Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Busy Black Corridor“It’s snowing,” a woman to my right called out. I smiled, thinking, “Aha! There’s another climber who showers folks with a light dusting of chalk!”

Then I saw the white flakes floating from the sky. They melted a moment later on my face and hands. What!?! We were in the Nevada desert, I was about 50 feet above the ground on an unknown (to me) sport climb in Black Corridor, attempting an on sight lead of a climb of which I didn’t know the name nor rating. I thought I was heading for the last bolt before the anchor, but I couldn’t be sure as the corridor was so narrow I couldn’t get a straight look at the anchors but had just judged from the height of the climbs around it.

More moisture fell on me. Well, if it wasn’t snow, it was certainly a light sprinkle. I looked again at the small overhang ahead of me and what I thought must be a good hold… but I wasn’t sure. For all I knew this could be the part of the climb that made it 5.TooHard. I decided to back off and asked to get lowered. The white flakes disappeared immediately and even the sprinkles stopped. It was a crowded climbing spot, climbers up and down the corridor, it seemed only the ones on the higher end had seen the brief moment of snow though.

K finished my lead and then I went up on top rope. Coming to the same point as before I found I could have done a temporary move to clip that last bolt and then moved on off to the right to get what was indeed a decent hold before getting to the anchors. Oh well, redpoint next time.

The trip had been surprising so far. For one, our original, though truthfully vague plan had been to make it to St. George, Utah camp and climb. Saturday morning had different plans though and our group of four ended up leaving quite a bit later than planned. That night we made it into Vegas and out to the Red Rocks campground, luckily Cliff and Vina had arrived before us since we had taken a long lunch stop, and had gotten a campsite.

We hiked around a bit from Turn off 1 to basically Turn off 2 to get to Black Corridor, we climbed a bit before the rain started, then pulled on rain gear and retreated to a little cave, everyone else vacated, the rain stopped in just a few minutes but we knew climbing was over for the day since sandstone is pretty delicate. We hiked and scouted a bit then went for dinner.

Sunday we went back out to Black Corridor and focused on the side that hadn’t gotten as wet from the sprinkles the day before. We met a climbing family from Germany who had a toddler with them. We climbed some fun overhanging routes then hit the road.

Zion National Park

“Do you see anchors up there?”

I didn’t know what to expect of Zion National Park. I had a vague idea that there’d be pretty rock formations with rock that wasn’t great for climbing. Zion turned out to be a nice surprise. First off, there was a heck of a lot more greenery than I had expected. Secondly Zion was like a sandstone Yosemite with tall cliffs and dramatic formations which did indeed have climbing opportunities. We spent our time there getting a nice tent campsite by a creek, with no shade but away from most everyone else (yet still conveniently close to a running water bathroom). We spent the most time driving and hiking around with our necks craned for anchors and potential climbs. It really seemed like a playground! It was fairly hot though, so part of our searching was for climbs in the shade. We did a scenic hike to a lookout point where we could see many of the big formations in the park. While we did get beta on a multi-pitch climb where we met a trio of climbers, our climbing highlight was a cliff where we found two crack climbs, one with an aid start where we got to practice using etriers.

Hiking to the lookout point. Photo by Vina Lustado.
Hiking to the lookout point. Photo by Vina Lustado.

Zion Highlights

  • Beautiful scenery. More greenery than I had expected (we also caught many plants in bloom).
    Fun hikes / reconn trips
  • Nice tent campsite away from others (yet near a running water bathroom)
  • Nice shuttle system (I think Yosemite should do this, they’ve been talking about it for years).
  • Nice dinner at a lodge there that served us even though we came in right at 9pm (dark caught up to us unexpectedly as we were on a reconnaissance shuttle trip/hike to the Narrows).
  • Getting the beta on a multipitch climb from some folks who turned out to be guides.
  • Randomly heading towards something that looked like a great crack climb with shade then finding a fixed line and anchors on it.
  • Aid climbing up to the crack climb. Fun!

    Vina on the aid part of the unknown climb
    Vina on the aid part of the unknown climb
  • Beautiful moonrises.

It seems there was also a lot we missed out on at Zion, for one the off trail part of the Narrows was closed due to high water, also we didn’t do any of the longer hikes, and we also really wanted to get on a few lines we scouted out. But… all things in their time right? Road tripping means you gotta move on some time.

Here’s a video mainly of still photography shots covering the trip from CA to Zion National Park: