Climbing – Las Vegas Baby

At the end of every year Adobe hosts the annual Sales Kickoff conference for some 2000+ sales folk in Las Vegas. This year, the week before Christmas, we headed over to Vegas for a week of training and hype up to get us ready for 2012. Apart from the resort’s air conditioning causing my eyes to dry out to the point I needed antibiotic eye drops, the conference was pretty good. Probably the best bit was that I managed to avoid partying too hard and not drinking too much.

The highlight of the trip was on the morning that I was due to fly out… climbing at Red Rocks.

Road into Red Rocks

A couple of months before going over to Vegas we had a number of the Adobe Product Managers come out to Australia from the US. One of these was Brent Watson. I had met him before, but while he was in Australia we discovered our mutual love of outdoor activities, especially climbing. So we made a tentative date to go climbing together while we were in Vegas. It was tentative because we did not know whether we would be in a state to go climbing after the conference’s gala dinner the night before.

Fortunately we both behaved at the dinner and skipped the after party, so at 6.30am we both checked out of the hotel (while colleagues were still staggering around the casino) and jumped into a cab to the airport to pick up a hire car. We hired the smallest, cheapest car we could get (we only needed it for a few hours) and drove to the outskirts of Vegas. It was still pretty early when we got out there, so we sat in Starbucks for an hour while the day warmed up a bit. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the mid-teens, but it was pretty still pretty icy at 8am.

Once we had our fill of very average Starbucks coffee and croissants, we headed up the road to the Red Rocks reserve. Brent had climbed there a few times, so we decided to try a crag he had not been to before called “Panties Wall”. The name coming from the fact it looks like a pair of ladies underpants from a distance.

Panties Wall

It took about 30 minutes to find the path and rock scramble our way to the cliff. When we got there we found a perfect sandstone wall with a dozen or so climbs all about 20m high. The area is completely bolted, so all the climbs were pure sport climbs ranging between 5.8-5.10b in the US scale (17-20 in the Australian scale).

How times have changed since I last climbed. Brent checking the guide book on his iPad.

Having not climbed on natural rock for about 12 years, I thought it appropriate for Brent to lead the first couple of climbs. I had not idea of how fit or rock ready I was going to be. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did a lot better than I had thought. Over the morning we climbed 5 routes all around 5.9 (18) grade. I lead a couple and only took one fall on lead when my arms completely gave out.

Me remembering how to climb

The crag became a very social scene that morning. Even though it was a Wednesday morning, there was about 10 climbers(and a couple of dogs) sharing the routes. We met people from all over the US and Canada and made for a lot of good belay discussion.

One of the climbing dogs

Around lunch time we headed back to the airport so that Brent could catch his flight back to Utah and I could sit around until the early evening to fly back to LAX and then on to Sydney. It was very satisfying sitting at the airport with 20+ hung over colleagues having had a great day in the outdoors. I have also discovered that a day of climbing is a great way to help getting some sleep on a 14 hour flight.

So now I have the taste for climbing again. So once we get back to work after the Christmas break, I will be pressuring Darren at work to get out onto the cliffs around Sydney.

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