Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kidnapped by Red Rock

Ahhh, Red Rock...

AAI Red Rock Program Coordinator Natasha Caldwell and AAI Guide Kurt Hicks are currently climbing in Red Rock, NV. Here is the latest from their trip:

To: AAI Administrative office
From: Natasha Caldwell

Subject: My employment at American Alpine Institute

Please accept this resignation letter, as I will be not coming back to Bellingham. I have found way too many fun routes to do here at Red Rock, and I plan to enjoy the sun all through the winter.



Just kidding, but seriously...

I am sitting here at the Coffee Bean trying to decide how I can begin to explain how wonderful Red Rock is. And I can’t. I have been lucky to have experienced great rock climbing in Canada, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. But this, this is just in a class of its own! If you haven’t been here, you MUST come out. Talk about a great escape!

At the Visitor's Center near the Conservation Area

Once we hit town yesterday, we made a quick call to Jason Martin, AAI's lead guide here, who helped set us up with a slew of routes to head to this week. We’ll waste no time, using his knowledge and suggestions - something that would be incredibly hard to do given the vast quantity of climbing here and the plethora of guidebooks available.

Racking up.

As we rolled into the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area yesterday afternoon, it was pretty hard to judge the scale and scope of the place. This place is unlike any place I’VE EVER SEEN. If you’re a climber, you have to come here. If you want to be a rock climber, this is the place to start!

Kurt leading a Panty Wall raid.

We started at the Panty Wall, where we did a bunch of moderate sport climbs and Kurt led a nice 5.10 to round out the day. The variety was just remarkable, and the setting was so beautiful that I kept saying “this is amazing” until Kurt told me that we’d get more routes in if I wasn’t continually gawking at the scenery.

We had dinner with Jason and his family, and found our way to the campground. The beam from the Luxor resort illuminated the sky, but off to the west we could see the outline of the peaks within Red Rock. Kurt even spotted a shooting star.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the great Northwest (the Mecca of all things wonderful), and climbing out there ... climbing in the Cascades is incredible, but the climbing in Red Rock ... no matter what kind rock climbing you're into, there is something for everyone.

The aesthetic Purblind Pillar.

Today we did the Purblind Pillar, a 950’ 5.8 route on the Angel Food Wall. The moves are appealing, shoes stick on everything. The route was just established last year, but is so clean and "choss-free." Six pitches of sweet face climbing, cracks, and a hint of off-width took us to the top of the route late in the afternoon. The weather is just perfect — it’s October and today I climbed in my bikini top.

I am already dreading departing for home on Friday. If airfare from Bellingham stays reasonable, I would come down here once a month even if it’s just to escape the cold wet winter months at home!

Tomorrow we’re off to climb some routes in Pine Creek Canyon, home to classic multipitch trad routes like Birdland, Dark Shadows, and Cat in the Hat. More from us then ...

Home sweet camp.


Anonymous said...

Greetings Natasha, Thanks for the wonderful report and photos. Almost makes this ice climber want to try rock climbing. Sorry I didn't get to meet you when I passed through your Bellingham office last week on my way to a wonderful MT Baker trip/climb. Sincerely, Art H (Maryland)

Sara Lingafelter said...

Seriously ... I can relate. I honestly don't know how we managed to leave red rock at the end of our winter trip this year. Looks like we had some routes in common... see my trip report up at It's nice to discover your blog... have a half order of sweet potato ravioli at Pastazza for me (I lived in b-ham from 1994 to 1998 but wasn't a climbergirl back then).