I hate flying. I hate the crowds in the airport, the waiting for the flight, the take-off, the landing, the turbulence… If you’ve ever flown with me, you’ll already know that I’m not much fun to be around. I am a ball of nerves, a panic attack waiting to happen. My 2013 Outback has over 200,000kms on it because air travel is just not my thing. So I’d like to pat myself on the back a bit for making it all the way to Vegas, especially after I realized I’d forgotten my passport.
Yes, this trip almost ended before it began. Luckily, I realized I had forgotten this most important of international documents on the evening of December 26th, and I wasn’t scheduled to leave until December 28th. Unluckily, I was in Ottawa, scheduled to leave from Ottawa, and my passport was in Hamilton. Things were looking pretty grim, and the Outback was preparing itself for another couple hundred kms. But, after much scrambling, a few failed visits to the post office, and a call to Air Canada, everything was sorted out. Crisis averted!
I spent the first few days climbing in the Virgin River Gorge. This place has a reputation for having some of the best limestone in North America, with the worst ambiance. I can confirm to you that this is at least half true. The gorgeously brown Virgin River winds back and forth through the canyon just under I-15, completely ruining your vibe and drowning your thoughts in engine brakes. I tried a few climbs at the Blasphemy wall, determined that the quality of the routes did not outweigh the scenery (or make up for the violently blowing wind), and resigned myself to being the belay slave. To be honest, I was okay with this, as I was still pretty tired from my trying ordeal on the plane anyway.
Because the VRG was not my cup of tea, we decided to head down to Vegas and do some bouldering next. Since I was only going to be around for a week, I decided to focus my efforts on climbing the classics in the V2-5 range, and there were a lot! After defeating the mighty Potato Chip, I can see why this place has a reputation for its holds breaking off. The name “potato chip” is a fair description for most of the holds on that boulder. But not all the climbs are as pastry-like, I also got to climb The Ultimate Grandstaff and Pork Chop, both of which were really awesome solid lines up super aesthetic boulders.
My favourite climb by far would have to be The Pearl, though. What a sweet line! I hear from others that it was even more awesome when it still had most of its original holds, but I think it’s still a pretty rad boulder problem now. Crimps on a light overhang on beautiful rusty red rock? 5 stars. Nice work, mother nature.
We spent new year’s riding around in our own private helicopter, gambled all our savings away, and stayed up all night getting drunk in a rooftop hot-tub. Just Kidding! That’s definitely not my style. We actually spent New Year’s at a cute little Mexican restaurant in St. George, cursing the rain. Rain in the desert? What is this madness!
The rain meant the boulders in Red Rocks were no longer an option, so we went back to the VRG which as you know is my favourite place on earth. When we arrived there the limestone was seeping pretty badly and it was still rather humid, so pretty much the conditions were prime for sending. The nerds tried their projects, but with little success. I belayed like a pro.
Finally on our second last day it was dry enough to return to Red Rocks, so we decided to do another day at the Kraft Boulders, then spend the last day at The Gallery. The Gallery was pretty rad, but I can’t say that I had the most amazing last day ever. Thankfully I did send the warm-ups, but I did not have the endurance required to send any of those awesome 12s! It was a cool area with a pretty sweet view, though, and I would definitely be keen to head out there again.
The drive back from Vegas to Hamilton was a little more exciting than I would have liked it to be. We drove through a snowstorm in the mountains at night in a van without winter tires. After several road closures, a failed attempt to attach chains to the tires, and a Whole Foods dinner, there was much rejoicing when we descended unscathed into Denver.
We drove through another snowstorm in Michigan which was almost as bad, but there were no mountains involved so it wasn’t as fun. Even though we drove through two blizzards, we made fairly good time, so I would definitely drive back out there again. No more flying for me, I don’t care how cheap the tickets are.