Thursday, August 20, 2015

Upcoming Fall Climbs in the Great American Desert

We were recently informed that our quickly aging children will need to be educated. Fortunately our oldest is still a year out from Kindergarten and our youngest is still sorting out the mechanics of walking. With the threat of a more regular school schedule bearing down upon us we are planning to spend the Fall of 2015 doing what we love most, climbing in the desert. We have programs scheduled at Red Rocks from October 9-18, 2015 and will then be stationed in Moab, UT until winter starts here in the PNW.

Climbing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Sunset over Red Rocks Canyon NCA
Our time at Red Rocks: We are not the type of folks that would go out of our way to visit Las Vegas. In 1988 JR was headed from Colorado to Joshua Tree and he stopped at Red Rocks to check out the climbing. At the time there was very little information on the climbing. Armed with a short article from climbing magazine several of us wandered up Pine Creek Canyon and proceeded to take a massive ass-whupping on what we thought was an established route. We estimated the wall to be a few pitches high. 6-pitches and a lot of swearing later we bailed. In the early 2000's we started coming back as part of our training with the American Mountain Guides Association enrollee to obtaining out AMGA Rock Guide Certifications. In the process of becoming certified we spent months trying to climb every possible exam route and fell in love with the place. Since becoming certified we apply every year for one of several permits for guiding issued by lottery.  We won one for 2015 and are planning to be in the area from October 9-18 working on routes we have come to cherish for 10 days.

Climbers on the first pitch of Dark Shadow's - Red Rocks

What is so special about Red Rocks?: As improbable as it seems, it is one of the prettiest places to climb in the Western US. Vegas is a busy place and had built itself right up to the edge of the park. The park itself sees a lot of traffic.  Fortunately most of those visitors drive the loop road and never hike out to where the climbing is.  Once away from the parking lot Red Rocks starts to feel very remote. Coming off the longer routes it feels downright wild. The rock is a very featured and hard sandstone and allows for long, moderate, multi-pitch routes unlike any we have experienced elsewhere. The climbing tends to be steep, well protected, and very reasonable even for less experienced climbers. Climbers with previous experience will be stunned at the quality of both the easier and harder routes.

What are your options for hiring a guide? We will have many of our key rock guides from Leavenworth in Red Rocks for the duration. To keep things simple we have kept the same rate schedule that we use for Leavenworth.  The daily rate is based on the ratio of guides to climbers and the length of your program. For example, an 8-hour day with 1 guide and 1 climber would be $340 per day, a 5-hour day would be $235 per day. If you want to step it up and climb a longer route such as Frogland (14 pitches, up to 5.7) the cost would be $375.

Our full rate schedule is as follows:
  • Full Day Rock Climbing (up to 8 hours) 
    • 1 climber with 1 guide (1:1) $340
    • climbers with 1 guide (2:1) $235
    • 3 climbers with 1 guide (3:1) $180
    • 4 climbers with 1 guide (4:1) $160
    • 5 climbers with 1 guide (5:1) $150
    • 6 climbers with 1 guide (6:1) $130
  • Half Day Rock Climbing (up to 5 hours) 
    • 1 climber with 1 guide (1:1) $235
    • 2 climbers with 1 guide (2:1) $155
    • 3 climbers with 1 guide (3:1) $130
    • 4 climbers with 1 guide (4:1) $110
    • 5 climbers with 1 guide (5:1) $100
    • 6 climbers with 1 guide (6:1) $90
  • Alpine Rock (up to 10 hours) 
    • 1 climber with 1 guide (1:1) $375
    • 2 climbers with 1 guide (2:1) $275
  • Grade IV or V days** 
    • climber with 1 guide (1:1) $550
    • climbers with 1 guide (2:1) $375
Awesome Climbing In Calico Basin, Red Rocks
Examples of how you might put your Red Rocks Climbing Trip together:

3 days of cragging with a guide with 2 climbers:
  • Day 1: Climb Dark Shadows. This is a 4-pitch 5.8 route with a spectacular position and really nice climbing. Climb Dark Shadows and if you have energy stop at the classic Straight Shooter Wall for a variety of good 5.8-5.10 climbs.
  • Day 2: Hit one of the turnouts for a full-day of sport climbing at the Black Corridor, Little Red Book, Panty Wall, or any of the many sport crags here. These climbs can be dialed up or down anywhere between about 5.8 and 5.11.  The routes are so well setup that you usually get a ton of climbing in.
  • Day 3: Get and early start and head for the Ultra-Classic 5.6+ route Cat in the Hat. This sits on the other side of Mescalito, the same feather that Dark Shadows climbs. On the way out, if there is time, there are a variety of one-pitch routes that can be done.
    • Total Cost for 2 climbers: $705 each
2 days of Long-Moderate Climbs with a guide and 1 climber: 
  • Day 1: Meet your guide early and head in to climb one or two of the great mid-length routes at White Rock Spring.  Good options include: Tunnel Vision (6 pitch, 5.7), Group Therapy (6-pitch, 5.7), Purblind Pillar (6-pitch 5.8). Book a 10-hour day and either relax on one route or hammer on 2.
  • Day 2: Meet early and drive around to remote and beautiful Black Velvet Canyon to try one of the classic moderate routes located there. A good option is Frogland, a 6-pitch 5.8 route. 
    • Total cost: $750 for one climber
3-day Hardman Tour with 1 guide and 1 climber:
  • Day 1: Hike into Juniper Canyon and tackle Ginger Cracks, a 7-pitch 5.9 route with a spectacular rappel descent. 
  • Day 2: Hike into Oak Creek Canyon and go for Black Orpheus, and 8-pitch 5.9+ route with a mostly walk-off descent
  • Day 3: Hike into Black Velvet Canyon and climb the ultra-classic Dream of Wild Turkeys, a 7-pitch 5.10 a route with a spectacular position amid many other steep, classic routes.
    • Total Cost: $1125 for 1-climber, bring a friend and the cost drops to $825 each.
2-Days of sunny sport climbing with your 4 best friends:
  • Day 1: Check out the scene at one of the pullouts and climb a variety of sport climbs until your arms fall-off. This works well even if your group has a variety of experience levels.  When things start to get hot in the afternoon we can reposition to Willow Springs to climb so classic cracks such as Ragged Edges for those that still have the energy.
  • Day 2: Head off the beaten path into Calico Basin and visit a variety of crags that offer routes of different levels of climbing. 
    • Cost: $320 each.
Red Rocks Women's Climbing Seminar: Olivia will once again be offering her Women's Red Rocks Climbing Seminar from October 15-18, 2015.  On this trip we usually all camp together at the Red Rocks Campground. We can either do group meals or hit the local restaurants. This trip includes all-female guides and is designed to give you a chance to climb with instructional clinics on most days giving you a chance to focus on skills such as led climbing, anchor construction, gear placement, or if you are newer to climbing we can cover skills like belaying, rapeling, etc.  Olivia brings enough guides to give everyone that wants to a chance to get out and climb multi-pitch routes on one or more of the days. Red Rocks Women's Climbing Seminar

IFMGA Guide Olivia Race's 2013 Women's Red Rocks Climbing Group
Why a women's seminar? Olivia, like many women, got into climbing through male friends. It has been her experience over time that many women encounter different obstacles than men as they get deeper into climbing. The answer to hesitation is not always as simple as "go for it." Olivia finds that women seem more relaxed and learn more effectively when climbing with other women. These trips have slowly gotten more popular and she has been offering similar programs in backcountry skiing (Called Powder Betty) and her customers consistently report that the all-women's format works better for them. 

Getting it done on the Red Rocks Women's Climbing Seminar.

Climbing around Moab, UT: This is our favorite spot on the planet.  We have spent the last decade here each fall climbing, rafting, mountain biking, road-biking, and exploring the canyons around this mecca for outdoor activity. We are planning to be here from October 26-November 15, 2015. There is a lot to be done here and we can tailor your trip to your climbing goals and background. There is really good top-roping, insane crack climbing at both Indian Creek and near Moab, as opportunities for classic ascents of towers such as Ancient Art, Castleton, We would recommend mixing it up and spending a day or two climbing with us and then a day or two biking or hiking.  

Olivia Race on one of the many classics at Indian Creek, UT
Cragging Options around Moab, UT: If simply looking to get out and climb some nice routes in a top-roped session your best bet is to camp or stay in Moab and join us each day at one of the various crags within a short drive of Moab. If it is on BLM land we can guide it. Common destinations for climbers looking for moderate climbing up to 5.9 include: Potash Road, The Ice Cream Parlor, as well as a few unpublished crags that friends have put up nearby. If you want to climb harder and can follow 5.10 the opportunities greatly expand. We also like the Abraxis Wall and of course Indian Creek, which is a 90-miute drive to the South.

Rest Day hikes have no shortage of interesting places to explore.
Tower Climbing: In our minds this is where it is at. Unfortunately there are not too many towers than can be climbed at an easier grade than 5.9.  If you can make the moves on 5.9 or 5.10 there are a lot of options.  One exception is the Ultra-Classic Ancient Art in the Fisher Towers. We have done this many times, usually bump not other climbers, and always walk away thinking that it one of the cooler things you can do. The summit redefines exposure. Have what it takes to stand up? Alternately we can take you to a classic like the Kor-Ingals Route on Castleton (4-pitch, 5.9), or try something harder  on the nearby Rectory.

Climber on top of Ancient Art, Fisher Chimneys
How do I schedule a climb with you in the desert? Given that total guides are limited and that the schedule for these trips is a bit of a patchwork quilt built around other bookings and various meetings, it is best to give us a call at 509-548-5823 and we can suggest trips that would work.  We can dial things up or down depending on how hard you want to climb or how budget conscious you are. We generally keep our total guiding days pretty light on the fall road trip, but are looking to do some climbing!

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