Red Rock Rendezvous: Day 1

2015 marked the 10th annual Red Rock Rendezvous and my first, what will be annual attendance.  What is RRR? It's only the country's largest rock climbing festival.  Held in Las Vegas, Nevada at Red Rock Canyon State Park, the festival holds learning clinics for climber's of all skill level.  RRR was held the weekend of March 27th - 29 and we filled our days to the fullest.

The Campground, aka TENT CITY at the climbing festival.

We left Los Angeles on Thursday night and arrived to the campground on 11pm.  Many tents were already pitched with some scattered dirtbags just sleeping near their vehicle, as expected.  Friday morning we had registered for a "pre-clinic" as the official festival didn't really announce til that night, and Saturday was billed as the big party.

Our Friday clinic, wasn't really a clinic rather just a climb guided by the American Alpine Institute. It was 2 to 1 participants with our guide Aidan, a 47 year old veteran who looked more like a rough 1991 Patrick Swayze á la Point Break. He was kind, had excellent stories and insight, and a girlfriend who was 27.  Bravo sir. He also had a tendency to run out the climbs so far as when I went to clean the routes, there would only appear to be one piece of gear for every 50' we climbed, which is only impressive/scary if you speak rock climbing jargon.

Our destination was a 400' wall in First Creek Canyon, which took a solid 90 minutes to approach. The wall is seriously called "Lotta Balls Wall" not referring to reproductive organs, but rather this strange appearance of small marble like balls protruding all over the rock.  Some small and useless, others good enough for foot holds.  All in all the strange look of the light colored rock with these dark marble balls reminded me of candied yams with the baked marshmallows on top, some slightly browned, it looked just like that.

First Creek Canyon as denoted by the arrow.

First Creek Canyon as denoted by the arrow.

You can see Pine Creek Canyon in the background.  The foreground is Nancy enjoying some home-brewed kombucha ( +10 hipster points) and wearing the soon to be released Forever Outside dirtbag cap ( +10 cool points).  It was a fair hike in, and it was already hot. 

Mountain Project describes the Lotta Balls Wall as "Excellent rock, good quality traditional routes, and a bit of shade characterize this north-facing wall. Most of the climbs are four pitches long and end on a broken ledge system part way up the main face. The standard descent is via the gully on the left (east) side of the face. Some scrambling and 2 or 3 short rappels get you down to the easy terrain."

The wall is popular, especially for its' shade and sustained climbing.  Their are four routes here, all pretty classic, all graded about 5.8 and all around 400' with 4 pitches of climbing.  Our specific route of climbing was called "Trihardral"  a fun pun on try hard and dihedral.  Which it had a little of both.  The rock in Las Vegas was very different than the granite I usually climb.  Different in both its feel, durability, but also in the unique moves.  For my first climb out here, it was almost as if I forgot everything I knew about climbing.  I basically abandoned all my techniques and muscled through the first two pitches making for very gassed out arms and legs.  I kept thinking "oh this must be a crack lieback, but it was actually a chimney technique, really wearing myself out...  more climbing jargon you can ignore.

Pitch 2 of Trihardral, nice view.

The approach was long, the lines to get on the climbs weren't particularly short, and the length of the route and hike back to the camp made for a long day. 
Here's a few pics along the climb, what an awesome way to kick off Red Rock Rendezvous!

Contrast tee now available in the Forever Outside store!

Nancy starting the 4th pitch to the finish

Nice Exposure!

Almost done with the route, a solid 400 feet above the ground, some great exposure when you look around.  You can see deep into the canyons.  The RRR was neat because all the major brands were there demoing gear.  I borrowed this newly updated Osprey Mutant 28 crag backpack for the climb.  All I had to leave at their booth was my name and phone number.  I beat the heck out of this back, the route had some stemming and chimneys and the descent required squeezing through some tunnels.  I rubbed this bag rough against the rocks, glad I took their demo pack and not mine!

Here's Nancy off belay, restructuring the cairn up top that announces the direction for the rappel.  It was one short rappel to a ledge, then a 300' rappel to closer to the ground.  I quick short roping for a down climb and then class 3 back to the trail and the hour and a half hike to the camp!

Nancy on rappel.

Heading back for dinner, right before the sun started setting.