On climbing trips, rest days are usually worked into the schedule because after three consecutive hard and long days, you can usually feel the result of it on your body and skin.
Rest days are usually pretty chill, reserved for showers, cafés and grabbing groceries, water, firewood and ice. For me, my rest day began with not having to wake up to the alarm, two perfect cups of coffee and sitting in front of the fire pit and watching the sun rise in solitude. It was the perfect start.
Ali and I made our way into town, after breakfast, for a glorious shower, many hours at a nearby Starbucks, followed by groceries and a drive back to the campsite. We had settled into the Starbucks for quite a while and were unaware of just how windy things were getting outside. As we left Starbucks, it was then that we realized the wind was picking up. In the days prior to this, the wind had also picked up, however, it was nothing close to what we experienced on this night.
As we made our way back to the campsite, we realized we were caught in a windstorm. I can only describe driving back from town to the site as scary, as you could feel the car being moved by the wind as you were driving, as well as see all the sand swirling around. We were naively hopeful that perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad at the site. How wrong we were! When we arrived, we found that the tent had been blown away from the original location in which we set it. The best description I can give of this is a yard sale. I had two pairs of shoes hidden behind the tent flap, I’m pretty sure I lost one pair and was fortunate enough to still have my other pair due to the fact that they were hikers. We also found that the tent was disassembled and that rocks were strategically placed on certain items (ie my socks). What I found at the centre of where my tent used to be was a note from a good samaritan who stated that they disassembled the tent, as that was the only way they could stop it from completely blowing away with all my belongings inside. Needless to say I’m eternally grateful and will definitely be thanking them at an appropriate time.
As a result of these chaotic turn of events, Ali and I decided on dining out instead of making sandwiches in the van, as we would have waited in the van all night before bed time. A gourmet meal at Olive Garden, endless breadsticks and soup included, and an evening spent at Starbucks and we learned that there was a wind advisory in effect as winds were going at 50 mph, about 100km/hour. The following day, winds were forecasted to hit 40 mph, about 80km/hour. Ali, with her camperized van, was gracious enough to share a bit of bed space so I wouldn’t have to attempt to set up the tent and sleep through the windstorm. If tonight and the days leading up to this windstorm arent adventurous enough, I don’t know what is. Perhaps Ali is right, we’re just nutty enough to go through with a road trip like this in the desert in the winter- when the weather is more extreme. To the gentlemen attempting to reset up their tent to the left of us during this windstorm- Godspeed!
Above: it was too windy to try and set up the tent, so Ali was gracious enough to share some bed space so I could get some sleep in! Slightly blurry, but the best we could do!
Below: the wind game was still realllll strong the morning after. But needing that cuppa joe cause we were still climbing in a canyon while there was a wind advisory on for rock climbing. You know you’re caffeine addicted when….
The remainder of our time at Red Rock was spent investigating a new crag known as The Gallery. Much like Stone Wall, the approach to the crag was rather difficult and at times…sketchy. Unlike many of the other crags Ali and I have explored, The Gallery is exposed to sunshine all day- a much welcome relief as the little sun we do see at the other crags, can only normally be seen during the morning with shade in the afternoon. This crag had super fun routes that were a little stiff for the grade. I was finally able to push the grades, as I did a harder, pumpier and longer route at Sweet Pain the same day.
The sketchy scramble we encountered enroute to The Gallery.
Selfie one: the very awkward scramble through a boulder like cave. It looks cooler and safer than it really was 🙈
Photo after: the alternative “safer” way to get there as demonstrated by a fellow Canadian.
Below that: Ali scrambling in the orange backpack, in front of a picturesque backdrops.
Selfie two: sneaking in a photo while Ali gears up.
Below that: the quiet of The Gallery before chaos and sun hungry climbers descend.
On our last and final day of climbing at Red Rock, Ali and I eased into traditional (trad) climbing at Calico Basin. Unlike sport climbing- in which the bolts are already set up and all you (the climber) needs to do is place a quick draw- trad climbing requires the climber to place their own protection onto the wall (mainly in a crack). I’m predominantly a hard sport climber, however am dabbling in trad as this opens much more areas and climbs. It also keeps the crowd at bay as it is not as easily accessible as sport climbing is. *Read, you’re a new level of crazy when you decide to take trad on fully, as the gear alone will set you back a pretty penny. In addition, it is a whole new playing field in terms of the mental aspect of climbing, as well as needing a certain skill set to set routes up safely.* Calico Basin was the perfect way to end our time at Red Rock, as well as transition from hard sport to trad for Zion. I have to admit that I didn’t do any trad leads as I am not entirely comfortable enough to set up gear. I learned a number of years ago, but have not had the chance to get much, if any, mileage in that’s is required to be considered a competent lead trad climber. Major props to Ali for doing all the leads and having such a level head to set the routes up.
Photo one: the hike to our climbing destination. If you look reallll close, you’ll see other climbers set up there. Find them?
Photo two: Ali hiking up from the parking lot, enroute.
Photo three: the stellar view that we climbed to. It’s unreal how beautiful it is here.
Photo four: sussing out the routes. Finding that perfect route.
Photo five: Ali racking up. All the gear she’s holding…those are the pieces that you stick in the crack to protect yourself should you fall. Better trust you’re placement!
My time at Red Rock has now come to an end, it’s been incredibly amazing as Ali and I were able to fully and completely explore the sport crags there. It got to the point that we were able to direct other climbers new to the area! On a personal level, I feel that I have accomplished my goal of pushing the grade and getting into a better mental head state. Things I learned: never underestimate what you’re capable of, cause you can surprise yourself (cheese, cheese, cheese…but it’s true). But also, make sure you get the right guide book. Red Rock has way too many guides, so trying to pick one can be difficult, but unfortunately for us, the guide we got was less than stellar and left us attempting to find things on our own. It made for much more of an adventure, that was for certain! Tomorrow, we spend Christmas Eve on the Vegas strip, perhaps playing a penny slot or two and making our way to Zion. By Christmas, Ali and I will be climbing in Zion. Bye for now Red Rock and hello Zion!
Have a Merry Christmas to everyone back home. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” popped on the grocery store radio as I was shopping and that was a weird little sign that maybe I should be home. But for now, I digress. From the road, Merry Christmas!