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Reminiscing Red Rock Rendezvous, Cheers to 10 years!

May 1st, 2013
Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden poster signing at the booth.

Osprey Athlete Beth Rodden poster signing at the booth.

The 10th Anniversary of the Red Rock Rendezvous not only had a great attendance rate by pro climbers and climbing enthusiast alike, but also had the best weather it has seen in the past years. The tormenting desert winds took a hike the weekend of the festival, which left climbers with the perfect conditions for enjoying the festival events and outdoor activities.

The weekend was filled with various clinics from wilderness first aid, multi-pitch climbs, trad leads and even mountain bike clinics by our very own Osprey athletes Jeff Fox and Alison Gannett. Osprey provided demo packs to attendees for a chance to test out our new hydration packs and reservoir as well as our climbing specific packs, the Mutant and Variant.

As the festivities began to wind down and outdoor enthusiasts returned from their adventures, Red Rock Rendezvous continued the party with events like the Dyno Competition, where individuals would miraculously dyno to holds 6-9 feet above, and with guest speakers including Conrad Anker and Malcolm Daly who spoke about some of their landmark climbs from the past years, to bumping beats from various DJs later into the night.

Whether you were a local from Las Vegas, a dirtbag from different parts of the country, or a newbie just checking out the scene for the first time, Red Rock Rendezvous offered experiences for all skill sets and allowed strangers from all walks of life to celebrate climbing and outdoor community.

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Spring at the Red Rock Rendezvous

April 19th, 2012

The Osprey Packs Intro Rock Climbing Course at the Red Rock Rendezvous

It’s always hard to write about rock climbing when you are ripping powder in a new bowl, or to write about skiing when you are latticing hand jams up granite. This year, I put myself on spring break to do both activities, type about neither, and then come home to the poodle and the computer.

I’ve spent countless season shifts in Red Rocks. For the past fifteen years it’s been the place to either jump-start or wrap up the year’s era of rock climbing. Spring has always been my favorite time. It’s when the green grass pokes through the sandy soil and softens the desert for the moment before you step on a barrel cactus. Spring is when the edges hurt your fingers because you’ve let them grow soft in your ice climbing gloves, when last year’s warm up is the biggest send of the current day, and when the sun feels exactly like thing you’ve been pining for all winter long.

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Training for the Rock Guide Exam—Red Rocks, Nevada

September 28th, 2009

South Las Vegas. One house. Fourteen guides. Heaps of cams and packs in the garage. Stacks of guidebooks on the kitchen table. The air is thick with beta. “Don’t do anything on the Black Velvet wall. Too straightforward. Too many bolts to be on the exam.”

“How’d you avoid that jammed block rap on the Frigid Air?”

We’ve been training for two weeks and have another week before the exam starts. Each day we venture out to climb exam routes—those with complicated guiding problems—where safely protecting two clients involves an extra four steps compared to climbing with your buddies. Take the notorious Community Pillar descent, where just getting to the main raps involves short roping, short-pitching, intermediate anchors, a pre-rig rappel and avoiding a tempting anchor known as No Pass Tree. No Pass Tree is a big tree, wrapped with trucker slings, but surrounded by loose blocks. If you rap off No Pass Tree then you No Pass Exam.

The focus of  our training for the American Mountain Guide Association exam–and guiding in general–is safety. Climbing the 5.10+ standard while wearing a pack and pulling two ropes seems insignificant compared to learning hundreds of safety tricks. For example, yesterday we realized that if you clove-off your client to the master point between the autolocker and their knot, then they are basically off belay for a split second—the autolocker won’t catch as you are tying the client’s clove-hitch. Instead, tie-off the brake strand before clove-hitching the client into the anchor master point. Anal, but if guiding is your career, then you’ll learn to stack the odds in your favor, or you’ll get weeded out.

Osprey has been training with me the whole time. I haul the rack and ropes into the routes with my beloved Mutant 38. Then I climb with a Solo, the ultimate summer climbing pack. The hard plastic ribs on the outside of the Solo take the abuse while grinding up chimneys and the sleek, low volume make the pack almost imperceptible when climbing.

RRNV-38

Mark Allen belaying Mike Bromberg on pitch 5 of 12 on Initiwantan (IV 5.10c), Mount Wilson, Red Rocks, Nevada.

 

RRNV-139-2

Mark Smiley leading  the old-school 5.9 chimneys on pitch 5 of 18. Epinephrine, Black Velvet Canyon, Red Rocks, Nevada.

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Fun in Frogland!

April 3rd, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Philip Swiny from Las Vegas. Read Philip’s account of climbing the desert classic, Frogland

4:30 am came way too quick, I was not in the mood to get out of my comfy warm bed, but I knew the sky was going to be blue, the temps were going to be in the high 70′s, and there were 5 pitches of Aztec sandstone to be climbed. A quick breakfast and I was off to meet Gregg, the plan for the day was to climb the desert classic, Frogland.

Frogland was established by the Red Rock pioneers Jorge and Joanne Urioste, who almost single handedly established most of the classic long route in the canyons.  Visionaries in the Desert climbing scene, they were not scared to explore the unknown and as a result plucked many of the gems that lay hidden in the overlooked Mojave Desert.

Frogland overview: Long, sustained, and deservedly popular, Frogland is one of the best of the moderate climbs in an area renowned for awesome moderates. Varied climbing, a bit of routefinding, and with a slightly runout slab crux, Frogland is a definite challenge for the 5.8 leader. As with other Red Rocks classics, the biggest obstacle is usually the crowds. Luckily, there are some great nearby routes that have long been overlooked, and one of them, an old, long-forgotten Urioste route, which has just been rebolted, is one of the best 5.7 face climbs around (courtesy of supertopo.com).

Being that it is spring break, Gregg and I decided on a 6 am start time, I met him at the gas station near the dirt road entrance which leads in to Black Velvet Canyon just as the sun was raising, and already I was feeling more energized for the day.  All I was hoping was that even with our early start we were not going to be stuck in a line of other parties on the route.  Only one car in the parking lot, good I thought probably a party on Epinephrine.  Even though Gregg was giving me stories of being out of shape and having only climbed ice for the long New England winter, we flew up the approach and in just under 4 hours after leaving the car we were on the summit, basking in the sun and watching other parties, looking like ants approaching from the parking lot.

At 770 feet Frogland is not the longest route in the canyons but it is for sure one of the most popular, for good reason.  It has a little of everything, the rock quality in Black Velvet Canyon is by and large of very high quality, desert varnish abounds resulting in great hold, but sometimes slippery feet.  The first 3 pitches are primarily 5.7 cracks with the occasional face move thrown in for variety, the first 5.8 crux on the 4th pitch involves a very exposed  traverse under a roof, which never seems to get less exciting, and culminates with some thin face moves and an awkward squeeze under a huge chock stone.

It was one of those great days where the weather was perfect, my climbing partner and I moved and worked well together and before we knew it the say was over and we were heading back into the madness that is Las Vegas.

For more information check out Philip’s bio page here.

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Osprey Packs Rendezvous in Mojave: Climbing, camping, and clinics

March 24th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 Osprey ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country over 2009, lands in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Red Rocks Rendezvous. Here is brand team’er Theresa Blake’s red rock review.

Thanks to Osprey Packs, I was among 1000+ other lucky climbers who got to enjoy the 6th annual Red Rock Rendezvous this weekend in Las Vegas at the Red Rock National Conservation Area. I have never attended the Rendezvous before and had only ever seen pictures of the area, so naturally I was stoked to be going. I signed up for a clinic and hit the road to Las Vegas with my tent and trusty Osprey pack.

I was pleased to find a nationally protected conservation area in the midst of the Mojave Desert rife with unique geological features and ancient desert culture (quite the contrary to what most people envision when you think of Las Vegas). The Strip is just 13 miles to the east but is definitely small and pale in comparison to this place. Views abound for miles along the Keystone Thrust Fault with dramatic red and tan sandstone mixed up with rocks from ancient oceans.

The festival itself, which benefits the Access Fund, was held at Spring Mountain Ranch with camping offsite at Bonnie Springs, and was nicely put together by a hard working crew who were super friendly and helpful to boot. A funky-looking solar powered generator that reminded you of the sun and its vast capabilities accompanied the stage.

Climbing, food and libation vendors were poised offering something for everyone to buy or enjoy for free, thanks to generous sponsors. The beer provided by New Belgium Brewing Co was delicious and was served in cups made out of corn instead of plastic.

The Rendezvous was highly organized and brought together an amazing roster of professional climbers like Joe Kinder, Sonnie Trotter, Katie Brown, Micah Dash and a whole bunch of other superbly talented athletes to teach clinics and offer resources to fellow aspiring climbers. I found most everyone I met to be down to earth, fun and really, really excited about climbing.

With over 1,000 routes available in Red Rocks, there was definitely something for climbers of all ability levels. Add good beer, friends and music to this and you really can’t go wrong.

SIDEBAR: I learned about a mishap that occurred last year that reminded me how personally responsible we are when we recreate not only in the mountains, but everywhere we go. Apparently an event attendee vandalized a historic building at Spring Mountain Ranch during the festival. As a result, area officials mandated camping for the event be moved from the green-ish field directly next to the event pavilion out to the dustier Bonnie Springs lot several miles away. This made for “special” camping quarters when 40+ MPH gusts kicked up.

I was surprised to hear that someone attending an event like this would do such a thing given the event is a benefit for the Access Fund, but bad things sometimes happen when you get a whole bunch of people around with alcohol being served. This gives the climbing community a bad name and as we learned firsthand this weekend, cuts off our access and takes away our privileges.

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