|Flaming sunrises are a bonus to unsettled Sierra weather|
Over the last few years I’ve had some good trips to Red Rock National Scenic Area west of Vegas. They were composed of large groups gang-roping crags in the desert sun for temporary relief from winter’s grasp, two-person missions to tackle long classics and medium group tours of the moderates covering the large canyon walls.
|Before heading to Red Rocks, let's get some turns in, whattya think?|
It was this Thanksgiving’s trip to Red Rocks that has proven to be one of the best on memory. With work’s demands preventing larger travel to further destinations, a high pressure system camping over the desert southwest prescribed unseasonably warm temperatures, scant wind and ample opportunity to continue experiences on some of Red Rocks’ most classic routes. I would be so lucky to have a companion on the trip, and after some last minute planning, another posse of good friends would be making the trek south from Tahoe as well. A storm was brewing: a storm of good times.
|Mercy that's a lot of varnish to grab onto...and to snag a rope on rappel. Birdland: a winner|
Since moving out west and making periodic trips to Vegas, experiences were usually balanced: rustic camping in the campground on the edge of the city, tackling the sandstone and varnished rock offered by canyons and crags, then taking in the spectacle of Las Vegas: the flashing lights, misplaced architecture, bursting fountains and craziness of Sin City. Through it all, there is one part of Las Vegas that has always garnered personal interest: the fact that Cirque Du Solei has helped define Vegas as a hub for world class theatrical entertainment. With a lady for accompaniment showing the same interest in catching a show, it was time to make it happen.
|Lauren topping out on the unforgettable corner distinguishing pitch 8 on Black Orpheus|
A good friend in the area hooked us up with tickets to Ka at the MGM grand, mother nature cooperated to make rock climbing a perfect outing and a posse of good folk assured this was to be a Thanksgiving to remember.
|Topping out on Black Orpheus: Worth the five stars|
All told, climbing included unhindered pitches on Birdland, Black Orpheus and Sour Mash, with a Thanksgiving Day cragging session in the Calico Basin. Birdland was finished with plenty of time for lounging at our hotel, a leisurely stroll up and down the strip and a delicious Thai dinner at Bally’s. Then it was on to the MGM to take in the marvel of the Ka set and its theatrics on its 7 moving stages. I’ll say the hype is worth it for the show, as I was mesmerized by the moving set alone, to say nothing about the acrobatics of the actors and screen play.
|That's a wrap: stuff that gear away and lets go get some dinner|
We woke up late on Thanksgiving Day, rendez-vous’ed with the Tahoe crew, procured all the fixings for thanksgiving dinner and cragged until the sun set over the Rainbow cliffs to the west. Thanksgiving dinner was surprisingly delicious as the traditional menu was not compromised by the rustic Red Rock campground accommodations. Friday and Saturday held in store unimpeded ascents of Black Orpheus and Sour Mash, with the only hiccup occurring when the new iphone 5 used for beta took a 300’ freefall halfway up the Black Velvet Wall. Oh well, at least it’s a broken phone, and not a broken limb or spirit. Memorable was being that guy who asked parties on neighboring routes for beta while we worked our way up another five star route in Black Velvet Canyon. “The next pitch says to work your way up left then right, and then, oh…you’re going to die.” Awesome.
|The Black Velvet Wall is justifiably crowded: ironically, we didn't have to wait once on Sour Mash|
Sunday brought another early start for a trail running photo shoot followed by breakfast and a departure to our respective homes. It brought an end to an impromptu Thanksgiving that is one for the books – a balance of great rock, weather, entertainment and time with great people. 2012 has been the year of making lemonade, and this was no exception.
|After 29 pitches in four days, it's time to get ready for winter|