Friday, November 27, 2009

climbing in sin city

so yeah, i got ditched by two indian creek crews, dirty bastards, so instead of sitting on my ass, i went to vegas!

the idaho alpine club, based in idaho falls, takes a yearly trip to red rocks, a huge complex of crags near las vegas, nevada. the routes here range from 30 to 2000 feet long. almost seemed to me like a combo of joshua tree and indian creek in a way. lot's of sketchy trad routes, aka my favorite kind of climbing. plus, there was no snow! kinda nice after digging my car out of 2 feet of snow and ice up in montana. plus, with trad climbs, you have to take every route on it's own terms, as 5.8 can be the scariest thing you've ever done, and even though you may cruise 5.10 on a regular basis, you may run into sketchy pro on bad rock and have to bail. the most common accidents tend to be strong 5.12/13 gym climbers fucking up on easy terrain.
(photos courtesy of julie g.)

check out my rad shades! i found these on a rock after crawling through some bushes to the base of the willow springs wall. i kinda got lost... oh, and that's bruce, staring off into the magic that is rock climbing.
there were a pair of sketch fest 5.8 routes here that were really fun. or at least, i thought they were fun. the better of the two is a dead vertical route, with no cracks for the first 30 feet or so. all you get is some big huecos and pods to pull on. i hear you can find a shitty cam placement in these pockets... but the most solid piece i found pulled right away when i tested it... so after thirty feet i found a stopper placement that was pretty bomber, not going anywhere. from here i found 3 more iffy to decent placements to protect the last twenty feet. although the climbing was easy, it was a total mind game dealing with the serious consequences of this route, a game made harder when climbing with a large group watching you. definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but i really enjoy it.

tami-loves belaying at the black corridor. a pretty kick ass little crag in a 8 foot wide corrdor. lots of good easy routes.

julie g. steppin it up and placin' pro! leading a 5.4 at the moderate mecca crag. I hear this route was pretty sketch.
the route directly left was one of the scariest slabs ever, with horrid mank being passed off as bolts (as in a steel bar that had been bent into a hook and riveted to the rock, and there was maybe 3 pieces of protection in 80 feet), loose flakes for footholds, and required creative use of stoppers to add some sense of safety.

dunno what route this is, but the climber is one matt L. who is a total bad ass.
later in the trip, matt and i climbed a route at willow springs called "ragged edges", which is superb. no photos as we were the only two there. i took an alternate start on the first pitch that upped the grade from 5.7 to 5.9+, and it was brilliant, best climbing of the whole extended weekend. anyways, at the top of this pitch, after the finger sized crack died out, is a ridiculously smooth ramp that slants down to the right to join the main crack and the second pitch. not gonna lie, it was pretty tough. matt's limit is somewhere around 5.9 or 5.10, and i was belaying him, standing above on the good holds he was gunning for. he totally pulled it! then he went on to lead the offwidth second pitch, which was really just run out face climbing with a few huge cams plugged in the crack.

jesus, hardest thing ever! i have no idea what this route is called or rated (5.10?), but it was hard. it's an off-hands roof crack, that is, it's too big for solid hand jams, and too small for fist jams, requiring some awkward finagling to find something to pull on. at the lip, you throw a heel over, find a left arm bar, and try to mantle up over until you hit a good hold. pretty burly. the last 70 feet or so is super easy, and due to rope drag created by climbing a roof into a slab, i pretty much soloed the rest of the climb.

but yeah, i also saw the strip for the first time. so outrageous. i've been all over to big cities(mostly in europe), and even with all the pomp and circumstance of those places, nothing is like the strip. crazy taxi drivers that can't do math, huge water cannons in front of the belagio, a courtyard inside the venetian that looks like it's outside... so ridiculous. plus i got to see cirque du soleil preform "LOVE" which is all about the beatles. it was pretty rad, but i think if you were to spend that much on beatles' music from itunes you'd get more enjoyment. still though, it was bad ass. tami-loves even beat vegas on the slots at our hotel, 'the orleans'. she totally won two dollars! WOOT!


  1. Tom- Good to hear your branching out and doing some trad climbs. Red Rocks is hard to beat. You use the term "sketchy" several times to describe the climbing there... That's funny, I wouldn't call Red Rocks sketchy, necessarily. For the most part I've found the gear to be pretty bomber and climbing extremely enjoyable. Maybe you need to brush up on your trad technique! ;) And to think most people say the grades at Red Rocks are soft...

  2. One thing I'll ask is that we refrain from repeating posts from other blogs... i.e. if you are an active blogger somewhere else, please do not regurgitate your post here. Let's keep it fresh with new material!

    Thanks, Marc

  3. Man, that kid kinda looks up to you, Marc. Why couldn't you just say.. "Hey Tom, psyched for you, bro." Or.. "Hey Tom, thanks for sharing your stories on this blog page."

    I thought your comments were somewhat arrogant and unsympathetic to his personal interprition of Red Rocks and the climbing there.

    Does it really matter enough to call him out for thinking the climbing at Red Rocks is sketchy when you don't generally think it to be? Or for doing you a favor by posting blog content here yet asking him to not regurgitate his adventures to an audience that may not even view his personal blog?

    If it was meant to be humorous it fell short when i read your comments. I consider Tom a good friend and really don't care to see someone basically suggest that he doesn't know what he is doing.

    Maybe i'm being an ass here by saying all of this, but i'd do the same for you, Marc.

  4. Yea, well that didn't come out like I intended it to.
    Tom, sorry for any hard feelings. The truth is that I'm psyched your getting after it and exploring all types of climbing, not just sport climbing! I, however, don't find Red Rocks "sketchy" per say. If you find it so, maybe we should brush up on your skills placing pro and anchor building. But, in the end, what does matter is that your getting out there and having fun and being safe!
    Now, as far as the repetition of posts, maybe the best way to handle that would be to post a link to your personal blog on here. I read you blog and it's just not as fun to read the same post twice. Does that make sense?

  5. Marc -
    I hope you understand that my post was not out of malace. It was simply my interpritation to your comments.

    Like i said, i'd do the same for you if i felt like you were getting the sharp end of the stick.

    Thanks for taking the high road. I feared my comments really could have gone south.


  6. ha, no worries.

    i did originally say that i was gonna double post, as i figured there weren't many peeps reading THE DEALIO. whatever works with you is fine in that department.

    as far as trad goes, yeah, i'd say i'm a beginner, i've been placing pro for like 5-6 years, but i'm still a sport climber (looking to change that!). I did get more trad routes in this year than sport lines, and i'm happy about that, some of them are uber classics.

    at red rocks, the routes i climbed did not have good pro, or relied mostly on small wires/rp's, of which i do not own many and in turn made the climbing more run out. however, that's what i was looking for. I'm still working out a lot of head games, and i think i'll learn more from climbing such routes.

    but yeah! kick ass trip!