Educator Expedition: "Plan B" Rock Climbing in Red Rocks

By NOLS Blog

Jun 15, 2015


jared-steinman-red-rocks-hike-cairn Making the approach. Photo by Jared Steinman.


By Taylor Ganz, NOLS Instructor

With heavy rain dominating the forecast for the entire week of our scheduled climbing trip to Yosemite, we pulled the plug and headed to the only dry area in the west—Las Vegas. The three of us, Taylor Ganz, Zach Snavely, and Jared Steinman, had been planning and training for months to attempt our first big wall climb in “The Valley.” However, in light of the weather we decided to head further south to Red Rock National Conservation Area and reconfigure our goals. A week of climbing long multi-pitch routes on desert sandstone certainly beat a week of waiting in the rain.

All of us are current climbing instructors at NOLS. As such, we were most excited to tackle longer climbs that would require a focus on efficiency and guiding techniques to apply on future multi-pitch routes with students. While each of us had climbed at Red Rocks in the past, the singular focus on this trip toward longer routes presented an exciting objective and opportunity for development.

As it turned out, it rained some in the desert too. But we still managed to climb Lotta Balls, Black Magic, Frigid Air Buttress, Group Therapy, Purblind Pillar, and the undisputed highlight of our trip, Unimpeachable Groping.

[Jared adds: First, the technical difficulty of [Unimpeachable Groping] was higher than what we had been used to on this trip and the route was also quite sustained at that difficulty. Second, the route is long (7 pitches, or rope-lengths) and pretty close to vertical for mostly the entire time. In fact, the last technically difficult pitch is overhung! Lastly, we were climbing as a team of three and since all of us took turns leading sections of the route, we had a fair amount of rope management to do. The icing on the cake was certainly an adventurous approach and walk back to the car that was promptly followed by some responsible celebration...I can't speak so much for Taylor and Zach on this one but I know for me, it was an opportunity to spend quality time with two friends who I love climbing with.]

We were very excited with the results of our efforts, and hope that in the near future NOLS students will benefit from our gained experience. We greatly appreciate the financial support of the Instructor Development Fund, which helped make this trip happen. Thank you NOLS for investing in the professional growth of your instructors!

jared-steinman-climb-ropes-redrocks Snavely and Ganz work on their technical rope skills. Photo by Jared Steinman.


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