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I have logged one season on the rock and am a low 10 sport leader (at smith). I am confident at my current leading level and want to push my limits on various rock. I was wondering if anyone has any information on City of Rocks and Red Rocks. These are short enough drives for me (can't take too much time of work frown.gif) and I was wondering what the best time of year for these places is and nature of rock and any other things that might be helpful.


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Dr. Flash Amazing doesn't know squat about City of Rocks except that it's granite and in Idaho.


Red Rocks, on the other hand, is one of the Doctor's fave destinations. The weather is excellent this time of year, usually dry, with temps topping out around 60, give or take, and lows in the 30s. In DFA's past 6 or so trips down there after Christmas, he's only had perhaps 3 days of climbing get rained out. Keep in mind, though, that the sandstone gets very soft if it gets rained on, so you have to wait a full day before climbing on it again, lest holds come snapping off left and right.


The rock is beautiful fine-grained red (duh) sandstone with lots of cool black plates of patina, making for excellent incut holds. There are tons of sport routes all over the grading scale, probably tipped slightly towards the 5.11 and 5.12 end of things, but there's no shortage of fun routes in the 5.10s. Red Rocks sport routes are usually home to lots of bolts, which is nice for the new leader (or the skittish veteran). There's also some fun bouldering outside the park proper.


It's a convenient 15 minutes from the strip mall 'n' subdivision hell of Las Vegas, making it easy to get provisions or lurk at Starbucks on a rest day (or catch a movie, or hit a casino, or shop for the same crap you could find anywhere, or get a shower, etc.). There is a well-stocked climbing/outdoor store (Desert Rock Sports) which is right next to the climbing gym, which has showers for a couple bucks.


A new campground was put in a couple years ago, which is about 5 minutes from the park entrance, and costs a sort of steep $10 a night, but you get picnic tables, barbecues, fire rings, clean outhouses, and no highway noise. And, of course, Las Vegas is the home of the cheap hotel. The actual park is on a fantastically stupid one-way loop drive which is thirteen miles long, with all 3 sport climbing areas being in the first 3 miles, and most of the trad climbing being in the last 5. Nice. It costs $5 a day to get in, but a $25 annual pass is the way to go if you're going to be there long enough. This also gets you to the visitors' center, where there is a pay phone, the usual visitors' center stuff, and fabulous heated bathrooms, as well as drinking water.


Pick up 'Red Rocks Select' by Todd Swain for sport routes and a good bit of the trad stuff, or supertopo.com just came out with a new trad book if that's your gig.


Viva Las Vegas! bigdrink.gif

Edited by Dr_Flash_Amazing
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City of rocks is rainy in the spring, beautiful early summer, hot late summer, windy in the fall, and cold and snowy in the winter. The granite sport climbs there range from slabby to steep and juggy, with more character than most of the other sport climbing areas in Utah (CoR is considered part of Utah by Utards). The granite is similar to Leavenworth in some ways but very unique in others. There's always a flat, sandy or grassy place to sit in the shade. But right now, you would probably just suffer. Most routes end with a healthy runnout on difficult moves.

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There are lots of areas other than the big name ones that are good for diversifying your climbing experience. try heading south to Castle Crags near Shasta, or some of the areas near Eugene. If you are willing to head to Red rocks, it isn't that much further from an airport to head out to J-tree. If you're driving, there is incredible climbing in the East side of the sierras near Bishop. It may be better to identify a type of climbing you want to branch into and let that guide your travel plans. If you are looking for trips anytime in the next 5 months, I'd recommend staying as far south as you can get.


have fun!

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E-rock, you don't know what you're spraying about. I wouldn't classify the City as a "sport climbing" area, though there are some fine sport climbs there. Depending on the time of the season, the place will be swarming with Wyoming-ites, Idahoans, or Utahns, but no one 'round here would claim the City was in Utah. Your statement that "Most routes end with a healthy runnout on difficult moves" is absurd. And "more character than most of the other sport climbing areas in Utah"? There are dozens of climbing areas in this state, and many that are very unique and beautiful --with "character" you could say.

But, back on topic, the City ain't even close to Corvallis. You'd drive past at least six climbing areas enroute. The rock is very featured for granite. Climbing can be done year round, but spring and fall are best (it's hot in summer, and cold in winter).

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Just to add to DFA's comments on Red Rocks-You can also go to the black velvet canyon which is FREE and climb several multipitch .10 sport routes. The grades there are also soft compared to smith so if your a .10a-b leader then you should be able to at least get up .10c's. Last year about this time I was climbing .11a-b sport stuff at smith and went down there and onsighted several .11ds. I just slept in my car in casino parking lots and there's a walmart lot right on your way out of town too.

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Thanks freeclimb for targeting me with your grumpy attitude. I do know quite a bit about what I'm "spraying about" since I've spent much time in the City. First off, many of us in Salt Lake used to joke that the City was one of Utah's climbing areas because of its proximity to SLC (closer than Moab) and the large number of Salt Lake climbers you meet there. In fact one of the older guidebooks even mentions something to this effect. Also, I never called it a "sport-climbing" area I was just responding to Beaver Joe's experience (sport) and interest (City of Rocks). My friends and I would often remark that the sport routes had more character (as far as interesting moves) than in places like BCC, Maple Canyon, or even American Fork, which I admit is an opinion so therefore can not be wrong or right. As a crack climbing area I don't think it's all that great compared to say, Indian Creek. I was not commenting on the scenery, so sorry if I overlooked one of your personal favorites. My partner and I felt that the finishes on many routes there were left sparsely bolted near the top on moves that were not trivial in camparison to a route's crux (what I meant by hard moves). CIty of Rocks DOES have a reputation for runouts, regardless of your intestinal fortitude. Take a chill man, it's only climbing, sorry if I misrepresented YOUR area, I'm sure if you described the ski touring in the Cottonwoods I could find plenty to knit-pick and disagree with, but I wouldn't bother.



Edited by E-rock
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The City of Rocks is a magical place; the granite is sculpted by erosion into wild 'swiss cheese' shapes. The patina on the rock contributes to the nature of the shapes and the unique color variations. The park is an endless sea of granite, not unlike the Rushmore Needles in South Dakota (not to be confused with the nearby and more famous Needles there.)


I've found that the sport routes vary widely in their character, and that you can somewhat judge how runout it will be by looking at who put the route up and by talking with locals. Routes by Kevin Pogue are relatively moderate (5.6 to 5.8 range) and are typically overbolted by most people's standards; however, they are great routes to warm up on and get a feel for the rock there. In particular, check out Theater of Shaddows (well worth the approach, do it very early in the morn to be one of the first parties on it, do some research if it's not in your guidebook), Raindance, Cruel Shoes (check for 'raptor closure'), and others.


Consider taking 2 ropes as there are a few great routes that require a 2 rope rappel. Camping at the park is reasonable. There's also a free (BLM?) primitive campground just outside the park that's not too bad. If you can reserve a site at the park I highly recommend it, especially for you first trip there.


As always, wear your helmet. An experienced Seattle climber (who was not wearing a helmet) perished there earlier this year from severe head injuries sustained on a popular 5.8 climb.


And don't overlook the fine trad routes!! Definitely some classics there.


The park is at 6,500' elevation and the weather varies widely. I've always tried to check the local weather forecast just prior to heading out, but I've also always had the option to put it off for a week or two. This year the Mem Day weekend was great. Only the occasional brief shower (it IS technically desert there). Fall has been a good time to climb there, too, over the years. Summer can be hot, but there are periods of cooler weather at that altitude.


I'll be glad to download more if you want more info.


There are some great sport climbing areas between the City and Salt Lake City. Scour R&R and Climbing or contact the guy above who lived in SLC for some tips on finding those. Flights to Boise, SLC, and Pocatello can be had for VERY cheap (<$100) if you watch the web specials (Alaska Air and others).


(As always, this is just my opinion. I have no doubt that others hold opposite views on everything I've stated.)

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Thanks for the info everyone.


I, for lack of equipment and experience, cannot climb trad. But thanks for the advice anyway. I've been eager to try it but I need to find someone that has plenty of experience and doesn't mind teaching a newbie. I want to be competent before I spend all my money on the gear. Said guide must also refrain from haranging me because I'm a "sissy sporto". Hey I want to learn, after all. grin.gif

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