Our Assistant Director of Marketing has been climbing for a little over a year and has learned a lot about what not to do, unfortunately through first hand experience. She wrote this article to share with the community in the hopes you will learn from her mistakes and consider hiring a local guide on your next trip or take a class that will better prepare you to make the transition from gym to crag like our guiding classes that will be listed once they are available for the season.
How to NOT ROCK CLIMB
Article & Images by Kendall Fowler
Assistant Director of Marketing, Rock Spot Climbing
All of the rock climbers I’ve met revere outdoor climbing as the superior climbing experience and it is a dream to visit places like Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas or Foster Falls near Chattanooga, Tennessee. One thing you don’t hear a lot climbers talk about is the harsh reality of everything going wrong on a climbing trip. We usually want to highlight all of the best parts but I want to tell you the series of unfortunate events that occurred in Red Rocks so that you have a chance to do it better.
Don’t assume that you only need a guide book.
That is exactly what we did. We have a friend that had been out to Red Rocks on many occasions but was not going on this trip with us. He graciously offered his guide book with notes so we could study up and plan everything out before we left. We had multiple meetings to decide where we’d go and we were sure that we had prepared enough to have a successful day of climbing. When we found ourselves on the road to Red Rocks we realized that construction had made every landmark mentioned in the guide book blend together. We set out on an impossible quest to find the ever elusive Chocolate Mountain to no prevail. They might as well have named it Narnia. For best results, find a local guide.
If you plan to boulder, be sure to have your crash pads the day before so you can head out earlier. We arrived very late in Vegas and the rental shops had closed. The next morning we wanted to get an early start but they were not open when we were heading out. We did not get crash pads and we did not boulder.
There is no cell service in the desert, so be sure to make everything you need on Mountain Project available offline. That also means that no, you will not call or text when you get there. So the friend that hung back to look for crash pads will not be able to call and meet up.
Don’t believe you brought enough food and water.
Get more. After many hours of hiking up and down the mountain side looking for reasonable sport routes, we had drank all of the water that we had anticipated lasting us the entire day. We are all from Tennessee and accustomed to heat but the big difference is dry versus humid heat. Dry heat causes more fluid loss and causes more thirst. This is common knowledge to most but we had not anticipated just how extreme it would be. Keep in mind, this was mid September and it was still hot enough to drive us into a small cave to get out of the sun. By the afternoon, we had to send out two friends to find water.
These two are easy and just about the only things we got right. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes and don’t forget sunscreen.
At the end of the day we found three sport routes at most that were too hard or trad climbs halfway up. The climbing pictures in this article are on the same route and my poor friends were on that route for a scorching half hour. We lost two quick draws, got sun burnt and our pride was hurt. Luckily for us, our trip to Las Vegas was not exclusively for rock climbing and we recovered with great food and fun on the strip. If the opportunity arose, we would all choose to go back and give it another shot.