First Trip to Red Rock Canyon

On February 3rd, 2018 Malcolm and I embarked on a month-long road trip around the Southwestern United States and eventually ended up down in Mexico. The first stop of our road trip was Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada. If you missed my first blog about what led up to this trip check it out HERE.

Red Rock Canyon is just outside of Las Vegas and is a beautiful park filled with incredible sandstone formations and world class rock climbing. This was my first time in Red Rocks so it was really special to me and I was stoked to be out there! We arrived after dark and found a place to camp outside of the park.

PLACES TO STAY

If you don’t mind forgoing water access and bathrooms there is ample free camping near the park. Check out this map here to see where we stayed the first night. We were camping out of Malcolm’s truck which mades it easy to sleep just about anywhere. It is so nice to have a mattress to sleep on and solid walls around us to block out the wind!

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If you prefer slightly more “luxurious” camping, with the addition of toilets, there are spots in the park available through the park’s website here. We stayed in the park the second night to be closer to the wall in the morning rather than having to drive in. I personally prefer anything that is free, but it did save us quite a bit of time!

Lastly, if you really want to get fancy, there are tons of hotel options about 30 minutes away in Las Vegas as well as plenty of options on Air BnB (USE THIS LINK TO SAVE $40!)

CLIMBING IN RED ROCK CANYON

A few of Malcolm’s friends drove down from Northern California to meet up with us and climb in Red Rock Canyon.

Drew is a photographer (thus why I have no photos of him…) and thanks to him I have all of the amazing photos in this post to share with you guys! (Check out his website!).

Hannah and Erica are bad ass climbers and it was refreshing to have ladies around! 

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Hannah, Erica & I at the first belay station on Big Bad Wolf

We had two and a half days of climbing in Red Rock Canyon and spent them at the following spots.

CALICO BASIN

Calico Basin is characterized by the calico coloration of the rocks. There are beautiful sweeping layers of red and white rocks. It looks like a painting or maybe something out of Dr. Seuss.

Calico Basin is unique because it is outside of the official National Conservation Area so there is no entry fee. There is ample free parking along the road nearby and rumor has it Alex Honnold lives near here so keep an eye out!

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Erica on lead, me belaying – P.A.L.s (5.8) in Calico Basin

THE BACK FORTY

The Back Forty is in Calico Basin and has a handful of sport-climbs. The approach was a little confusing because the climbs are back in a gully. There are a few gullies that you pass so finding the right one took some teamwork but once you know where it is the approach is super easy! We climbed; P.A.L.s (5.8), Gettin’ Mavericky (5.9) and The Whistleblower (5.10).

All routes were enjoyable and I’d revisit them again. I backed off on leading Gettin’ Mavericky and took a little blow to my ego. I hope to try it again in the future as I work towards trusting myself more. When I’m on top rope I climb with confidence but when I’m on lead I question myself. This does me absolutely no good so I know I need to work on it!

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Malcolm & I approaching Calico Basin

RIDING HOOD WALL

Big Bad Wolf (5.9) is one of the most popular multi-pitch climbs in Red Rock Canyon and is located on Riding Hood Wall in Calico Basin. The climb is a 3 (or 4?) pitch sport-route. The 4th pitch is a 5.0 climb but for safety’s sake if you’re climbing with a 70m rope you can link it with the 3rd pitch so the person following you (aka me who likes feeling safe) can be on a rope for it. At that point, you’re over 200 feet off the deck and I personally just don’t want to fuck with death any more than I have to!

Malcolm lead, I followed and then Hannah led with Drew & Erica simul-climbing behind her. It was fun to all be on the wall together and to get to hang out at the top together, especially since it was around sunset. We repelled the route and made some friends along the way with some climbers that had climbed a trad route nearby. They had left a cam behind and Malcolm went up and retrieved it for them and they let him keep the booty! It was a good day!

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Malcolm & I on Big Bad Wolf

We headed back to our campsite that night feeling pretty stoked. I made homemade coconut milk & honey hot chocolate (with whiskey of course!) and we had a campfire. We sat around plotting a plan of action for the next couple days and went to bed exhausted.

Malcolm had climbed in Black Corridor during his last trip to Red Rock and wanted to share it with the rest of the group, we also decided on Ragged Edges Area and Outhouse Wall.

RAGGED EDGES AREA

For our first climb in Ragged Edges Area, Malcolm lead Tonto (5.5), a fun trad route that starts in a thin crack and opens up to a face climb at the top. We did a couple of more challenging climbs along the same wall but I forgot to write down the names. We didn’t hang out there long because it was really cold that morning and the area was in the shade. On a hot day, this would be a great spot to be!

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Erica in Ragged Edges Area

OUTHOUSE WALL

We then headed deeper into the park in search of sunshine. We went to Outhouse Wall, aptly named for it’s proximity to an outhouse, for a trad multi-pitch called Spiderline. It is a 120 foot 5.7 trad route. It starts in a wide crack, reaches a ledge and climbs up a face full of little pockets. This was a super fun climb and there is a huge ledge at the top and a big tree with a gorgeous view. It was in the direct sun which was good since it was cool out. The climb is only a 5-minute walk from the parking lot, so prepare for all of the car tourists to watch you in awe. I’d highly recommend this spot due to ease of access and the variety within the climb itself. There are a couple other climbs in the area that looked fun too!

After Spiderline, I practiced yoga while the rest of the crew bouldered.

By the time we finished up at Outhouse Wall, I was hungry and worn out from a lot of time in the sun. We drove into town for firewood and ended up buying our dinner at the grocery store. We were all too tired to cook and civilization was too close!

Back at the campsite we played glow in the dark Frisbee, made cocktails and chatted around the fire. We decided to spend the final day in Black Corridor where we could bust out a lot of climbs in one place.

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Black Corridor

BLACK CORRIDOR

Black Corridor is like a rock climbing gym outdoors. In this slot-canyon, there are around 40 sport-climbs, pretty much all of which are between 5.9-5.11. This area has a lot of good options for beginners. The downside is that because of easy access and a multitude of routes, it’s busy. DON’T go to Black Corridor expecting a serene, peaceful or quiet climbing sesh. DO go to Black Corridor to meet other climbers, enjoy good conversation and see some happy crag dogs. This is a nice spot to be on a hot day because the canyon is in the shade about 75% of the day – beware of the heat when the sun is directly overhead though!

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Black Corridor – Lower Level

The routes on the left side of the lower level of Black Corridor were mostly unnamed so it’s hard to say which ones we did but according to what’s listed on Mountain Project I think we did the following; Bonnaire (5.9), Bon Ez (5.9+) and Unknown 5.11a AKA Black Corridor Route 4 (5.11a).

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Hannah being a boss!

The right side of the lower level has more named routes. We did Idiot Parade (10.d) and Nightmare on Crude Street (5.10d) and maybe another one or two that I’ve since forgotten.

A huge thank you to my friends for leading these routes so I could top rope them. My confidence with leading has been low lately but I’m always happy to be outside climbing regardless!

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Me on Idiot Parade

Malcolm also worked on  Rebel Without a Pause (5.11a)  but was pretty pumped from the other climbs that day so he’ll be back to get that one next time! It was now time to get back in the truck and get on the road again!

The time in Red Rock Canyon was the perfect start to our trip; friends, great weather and lots of rad climbs!

Have you ever been to Red Rock Canyon?

Do you have a favorite climb or hike? Where did you stay and what was the most memorable thing you did? Share your experience in the comments below!

Up next… Las Vegas & Valley of Fire State Park…

PHOTO CRED: DREW ALVAREZ

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