Red Rocks Initial Report

By Steve Zekany - Posted on 03 April 2011

Greetings! We have safely arrived in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada!

Our trip so far has been great! The scenery out here is spectacular, and we've had a few interesting experiences already. We arrived at Detroit Metro Airport two hours in advance to find a 200-meter line to the Spirit checkin counter. We made it through with about 3 minutes to spare with the FAA "be onboard 20 minutes before your flight" regulation, only to sprint to the gate (board said the flight was "on time") and found there was no plane! Even better, they had a different plane from what was scheduled, so we had to check in again to make sure we actually had seats. And then we waited an hour while they tracked down a missing passenger...

However, all that aside, we finally made it to Vegas, commandeered a minivan, met up with Assistant Scoutmaster Ian Darnell, and made our way out to Red Rock Canyon. We were waylaid by a late night stop at Wendy's, having not eaten for 9 hours. The Wendy's only had a drive through open, so we had a nice time eating out on the front lawn in the 75 degree weather, punctuated by only a brief moment of panic when the sprinkler system engaged.

Beyond the ever encroaching city, mad found our way to the campsite. Because of the recent buildout, the campsite is really only two or three miles from the most distal suburbs of Vegas, but you'd never know it standing out here. Our campsite is quite nice. Unlike the dense packed refugee camp that the regular visitors must line up for, we have a group site with our own parking lot, picnic tables, 500 square foot pavilion, outhouse, and rock garden trails leading to individual tent sites. The only downside is that we've been sandblasted at night each day so far. High winds in the desert kick up dust, so you wake up with everything covered in sand. Annoying, but hopefully the wind will die down later this week.

Saturday was a logistics day, where we purchased food and gear. Well, we tried to buy food, anyway. At the checkout lane, each of the adults credit cards was successively unauthorized for making the purchase. Apparently food is not something easy to get in Vegas. Gambling, yes (the grocery store even had video poker), but not food. We eventually succeeded, then bought stove fuel and no less than three coolers, and then made our way to explore Red Rock Canyon, then finished with mass at a local Catholic mega-church.

Sunday morning we got up early and headed for Sandstone Quarry, one of the nearby front country climbing areas. Apparently they never got around to doing much quarrying here, something about the blocks being too heavy to haul in from the middle of nowhere, but the sandstone provides nice climbing. Unlike the gym climbs where you have a flat wall with a couple of big holds, the entire wall provides smaller but more interesting hand and footholds.

We set up a couple of climbs near the entrance. Jackson provided entertainment for the other visitors walking by rappelling upside down and waving (while locked off, of course). Ryan and Max pioneered a couple a climbs on a large boulder near the parking lot. Ryan made it his personal vendetta to try as many routes to the top of the boulder as he could, I think he found at least four or five. Nick joined in and flashed up one of the more difficult routes, and was then accused for the rest of the afternoon of having stolen one of the holds when nobody else could make it up. For Mark in particular it was one of the rare times when height was a disadvantage. Nick eventually disproved all allegations by climbing the route again.

Meanwhile, Tim climbed the two longer routes we had set up. These routes were a fair bit longer than anything we have in Michigan or Ontario. Max and Mark setup another climb in a nearby canyon later in the afternoon. Lots of entertainment communicating between the top and bottom with the wind and steep canyon walls. Max gave the route a good try, but it was a bit beyond anyone's ability.

We packed up in the afternoon and headed out to scope out another site for tomorrow, where I'm sure we'll have more stories to post! Until then, know that all is well, and we're off to the start of another great Venture trip!