by Charles Moreton
Feeling surprisingly fresh after the ten hour flight from London to Las Vegas, I almost suggested to my friend Steve, who had come to the airport to pick me up, that we should go out climbing straight away. He is lucky enough to own a holiday home in Blue Diamond, a village on the edge of Red Rocks. Lying only some 20-25 miles outside Vegas but a world away from ‘Sin City’, Red Rocks is one of the major climbing venues in the US. As the blurb on the back of my guidebook says, it’s ‘often blessed with perfect climbing conditions for months on end’, and its reliable weather makes it a great late autumn/winter sun destination. With amazing desert scenery, it offers everything from sport routes and bouldering to big aid walls and long free routes, all on hard (or mostly hard) sandstone.
This was my fifth visit since 2008. Previous trips had combined climbing at Red Rocks with a road trip to other venues in the south-west of the USA (Utah, California, Arizona etc.) but this time round the forecast for Red Rocks was as good as anywhere and it made sense to stay put.
In the end, owing to people dropping out because of work or other commitments, there were just three of us, me, Steve and his American friend, another Steve. As it happened, this wasn’t a problem. From time to time each of the other two, who had already been climbing for several weeks before I arrived, had rest days and we possessed the experience to be able to climb multi-pitch routes efficiently when climbing as a three (although at the cost of some discomfort at semi-hanging belays).
During the fortnight I was there, we climbed a mixture of single pitch and multi-pitch routes, trad and sport. (I can’t vouch for the bouldering but I’m sure it’s amazing as well if that’s your cup of tea.) Among the highlights were:
Sour Mash: 7 pitches, 5.10a.
Haunted Hooks: 1 pitch, sport 5.10c.
The Next Century: an amazing 2 pitch 5.10d. One of the top five routes I did in 2013.
Frogland: a classic 260m 5.8, probably one of the best routes at that grade (about HS/VS) I’ve done anywhere.
With any luck, I’ll keep going to Red Rocks in years to come. If anyone else is interested and can spare a fortnight, I’d be more than willing to organize a CCCC trip in the future…