Vegas Baby!

Justin and Ken woke up as we crested the final hill on Great Basin highway and coasted down towards the city. An ocean of gleaming lights spread out across the lowlands for miles in every direction, and at its heart, an unmistakable shimmering neon core – the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Sign Keychains 2011 Summer Vac by stevendepolo, on Flickr
image by  stevendepolo 

When I told people I was planning to spend 10 days in Las Vegas they would knit their brows and look at me with a mixture of confusion and distaste.  “Really?” they said, “Why?”  I guess the idea of me in a suit, martini in one hand, dice in the other, against a backdrop of glamour and sin doesn’t click for most people.  As it happens, it doesn’t click for me either.  10 days in Las Vegas and I didn’t gamble, never saw a cocktail, avoided the strip, missed all the shows, and failed to stay up past 10pm.  I slept in the dirt.

Just before we hit the city, we took an abrupt right.  Most cities have soft edges, becoming less and less dense, more and more spread out, until eventually they fade away into the rural areas that surround them.  Not Las Vegas.  It has edges so sharp it looks like a maniacal urban planner cut the heart out of some other city and dumped it in the middle of the desert.  We skirted the city’s edge, riding the dividing line between civilization and wasteland all the way to the west side where we turned right again, putting the lights of Las Vegas in the rearview mirror.  By the time we pulled over, the lights had disappeared around a bend in the road and the only evidence that Las Vegas, the world capital of whatever it is Las Vegas is the world capital of, was just over the hill was a single pillar of light from the tip of that casino that looks like a pyramid.

The campground was black, but you could make out the cliff walls where their edges blocked out the stars.  We had arrived.  We were just outside Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  We had made it to my Las Vegas.

We quickly fell into a routine.  Wake up just after sunrise, climb until just after sunset, eat, sleep, repeat.  The 3 of us climbed for 8 days straight, making 150 attempts on 40 separate routes at 10 different crags and we barely scratched the surface of what Red Rock has to offer.  Sport test pieces, trad epics, and boulder nightmares are everywhere.  Steep or slabby, long or short, easy or hard.  There’s something for everyone and you owe it to yourself to make it there someday.  These are the pictures from my Las Vegas.