||Red Rocks, NV &
Gold Strike Canyon
When Christmas Break
began, Ben, Heather, and Shaun (the first 3 HAC members) headed south
for a bit of Las Vegas-style adventure, and we're not talking girlie shows and gambling.
First we headed for Red Rocks and some of the best sandstone
climbing you'll find in the world. Much of it looks and feels almost like granite.
Here Heather belays Ben up Dog Wall, a fun & easy 5.10a off the first pull out
of the one-way 12 mile scenic loop road.
After camping for the night, we headed for a multi-pitch in Oak
Canyon on the other end of the loop road.
Ben nearing the belay 200' up
|We chose Solar Slab Gully, an easy six (?) pitch
route running parallel to Beaulah's Book which Shaun had climbed with Abe the summer
Memory Lane: Beaulah's Book sandwiches a beautiful,
thin dihedral between extensive easy (5.6) but extremly run out pitches. Shaun twice ran
the full 50 meters with only three or four placements. Abe got the beautiful pitch in the
middle, begining by placing his largest camelot as he exited the belay around a large
roof. The next pitch begins with an overhanging bulge, then leads up through 1/2"
chicken heads, slightly right, to a shallow gulley with a brief, excellent crack. Belay
from there! The next spot - a shallow, thin crack, only leaves a few inches of rope and is
less secure. Continue up 4th class from there to the large ledge below Solar Slab.
The climbing was relatively warm, considering it was Winter
Solstice, December 21st, the shortest day of the year.
Heather belays Ben
Shaun belays atop the second pitch
Near the top of Solar Slab Gully, we found a crack that had never been
climbed before--as evidenced by the thin rock on obligatory holds that crunched beneath
our feet as we moved move up. We named the 5.7 70' crack "Winter Solstice." The
crack turned to slab and then we found ourselves atop the massive shelf below Solar Slab.
Ben leads "Winter Solstice" 5.7
By the time we took a look around and rappelled the route, it was
dark. We got a $50 ticket for parking inside the park after dark, then drove to the far
side of Las Vegas to Gold Strike Canyon. I think Heather got out of the ticket by simply
requesting to not pay or something.
Shaun looks out from the "Womb Room." Unless you're very, very
skinny, you have to swim underwater to get inside.
Heather, Shaun, Ben relax after climbing
Gold Strike Canyon begins exactly .5 miles past the
Gold Strike Casino--the last before Hoover Dam. Drive down a sudden break in the guard
rail a hundred yards to the trail head - but don't leave your car there! We met up with
friends in the morning, both of our cars were broken into, and over $1K of things
including an engagement ring were stolen. Drop off any gear with someone, then park at the
casino and walk down.
The womb room, as we named it, has a hot shower
falling through the roof and even hotter water escaping near the rear. Several other hot
pots dot the canyon as you descend toward the Colorado.
Where else can you comfortably run around in your underwear all night in the
middle of winter?
This hot shower falls over a hundred feet, 100' from the Colorado River
(cold!!!!) and nearly within view of the dam.
We spent all night trying to sleep in various hot
pots, finally returning to the tent for some real sleep at 5:00 a.m. After breakfast at
the Gold Strike, we headed home through a blizzard with a sheet of plastic covering the
driver's side window which had been shattered by theivin' sons of...you know.
THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE from our brainy & adventurous friend
So, some of you may not be into hot springs, but I just wanted to send
this out to anyone on my mailing list that I could think of that might
frequent hot springs from time to time, because I don't want any of you
to die. This info was sited specifically on a page of Nevada hot
springs, and referred only to deaths there, so this may not even apply
to many hot springs outside of Nevada, but just in case...
Some hot springs may contain Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba responsible
for several deaths each year. If contact occurs, the organism travels up
the olfactory nerve into the brain and can cause fulminating
meningoencephalitis. To avoid contact with this organism, visitors
should not submerge their heads. Do not take this warning lightly: A
fatality occurred after someone contracted the amoeba at Goldstrike
Spring a few years ago.