March 18th, 2015 the official launch of the Red Rock Rendezvous. This was a packed day for us. We slept well after the multi-pitch on Friday and woke up around 5am to reconfigure our belongings, drink massive amounts of coffee and prepare to efficiently switch gears between activities. After rearranging out packs and tents we headed down to the Petzl booth to grab a complimentary mug, a nice mug indeed. From there we head directly to the Kicking Horse coffee booth where they were brewing large batch french press dark and medium roast. Kicking Horse is a Canadian company that represents fair trade beans and was generous to supply the entire festival all weekend with unlimited free coffee. I've never heard of the brand, but I have much respect for them now! Thanks fellas!
The first part of our day included a community service project with the Access Fund. The Access Fund works with federal, state and local officials; local climbing organizations; and land managers to develop and guide climbing management policies for public and private lands. On a national level Access Fund actively lobbies our legislators towards mutually agreeable policies in the interest of climbers, on a local level they provide guidance for land owners and managers on issues that directly impact their land.
This specific project involved the area in Red Rock Canyon known as the The Kraft Boulders, located near the visitors center in Calico Basin. These great boulders are outside of a residential area and hold hundreds of problems from V0 to V10 (grading scale for the difficulty of the climbs).
The problem with this popular area was the trail maintenance. People walk all over visiting boulder to boulder and the trail can be described as a "spider web" now. During the weekend of Red Rock Rendezvous over 60 volunteers helped to define the trails around the Kraft Boulders. This involved placing rocks like landing strips down in a way that would lead hikers and climbers on specific routes, simply and effectively protecting much of the plant life.
You can see in this picture below how pointless some of the trail junctions are. The trail below splits around a plant, but by closing off one of the sides, and leading visitors down just one path, the Access fund can add additional native vegetation to the area and create the more natural look of the land.
With so many volunteers, in just a few hours almost 6,000 feet of trail was defined!
After the service project, we headed back to base camp for a quick lunch before our afternoon climbing clinic. The clinic was an "Easy Trad for Beginners" topic. We're mostly sport climbers but breaking into trad as we expand our climbing destinations. The clinic was taught in the "First Pull Out" area of Red Rock Canyon, with an easier approach (all things considered) we headed to our specific wall.
The clinics are fairly brief, around 4 hours long each. I made the assumption the class would just touch on pro vs passive gear placements, some risk assessment and maybe fool around placing climber protection into rock from ground level, but I was very wrong. There were three top ropes set up and climbing began almost immediately. All the gear was left in the wall and as we climbed up we where instructed to inspect the rock protection, remove it and replace it. Basically shadowing the concept of trad climbing.
After everyone climbed all the routes, I was fortunate and just pushy enough to get the instructor to pull a rope so I could lead climb a route. The routes were very moderate and I had climbed it on top rope so I felt comfortable.
The start of the route was real slabby and had a low incline, which is good because it's a solid 18' before you can place your first piece of protection in the rock. The clinic, while maybe not awesome for everyone involved, especially those who really knew nothing about the style of trad climbing, was awesome for me. The teacher explained the difference of placing protection in the sandstone rock around Las Vegas compared to the granite rock that I normally climb. She also followed my route to inspect and critique all the protection I placed. The climb being fairly easy, makes you want to run it out and just head to the top, but I wanted an expert to examine my skills, which maybe 3 of the 5 pieces I placed were decent. Got to start somewhere!!!
A good buddy was walking by from another clinic in the First Pullout and happened to snap a pretty epic photo of me on the sharp end.
After the lead climb, we packed up the ropes and ran back to the shuttle bus. Changed our clothes and the party began! The North Face sponsored a huge buffet of BBQ food, Metolious sponsored a very entertaining dyno contest on a synthetic climbing wall, and all the major manufacturers had booths with games and demo products and raffles.
There was a gear auction with charity donations, and a hilarious techno DJ. Also FREE beer from New Belgium brewing company, if you're into that. We were so tired from moving rocks during the service project to climbing rocks in the trad clinic, that we hit the pillow around 10pm. Fell asleep to the relaxing blast of the bass bumping from the DJ stage. Tomorrow would be another clinic, new climbs and a long ride home!