I had skied and climbed with local adventurers Ron Vardanega and Charlie Downs for a few years now, and thought it might be fun to do a “guys” trip to rock climb at the famous Red Rocks area just outside of Vegas.
Charlie was in charge of the hotel and on the phone I thought he said he got a place at the Bunny Ranch. I said, “Woah Charlie, I didn’t mean THAT kind of guys trip. ” He repeated the name, Bonnie Springs Ranch, just outside Red Rocks and out of all the neon that is Las Vegas. It was a fine place although they didn’t serve breakfast until 8:00 am which was frustrating.
We flew into North Las Vegas airport and I flew straight over Red Rocks first so we could all get a good view.
Red Rocks is BIG, with massive walls, deep canyons and a reputation for “adventure climbing” with difficult descents. So it was appropriate that we had an mini-epic on the first day. My fault too. I convinced Ron and Charlie we had time for one more climb, a 5.8 climb up “Panda Pillar” fairly deep in one of the canyons. It was a scary lead as it hadn’t been climbed a lot and pieces were breaking off the sandstone as I climbed, with one section offering no places for protection. So I was a little slow. Then, when I got to the top of the pillar there were no fixed anchors (like bolts and metal rings) in order to get down easily. We had to sacrifice webbing and carabiners as we setup rappels on trees and branches, finally getting to the bottom of the climb in the dark. Then it was a thrash getting out of the canyon as we couldn’t quite stay on the trail in the dark. Welcome to Red Rocks. We hadn’t been on the ground but for a few hours and we were scratched and bloody. Sorry guys…
The next day we did the classic, six pitch climb called Frogland and the following day visited the sport climbing area (one-pitch, all bolts) Calico Hills.