Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Our next stop was Red Rocks just outside of Las Vegas, a city which is affectionately named "The Armpit of the World" by Aaron. Red Rocks is where Jason and I met and spent our first days together. We've been together ever since. You know what they say....the couple that climbs together, stays together. And now it applies to our whole family. It's so surreal and gratifying to be back in Red Rocks with our kids 22 years after we met. A dream come true really.
Anyway, we had just one day to spend here before temperatures in Death Valley (our next planned stop) were going to soar into the 100's. Being AC free, driving at those temps is not an option in the camper van. We didn't waste any time. In the morning we headed straight to Sweet Pain Wall. I had my eyes set on another 5.12a climb that gave the wall it's name, Sweet Pain. We warmed up on a couple of 5.11's alongside Magic Earl and his girlfriend Sarah who happened to be a fellow Montanan. Jason dubbed him Magic Earl after he taught a new amazing way to tie a bowline that blew our minds. He also had some pretty sweet dad jokes. My neck is all tweaked and a rib is out so I was waffling about hopping onto Sweet Pain but finally worked up my courage and roped up. I've climbed this climb a couple of times on top rope but never on lead. I thought for sure I would have to back down and have Magic Earl finish it for me. To my surprise, I nailed the crux with a crazy cross-through (thanks yoga) and clipped my next bolt. I made a couple moves above the bolt and at this point I was really tired and hit a handhold wrong. I peeled and dropped fifteen feet+. Normally this would have totally freaked me out but somehow it didn't even phase me. I was just stoked that I had worked through the crux without any problems. Happily I finished the climb without any additional whippers. Both Jason and Isaac followed. I decided to climb it again on top rope, thinking I would breeze it because I had gotten it so easily on lead. Not so. I totally flailed and was amazed that I had made it up the first time. Jason climbed it a second time and got it easily without any falls.
In the afternoon we hiked to Calico Tanks. This was our compromise with Aaron. He has been wanting to hike Turtlehead for years and we thought we would do it this trip but when we found out the details we decided it was too much for our tired and recovering-from-sickness bodies. A park ranger told us that Calico Tanks has essentially the same view without any death-defying scrambling so we did that instead. In grand Aaron tradition, he found a way to go even higher when we got to the traditional top so we followed him higher and higher until we were perched on top of vanilla-colored mounds at the very tippy top surrounded by beautiful views. Thanks for the adventure Aaron!
We finished the day at Whole Foods followed by dinner at a very hip Japanese fondue (shabu shabu) place. We were sat at a high bar in front of individual burners where we would be cooking our own dinners between two groups of people. After a few minutes, I noticed that the guy sitting next to me had moved down a seat and when the couple next to him left, he jumped at the chance to move all the way to the end of the bar. After some consideration, I realized that while we think we look like super-rad climbers, to the finely coifed Vegas patrons we probably just looked like crazy dirtbags. Which I guess is what we are. We were on day five without a shower. After climbing. And hiking. In the hot, desert sun. Everyday. I glanced around at the other patrons. All were well dressed in clean clothing and primped. No one else smelled offensive or had dirt stains and chalk marks on their clothing. I guessed that they even had showers that very same day. I felt like maybe we didn't quite fit in, but that's ok. Fitting in while in Vegas is overrated.
Click here for photos.