2018 Thanksgiving

The alpine route we did in Juniper Canyon, called Armatron (5.9), had some amazing rock that looked like brickwork.

November 21-25, 2018

Once again we traveled to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving with friends and climbing.  With the long drive, made longer by the traffic, I had time to think about the number of Thanksgivings I’ve spent in Red Rocks since moving to Utah–of the seven holidays I think all but two have been in Red Rocks.

This time we upped the comfort factor and stayed in a hotel with some friends.  While the location was close to the strip which made for a longer commute into the climbing areas, it did come with the convenience of being in the city versus our usual primitive camping area.  

We had good weather and climbed a bit of cragging Thursday, alpine days Friday and Saturday, then a bouldering day in St. George on the way home to Salt Lake.  Good times and great friends.

Climbing Nature & Hiking

2015 Memorial Day Weekend in Red Rocks


May 22-25, 2015

The week before Memorial Day I was in Baltimore for a conference on composites.  I returned late Thursday night and had pre-arranged to take Friday off of work.  Carly luckily had her 9-80 Friday off on that day as well.  We had hoped to go to Colorado to visit with Dave, Phyli and friends, but wet and cold weather plagued the entire West Coast.  Steamboat was forecasted to be in the 40’s and rainy, not much fun.  The Denver crew decided to bail and so Carly and I made a decision to head towards Red Rocks as it was the only place that potentially didn’t have 50% chance of showers.

We decided to stay at the primitive camping area I found during the last time I was in Red Rocks.  This turned out to be really nice as we didn’t see anyone else camping nearby.  While the drive to RR loop road is 30 minutes or more from the camping, it allowed us to access some of the southern end climbing much easier.  Since we figured there would be a lot of people around for Memorial Day we decided to hit lesser known crags and it worked well for us as we didn’t see any other climbers on the two days we climbed.

Unfortunately the rain even got to Las Vegas and we had it rain fairly heavy over Saturday and Sunday nights.  Sunday we got rained off of a climb and ended up heading back to camp and having some beers and playing on the slackline.

While it wasn’t a super productive weekend climbing the routes we did on Saturday were quite good and I had a blast climbing with Carly.


Thanksgiving 2014

Another sunset on the walk out.
Another sunset on the walk out.

November 25-30, 2014

I once again traveled to Red Rocks for Thanksgiving.  Just like last time the shit show went on.  This time it was a full campground and a crazy girl who brought her house cat on a 2 month road trip who let us stay at her campsite for a night.  After the next day when her cat didn’t return (she left it to run free at the campground) she told us we must leave because the cat was scared of us and wouldn’t come back.  Or a more plausible explanation is that you cat got eaten by one of the dozens of dogs in camp or perhaps a coyote.  Either way I’m sorry she couldn’t find her cat, but she was loopy to think that bringing it to Red Rocks and roam free was a good idea.

Moving along to the climbing.  Climbing was good.  Got some fun routes in but my head was all screwed up and I didn’t do much leading.  Need to get back out more and fix that.

Ticklist for the weekend:

Wholesome Full Back (5.10), Our Father (5.10+)

Rock Warrior (5.10)

Triassic Sands (5.10), Sandblast (5.10-)

Ginger Cracks (5.9)

Misc Calico Basin stuff.


2014 President’s Day in Red Rocks

Another great sunrise in the desert. Mt. Wilson to the left.

February 15-17, 2014

Last year Matt, Eric and me headed to Colorado to do some awesome ice climbing in Ouray, CO.  The plan started of the same this year unfortunately the weather around these parts hasn’t been in normal conditions for what seems to be all season.  As the weekend approached the forecast called for warm temperatures all over the West.  While the ice probably could stand the warming, calling for 50’s in Ouray, it was the snow we were worried about.  Rapid heating of snow doesn’t do good things for stability and we were hoping to get after some backcountry routes in Silverton.  As a result we flip plans 180 and Matt and I went to Red Rocks for some desert alpine fun.

Omitting the gorey details since I’m tired and perpetually busy, we climbed near Ginger Cracks (5.9) on Saturday.  We were beat out by minutes by a party of four getting to the base of the climb.  We played around on some other stuff nearby and were able to get a couple pitches on Ginger Cracks but they were too slow to climb its entirety.

Sunday we  did 10 pitch 5.10a called Black Orpheus in Oak Creek Canyon.  The route itself was great.  Lots of varied climbing, cracks, corners, runnout slabs, face climbing, and the like.  It was exactly what I was hoping to get on for the weekend.  When we returned to the base of the climb to collect our bags we found them missing.  Making a long story short, we were able to find Matt’s bag, very lucky for us since his keys were in it.  My bag however was not found and I lost a Nano Puff jacket, glasses and a nalgene.  Super disappointing that some jack-off hikers would do that, but what can you do?

Interesting crux finishing this out. The route escapes a roof to the right but the holds aren’t obvious at first and seem harder than they actually are.

Monday we met up with Mark O. et al, Andy A., and Rob D., at Sunny and Steep crag in Calico Basin.  As advertized it was both sunny and steep.  I lead some 5.10 and 5.11 routes and felt decent so I gave a really fun 5.12a a try and got through the crux on my first try but ran out of steam on the upper section.  I gave it a couple more tries but wasn’t able to quite finish it.  Nevertheless I was happy at how I was able to climb despite not doing a lot of training lately.


Red Rocks Thanksgiving 2012

Desert tree and moon.
Desert tree and moon rising near the summit of Windy Peak.

November 22-25, 2012

Since I just moved to Utah and I don’t have many vacation days at work, I didn’t go back to New England for Thanksgiving, a first for me.  Instead I spent the long weekend in Red Rocks  Canyon just outside Las Vegas.  Climbing there in the past has been fun and it was no different this time.

I traveled down with Jon from work and met some of his friends there.  The first day we went to the Black Corridor.  At first I was not crazy about the idea since there are many fun long routes to do here.  But it was good to get reacquainted with the rock as my last trip was in 2011.  It was nice getting on some routes that I did on my first trip to Red Rocks a few years ago, and it was good to get on things I wouldn’t have even dared even just last year.

Dinner for Thanksgiving was rotisserie chicken wrapped in bacon cooked over the fire on tin foil, mashed potatoes, green beans?, sweet potato and maple syrup, stuffing and pie.  Not a bad meal considering the limited cooking appliances available.

Friday Jon and I did Jubilant Song (5.8), eight pitches.  The climb is on Windy Peak at the very south end of Red Rocks.  The drive was a little longer and hairier than I expected.  We took my WRX from Salt Lake.  While the WRX isn’t super low it isn’t very high, especially with my aftermarket exhaust on there.  We made it in ok but hoped that the other road would be quicker and easier for the return trip.

After topping out after 8 fun pitches in the sun we headed back to the car.  A party next to us mentioned that the direct road wasn’t too bad except for one spot but they got through with a camper van without all-wheel drive.  We figured we could as well.  As the sun set we headed out on this road and it was indeed better.  Until we got to a rocky, bumpy, steep hill.  The section of road wound right and at the bottom of the wash sharply left.  On the up hill, it was bumpy but not quite as rocky.  But it was sandy and cut back right quickly.  The only possible way for me to make it up this was gunning it from the downhill side of the hill.  This required careful selection of the line to take around the biggest bumps and rocks.  On the first attempt I veered slightly too far left and lost traction and came to a stop with one wheel totally off the ground.  The WRX was not meant to do this.  Low speed torque is not how my car is geared.

Off-road in the WRX.
Getting ready for another attempt at this sandy, bumpy, steep hill. Picture does not fully capture the difficulty of the situation.

With Jon spotting I backed carefully down to the downhill side of the section again.  We knocked down some of the bumps and filled in a few holes with some rocks as best we could.  The sun had set, it was getting dark quickly, and there was only the camper van guy who possibly could save us if we couldn’t get up this time; going back the way we came also was out of the question as it was too rocky for an uphill shot.  And I was running out of gas.

Gunning it, spraying sand and gravel all over, I bounced up the hill.  Quite a bit more violently than I would have liked.  At every moment I expected to hear the loud bang of a rock against my exhaust or worse, my oil pan.  While I haven’t been under the car yet I don’t think I nailed anything too badly.  We just made it up the section.  Immediately after the camper van bounced its way up too.  He had decided to take the same route out and I’m glad since if we hadn’t gotten up he would’ve been our only hope of getting out.

We filled up at the nearest gas station and then the next big event of the weekend happened, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  I lost my wallet.

The next day I couldn’t seem to locate my wallet but I wasn’t too concerned since there was a bunch of stuff in the car.  On this day 5 of us headed into Black Velvet Canyon to climb Prince of  Darkness (5.10c) and Dream of Wild Turkey (5.10a).  Jon and I would do Turkey and the others Darkness.  The section of rock these routes are on is impressive.  It is nearly unbroken with ledges or corners for 800 feet or so.

We queued up in line behind a pair of girls from Colorado on Dream of Wild Turkey.  They moved slowly and we found out that it was because the second had only been climbing a couple of months.  The transitions were very slow.  We wanted to pass them at P3 but they didn’t stop for us.  I spent two hours at P3, which luckily was a nice ledge.  During this extended stay when the second was finally moving we had something quite unexpected happen.  She was up about mid way through the 180 ft pitch when she kept saying she was sorry and that she was embarrassed.  Bare assed is more fitting.  She said she had to go to the bathroom and to take.  Jon and I were so shocked and thought she was kidding.  Looking up we saw her squatting while being held on the rope and pulling out a plastic bag.  Was this for real?  Pissing in a plastic bag while mid route?  No it wasn’t, she was shitting.

Shit Show
Moments before the shit show incident.

After that we gave them their distance, but still had to wait for them.  Despite starting at a little after 9am we only got to the top of P6 before we decided to bail.  By that time it was 2:30-3pm and the sun set at 4:30pm.  While on the way down we were again slowed by this pair of girls.  They had rapped around the same time we started and were able to make it to the rap below us.  I was in no mood to wait again so I proposed that the four of us combine ropes and set two raps up at a time.  I went down with our ropes and started to set the next rap.  While this may not have been the most efficient overall, I was at least able to get to the ground first.  Eventually everything worked out and we hiked out before the girls and left them making their way out in the growing darkness in the shady canyon.

Sunday we were all pretty wiped and since we had a 6+ hour drive back to SLC, we went to Cannibal Crag to do a little sport climbing in the sun.  It was fun and did a few steep routes.  The drive back was a little more cramped as we had picked up two more people for the ride back.  We were just able to squeeze into the WRX.  Traffic wasn’t too bad, but it is aggravating when you are going 65 mph in an 80 mph zone.

A good trip and a nice Thanksgiving.  The wallet hasn’t turned up even after checking the car and unpacking.  Losing a wallet is a major pain, something I haven’t had to deal with before.  All the credit cards need to be cancelled not to mention I need to remember what’s in it.  Do you know every thing that’s in your wallet?  Hopefully I’ll get my Utah license on Thursday.  Until then I’m a scofflaw.