Monday, February 10, 2014

Red Rocks Climbing

We've spent the last three days climbing at Red Rocks. I wish Red Rocks was anywhere but just outside Las Vegas, but what can you do. We're staying at our usual spot - the La Quinta on W. Sahara. It's on the edge of town nearest to Red Rocks, the rooms have kitchen facilities, and it's reasonably inexpensive. We haven't been anywhere near the strip (it's about 15 km away).

Our first day we climbed on Ultraman wall at the first pullout on the loop road. We did a bunch of moderate sport routes and got warmed up on the rock.



The second day we went to the Ragged Edges area and did a bunch of moderate single pitch trad routes. It's been a while since we did any trad climbing so it was good to warm up on that as well.

Both days it was pretty cool in the shade, although reasonable in the sun. Today was warmer.

Today we climbed Cat in the Hat - a classic Red Rocks route. We climbed most of this route in 2006, but it's very popular and we got caught up in a gaggle of parties, many of which were slow and awkward. We gave up before the top and still had a gong show getting down since you rappel the same route everyone is coming up.

We left the hotel at 6:30 am to grab coffee and get an early start on the route. The sunrise was quite nice.

leaving the hotel at 6:30 am

It's about a 45 minute hike to the bottom. Cat in the Hat is on the left hand skyline of the middle tower.

approaching Cat in the Hat

We hoped it would be quieter on an early season week day. We were a bit disappointed when another couple of climbers arrived at the start just before us. But they climbed quickly and efficiently and weren't a problem at all. We did the 5 pitch route up and down in about 3.5 hours - not super fast, but reasonable time.

This is Shelley leading the first pitch:

Shelley leading first pitch of Cat in the Hat

Shelley looking up at me while I'm on the second rappel of the descent.

second rappel down Cat in the Hat

When we got down three climbers arrived at the bottom asking if this was Cat in the Hat. They had had trouble finding the route and had been climbing round the next corner. We had heard them when we arrived, but assumed they were on another route. Although it was bad luck for them, I have a feeling it was good luck for us. They decided to climb the first pitch as we were leaving, and they were very slow. We were glad we hadn't got stuck behind them.

On the big ledge at the top of the first pitch, Shelley had spotted an animal with a striped tail. Racoon? When we eating our lunch at the bottom after climbing the route, I saw an animal poke its head over a rock and look at us. For a second I thought someone had brought their Chihuahua with them. But then it scrambled over the rock and I saw its body and long striped tail. We stopped in at the visitor center on the way back and found out that they are ring-tailed cats, which are related to racoons and not actually cats at all. Strangely, they are "strictly" nocturnal and very seldom seen. I'm not sure why both these individuals were out and about in the daytime.

We also had another animal visit while we were climbing. I hadn't completely sealed the top of the pack and it found its way in, chewed a hole in the nylon pouch containing our food, and ate half a banana! Strangely, it didn't touch our trail mix or our bagels. Maybe the jalapenos in the bagels discouraged them :-) Shelley wasn't impressed because the nylon pouch was quite new. But better that than a hole in my pack. Judging by the size of the hole, I'm thinking it was a mouse, except I'm not sure how a mouse could eat half a banana! Maybe it was a team of mice :-)

The only other creatures we saw were little lizards running around on the warm rocks in the sun part way up the route.

Tomorrow Shelley is letting me have a rest day. We're planning to go to Springs Preserve and to REI.

See all 13 photos as a slideshow or an overview

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