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Good Trad Intro: Red Rock Conservation Area


Original Post
Laronicus Lehmanold · · Salt Lake, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 295

Hey climbing folks of the desert. My girlfriend and I will be in Vegas on 04/21-04/22. I lead up to 5.9 trad in Little Cottonwood, Utah, and she is new to trad. I was thinking a 5.6-5.7 would suit our fancy, preferably with a shorter approach. What 3-5 pitch trad routes would you recommend? Thank you!

chris_vultaggio · · The Gunks · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 485

Birdland comes to mind...

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Based on temps, you'll likely want something shady in the afternoon, Birdland might be a bit hot. 

Tunnelvision would be probably the best choice- its shady all day.

Maybe Olive Oil - it goes into the shade in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, this late in the season, the easiest stuff starts to get a bit hot since most of it is in the sun. Once you are looking at 5.8 and higher, more shady options open up.

Laronicus Lehmanold · · Salt Lake, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 295

Thanks Chris and John. She is a decent climber on sport (5.10ish), but needs more practice with crack climbing technique for sure. Hm...I was thinking something more along the lines of 2-4 pitches. I think I am going to search through the single pitch trad lines too, so I can get her some practice setting gear on top rope. Any crag recommendations?

chris_vultaggio · · The Gunks · Joined Dec 2008 · Points: 485
John Wilder wrote:

Based on temps, you'll likely want something shady in the afternoon, Birdland might be a bit hot. 

Tunnelvision would be probably the best choice- its shady all day.

Maybe Olive Oil - it goes into the shade in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, this late in the season, the easiest stuff starts to get a bit hot since most of it is in the sun. Once you are looking at 5.8 and higher, more shady options open up.

Good point John W - listen to this guy he's the resident RR expert. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
Laronicus Lehmanold wrote:

Thanks Chris and John. She is a decent climber on sport (5.10ish), but needs more practice with crack climbing technique for sure. Hm...I was thinking something more along the lines of 2-4 pitches. I think I am going to search through the single pitch trad lines too, so I can get her some practice setting gear on top rope. Any crag recommendations?

Well, its pretty rare to have to actually crack climb in Red Rock. Most, if not all, of our trade routes 5.8 and under are all face climbing with the cracks for protection. Tunnelvision is actually the exception, where you have to know how to chimney a bit.

Laronicus Lehmanold · · Salt Lake, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 295

Okay good to know. John, have you ever climbed in Little Cottonwood, Utah? In LCC I can lead up to 5.9. I have also led a 5.10 and a 5.11 in Indian Creek (admittedly, those grades and routes are subjective to hand size). #1 is the perfect hand crack for my hand size. I think she is strong enough to crack climb, so I could set up a 5.8, maybe even a 5.9 TR for her. What areas would recommend for a single pitch day? Thank you. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

I have climbed in LCC- grades feel about the same between here and there to me, but ymmv.

There really aren't any 5.8 or 5.9 pure crack climbs in Red Rock- those start at 5.10 here. Everything below that has plenty of face holds to grab. In terms of pure cracks, there are only a handful or two in Red Rock at 5.10, and another handful at 5.11. Everything else is face climbing here.

Shady trad areas, single pitch- Willow Springs is your best bet for that. Ragged Edges area would be my top choice.

Laronicus Lehmanold · · Salt Lake, UT · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 295

John, you are the best! One last question for you. I love guide books. In your opinion, what is the best book for the area? 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

The best guide is the Handren guide, but it's out of print until late June. 

Jason Martin has a new guide out that may cover all of that, I'm blanking on the name, but I'm sure his name and red rock will reveal it on Google. 

Austin Baird · · SLC, Utah · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 95

I've climbed quite a bit in both areas and LCC 5.9 is WAY harder than RR 5.9. RR 5.9 for me is a "this is going to be a fun cruise". LCC 5.9 is a "holy hell, I hope this isn't actually one of those 5.9s that's really an 11a"

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 207

Lotta Balls area is shady and has several things in that grade range. Medium approach but no dealing with the loop. Ragged Edges is only 2p but good quality, shady, in the grade, and has a short approach.

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

The 1st pitch of Birdland is a fun, casual, and well protected pitch. I'd recommend it for the newer trad leader.  The 3rd pitch of that route has a traverse thats pretty spicy for 5.7 and wouldn't be great for the new tradster.  You can rap the whole thing with a single 70.  I climbed it about 10 days ago on a hot, partly cloudy afternoon and it was comfortable.

cassondra long · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 305

Physical Graffiti is a good climb for a beginning trad leader and definitly has some crack on the 2nd pitch. There are a few spots on that pitch where without crack skills, it is slabby stemming for the feet, so perhaps this would work for you. It is 5.6-7 depending on which guide book you look at,  gets shade later in the afternoon, and has a reletively short approach. There are also some harder climbs with short cracks right next to it (the two variations of Over the Hill to Grandmother's House 5.9.) If you are looking for something harder, there are also The Fox and Risk Brothers Roof close by. 

Thomas Beck · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,040
Z Winters wrote:

Lotta Balls area is shady and has several things in that grade range. Medium approach but no dealing with the loop. Ragged Edges is only 2p but good quality, shady, in the grade, and has a short approach.

Right now (4/17) the sun is high enough that Lotta Balls areas is in the sun till late afternoon.  Alcohol Wall gets shade a little earlier.  Romper Room area and First Creek slabs are also in the sun till late afternoon.

If you go through the gate at first opening, Sunnyside Crags in Icebox Canyon is in the shade till about 11AM.  There is a collection of moderate routes there.

Cassondra's  suggestion is good.  In that same Calico Basin area south of Physical Grafitti is Classic Crack of Calico and Badger Buttress.  Afternoon shade

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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