Red Rock

I know, I know… I have become one of those people falling into the black whole of failed initiatives. It’s like a new years resolution that slowly slips through the cracks. But I’m making every effort to keep that from becoming a reality! In all honesty I’m probably being overdramatic. My lack of post has been due to the fact that we have been in the same location for a few weeks and the connection there was terrible. But now we have ruffled the feathers a bit and moved onto a new place.
Red Rock has long been one of our favorite locations. But the juxtaposition still throws me off everytime we come here. Red Rock is just outside of Las Vegas and the two places could not be more different. RR is this incredible desert landscape. Wide open skies surrounded by rolling hills of dry rock spotted with Yucca and Joshua Trees, and the occasional Burro. It feels almost claustrophobic in its openness. There is nowhere to hide. Everything you are is bared for the world to see. I find it both intoxicating and repugnant. But ultimately I love the desert. The hostile landscape is just so beautiful in its own, barren way. That anything can survive here is amazing. I know that I for sure couldn’t survive here, not long term at least. The desert, in doses, is such a healing place to be. Perhaps that is just for me but I find the open landscape scrubs away the dirt and grime on your soul.
Black Velvet Canyon on the left and Vegas in the distance on the right
Vegas is the opposite. The same red and tan stuccoed buildings are aligned in row after row of perfect cookie cutter monotony. If the desert sometimes feels suffocating then this must be death. I’m not trying to hate on suburbs. Really;) But there is something so uniquely horrible in the endless complexes of Vegas. It is so manufactured and so forced and unnatural. It just feels wrong. These homes are so hastily constructed to house an influx of people into a landscape that cannot support them. The desert, with its fragile ecosystem and limited supply of water, was never meant to be the home to this many people. And yet here we are, using up every precious last drop like we are entitled to it. We are entitled to destroy the planet just because we can. This seems like an innately humane “quality”. The need to do something just because we can.
Sunset in Vegas
I mean look at what we do. Rock climbing? There is a famous quote of George Mallory (famous alpinist) saying he climbed Everest “because it was there” and I think the pursuit of climbing, among many other things, is similar. We do things because we can, because it is there and we are able to do it, no matter how silly it is. We don’t have to, often we shouldn’t, but we can, so we do. I hope someday we can unlearn this selfishness.
Vegas is the worst place, but the appeal of Red Rock means that interacting with the city is inevitable. It’s amazing to be driving towards RR at night. The night sky looking towards the mountains turns a velvety black and the stars can be seen blanketing the night sky. But as soon as you start turning your head, we are talking inches here people!, the sky lights up like a raging storm. The light pollution from Vegas is crazy. It looks kind of cool but, holy cow, I have never seen light pollution like it before!
But for the most part being in RR makes you feel pretty isolated form the rest of the world. For starters, driving in to the trailhead of the canyon is a bit of a journey across desert washes, bumpy roads, and other various obstacles. Just yesterday when we were driving into the canyon we had a bit of an epic on our hands. We (and this was my fault because I thought we were at the fork in the road and were supposed to keep right but turns out it was just a wash and not a road at all) ended up going the wrong way and when we turned around and tried to get back on the main road we dislodged a boulder and got the truck stuck! I have never seen anything like it before. It was kind of comical just because of how ridiculous the situation was. The boulder had managed to wedge itself between the rear right tire and the side rail and so when JJ tried to reverse it threatened to rip out the rail and suspension and when he drove forward the boulder was too big and stopped the wheel from going over it. We ended up trying to dig it out and then, when that didn’t work, jacked up the car and put all of our climber strength to good use. Finally! A good reason to spend our days shredding our skin and muscles on stone! Woo! We threw a haul strap around this big boy and after much pulling ,sweating, cursing, and digging managed to get the boulder out from under the car. It was definitely a task but in the end it all worked out. Just another fun literal “bump” in the road!



But back to some climbing stuff. The first day we were in Vegas, which was Monday?, we climbed Rock Warrior in Black Velvet Canyon. This is a really beautiful climb right up the middle of this varnished sandstone wall out in the middle of the desert. The wall itself looms over 1000 feet above the desert floor. Really incredible and rather intimidating. JJ and I had tried to do this climb during a previous Red Rock trip but after a sudden downpour we ended up bailing because the sandstone becomes really soft after a rain. Sadly we ended up bailing this time too. Totally my fault, I was just so fried from endless long days in Yosemite and needed a break. It was a bummer but definitely the best call. I’m sure we will return to it before we move on from RR.
JJ high up on the first pitch of Rock Warrior
Today we climbed Tirassic Sands. This was a great climb! Splitter! And for those who don’t know, which is probably most of you, splitter is a literal reference to the quality of the crack in the rock. As in, the route is a beautiful perfectly split crack right up the wall and is called “splitter” because of its perfect quality! Definitely more of a relaxed term than I make it sound but work with me! Anyways, this climb was splitter! Beautiful crack systems the whole way up. And, again, for those of you who don’t know about crack climbing, this style of climbing requires using your hands and feet to essentially climb the empty space of the crack. Google it. I’m sure there are plenty of good videos of people crack climbing. Come to think of it I have one of me that shows the technique pretty well. I’ll try to see if I can find it and then see if I can convince myself to upload it. Harder than the climb itself!
JJ on the cruxy second pitch of Triassic Sands
JJ has a friend coming tonight so I will have a few more down days which I am pretty excited for. Hopefully I can post more frequently then! Hah!


                                           (A collection of Cairns from around Red Rock)
Pretty pink swirls in the sandstone
Prickly friends…or foe depending on how you look at it
Definitely a foe for JJ. It is hard to see but a cactus spine went right through his toenail. Through the nail!!!
Black Velvet Canyon it all her glory


                                                      Enjoying some nice desert hiking
Also, here are some of the photos from Yosemite that I didn’t have a chance to post! Thank goodness for Whole Foods. Their food may be way overpriced but there Wifi is awesome.


Looking down at JJ
The Nose of El Capitan
Kishen climbing strong
Camp 4 Feet!
Goddess tree. Looks like a lady!
Stone of Yosemite
Half Dome
More Half dome
The Rostrum
This tree ate a pumpkin
At the Ahwahnee. JJ looks stoned but I promise he isn’t. Just too excited about breakfast
Half dome at sunrise
JJ really loved breakfast


“Bird” branch
The “Dawn Wall”

2 thoughts on “Red Rock

  1. Hi, Kate,
    What you and JJ are doing is AMAZING!! I can’t imagine, even in my youth, attempting such climbs. I’m loving your journal. Your painting of the scene and action with words is wonderful. Keep enjoying, and stay safe!
    Love, Grandma


    1. Thanks! It’s an adventure for sure. It’s pretty cool to be sitting on the side of a wall and realize less than one percent of the entire population will ever be there!


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