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Desert Playground – Chasing the Stoke

Desert Playground

Posted Climbing

It’s kind of nice to not have a set schedule or itinerary and be able to change plans and go with the flow. After leaving Moab, our original plan was to head north for some bouldering in Joe’s Valley and then spend some time exploring the Salt Lake City area. We got to Joe’s Valley and spent a day bouldering. And even though it seemed like there was a lot there to climb, the weather was cold and rainy, and predicted to get worse as the week went on. After spending an afternoon in the lounge area of the Food Ranch (the one-stop grocery store/sporting goods store/gas station/cafeteria in Orangeville) researching the weather in Salt Lake City, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, and talking to some other climbers who were also catching up on their internet surfing, we decided to head south to the warm weather and check out St. George on the southern border of Utah. On our way there, Mark got in touch with a friend of his in Lake Havasau, Arizona, who wanted to meet up with us. So we decided to keep going a little further south and spend the weekend camping with him and his girlfriend in Red Rock Canyon. Vegas, baby!

Apparently there’s only one campground even close to Red Rocks and it’s always packed. And even though there are about a dozen Walmarts in Vegas, you can’t park overnight in any of them. After staying in a truck-stop (where we both got a surprisingly good night sleep), we got up early and headed out to the campsite to grab a spot that someone was vacating. We showed up at 8:30 and I figured we’d wait around a little and then have our pick of spots. Man, was I wrong. There were three or four other cars besides ourselves driving around the lot, checking tags, and asking people if they were leaving. Fortunately, we found a group of women who were heading out that day and we were able to leave our ticket and reserve the spot before they even finished packing. By 9:00 that morning the campground was already full.

Timmy and Brie arrived and we drove the Scenic Loop at Red Rocks to get a look at all of the climbing possibilities. Timmy had only climbed in the gym a few times prior to this, and Brie never even really had the desire to try it as far as I know. Look what people get dragged into when they hang out with us.


We spent the next day on the Slab Wall, in the first pullout of the Scenic Loop. Slab climbing is kind of funky, but probably really good for me because it forces me to trust my feet, something I constantly have trouble with. Mark climbed a 5.7 with just his feet. I climbed a 5.5 without using any handholds. And I climbed a 5.10a! A smooth, small holds climb up a wash. I had to hang once, so it wasn’t clean, but I’m still calling it a win. Brie crushed it. Even though she’s terrified of heights, she climbed not one, but two different routes. It was really great to watch. And I’m pretty sure Timmy is hooked. He did awesome on the Slab Wall and he’s ready for more.


We had a great time entertaining our visitors, and it’s always a lot of fun to show new climbers the ropes. Hopefully we can meet up with them, and others, again.

(Thanks for the photos, Brie!)

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