Monday, February 16, 2009

Red Rock Rendezvous -- What is it?

Approximately six years ago, I was guiding in Red Rock Canyon just outside of Las Vegas when I heard about it. There was going to be a two-day climbing festival in Vegas...and it wasn't going to be just any climbing festival, it was going to be massive.

At the time I honestly didn't want anything to do with a massive climbing festival. Thousands of climbers descending on Red Rock Canyon at the same time like a hoard of locust was the last thing that I wanted for the crag in my backyard. So I ignored the festival...which was really too bad. I didn't know what I was missing.

Camping at Spring Mountain Ranch during Rendezvous
Photo by Shawn Olson

The following year, I covered the Red Rock Rendezvous for Climbing magazine. I was provided the opportunity to attend the event for free. And what I found was an utterly phenomenal climber's festival. They provided a number of climbing clinics, slide shows, and seminars for a nominal price. Indeed, they also included food, beer and camping in the price. They did this for climbers of all ability levels and people attended from all over the world. I was somewhat amazed by what they were able to do for the climbers that attended. And I was even more amazed by the fact that they gave away a large portion of the money that they made to the American Alpine Club and to the Access Fund while also supporting the American Safe Climbing Association and the Las Vegas Climber's Liaison Council.

Humaneering is a popular event at the festival. Individuals must boulder on people.
Photo by Shawn Olson

It was during this journalistic excursion in 2005 that I met Paul Fish, the president of Mountain Gear. Mountain Gear is the primary sponsor of the festival and Paul is the event's number one cheerleader. Over the years, he and Mountain Gear have jumped through hoop after hoop in order to make this the premiere climbing event of the year.

Paul wanted to expand the event from two-days of clinics to three days. He wanted to develop a Friday event that focused totally on beginning level climbers. And he wanted to do this with a highly respected guide service that held a commercial use permit for Red Rock Canyon. In other words, he wanted to work with us.

The dyno competition is often a crowd pleaser.
Photo by Shawn Olson

In 2006, the American Alpine Institute joined Mountain Gear and a number of other companies and non-profit organizations for the Third Annual Red Rock Rendezvous. We ran the Friday beginner clinic and placed guides in numerous half-day climbing clinics on Saturday and Sunday as well. The festival was a massive success...and our guides had an absolute blast.

The festival takes place in two locations. The climbing clinics take place inside the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, while the actual event takes place at Spring Mountain Ranch, a State Park within the boundaries of the Conservation Area. Spring Mountain Ranch features a stage, grassy fields, and a historic ranch house that was owned by Howard Hughs.

Holly Martin shows off a picture of her Dad a the 2008 Red Rock Rendezvous
Photo by Jason Martin

The festival hasn't always been perfect. Last year, a group of climbers got a bit unruly. Somebody broke into the ranch house and left a Red Rock Rendezvous water bottle in there. Another group of climbers built a campfire in the parking lot and refused to put it out when asked by rangers to do so. The combination of these things have caused Mountain Gear personnel and Spring Mountain Ranch rangers to tighten the reigns on the festival. They are limiting the number of participants this year, something that hasn't happened in the past. Unfortunately, these incidents have put the entire Rendezvous at risk. We are all hopeful that everybody will be on their best behavior at the 2009 Rendezvous.

This year's Rendezvous will take place from March 20-22 and eighteen American Alpine Institute Guides will be working the event this year. In addition to the guides, dozens of professional climbers will be teaching clincis as well. These climbers include Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Peter Croft, Ivo Ninov, Katie Brown, Ammon McNealy, as well as many others...

Climbers Toprope at the Gallery during Rendezvous
Photo by Shawn Olson

We will be offering private guiding before and after the event, as well as AMGA Single Pitch Instructor courses and Learn to Lead courses. In addition to that, we are planning a rock oriented guide training and lots of personal climbing. Many of our guides have climbing projects that they want to complete during their trip to Vegas this year.

To read more about the Rendezvous, to see pictures of previous events and to register for the Rendezvous, please check out their homepage. We are very excited about this year's event and look forward to more fun in the desert sun!

--Jason D. Martin

1 comment:

- said...

Hey Jason (and AAIers), I am going to be down teaching at the RRR as well. We can have a Bellinghamster reunion night!