Of all the places we could have gone for a rock climbing vacation, we chose Red Rocks because, mid-vacation, the Mountain Gear Red Rocks Rendezvous would be taking place.
The Rendezvous is a yearly, weekend long, outdoor climbing festival. The focus is on sharpening your rock climbing skills through clinics. These clinics cater to all types of rock climbers from beginners to experienced. There are also courses for trail running, yoga, and mountain biking. And many vendors (some of our favourites were New Belgium Brewing, and Joshua Tree Skin Care) are on site to promote their products. So many free samples!
We all chose very different clinics for our first day of the Rendezvous. A few went to an introduction to Aid Climbing, others went to Beginner/Intermediate Lead Climbing, and K in Ohio and I paid extra for a multi-pitch clinic!
Our poor group of friends had to get up an hour earlier than necessary this day because our clinic started earlier than the others. They had time to visit the Pancake Breakfast at the festival grounds, while we RAN to our meeting spot with the American Alpine Institute.
We were the last group to arrive for the clinic (woops). But our guide, Chad, was waiting with trad gear packed and a brand new rope all bundled up. We divvied up the gear, and away we went!
We hiked… and hiked… and hiked some more. This honestly felt like the longest appraoch yet. And I was carrying both my pack and a rope. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to make it without a significant break. I made the group stop for a water break at least twice. Water was helpful. But it gave me just enough time to catch my breath and adjust the rope.
We hiked from the festival grounds to the Lotta Balls Wall at First Creek Canyon. I think it felt like it took forever because we weren’t given a time estimate for how long it would take to get there. And because the rope I was hauling was a 70m rope (a HUGE difference in weight when you’re used to hiking with a 60m rope). Not to mention that my top walking speed – which isn’t quick to begin with – decreases as you add weight. So with a pack full of water, some Cliff bars and other snacks, sunscreen, and a rope, I wasn’t going anywhere quickly. Sorry friends.
When we arrive at the Lotta Balls wall, as we had guessed, the other groups had beat us there. I must have looked beat… one of the other guides joked that I should have made Chad carry the rope because he likes to be the pack mule (or something like that) so he can set a quick pace. It never occurred to me to ask for help. I guess I’m just stubborn like that.
We were hoping to climb Black Magic, but it was already taken. Lotta Balls was another option. Also taken. By process of elimination… Trihardral it is! Honestly, we were so excited to climb multi-pitch it didn’t matter much which route our guide chose. We just wanted to climb!
Before we started climbing, Chad informed us that there was a piece of trad gear, a cam, that had become a permanent fixture of the route. We were welcome to try to acquire some crag booty, but he had tried already, unsuccessfully. Then, the guide next to us chimed in, informing us that it was his gear and he’d be really happy if we managed to retrieve and return it. There was some friendly banter about who “owned” the cam if someone happened to retrieve it.
Chad lead the route. K in Ohio and I took turns simply following, or pulling the gear as we followed. This was super helpful because it gave me opportunities to look at gear placements for when I finally work up the nerve (and money) to get a trad rack of my own. (This has been on my mind a lot lately with summer vacations to Bon Echo and Sleeping Giant booked, where we currently plan to do a lot of hiking.)
With Chad doing all the hard work of leading, we did a lot of chatting. We made friends with the group and guide climbing next to us. We found out the other guide is a photographer on top of being a mountain guide. Check out Alasdair’s website. I also follow him on social media because photos of adventure (especially climbing adventures) are awesome and give me ideas of where I’d like to travel myself.
Eventually, we got to the cam that was stuck. I mean really stuck. It didn’t look old… but it was visibly older than all of Chad’s gear. I tried to get it. I really did. It didn’t budge. I yelled up to confirm that this was indeed the “permanent” piece of gear. Yep. That’s it. I gave up after a few minutes. I left it there. And we continued our climb. It’s probably still there. If you’re ever in Red Rocks climbing Trihardral and get the crag booty, good for you! I can point you in the direction of the original owner.
The view from the top of the climb was, as expected, spectacular. Desert as far as the eye can see. Although if you were here at night you’d be looking right towards the Las Vegas lights!
What crag booty have you retrieved over the years? Did you keep it? Track down the original owner? Or discard it?