known for his moral standard, decried this bribery attempt, and offered to pay the fee but keep the campsite, or to vacate the campsite without paying the fee, but certainly wouldn't agree to pay and vacate. The poor campground hostess, a retired lady volunteering her time for the state, had equally stubborn morals, and she was not about to let two criminal climbers go without major consequences. In the end, the matter was settled by action. Sean and Stephen got in the car and were about to drive off. The campground host went to get his truck to block their car in, while the hostess used herself as a human blockade to prevent the car from backing up. She was apparently unaware of the lessons learned in Tiananmen Square two decades prior: in the battle between human protestor and large motorized vehicle, the vehicle always wins. This lesson was driven home as Sean put the car into reverse and gassed it, ignoring her increasingly loud pleas to stop "running her over." After pushing her around just a few feet, Sean was able to pull forward enough to drive the car out of the parking lot

Once on the highway, the pair of half-rate climbers decided that it was best to go sans-headlights, so that the hostess couldn't see which direction they were headed. After a half hour search, they found found an abandoned road and camped in peace.

The peace lasted a few months, until the tickets showed up in the mail. The fines were several hundred dollars, and there were threats of jail time for Stephen and Sean, but they successfully argued for a special type of "probation": both of them got married in the next two years.

Let this be a lesson to all the delinquent climbers! Also, since the club leaders haven't dared show their face again at the campground, they've since learned of some reasonable places to camp "on the DL", so ask us if you want advice.

Special Considerations

Many of the climbs are accessed via the 13 mile one-way scenic loop drive. Cars may not park overnight in this area unless they have prior permission; usually, this permission is only granted to climbers on some of the very long climbs. Cars without this permission must leave the area by a certain time (it depends on the season), although climbers on long routes can call in to get an extension (usually for an extra 3 hours). Guidebooks have details on the procedure, or ask about it when you first enter the scenic loop.

Another consequence of the scenic loop drive is that the gate is only opened around 6 AM (again, depends on the season), so it is not always possible to get to the start of big climbs as early as you would like. If you are headed for a moderate classic (e.g. Chrimson Chrysalis) on a weekend, then if you want to be one of the first parties on the route, you must plan on entering the scenic loop drive as soon as it opens.

Move by Move Beta for the Gift

The Gift is a famous 5.12+ sport climb at the infamous Gallery wall. It is not uncommon to see 50 to even 100 people projecting on the closely spaced routes at the Gallery, and the Gift is the tick of all ticks at this wall. Wouldn't be surprised if someone here comes along and fills this in. Could save someone a few burns before their red-point on the proj or could help a 5.13 hottie flash the thing.

See Also

  • GearLoopTopo Red Rocks section. This website sells PDF topo maps of individual routes for $3 each (but minimum order is 3 topos). They currently only cover Utah's Desert Towers, Red Rocks, Squamish, Toulumne Meadows, and the Wasatch Range. In Red Rocks, they have 33 routes available.
  • Climbing Magazine featured Dark Shadows (5.8) in their "Classic Climbs" section
  • Climbing Magazine featured Epinephrine (5.9 IV) in their "Classic Climbs" section
  • Red Rocks on supertopo